Many of today’s grocery and foodservice distributors utilize multi-temp reefers to meet their needs for versatility and high capacity. These specialized trailers can be divided into multiple temperature-controlled compartments, including ambient, in order to transport a variety of products in their required environment.
Recognizing their customers’ desire to achieve “green” or sustainability initiatives and to meet air quality regulations, multi-temp trailer manufacturers are investing in alternative technologies so their units can use less fuel and reduce emissions.
Features such as electric standby, durable trailer lining, LED lighting and CO2 refrigerant technology all help multi-temp trailer users reduce their carbon footprint and their gas bills.
“As consumers we see sustainability in all aspects of our culture, so naturally this is something the transportation industry is tuned in to,” explains Dave Kiefer, director of marketing and product management of Carrier Transicold, Athens, GA. “Our solution to this concern is developing ways to use less fuel, which lowers your carbon footprint and saves money, so it’s a win-win situation.”
But sustainability and air quality won’t be the only factors to drive multi-temp trends in 2011. Food safety regulations are on the radar for most grocery and foodservice transportation providers. Today’s manufacturers are coming up with new products and solutions to make sure the proper temperature is maintained for food safety.
Electric standby operation is the latest trend to hit the reefer market. This feature allows the unit to plug into grid power and work like a large, sophisticated electric refrigerator. While the truck is stopped for loading, staging or cold storage, drivers now have the ability to turn off the diesel engine and power the refrigeration unit electrically, conserving fuel and eliminating exhaust emissions.
In addition to being an environmentally friendly operation model, it quickly shows an ROI in terms of operating costs because electricity is less expensive than diesel fuel.
“Using electric standby power has been popular in Europe for quite awhile now,” Kiefer says. “But in the past there hasn’t been enough incentive to do this in America. It requires infrastructure upgrades and if the price of diesel fuel is low, the payoff takes longer.”
Major spikes in fuel prices over the past few years, coupled with the passage of air quality regulations, such as those imposed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), motivated companies in the United States to consider electric standby.
“In other parts of the world they’ve been doing this forever. In some places in Europe 70 percent of their trailers are equipped with electric standby because fuel has hit $11 or $12 a gallon in the past,” Kiefer says. “We developed this technology for outside the United States, and then decided to bring it into the United States in 2006 when we foresaw what was going to happen with fuel prices and regulations”
Carrier Transicold offers the Vector line, consisting of three products: A single-temp, a multi-temp and an engineless stationary model for cold-storage. With the refrigeration system’s all-electric architecture, Vector units deliver approximately the same performance on electric standby as they do in diesel operation.
Thermo King North America of Minneapolis, MN, offers an add-on electric standby feature called SmartPower for their conventional units.
“We’re seeing an increase in customers investing in the infrastructure to provide electric standby at their docks,” said Tom Kampf, trailer and rail product manager, Thermo King.
Thermo King offers a unique benefit to help their customers display their environmentally friendly decision to run electric standby.
“Some request to have the unit wrapped with a scene from nature to convey an environmental message,” says Kampf. “They can choose white sand beaches, fields of wheat and barley or mountain ranges. They want to visually show their customers and the community that they’re meeting their sustainability initiatives.”