For refrigerated haulers, telematics introduces a first-ever capability — the ability to monitor and control transport refrigeration equipment from a central location, including changing cargo temperature profiles and setpoints, and making adjustments if needed while cargo is in transit.
“Telematics provides a view of the data around how the fleet performs and allows for quick changes when problems are found,” says Carl Breczinski, product manager for controls and digital solutions at Thermo King. “This could be as simple as understanding if policies on set-point and run mode are followed.”
But today’s systems can go far beyond that.
Both Thermo King’s ConnectedSuite and Carrier Transicold’s eSolutions platforms allow fleets to remotely monitor and download data reports from their trailers, with information such as temperature, operating mode, running hours, battery voltage, fuel level, and more available in real time.
Beyond that, they allow remote control of the refrigeration unit, allowing fleet managers to remotely turn the unit on or off, initiate defrost, initiate pre-trip, or change the unit running mode.
David Brondum, director of telematics for Carrier Transicold, Truck/Trailer/Rail Americas, explains that information can be shared with key cold chain stakeholders, including a fleet’s customers, without having to collect data onsite at the point of delivery.
Centralized monitoring streamlines cold chain compliance, saving time by supporting recordkeeping needed for Food Safety Modernization Act compliance.
The technology also creates new efficiencies for refrigerated operations.
“For example, fleets can activate units remotely for hands-free trailer precooling,” Brondum explains. And when trailer temperature settings are pre-configured remotely, the driver is removed from the equation, eliminating the chance of driver input errors.
Pre-trip diagnostic routines can be automated, setpoints can be managed remotely, and data downloads can be completed wirelessly. Refrigeration unit telematics can also help in theft avoidance. Alerts about unanticipated door openings or even sudden fuel loss, events that can be tied to geolocation data, can quickly identify potential theft situations.
Centralized oversight of temperature compliance not only helps in mitigating risk to refrigerated loads, but data recorded by the system also can easily validate temperature compliance from point to point, providing documentation to help avoid costly loss claims.
This article first appeared as a sidebar in the September 2021 issue of Heavy Duty Trucking.