Most of the improvements in refrigeration equipment over the past year have been in the area of electronics. Both of the major manufacturers of truck and trailer refrigeration equipment say products that take advantage of advanced electronics technology are gaining in popularity among fleet users, who are seeing increased reliability, superior temperature control, maximum fuel efficiency and ease of use of their reefer units.
Thermo King notes that in 2003 the telematics portion of its business grew 400%. The manufacturer's Smart Reefer 2 (SR-2) product, which was introduced in SB-210, SB-310 and SB-310R units in 2003, was added to the SB-110 unit this year and will continue to be worked into other product lines during 2005. The SR-2 microprocessor controller for trailers, the company reports, provides fleets with better temperature-control accuracy, more consistency and improved reliability.
Thermo King says the SR-2 simplifies the user interface. The controller is also equipped with a feature called FreshSet that reduces product shrinkage, prevents top freezing and extends shelf life of temperature-sensitive products, the manufacturer advises.
Also generating a lot of interest among fleet customers is Thermo King's Trac-King wireless remote monitoring and GPS products, available in cellular (GSM) and satellite versions. The company says the satellite product is doing especially well with fleets because of its broader coverage area. Last month, the manufacturer installed 400 more Trac-King systems in fleet vehicles.
This year Thermo King has added Geofencing to Trac-King, which enables fleets to be notified when a trailer reaches the customer location. With new hours of service rules making it more critical than ever for fleets to know where their equipment is and how long it's being tied up, this feature should prove very beneficial for asset management.
Thermo King says it has also refined the Trac-King product for improved quality and reliability, and has made it faster to install. The newest units use the manufacturer's SR-2 controller, which has a data recorder built into it. Trac-King, however, can also now be connected to older Thermo King “smart” microcontrollers, not just the most recent ones.
Enhancements to the Trac-King website have also been made to improve speed and performance, including some new administrative tools such as software that enables customers to flat-file data into their back-office AS400 systems. Thermo King is also redefining the billing process to make it more flexible and customizable to users' needs.
READY, SET POINT
Recent developments in truck and trailer refrigeration equipment at Carrier Transicold have also been in the electronics arena. The company introduced a product called IntelliSet that optimizes the settings on the microprocessor by assisting drivers in choosing the correct set points for their temperature-sensitive cargo. With IntelliSet, drivers select commodity names, like strawberries or ice cream; the microprocessor automatically adjusts the temperature to the correct set point and mode of operation for a variety of products, insuring optimum temperature control and fuel efficiency.
The manufacturer reports that the market for its Multi-Temp product introduced last year has also continued to expand because of people's growing concern about food safety and quality. Fleet customers reap the benefits of multi-temp technology in superior food quality and extended shelf life of products.
Carrier notes that extended component life and reduced cost of operation are critical in reefer unit design. One of the ways the company says it has extended component life in its refrigeration units is by reducing the engine rpms on selected trailer models. Slowing the engine down, the manufacturer explains, helps the fleet save fuel and reduce noise levels in the reefer unit. It also helps extend the life of components like the engines, compressors, belts and bearings. Carrier says it was able to reduce rpms while maintaining high cooling capacities by making improvements to the heat transfer surfaces, such as the evaporator and condenser coils.
As for the future, Carrier says that fleets will see more electronics enhancements in products as well as a lot more wireless technology being used on equipment. They can also expect to see more use of RF technology for yard monitoring of trailer assets. Also satellite communications systems will become more popular with over-the-road fleets who want to have full remote control of their reefer units in addition to knowing the locations of their trailers.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CIRCLE NUMBER ON REPLY CARD:
CARRIER TRANSICOLD 310
THERMO KING 311