Electronics comes to transport refrigeration. According to the major reefer manufacturers, issues driving the industry at this point in time include simplification of operating controls, data recording devices, cooling requirements of longer trailers, and noise reduction.
The challenge for reefer makers is to design more sophisticated equipment, while at the same time keeping it operator-friendly. By developing microprocessors with as many functions as possible pre-programmed, driver input can be minimized.
Doug Lenz, trailer product manager-North America for Thermo King, says that, ideally, driver interface with the refrigeration unit should be limited to telling the unit what temperature is needed for a particular load. 'With our new products, drivers only have to think about what they're hauling and where they're hauling it,' he adds.
Maintaining the optimum temperature for a particular load is one of the most important goals of a trailer refrigeration system. Carrier Transicold addressed this issue with the introduction of its UltraFresh 2 capacity/temperature control system in1995. Available as an option on all Carrier Transicold trailer products, the UltraFresh 2 maintains supply- and return-air temperatures to within 2F degrees of setpoint. The system's microprocessor responds immediately if temperature deviates from the setpoint.
By controlling trailer temperature so carefully, UltraFresh 2 maximize s operating conditions, creating some extra pluses for fleets. According to Carrier, because the system reduces engine load and cycles less often between low-speed and high-speed cooling, fuel consumption is decreased and compressor life is extended.
Multi-temperature control is perhaps the most important feature to the grocery and food distribution segment of the refrigerated fleet market. To meet these needs, Carrier has developed the Genesis line, which is available in two trailer models: TM1000 and TM900.
With the multiple stops and door openings typical for multi-temp loads, the quick pulldown of Genesis reefers means that the recovery time of the trailer temperature is minimized. Remote panels inside the back of the trailer provide controls for up to three separate compartments, making it easier for drivers to adjust setpoints during loading and unloading.
To meet the needs of fleets running longer trailers, Carrier offers the Ultima 53, designed especially for thinwall 53-footers. This model provides temperature control for a wide range of products ' perishable, frozen, and deep frozen ' in ambient temperatures to 135 degrees F.
Carrier's advanced microprocessor control system includes functions such as automatic start/stop, automatic pre-trip, self diagnostics. Digital displays clearly demonstrate setpoint temperature, return-air temperature, and ambient temperature. Accessories and options include a DataLink recorder, diagnostic monitoring program, and DataTrak satellite communications.
According to Tony D'Angelo, manager of communications, Carrier is addressing the issue of noise reduction with the introduction of Stealth, a low-noise package that is available on the company's Ultima 53 starting January 1, and across the board by the end of the first quarter. This option is of particular interest to fleets making deliveries in densely populated suburban residential areas and in urban areas where noise is regulated at night.
To address the noise pollution issue, Thermo King developed the Whisper Edition transport refrigeration system, which runs 8dB quieter than previous models. The system was originally introduced last year for over-the-road applications and will soon be available on all Thermo King trailer products, according to Lenz. The company pioneered the 'whisper quiet' concept to help improve the driver's environment and to make equipment more compatible with 'noise sensitive' areas such as residential neighborhoods and retail zones.
Thermo King debuted the Super II SR Whisper Edition last fall. This unit, which is geared toward distribution applications, features a slimline, lightweight design.
Noise reduction features on the Whisper Edition system include a new lightweight, fuel-efficient direct-injection engine, as well as many sound-deadening components.
Thermo King's 'Smart Reefer' technology, which is available on the majority of the company's trailer refrigeration units, provides maximum protection of temperature-sensitive cargo at lower operating costs. A microprocessor constantly monitors the performance of the refrigeration unit, automatically makes pre-programmed adjustments, and contains a self-check capability.
Because the system can monitor itself, possible malfunctions can be identified before the driver leaves the loading dock. The driver simply hits a pre-trip button and walks away for 15 minutes or so while the unit runs a diagnostic program. When it's finished, a pass or fail message is displayed. If the driver finds a 'fail' response, all he needs to do is hit another button to find out which component is at fault.
As fleets move toward use of longer trailers, ensuring the proper distribution of air needed to prevent product deterioration places ever greater strain on refrigeration units. Thermo King offers its standard SB-III SR and its SB-IIIS SR (for deep-frozen capacity) to support air-flow requirements for 53-ft. trailers.
Thermo King Smart Reefer products are available with on-board data recording for cargo temperature and unit diagnostics. With more customers requesting information about cargo temperature as well as compartment temperature, someday it's likely all refrigeration equipment will have on-board data recording devices that can provide temperature profiles of products themselves from pickup to delivery. According to Lenz, the challenge here is to 'develop a non-invasive method of measuring cargo temperature so the product itself is not damaged.'