Reefer Management Systems & What You Should Know

A 24' Reefer from the front
August 6, 2020
Posted by: Suppose U Drive

Keeping cargo at the optimal temperature during transport is a critical task for any carrier that handles reefer truck shipments. Just a few degrees could mean thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, worth of lost inventory. Fortunately, cargo refrigeration has come along way over the last several years.

Different tech and gadgets are made available all the time, including these five innovations that are moving the likes of refrigerated trucking into the next era.

#1 It's going electric


Perhaps an obvious innovation that’s being pushed in refrigerated trucking is the move to electric components. This is a trend we’re seeing across the automotive industry and more manufacturers make the move to scale back diesel and gasoline powered engines and instead offer hybrid and full-electric options, both for commercial and consumer vehicles.

Refrigerated trucks are no exception, with many companies testing electric versions. Chanje, a startup, has developed a refrigerated van as well in a collaboration with Thermo King (a refrigeration giant). The prototype for this van was debuted at the ACT Expo last year, which is a big commercial show dedicated to electric vehicles.

In other places, including Europe, additional companies have gotten into the electric trucking game. One such example is Renault Trucks, which has developed a box truck that’s refrigerated and fully electric. Such vehicles will prove extremely beneficial in urban environments where they can cut back on air pollution and eliminate the noise that comes along with delivery trucks within neighborhoods.

#2 Solar on top of trailers

eNow Solar Truck

Larger refrigerated trucks are often equipped with a separate engine, but that doesn’t rule out the potential of being greener. In fact, all of that surface area on top of the trailer could be used to place solar panels, which could link to a battery in the back of the trailer.

One company, named eNow, makes a cooling unit that’s entirely solar powered to replace the engine of a refrigerated trailer. Most of these small engines that power the refrigeration units are unregulated and highly polluting, so this makes for an interesting and impactful use of solar in trucking.

#3 Liquid Nitrogen

Dearman Airproducts Refueler

A company out of Britain by the name of Dearman has worked to create an engine that cools using liquid nitrogen. Chilled to roughly -320 degrees F, the nitrogen cools the trailer but expands as it warms up, therefore driving a piston and generating its own power. The liquid nitrogen therefore powers and cools the trailer where the cargo is kept.

This makes for one of the most innovative developments we can cite right now, and it will be exciting to see what else this company comes up with to move the trucking industry forward in the next few years.

#4 Smart Reefers


Connected vehicles are already utilizing technology to help them communicate better, including GPS, 5G, and machine learning. Now, these same technologies can be used in refrigerated trucking to help reduce fuel consumption.

Researchers are suggesting that truck operators need improved models to help them reduce emissions associated with less-than-optimal routes of their refrigerated load deliveries. Of course, these companies are already building “reefer management systems,” which use the latest in sensors and software so they can operate more efficiently.

These sensors can do everything from monitor the exact temperature of cargo to quickly alert of fluctuations to helping truckers shave time off their delivery, much in the same way consumer technology strives to do.

#5 Advanced Thermal Materials

Advanced Thermal Materials

Getting down to the physical and mechanical aspects of reefer trucks, there are still improvements to be made even after all this time. The trucking industry has continued to research and identify more efficient materials for keeping cool environments cool and hot environments hot, and now next-generation materials are being tested to do just that even better.

After all, one of the most cost-effective ways to keep a reefer truck’s cargo at the right temperature is to ensure the reefer truck itself is up-to-par and built with the best material to insulate it from the changing outside environment.

Phase change materials, for instance, will help absorb and release heat when they go through a phase change (such as from a solid to a liquid, like ice melting). These are the materials that they’re hoping to use in new ways. If reefer trucks can find ways to use them to better maintain cool cargo on hot days, without using the truck’s energy-hungry unit, these trucks would see a lot less fuel use, and that’s good for everyone.

Don’t get left out in the cold.

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