Electrification for the Win!

March 03, 2021

Meet Ryan Schumacher: Thermo King’s Newest Master Innovator

Back in college at North Dakota State University, Ryan Schumacher dreamed of the possibility of electric cars. Today, he is seeing progress happen faster than he had envisioned, and is happy to be part of developing technology to make this a reality.

“When I was younger, I thought I was going to follow in my grandfather’s footsteps and be an auto mechanic,” reminisced Ryan about his career path. “But I realized that I wanted to do more than just fix problems … I wanted to create better things and have a real impact on a more sustainable future. Here at Thermo King, I’ve come full circle. I get to hear from customers, external and internal, and drive change that will improve our customers’ experience and our world.”

There is no arguing that Ryan has had a big impact in his eight years here at Thermo King. As a senior electrical systems engineer within the Electrification Center of Excellence (COE) team, he is a core component leader on our architectures as they become more electrified. In non-engineer terms, he gets to figure out how to apply various components within our electrical architecture to create efficiencies, which drive value for our customers. The innovation he is contributing to Thermo King has already earned him 11 U.S. patents and a spot on the prestigious Frederick M. Jones Master Innovators list, a list of Thermo King inventors who have 10 or more patents under their belts.

Ryan earned his first patent at Thermo King for his work on the Precedent® trailer unit when he developed a method to detect and manage electrical phase loss. The invention keeps the unit fan running to protect the load until service is possible. He applied for the patent in 2013, the same year he started at Thermo King.

Another memorable patent for Ryan resulted from his work with our power converter’s modes of operation. Ryan was one of the many innovators responsible for increasing the efficiency of Thermo King’s power converter -- very important in the TriPac Envidia® all-electric auxiliary power unit and the E-200 electric small truck unit, which was first launched in EMEA and is now making its debut in North America.

One of Ryan’s recent patents centers on solar sustainability – making solar charges more resistant to truck use. “This is another area that is pretty exciting to me, and the success is all about teamwork with other colleagues,” said Ryan. “In many ways, the use of solar technology is looking at sustainability from another angle; besides harnessing free energy from the sun, it reduces waste – using fewer batteries being the big one.”

It turns out Ryan dabbled in solar technology back in his college days when he was part of NDSU’s solar vehicle team. “We raced across North America along Route 66 using our solar vehicle and placed first in our class,” explained Ryan, who was already demonstrating his intellectual prowess by volunteering to be the equipment trailer driver. “I finagled my way out of driving the actual solar vehicle during the race – it did not have A/C so you can imagine how hot it got travelling through Arizona,” he laughed.

There is no doubt, with or without the sun, Ryan’s future is bright here at Thermo King. He is creating the change he once dreamed of and making electrification win for our customers and our industry. “For me, it’s all about making great things that make peoples’ lives – and our world, a better place,” said Ryan.