Food Safety: A Fresh Look at the Latest Reefer Technology and Equipment

Jon Ackerman

The sixth rule of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) released earlier this month details new requirements for ensuring the safe transport of food, including protections and monitoring. (Read more about the new regulations here.) Large shippers must comply as early as one year from now, making food safety an immediate priority across an already growing global cold chain. The resulting pressure has spawned significant investments in reefer technology and equipment to help shippers meet FSMA requirements, improve costs and productivity, and keep pace with exploding demand (Food Safety News). Below are some of the latest developments in reefer technology and equipment.

  • Wabash National recently unveiled a new, lightweight, corrosion-free, composite reefer trailer rated to hold 24,000 pounds. The trailer and refrigeration unit combined weigh less than a dry van, offering better fuel economy while addressing environmental concerns at a competitive price-point. Currently a prototype, the unnamed trailer is scheduled for fleet testing later in 2016 (Truck News).
  • TracKing™ telematics uses sensor technology to enable temperature management and load transparency in transit. Leveraging web-based capabilities, shippers monitor and control temperatures, track and trace shipments, and receive real-time notifications for time-sensitive events such as temperature changes, open doors, and refrigeration system fuel levels and battery life. Thermo King, the product’s manufacturer, says TracKing™ can reduce cargo claims and fuel consumption, increase asset utilization rates, and help carriers manage their maintenance better (Trucking Info).      
  • Thermo King’s ThermoLite™ solar panels continuously charge refrigeration system batteries in low-light conditions and even when the refrigeration system has been turned off. The extended battery life these high capacity panels afford gives over-the-road carriers an added layer of protection by preventing battery deterioration while mitigating risk of outages and shock hazards caused by electrical power surges. At a price of $400 to $500 per panel, ROI can be achieved in less than a year from a reduction in service calls for dead batteries (Irish Trucker). 
  • Hyliion has developed a new electric drive trailer, which is powered by its hybrid lithium ion battery pack, to save users 21 percent in fuel costs. In addition to the trailer, proposed applications for the battery pack include powering air conditioning and heating in sleeper cab, or powering entire reefer units. Still in testing, the battery could offer significant cost savings across applications along with positive environmental impacts (Trucking Info).
  • Transicold’s Vector™ platform powers electric refrigeration systems via hybrid diesel-electric technology, combining a generator with a diesel engine for more reliable refrigeration systems on the road. Vector™ also reduces servicing needs and costs by eliminating many of the mechanical parts present in conventional refrigeration systems, while simultaneously lowering greenhouse gas emissions (Refrigerated Transporter).      
  • TRAXENS offers an all-in-one container tracking system for ocean cargo, or “smart container,” with tracking hardware permanently installed during manufacturing. Customers order the type of container they need based on the product they’re shipping, along with a cloud-based subscription for data tracking. Available for both reefers and dry loads, these smart containers currently yield a battery life of three years (with a goal of ten) while eliminating the logistics and costs involved in adding and removing tracking hardware (JOC.com).
  • Ocean ports have also been adopting new technologies and modern approaches to help accommodate the upward trend in regularly scheduled refrigerated shipments into the U.S.  Adding blast freezing capabilities in transload facilities, installing reefer racks, and retrofitting wharves for reefers, ports will also make considerable investments in staff training to ensure swift repairs and pre-tripping, accurate vessel loading, and faster turn times (JOC.com). 

As global demands for fresh food continue to climb, technologies will emerge to help shippers meet their goals while keeping costs at bay. And now more than ever, working with an experienced 3PL partner who understands the technologies impacting the global cold chain can yield even greater efficiencies. LoadDelivered works with the most reliable carriers in the industry who must meet rigorous compliance standards when it comes to equipment and tracking technology. This ensures your refrigerated, ambient, and frozen shipments arrive at their destination on time and in ideal condition. Contact us to learn more

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