What's new in: Refrigeration

May 10, 2012
Helping fleets control operating costs, achieve sustainability goals, and meet emissions regulations are areas where Thermo King, an Ingersoll Rand brand, is focusing attention

Keeping product at the proper temperature has always been a challenge for fleets. Keeping fuel usage down is a continuing concern. Now, the Federal Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act, which will require stricter oversight of the refrigerated transportation industry, is adding yet another concern for refrigerated fleets.

Helping fleets control operating costs, achieve sustainability goals, and meet emissions regulations are areas where Thermo King, an Ingersoll Rand brand, is focusing attention.

“Fuel usage on reefers makes up a significant portion of a refrigeration transporter’s cost of doing business,” says Doug Lenz, director of product management and marketing. “Thermo King continues to evolve its SB series to improve/reduce fuel consumption, such as the smooth air blower designed in conjunction with Trane, also a brand of Ingersoll Rand.”

Power requirements of the engine’s evaporator blower assembly were reduced up to 24%, Lenz says. “APUs were enhanced to improve overall reliability of the units and potentially save even more fuel,” he adds.


Product improvements include the inclusion of new unit control software, long-life motor mounts, upgraded alternators with higher charging voltage, and a new battery voltage-sensing circuit.

To help customers understand approaching emissions requirements for off-road diesel engines producing less than 50 hp., Thermo King has produced a brochure (TK 55124- 11-PL) detailing the changes.

“Education is key to assuring customers make correct decisions for their business,” Lenz says. Carrier Transicold’s new APX system includes a large illuminated display that continually shows the operating status of the unit. Pushbutton operation is a feature of the system. It also provides more information than its predecessor, the company says. According to David Kiefer, director-marketing and product management, the APX is the “first transport refrigeration control system to use modular, distributed electronics [that are easier to access for replacement of modules], run diagnostic software continuously, and monitor the refrigeration system to help avert problems.”

“With Carrier Transicold’s APX control system, operating data can be downloaded to a USB flash drive, providing shippers and their customers with printed records for load-temperature verification and claims management,” Kiefer points out. “Refrigeration controls provide a record of temperatures maintained in cargo areas and can track door openings.”

Because of its reporting capabilities, the APX system can “display data recorder trip graphs, providing operators and customers with an at-a-glance visual indicator of conditions within the trailer throughout a delivery run,” Kiefer adds.


In addition to refrigeration units, cold-plate technology is another popular option for fleets. Hercules Manufacturing Co. says it is seeing an increase in requests for 5- and 6-in. foam all around the truck body, which is said to promote better temperature control and extended body life.

“The primary purpose of a refrigerated truck body is to provide good temp control. Some customers run longer routes with more stops; some carry more products, meaning drivers spend longer at each stop delivering multiple product lines,” says Jeffrey A. Caddick, CEO and owner of Hercules.

“We’ve devised foaming above the crossbars for maximum temp control, keeping floor height as low as possible, making it easier for drivers to get in and out.”

Hercules’ cold-plate system is a derivative of a system originally developed by the company in the 1930s.

“[Cold-plate refrigeration systems] are known for lower up-front maintenance [and] operation costs, eliminating refrigeration system diesel consumption, and project that coveted ‘green’ image,” says Caddick. “We’ve been working with many of our cold-plate customers to take advantage of the Dept. of Energy’s Shorepower Truck Electrification Project (STEP) rebates.” Johnson Refrigerated Truck Bodies is also seeing interest in its coldplate technology, particularly due to the desire to reduce fuel costs and meet emissions laws.

“Our all-electric cold-plate systems comply with the STEP grant because they don’t require diesel fuel like conventional systems do,” says Mayo Rude, vice president of sales & marketing. “The recently introduced Guardian LT, with cold-plate refrigeration, allows customers to maximize payload without increasing operational costs.”

According to Rude, “cold-plate refrigeration systems…are the most reliable, low-maintenance option available today, [and are] powered by electricity instead of diesel.” Rude notes that Johnson customers have qualified for over $250,000 in STEP rebates to date. Johnson’s all-electric refrigeration solutions, cold plates and ElectriMax systems are diesel- and emissionsfree, making them exempt from transport refrigeration unit airborne toxic control measures, as defined by the California Air Resources Board.


As carriers look to take advantage of the STEP grants, knowing how to navigate the process is aided by advice from Shorepower Technologies and Cascade Sierra Solutions, which administer the STEP grant process.

“Fleets generally won’t switch to a new technology until they see financial benefit, or governmental regulations force their hand,” says Alan Bates, vice president of marketing for Shorepower Technologies. “Companies that run reefers are looking to save money on fuel and maintenance. [Using] electric standby, fuel is conserved, emissions eliminated, noise reduced, and operating savings of 40 to 70% can be achieved.” Plug-in hybrid systems provide benefit from the ability to turn off the engine and plug into an electrical source.

“Large trailer reefers run on three-phase 460V [systems],” Bates explains. “We’re now putting this infrastructure in up to 30 locations. Shorepower’s role is electrical connection installation at 50 truckstops, totaling 1,200 parking spaces along major freight corridors, with many online in 2012.” Shorepower hopes to eventually outfit between 500 and 1,500 truckstops with electrical connections, Bates says.

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