Joe Summers | Product Planner, Transport & Commercial Controls
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions
This blog is based on an article published in Refrigerated Transporter titled “‘Rayfrigeration’ TRU generates impressive results in real-world testing.” Read the full article here.
Effective refrigerated transportation is essential to the cold chain. If we can’t keep perishable food at a steady temperature from point A to point B, the results are spoiled food, loss of revenue and empty shelves. The emissions produced by the high-polluting, small diesel engines on trucks trying to keep food cool have always seemed to be a necessary evil. However, those days may be numbered.
The new “Rayfrigeration” transport refrigeration unit (TRU) from eNow is the first zero-emissions, commercial-use TRU capable of making deliveries in urban environments. Over five months of testing, it boasted massive emissions reductions.
Utilizing two forms of energy storage, eutectic medium (cold plates) and a high-capacity auxiliary battery system, the Rayfrigeration TRU gets charged when the vehicle is plugged in overnight and then, while the truck is on a delivery route, uses power from eNow’s solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, which are mounted on the truck’s roof.
Not only is this unit projected to reduce operations and maintenance costs by up to 90 percent, it also reduced the average carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of a delivery truck over a four-day period from 2,525 to 159 pounds; nitrous oxide (NOX) emissions were reduced from 7,162 grams to 1.
The ability to cut CO2 emissions by 86 percent, lower NOX emissions by 98 percent and slash particle matter emissions by 97 percent is a groundbreaking step in reducing the cold chain’s ecological footprint. As businesses and organizations continue to develop their own sustainability initiatives and the EPA proceeds with stricter regulations, innovative technology like this will be at the forefront of industry priorities.
This is the fifth and final post in a five-part series on food safety throughout the month of September.
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) requires stakeholders to implement and document a program ensuring safe transport of food within the U.S. Shippers, receivers, loaders and carriers engaged in transportation operations need to be aware of and understand the impact of FSMA. If there is a food safety incident, the following may be required:
Proof that the vehicle used in transport did not allow food to become unsafe
Written procedures of the company’s food transport safety program
Verification that employees were adequately trained on proper safe pre-cooling and transport procedures
Proof that the product was transported under safe temperature conditions
Instead of reacting to an incident, we recommend a proactive approach to food safety that can help mitigate risks, reduce shrink and protect brand reputation. The fresh foods supply chain is complex, with multiple steps and parties involved, and if inconsistencies in temperature occur in any segment along the journey “from farm to fork,” food quality and safety can be compromised. Also, companies that recognize the technology advancements available for automated, real-time temperature monitoring can use these solutions to modernize their supply chain.
Below are seven temperature monitoring best practices to leverage throughout the transport of fresh foods to help with creating an effective written program with FSMA in mind:
Establish pre-cooling processes: Before food is transported, it should be pre-cooled by the supplier to the correct transit temperatures, as this can have a direct impact on product quality, safety and shelf life. Pre-cooling should occur when the container is connected to the cold storage unit.
Ensure proper loading practices: Perishable products should be loaded in a manner that allows airflow through the transport container, making sure that it does not go above the “load” line. Also, the product packaging itself should promote airflow.
Develop and communicate proper transport temperatures: When the product is then shipped to distribution centers, it must remain within acceptable temperature ranges for the particular commodity (i.e., 56-62°F for bananas and 32-39°F for dairy).
Integrate temperature monitoring device and placement procedures: Place a digital temperature monitoring device on the product to provide the most accurate product temperature data. Establish consistent placement locations in all trailers.
Check temperature data upon receipt at the distribution center: Quality assurance staff should check the temperature monitoring device’s data for any breaches once the shipment reaches the distribution center. These devices provide historical information about what happened during transit and can help identify any issues that may not be visible but could affect the future food quality and shelf life.
Continue product monitoring from distribution center to store: Once the product is consolidated at distribution centers, it is regrouped and sent to an individual store. While this segment of the cold chain is subject to similar food quality risks, independent monitoring devices are not always used to validate that product temperatures have been maintained. We recommend use of these devices in this step along the process for a complete, continuous monitoring program.
Utilize facility management systems for yard monitoring: Finally, as perishable products are held in stationary facilities while being pre-loaded and waiting for transport in the yard, use facility management systems to address this segment in the supply chain.
For more than 20 years, Emerson Retail Solutions has been helping businesses like yours safeguard food, reduce energy consumption, protect the environment and optimize business results. To learn more about our technology solutions and services for retailers, visit our website.
Vice President and General Manager, Cargo Solutions
The journey of a marine refrigerated (reefer) container from the producer to the consumer is fraught with many challenges. When you consider all the transit trials these containers are presented with, maintaining a consistent setpoint of -40 °C to +30 °C throughout the transport process is no small task. From high ambient temperatures and extreme environments to excessive handling due to a variety of logistic delays and intermodal shifts, there are many factors that can place container contents in jeopardy. Some shipping companies rely on pervasive connectivity to their container fleets to monitor perishable cargos throughout the process and troubleshoot issues along the way.
In our most recent Making Sense webinar installment, I discussed Emerson Climate Technologies’ approach to reefer container management through pervasive connectivity. Beyond the shipper’s goal to improve profit margins, there are many trends driving the growing adoption of on-board diagnostic systems, including: regulatory governance of perishables; continued focus on improving energy consumption; expansion of global systems for mobile communications (GSM); and ever-increasing consumer expectations. All of these factors make pervasive connectivity a sound investment for shipping companies that want to stay competitive.
I also discussed the many advantages of deploying pervasive connectivity on reefer containers, and how such solutions allows the shipper to monitor key transit activities in specific geographic zones, such as: route verification, confirmation of final delivery, and automated, on-site notifications to alert handlers and minimize delays. Advanced diagnostic capabilities give shipping company administrators a window into reefer container conditions. Everything from g-force detection and setpoint temperature deviations to prolonged “off” periods are visible to the administrators through advanced event handling and alert notifications.
With the many benefits that on-board, pervasive connectivity provides, the reasons for adopting this technology to improve shipping line operational efficiency are obvious. Reduced energy costs, maintenance, incident claims and handling costs combined with increased revenue and precise container utilization create a strong business case for adoption.
To listen to an archived recording of this webinar and learn more about pervasive connectivity on reefer containers, please visit our Making Sense website, where we make sense of the issues that matter most in commercial refrigeration today.
Emerson Climate Technologies, Transportation Solutions
Commercial & Residential Solutions is a global innovator of energy-efficient heating, air conditioning and refrigeration solutions for residential, industrial and commercial applications. www.climate.emerson.com