Gayatri Abbott, director of telematics product management for Thermo King, a global transport refrigeration provider and a brand of Ingersoll, states, “American families can thank the cold chain for the bounty they will enjoy this holiday season. After all, most of the meats, fruits and vegetables they will consume will travel from producer to supermarket in temperature-controlled trucks and trailers.”
Yet, a surprising amount of the U.S. food supply never makes it to the dinner table, according to the National Resources Defense Council, which estimates that 40% of food the country produces goes uneaten.
The council says that consumers are the biggest wasters of food, but the refrigerated transporters have a significant role to play in reducing spoilage and safeguarding the perishable foodstuffs they are entrusted to carry, Abbott notes.
Refrigerated fleet operators and shippers rely on modern technologies including highly efficient transport refrigeration units (TRUs), digital electronic controls, and integrated temperature and asset management systems to improve food safety, reduce waste, comply with changing government regulations and improve profitability.
For example, Abbot says, “Advanced temperature and asset management systems can help protect the integrity, safety and security of food shipments in a single trailer or across a large fleet. Operators can use the system’s easy-to-use dashboard to monitor load temperatures in real-time, track door openings, check TRU fuel levels, change set points and operating modes, and respond to alarms. Since these systems use cellular and Wi-Fi technologies, all of these actions, and more, can be performed using a laptop, tablet or smart phone.”
Reporting features enable shippers and operators to generate verifiable condition-reporting to customers, reducing the incidence of expensive spoilage claims and the potential of litigation. They can prove that the trailer was pre-cooled to the right temperature, the TRU was alarm free, door openings were kept to a minimum and cargo was delivered at the right temperature.
“Proper handling and distribution can help reduce food waste and improve profitability for everyone in the cold chain,” Abbott adds. “Less spoilage means fewer trucks, less fuel consumption and lower overall costs as companies can do a better job of predicting the amount of food that needs to be transported.”