ThermoKing talks solar panel-powered reefer units at MATS

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Updated Apr 6, 2016
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ThermoKing addressed challenges facing the cold chain trucking industry at the Mid-America Trucking Show last Thursday.

Driver retention, driver shortages, traceability with the new Food Safety Modernization Act, asset management and unscheduled maintenance are issues the industry is having to address, according to Doug Lenz, vice president of product management and business development at Thermo King.

Solar panels are leading the way for addressing unscheduled maintenance issues. One solar panel on one truck sees a one year return on investment, says Paul Kroes, solar business development manager for Thermo King.

“Solar power is there, every day,” Kroes said.

The panels can help negate battery issues, Kroes said. Batteries require a consistent amount of energy to be well-maintained, and during a driver’s down time there may not be enough energy generated to satisfy the batteries requirements. Solar panels can feed consistent energy to the battery.

“Everybody has battery problems, once they start bringing them up and we start talking about it we realized that we can actually help them and solve them in a very real and sustainable way,” Kroes said. “Our panels are designed to not be a service panel, they’re designed to solve those problems.”

In terms of asset management and traceability, Gayatri Abbott, Thermo King project manager in telematics and intelligent services, says remote monitoring systems are key to the future of asset management. Systems that allow drivers and fleets to track temperatures from pickup to delivery let them present that data graph upon delivery to show that the necessary temperature was maintained.