Thermo King Shows First Two in New Trailer Line

Oct. 1, 2000
No sneak attack to start this war - Thermo King launched a full assault in front of witnesses in what the company says was the first battle of the Second

No sneak attack to start this war - Thermo King launched a full assault in front of witnesses in what the company says was the first battle of the Second Cold War. On Monday, September 11, 2000, Thermo King summoned the press to Minneapolis, and spent the remainder of the week with more than 500 truckload carriers, all potential customers for the first two units in what will be a complete line of new wide post trailer units to be introduced in the coming 18 months.

The new line retains the SB designation that Thermo King first introduced with the SB-I in 1978 and updated to the SB-II in 1985. The first two of this new line are the SB-200 and the SB-300, both high performance trailer units targeted at truckload carriers. Future introductions in the SB-series will include multi-temp systems for foodservice and wholesale grocery applications and an ultra-high capacity unit for ice cream and other critical deep frozen loads. When complete, the new SB-series will include six new units.

The introduction of the new SB-series reduces the Thermo King product line to two unit configurations for trailer applications. The Sentry series, based on the company's 1960s era NWD units, was recently dropped from the catalog. When the multi-temp versions of the new SB-series become available, all existing SB-III models will drop from production, leaving only the narrow-post Super II and the wide-post SB-series for trailer applications.

Simple Model Designations While new, the SB-series represents an evolution from the SB-III, not a wholesale change. The new model numbers indicate unit function in a simplification of the alphabet soup mix of model suffixes attached to the current line of SB-III units. For instance, the SB-200 is essentially the same as the current base model SB-III with most of the most popular options included as standard equipment. The SB-300 is a high performance unit designed for routine handling of deep frozen products.

Equipment previously available as options now is standard equipment on the new SB-series. Noise abatement, for instance, was designed into the new units from the start with soundproof materials, special door gaskets, sound absorbing doors, and a tuned engine intake system. New composite grilles over the radiator and condenser coils help control noise emission, reducing total noise level by two dB(a). All units in the SB-series are designed around the newest generation MP-VI microprocessor control system. This control system is combined with Thermo King's data acquisition system for a complete log of unit operation, set point, and cargo temperature. The DAS is equipped with six remote sensors to gather information throughout a trailer. Information from DAS can be downloaded into a personal computer, pulled on customer demand with a portable printer, or transmitted electronically to remote locations.

The new units also are equipped with the electronic throttling valve introduced by Thermo King in 1999. The new valve helps reduce pull-down time and controls temperature within an extremely narrow range, providing continuous airflow while minimizing dehydration in humidity-sensitive loads. The electronic throttling valve also improves fuel economy by reducing power demand on the engine once thermostat set point is reached. The SB-300 needs as little as one-half gallon of fuel per hour in low speed cool. Under heavy demand conditions, fuel usage rises to eight-tenths to 1.1 gallon per hour.

OptiSet Temperature Management The MP-VI controller includes the new OptiSet temperature management system. OptiSet offers 10 preset operational profiles that can match temperature, unit operating mode, acceptable temperature range, engine run time, and fuel economy to loads regularly carried. These profiles are programmed into the control system by Thermo King dealers. Once a driver sets the thermostat on the unit, OptiSet takes over all additional control settings. A new in-cab control panel is available for SB-series units as an option. This system requires a cable between tractor and trailer.

In general, the SB-series will rely on components already proved effective in the SB-III line. For instance, the internal frame is essentially the same, although it is now assembled with robotic welding. Both the SB-200 and the SB-300 use the Thermo King TK486 engine supplied by Yanmar and Thermo King's X430L, four-cylinder reciprocating compressor. Although the 2.2-liter diesel engines are essentially the same, they are not interchangable between the SB-200 and the SB-300. Engine designation for the SB-200 is TK486 while the designation for the SB-300 engine is TK486 HO, indicating that it operates at higher rpm in high speed cool.

The new SB-series units use molded composite material for the entire exterior skin and grilles. The new design is smoothly curved and uses no bright metal trim at all. The new appearance was created using Alias Industrial Design software, the same system used by Industrial Light and Magic to create dinosaurs in the film, Jurassic Park. Standard grille colors are gray for the SB-200 and black for the SB-300. Grille panels in custom colors also are available.

The primary composite used for the skins is thermo-formed ABS. The top cap, which is subjected to elevated temperature from the condenser coil and the engine radiator, is fiberglass. Inside the unit, the new composite evaporator housing is glass reinforced nylon.

Lighter Weight, Fewer Parts By using composites molded into complex shapes, Thermo King has been able to use 18% fewer body parts and to reduce unit weight to 1,635 lb for both the SB-200 and SB-300, down from 1,658 lb for the previous model SB-III SR. The new units have three access panels, two below the beltline hinged at the sides and one above the beltline hinged at the top. The upper hinges are made from composite material. In place of the mechanical prop used to hold the upper door open on the SB-III, Thermo King now uses gas springs to raise the upper door and hold it in place when technicians need access to the condenser blower.

Composite materials are used inside the new units as well. The evaporator pod now is molded composite instead of formed metal. With less insulation needed for composite material than for metal, the entire evaporator section can be made larger. This is done with the SB-300, which uses a 17% larger evaporator coil than that in the SB-200 for higher refrigeration capacity. The evaporator coil in the SB-200 is the same as that in the current SB-III.

The SB-200 is designed for protection of typical refrigerated and frozen food loads. Capacity for the unit is 60,000 Btu/hr at 35ø F, 32,000 Btu/hr at 0ø, and 21,000 Btu/hr at -20ø F. The SB-300 has the higher refrigeration capacity needed for carriers that routinely haul deep frozen loads. Capacity of the SB-300 is 64,000 Btu/hr at 35ø, 37,000 Btu/hr at 0ø, and 25,000 Btu/hr at -20ø F. Both the SB-200 and SB-300 are charged with R-404A. Airflow rate in the SB-200 and the SB-300 remains 3,250 cubic feet per minute as is the case with previous Thermo King units.

Overseas Testing The new units were tested extensively prior to introduction. As is often the case, Thermo King shipped units to Australia for testing in high ambient conditions in the northern parts of the country.

Testing in a distant location makes sense for a family of units designed for a global market, says Sean Kinsella, Thermo King president. In testament to that commitment to global availability, European versions of the SB-series were introduced in Frankfurt, Germany, two weeks after the US introduction in Minneapolis.

Kinsella explained the cold war marketing strategy, saying it referred to the constant battle to keep food safe. As the global food source expands to more nations, processors and carriers must be more vigilant about health risks associated with food, he said. By 2002, consumers in North America will have access to 30% more imported food than they do today. Although motor carriers have custody of most food for only two or three days at the most, they need to have the latest equipment and maintain the highest standards to ensure that food arrives at market in a safe and healthy condition, Kinsella said.

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