European food haulers put advanced reefer units to the test
The Thermo King TS-Series refrigeration units that were rolled out to North American fleets a few months ago (FO-3/99, pg. 53) are already garnering a good reputation with European reefer fleets.
The new reefer units were unveiled at a trucking exhibition in Lyon, France, about a year before they arrived on this side of the Atlantic.
An early adopter of the straight-truck units was the Lodi Group food-distribution fleet, which is based in Lormont, France, near the port of Bordeaux.
"All of our vehicles are equipped with Thermo King units," reports Gilles Eymas, Lodi Group's logistics manager. "Since June, we have been working with the new TS-300 and have experienced three key attributes - very low noise output, high blower performance, and reduced fuel consumption.
"In this time," Eymas continues, "we have already seen a noticeable reduction in our operational costs, and an improvement in the standard of service that we offer our customers."
The Lodi fleet transports over 1,300 different fresh and frozen food products, It operates 10 distribution routes, with each truck making an average of 35 deliveries a day. According to Eymas, the TS-300's blower output helps provide fast temperature recovery. This is critical, given the number of stops the Lodi trucks make in a day's work.
Night shift And since some of that day may extend into the night, the quiet operation of the reefer unit is especially important to Lodi and its customers.
Concern over reefer downtime also drove Lodi to spec the Thermo King units. "In a busy operation like ours," says Eymas, "where precise timing must be maintained, we cannot afford delays through breakdowns or maintenance.
"But," he adds, "our unique maintenance contract, provided through EFR, the Thermo King dealer in Bordeaux, covers every eventuality and ensures that downtime is virtually eliminated and customer commitments are guaranteed."
Another European food hauler quick to adopt the new Thermo King units is Spedition Sturm. Based in Kaarst, Germany, near Dusseldorf, the company fields a fleet of 75 longhaul trucks that transport meat and dairy products all over the continent.
The latest vehicle purchased by Spedition Sturm is an articulated truck-drawbar-trailer unit capable of hauling 36 pallets.
Slim line The box on the Scania truck is fitted with a TS-300 reefer unit. The trailer uses an SL-100 model, which is a "Slim Line" reefer unit from Thermo King that allows double-decked loading for the entire trailer length.
Spedition Sturm, founded in 1961 and currently employing 160 people, offers logistics solutions, covering everything from storage of food products to final customer delivery.
According to Gunter Sturm, who handles vehicle purchasing, the fleet ordered its first TS reefer units right after the product was launched in Europe last year.
"The compressor in the TS unit is incredibly powerful, and it's quiet," he points out. "Fuel consumption has been reduced noticeably, and the new-style housing improves the visual impact of the unit."