Long-time Thermo King customer Martin Brower Brampton Canada is all about trying innovative products that have the potential to increase fleet efficiencies while supporting the company’s green initiatives. So when Fleet and Warehouse Engineering Manager Chris Chua had the chance to trial Thermo King’s Power Management solutions in mid-2016 with dealer partner Thermo King Eastern Canada (TKEC), he didn’t flinch.
“We always get great support from TKEC and we like to try new technologies before full adoption… especially with the harsh weather conditions that occur in Canada,” said Chua. “The Power Management trials have allowed us to see how various technologies perform in all four seasons, with proven performance.”
Martin Brower Brampton Canada first tried Thermo King’s ThermoLite® solar panel to support reefer operation, hoping to improve fuel consumption and reduce engine hour run-time. “With the solar panel, we can leave the reefer on CYCLE-SENTRY™ mode – all year long including winter, without worry of a dead battery. Previously, we’d run in continuous mode, burning fuel for no reason, just to ensure the battery would stay charged,” said Chua. “We are also recording fewer engine hours on the reefer, which stretches out the warranty time – it takes longer to reach the 15,000 hour mark. Both translate to financial savings and reduced emissions.”
Due to the successful performance of the ThermoLite solar panel, all new Thermo King reefers ordered for Martin Brower Canada’s fleet are now specified with this power management solution and have become an important component to the company’s sustainability commitments.
Martin Brower Brampton Canada’s trial quickly progressed to include a Thermo King solar panel to support liftgate batteries. “The customer was looking to improve reliability and reduce breakdowns of their fleet’s liftgates, a historical battle that affects downtime and increases maintenance costs,” said Joe Rabak, national parts & procurement manager for TKEC.
And according to Chua, the results have been a double whammy, significantly reducing the number of liftgate breakdowns and improving reliability. “We are getting greater reliability and have not had to replace any dead liftgate batteries. We used to see at least one breakdown per month. We have seen less than five in the almost two years we’ve added the solar panel. That’s significant.”
The most recent power management product being tested by Martin Brower Brampton Canada is Thermo King’s new EPJ Charger, which is designed to keep EPJs charged and operational so they’re ready when needed. “The charger provides 120V power inside trailers for operating EPJs, drawing power from the liftgate battery pack as it delivers the accessibility of a wall outlet inside the trailer,” explained Paul Kroes, Thermo King’s Power Solutions Business Development manager. “Fully sealed, it mounts under the trailer to protect it from damage.”
For Martin Brower Brampton Canada, the ability to keep EPJs charged throughout its extensive service range was the enticement to give the charger a try. “Our drivers have 10+ hour trips on a few of our routes,” said Chua. “I anticipate seeing greater benefits in summer when we are busiest. Often our EPJs do not get enough charge between runs so they fail. This solution offers charging while on the road.”
For Martin Brower Brampton Canada, the ability to test these products on its fleet and compare performance differences between the same model/aged trailer and reefer is very valuable. “With Joe’s support in providing data – through spreadsheets and graphs, coupled with driver feedback and confirmed with what we are seeing in terms of reliability and reduced breakdowns, we can be confident in performance and can better make decisions for our entire fleet,” said Chua.
Some new light has been shed on how to enhance the performance of battery-powered auxiliary power units (APUs), and it was right there above us all along. Using solar panels mounted to the roof fairing of a tractor can produce enough power to extend the operation of a battery-powered HVAC system and hotel load power for an additional three to four hours. A 300-watt roof fairing-mounted solar panel can also power the liftgate and maintain the charge in the truck’s primary batteries, according to Jeff Kauffman of Tahoe Ventures, who was speaking at the FTR Transportation Conference in September.
With schedules to keep and countless people depending on public transit daily, reliability is paramount when it comes to city transit buses. One common battle that transit maintenance teams fight involves fast-draining batteries, but CT Transit in Hartford, Connecticut, has found a bright solution from Thermo King.