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Twenty ways to save fridge fuel

Diesel prices are at record-highs but you can cut fuel use without waiting for tomorrow’s technological breakthroughs.  Pascal Richard, European product leader, Thermo King offers his advice.

“Modern refrigerated trucks and trailers are more energy efficient than those built even a decade ago and refrigeration systems are 10 to 20% more fuel-efficient than previous-generation systems.  They also are significantly quieter and leave a much smaller environmental footprint.

“Refrigeration system efficiency will no doubt stay in the spotlight as UK operators look ahead to more stringent environmental requirements, including the European Union’s F-Gas Regulation, and seek ways to reduce costs and improve operational efficiency.

“Manufacturers are continuously improving refrigeration system performance and efficiency to help operators get the best possible fuel efficiency.  For example, most of the refrigeration units sold today in the UK can run off shore power during loading and unloading, when the electric infrastructure is available.  Not only does this reduce diesel use and emissions, it also can help extend the life of the refrigeration unit.

“Today’s advanced software, microprocessor and communications technologies enable operators to monitor and remotely manage refrigeration units on a single piece of rolling stock or an entire fleet from a central location.  Multi-temperature reefer units can improve efficiency by enabling operators to set different temperatures for different loads in the same truck.

“Meanwhile, system manufacturers are constantly finding ways to improve their existing diesel products and explore non-diesel alternatives, such as cryogenics, which may offer significantly higher cooling capacity and faster temperature pull down and recovery times than conventional diesel units.”

20 ways to save fridge fuel

1 Save fuel and reduce wear and tear on the refrigeration unit by chilling products to their ideal temperature before loading.

2 Minimize door openings use electronic door switches and install strip curtains to reduce air loss during loading and unloading.

3 Revisit warehouse layout to enable loading and unloading of refrigerated trucks and trailers as quickly as possible to reduce cooling loss.

4 Use smart loading techniques such as loading items that need to be kept coolest near the front of the truck or trailer and the first items to be unloaded near the back.

5 Use trailers equipped with airflow guides and return bulkheads to create efficient temperature zones and improve airflow.

6 Use pallets and follow the manufacturer’s loading recommendations to optimize air circulation within the refrigerated compartment.

7 Operate the refrigeration unit on shore power during loading and unloading to save fuel and reduce wear and tear on the diesel engine.

8 Choose equipment fitted with an electronic throttling valve (ETV) on the refrigeration unit to pull down temperatures faster, reduce fuel consumption and improve product quality.

9 Consider using all-electric direct drive truck units for small refrigerated trucks and vans.

10 Consider using cryogenic technology.  Once the network for distributing cooling fluid is in place, this technology offers constant cooling capacity, faster pull down, and zero emission and no noise.

11 Train drivers, technicians and others in refrigeration system operation for optimum performance.

12 Use electronic and automated control technologies to establish and maintain the optimum setting for each product in a load.

13 Use settings that enable the refrigeration system to cycle on and off while keeping load temperatures within the set point range.

14 Understand system-operating modes, use high-efficiency modes when possible and choose the best mode for the particular load type.

15 Use multi-zone temperature controls to provide optimum temperatures for products with different requirements in the same load.

16 Consider replacing older refrigeration units with new, more efficient units that will pay for themselves in fuel savings over time.

17 Use web-enabled and advanced communications technologies to remotely track, monitor and control refrigeration systems.

18 Improve fuel efficiency and reduce carbon emissions by updating temperature-control systems.

19 Follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule to avoid breakdowns, improve performance and maximize fuel efficiency.

20 Perform preventive maintenance, especially on units operated under heavy-duty conditions, and periodically clean sensitive components such as reefer unit heat exchangers and engine air filters.