Extendable trailer specs

Refrigerated Transporters Prepare for Smart Trailer Technology for Cold Chain Logistics

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Paying attention to the details of cold chain logistics can save customers and carriers money, especially for companies investing in the latest technological advancements. That’s why the American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council is turning to the study of refrigerated trailer operations.

This month, TMC is releasing a new information report titled “North American Refrigerated Trailer Survey Report: Next Generation Trailer Expectations.” Developed in cooperation with eSMART, a collaboration between Business Accelerants and WillGo Transportation Consulting, the insight report compares the operations of 33 fleets representing approximately 20% of all refrigerated trailers and domestic containers produced over the past seven years in North America. , and approximately 12% of all reference units in operation in North America overall.

The safety of food and pharmaceutical distribution is paramount. The technology is already providing detailed ground-to-home tracking in this important segment of the trucking industry. The federal government and retailers nationwide are driving innovation to ensure deliveries are made successfully while overcoming challenges associated with equipment maintenance, shipping issues, traffic, weather and driver availability.


The latest report builds on the success of the collaboration’s first effort, in June 2021, which explored the use and adoption of intelligence products and services in industry with an examination of industry adoption. trailer rental and rental fleet. The previous report, “TMC IR-2021-1: North American Trailer Rental/Lease Company Survey Report — Next Generation Trailer Expectations,” an analysis of smart trailer technologies currently employed by North American trailer rental/lease companies, is available by contacting TMC. .

TMC’s June 2021 study identified refrigerated carriers as early adopters of the technology, driven by the need to track temperatures and the high cost of breakdowns. This new study provides detailed data on typical trailer configurations, refrigerated trailer life, transport refrigeration unit expectations, technology challenges, ROI decision criteria and more.

The initial study showed that refrigerated fleets were more likely than other carrier types to adopt new electronic technology on the trailer. For example, while data at the time suggested that less than 25% of trailers had an electronic trailer tracking system, 65% of refrigerated trailers had the same technology and some with more to control the tracking unit. transport refrigeration.

“In short, it’s because we expect as much technology change for the trailer over the next 30 years as we’ve seen for the tractor over the past 30 years,” said co-lead researcher Paul Menig, CEO of Business Accelerants. “The effort began in early 2019 with a panel discussion at one of our many industry trade association meetings. This led to the formation of two working groups at TMC to review the architecture electricity needed on the trailer in the future and how the connection to the tractor will have to change.

“Twenty-five years ago I was involved in discussions about hooking up trailers when the ABS trailer regulations came into force in 2001. So to start this effort we did a short survey to find out where are the fleets today with the use of one and two connectors. As expected, the percentage of trailers with more than one connector has increased significantly.”

Menig has over 40 years of truck manufacturing engineering experience during his tenures at Eaton Transmission and Daimler Truck North America.

From this emerged the rationale to initiate an analysis of smart trailer technologies currently employed by North American trailer rental/leasing companies. Focusing on the refrigerated trailer sector has proven useful in learning important insights into the early adoption of smart trailer technology.

What drives refrigerated transporters to invest in technology?

“It’s probably no surprise that it’s a settlement,” Menig said. “The main regulations are food safety rules, especially the Food Safety and Modernization Act. Already this year, the FDA has issued 44 recalls. The second most important rule is the California Air Resource Board Rules for Transport Refrigeration Units. Sixty-nine percent of the trailers surveyed are already CARB compliant. Given the lifespan of a trailer, carriers wanted to get ahead of this regulation.

This latest TMC report provides a wealth of information for fleets and suppliers to help them compare specifications and practices across a wide range of areas.

“I think the value they will get from benchmarking best practices and specifications will be worth the initial cost of the report and the time invested in studying it,” said co-lead researcher Charles Willmott of WillGo Transportation Consulting. Willmott has extensive experience in the trailer industry with leadership positions at Strick Cos., Xtra Corp. and Solomon Tri-Modal.

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The report reveals valuable lessons regarding carriers’ perceptions of the benefits, challenges, opportunities and disappointments of smart trailer technology. For example, survey data indicates that carriers expect to receive tangible improvements from smart products in many areas of operational efficiency. However, their views on the life cycle and maintenance of smart products or the proper integration of smart data with the carrier TMS are more reserved. Some of the biggest disappointments identified with smart technology include equipment failure, battery life, and issues with spare parts.

The report covers a number of important topics, including how smart trailer data is used, what influences investments in smart technologies, how fleets establish return-on-investment metrics, and carriers’ plans to smart trailer technology.

TMC thanks several companies who helped create the survey, reach out to fleets, and provide information to the industry. Tier 1 outreach sponsors — Clarience Technologies and Wabash — recognized the importance of the survey early on and helped revise the questions. Tier 2 Outreach Sponsors – Peterson Manufacturing, Cal/Amp and Orbcomm – helped spread the word to the industry via our April 27 webinar where the report was released.

A recording of the April 27 webinar is available via TMC – for more information, visit http://tmcconnect.trucking.org (select the TMC Webinars tab). To purchase the full version of the information report, call TMC at (703) 838-1763 or email [email protected]

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