Truck and trailer refrigeration units are sporting a number of new features as manufacturers respond to some of the tough issues facing refrigerated carriers today, including lower profit margins, spiraling maintenance costs, and driver retention.
With higher fuel prices cutting into profits even further, it's more important than ever to keep a lid on maintenance costs. Late last year, Carrier Transicold introduced the Advance microprocessor controller for single-temperature trailer refrigeration units. The system's eight-minute pre-trip inspection function helps maximize shop productivity, while no fewer than 150 specific alarm messages cut routine maintenance and troubleshooting time by a third to a half, according to Carrier.
Smarter designs The user-friendly design of the unit's MessageCenter is reflective of the industry's efforts to address driver issues. Complex reefer readings are translated into messages that operators can easily understand, helping them feel more confident with the controls. Also, keypad lockouts prevent accidental or intentional tampering. According to Carrier, "drivers can be confident they're making accurate readings and avoiding costly mistakes, while fleet managers have peace of mind knowing their investments are protected."
The Advance system is available on Carrier Transicold's Extra, Ultra and Ultra XL, and Ultima refrigeration units.
Trailer refrigeration received a boost with the introduction of Thermo King's SBIII smart reefer performance package for single-temp applications late last year. Highlights include the MP6 controller microprocessor with driver-friendly control panel; the ability to pre-program customers' temperature requirements; and an electronic throttle valve that maximizes unit's performance continuously and minimizes temperature fluctuations, limiting load on engine.
Fresh off the production line is Thermo King's SBIII-G trailer refrigeration unit for the grocery segment - fresh and frozen products. Capacity requirements of this niche enable a design that's about 40-45 lb. lighter than the traditional SB-III product, since it's not made to haul deep-frozen goods.
Carrier makes multi-temp units for 48- and 53-ft. trailers: the Genesis line and Ultima 53, respectively. These models give fleets the flexibility of hauling perishable, frozen, and deep-frozen products in the same trailer.
April saw the introduction of FlexAir, Thermo King's new reefer bulkhead, featuring a hinged design for easier maintenance. And May marks the release of the SmartCab from Thermo King, a remote control that will enable drivers to change trailer temperature, etc., from the cab.
More cost savings for trailer reefer units are possible through a new program from Carrier Transicold - RoadCare Certified Pre-Owned Equipment Coverage (CPEC) - which enables fleets to buy factory-backed, pre-owned refrigeration units that have passed a 49-point inspection and rigorous performance tests. Units are less than five years old and have run less than 8,000 hours. CPEC also enables fleets to increase the residual value of refrigeration equipment by selling warranties for units that meet the criteria.
Activity in the reefer market has not been limited to the trailer segment, however. Thermo King recently introduced the TS Series, a line of self-powered reefers for 16- to 28-ft. straight trucks. The units feature Thermo King's scroll-compressor technology for greater capacity and faster pull-down. The company says that the efficiency of the scroll compressor, in combination with the Clean and Silent diesel engine, bring added fuel savings.
The Internet grocer Growth in the urban delivery market has spurred the demand for small-truck refrigeration units. Thermo King has recently introduced two product lines to meet this need. The VM-400 Series for Class 3-4 trucks is targeted specifically for the home-grocery Internet delivery market, an area of particularly strong growth. Consequently, there's been an increased demand for multi-temperature systems in vehicles appropriate for residential neighborhoods.
And for even smaller trucks and vans, Thermo King offers the new V-200 Series. Although not multi-temp, it does feature a low-profile condenser and thin evaporator for maximum cargo loading.
Thermo King also offers new multi-temp models for larger trucks: MD-TLE (16-20 ft.) and RD-TLE (20-28 ft.). Both feature remote thin-line evaporators for maximum cargo capacity; in-cab controls; and compartment flexibility between fresh and frozen settings.