Dean Foods, Thermo King introduce eco-friendly reefer technology

Dean Foods, Thermo King introduce eco-friendly reefer technology

Dean Foods recently unveiled a delivery vehicle equipped with a new prototype truck refrigeration system developed by Thermo King. The diesel-free, hybrid electric-powered refrigeration technology reduces emissions and waste by operating on electricity both while parked and while driving, eliminating the need for an independent engine in the refrigeration unit. It also emits significantly less noise than conventional mechanical refrigeration units.

Dean Foods, a large dairy processor and owner of one of the largest refrigerated direct-store delivery distribution networks in the food and beverage industry, unveiled a delivery vehicle equipped with a new prototype truck refrigeration system developed by Thermo King. This advanced, cost-efficient and environmentally sustainable truck refrigeration system significantly reduces the emissions associated with traditional diesel-powered transport refrigeration, according to Thermo King.

The diesel-free, hybrid electric-powered refrigeration technology will help Dean Foods reduce its carbon footprint while creating operational efficiencies and cost savings. The technology also represents a step towards achieving Dean Foods’ commitment to remove 50,000 metric tons of carbon from its transportation system by 2013, the equivalent of removing 9,500 cars from the road.

The units replace traditional mechanical models that rely on a separate diesel-powered engine to facilitate cooling while en route, and require oil, filters and anti-freeze as part of their routine maintenance. The new unit reduces emissions and waste by operating on electricity both while parked and while driving, eliminating the need for an independent engine in the refrigeration unit. Additionally, the new unit emits significantly less noise than conventional mechanical refrigeration units, Thermo King said.

The prototype truck refrigeration system has already been put into service in Dean Foods’ Dallas-area fleet, making daily deliveries from the company’s Oak Farms Dairy facility since March 2010. The company aims to achieve at least a 50% savings in diesel fuel usage as compared to traditional refrigerated vehicles by adopting the new technology over the longer-term. Eliminating the diesel used in the refrigeration units of traditional vehicles would remove 21,000 pounds of carbon per vehicle per year and significantly reduce costs, the company said.

The adoption of new transport refrigeration technology is part of Dean Foods’ Smart Fleet initiative – an enterprise-wide effort to “green the fleet” by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other harmful pollutants through delivery route optimization, investments in new technology and equipment and training for drivers. Dean Foods has made significant investments to automate its distribution network, install on-board monitors to gauge idling and vehicle speed, and implement optimized route modeling software to build the most efficient delivery routes, reducing fuel usage and costs in the process, according to the company.

In 2008, the company established its Environmental Roadmap, with a goal to reduce its carbon footprint by 20%, water use by 30% and solid waste by 30%, all by 2013.

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