Trailer refrigeration goes back to the future
Trailer refrigeration goes back to the future
In previous generations, transport refrigeration units running on electricity and alternative fuels were only imaginary. Today, we’re witnessing the rapid pace of technology changing in almost real time. It’s happening in the automotive industry, in urban transport vehicles, and the truck and trailer industry is not lagging far behind. So says FRANCESCO INCALZA, president of Thermo King Europe, Middle East and Africa
We are all experiencing the effects that emissions and greenhouse gases are having on our environment and our health. The growing world population – projected at 11 billion+ by 2050, nearly 70% of whom will be in urban areas – is creating new challenges within the areas of noise and emission pollution. The transport refrigeration industry adapts its technologies to combat these real concerns.
At Thermo King, a brand of Trane Technologies, innovation is driven by Trane Technologies’ 2030 commitment to reduce customers’ carbon emissions by one gigaton – equivalent to the annual emissions of Italy, France and the United Kingdom combined.
Innovation in areas like electrification, precision temperature control and connectivity contribute solutions that help improve the quality of life, in a sustainable way.
The road ahead
Over the 80+ years since 1938 when the Thermo King founders developed the first successful mechanical transport refrigeration unit, technology has advanced dramatically – adapted to meet efficiency, environmental and customer requirements.
Thermo King has constantly moved towards improving the efficiencies and environmental footprint of the diesel-powered products, introducing electric stand-by and plug-in options, pioneering cryogenic refrigeration technology, and developing hybrid (running on electric and diesel) and full-electric options that are combating exhaust, CO2 and noise pollutants. Today, zero- or low-emission solutions are available in all segments of the market, along with solar products and power management accessories that assist with these low-emission capabilities. And the innovation continues.
The future and conversion across the refrigeration industry is driven by efficiency demands and long-term economics. Vehicle manufacturers are exploring various ways to fuel the trucks and tractors, offering electric, natural gas and other options. Transport refrigeration is fully equipped to go along with it.
Power agnostic efficiency
Electrification and transition of conventional architecture is a trend that is set to continue, but the industry needs to stay agile. The future does not define one particular power source for the refrigeration systems. There is no one single fit. To offer a sustainable choice from the customers’ business and environmental point of view, power agnostic designs seem to be the key.
Following a power agnostic approach means that to deliver efficiency improvements and carbon reductions, you need to remain unbiased towards the use of any specific technologies. Refrigeration units’ power source should be adaptable to current (diesel, engine, electric) and future sustainable, alternative sources of energy, every time with maximum possible efficiency.
In June 2020, Thermo King unveiled its reimagining of the trailer refrigeration unit, the Advancer A-Series. With a modular design, Advancer offers future-ready power agnostic capabilities that can use diesel, axle generator or shore power sources.
Today, Advancer can run from the diesel engine; plugged into an electrical power source at a distribution centre; or as a hybrid, using a generator on the engine of the tractor that powers the refrigeration unit. Thermo King is also collaborating with BPW to develop a zero-emission, axle-powered solution. This technology will use the energy recovered via the trailer axle to operate the refrigeration unit in electric mode. Combined with new and future battery technology, this will enable the operators to switch to electric drive, independent of vehicle motorisation.
The response to this product representing Thermo King’s vision for the future of trailer refrigeration has been very positive. Advancer won the first place in “Smart Trailer” category of Trailer Innovation 2021 Awards.
Stay connected and see more
Continuing with the theme of future technology in the cold chain, connectivity is something not to be missed. The demand for Connected Solutions increases due to distributors and their customers’ desire to use the vast quantities of data collected to help continuously improve and create smarter operations.
It’s expected that cloud computing and Internet of Things solutions will be big growth areas, bringing promise of greater visibility, accountability and performance in both refrigerated transport and storage. Cloud and global 24/7 connectivity will allow logistics companies to become more responsive to customer needs.
At the end of the day, we are all in this world to make it a better place. Technologies and cold chain solutions can help us create a better quality of life for future generations.