With diesel fuel prices once again on the rise, fleets are looking for any savings they can get. That includes saving fuel on their refrigeration units. Manufacturers are responding with more efficient designs and technology improvements to help carriers keep costs in line while also reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
Hercules is attacking the concerns with a combination of cold plate refrigeration technology and insulation. “Hercules' high-pressure foaming process provides a void-free body, thereby increasing the thermal efficiency of our body,” says James A. “Chip” Honse Jr., sales manager. “Also, Hercules promotes the maximum insulation possible. One inch of additional insulation can improve the R-value of the body by more than 17%. This is especially important in the ceiling due to the radiant heat from the sun and in the floor because of reflective heat from the road surface. Reducing the heat gain inside the body can drastically reduce the fuel consumption of the reefer unit.”
Hercules is also investing heavily in cold plate technology for straight trucks. These units are 100% electric and can be used for all temperature applications. The system absorbs heat during the day and is recharged overnight by plugging in the unit.
“These systems have been around for 70-plus years and we're seeing a resurgence of interest in them due to high diesel prices,” says Honse. “A secondary benefit of cold plate systems is the reduction in maintenance cost as well. The all-electric condensing unit is far easier to maintain than an additional diesel power reefer unit.”
Hercules' latest offering is a cold plate unit that utilizes an Eaton diesel/electric hybrid system. The hybrid system recharges the cold plate with a hybrid battery pack, allowing for longer stretches of constant temperature control.
Thermo King has been busy upgrading its units for improved fuel efficiency to reduce overall operating costs and limit driver involvement.
“Strong uptime and efficiency numbers are critical factors for a healthy bottom line,” says Chris Casazza, president of Thermo King North America.
The SB-130, SB-230 and SB-330 units now include a fuel pre-filter system for ultra-low-sulfur fuels, extending the life of the primary filter, the inlet screen and the reefer engine. This allows trucks to run 3,000 hrs. between primary filter changes, Thermo King says.
A new SR-3 controller allows data transfer via USB flash drive, restoring 180 hrs. of in-service time instead of those hours sacrificed to data transfer via traditional laptops and cables. An optional ultrasonic fuel sensor can be installed directly into the tank, producing more accurate fuel readings as well. The company also introduced roofline application cooling solutions that increase capacities 50% over current units, says Doug Lenz, director of product management. The V-520 RT and V-520 RT Max offer a low profile condenser that minimizes the potential of damage. (See pg. 84)
Straight trucks can see fuel savings of as much as 30% with a new electronic throttling valve (ETV) that is available for 12- to 28-ft. trucks. Thermo King says the ETV reaches the temperature set point 50% faster and runs the engine 20% less. The ETV enhances T-Series single-temp truck units, including the T-600, T-800 and T-1000, with scroll compressors.
“The ETV allows cargo to remain fresh longer, cools the truck faster, and maintains temperature efficiently. And service intervals are stretched by the increased engine-off time, which in turn lowers fuel and maintenance costs,” says Lenz.
Carrier Transicold recognizes concerns for fuel efficiency and temperature control, but also notes that customers increasingly want easy-to-use controls that provide “mistake-proof features for drivers,” says Mark Fragnito, product manager-electronics.
Software applications such as FuelCheck, which prevents shutdowns due to low fuel, and Door Man, which runs the unit on low if the trailer doors are open, are two products designed to meet these needs. Carrier also offers IntelliSet, which allows customers to create custom settings and wireless diagnostics. For refrigeration units, the company is offering a hybrid system with electric power.
“Our Vector hybrid diesel-electric units offer electric standby capability, which powers the unit via an AC electric supply rather than the diesel engine when stationary. This eliminates fuel consumption, diesel exhaust emissions, and related engine noise during loading and unloading operations,” says Kevin Williams, product manager-trailer products.
By making the compressor, evaporator fans, and condenser fans independent of one another, the unit only runs the portion needed at any given time, Fragnito says.
Carrier Transicold also offers aftermarket programs such as comprehensive maintenance and repair agreements (CMRAs), and extended major component coverage programs (EMCCs). With CMRAs, the company's dealer network assists customers in managing preventive maintenance and other service needs, as well as the tracking of repair histories for individual units. EMCC agreements travel with the unit and deliver coast-to-coast protection for major components.
DIESEL PRICE CONCERNS
“When [the price of] diesel was relatively low, people seemed to be okay with letting the reefer unit run as much as needed, but today is a completely different story,” says John Sommer Jr., national account director for Kidron. “We see more fleets looking at cold plate refrigeration systems; however, the demand for long routes and the need to deliver product to multiple stops would traditionally swing them to a mechanical refrigeration alternative.”
Kidron and partner Azure Dynamics Corp. have developed the Ultra Temp refrigeration cold plate system. The technology extends the route time available with cold plate systems by using the vehicle's powertrain to generate power that is then stored in the refrigeration system.
“When the engine is shut down, the stored energy maintains the cargo area temperature and provides a backup safety net that mechanical systems cannot,” says Sommer. “Overnight, the Ultra Temp system can be plugged into either single or three-phase power sources, eliminating cost, fuel, noise and emissions from diesel engines and generators.
Ultra Temp uses blowers that move across the cold plates, immediately lowering the interior temperature for better product protection on multi-stop routes. The system also reduces noise and has no belts, microprocessors or extra diesel engine, simplifying maintenance.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT THESE WEBSITES:
Hercules Manufacturing Co.
Thermo King Corp.