Using refrigeration-unit controls to ‘deep-freeze’ cargo theft

Using refrigeration-unit controls to ‘deep-freeze’ cargo theft

Globally, cargo theft is a multibillion-dollar industry. The types of goods stolen cover a wide range from electronics to clothing to tobacco products. The leading target of cargo thieves in North America, today, is food—meat in particular—a commodity that is typically transported by refrigerated trailers. Meat prices, driven upward by U.S. drought conditions in 2012, contributed to increased theft of meat products, a trend that continues.

Yet, as some savvy refrigerated fleet managers are discovering, their trailers’ sophisticated refrigeration-control systems not only enhance the efficiency of delivery operations, but also help solve cases of cargo theft with certain options.

“While refrigeration-control software is designed to enhance system performance and fuel efficiency, some features can also provide a surveillance capability to help in instances of theft,” says Mark Fragnito, electronics product manager for Carrier Transicold. “That capability can aid in investigations and, when combined with telematics, can also provide near-real-time surveillance, potentially stopping thefts from occurring.”

Software applications make it possible to fine-tune refrigeration unit controls for specific cargoes such as perishable fruits and vegetables, packaged frozen goods, meat, poultry or seafood. Variables include tightness of temperature control, air circulation and ventilation. Sensors help the system respond to changes in conditions outside the trailer, and unit-control software provides multiple ways to balance cooling with operational efficiency for improved fuel economy. Fragnito explains that sensors can track other types of trailer activity that may also provide clues in cases of theft.

Two key software applications, each with their own sensors, come into play. One monitors door openings, and the other monitors refrigeration system fuel levels.

“In normal refrigeration unit operation, a door-monitoring program is designed to electronically signal a refrigeration unit shut down or throttle back the refrigeration system when it detects a trailer door opening,” Fragnito says. “The intent is to avoid icing on the refrigeration unit coil. Smart logic used in programs such as Carrier Transicold’s Door Man application can intelligently determine whether outside conditions warrant shutting down the refrigeration system as a precautionary measure.”

The refrigeration unit control can also keep an electronic log of door openings, which is helpful in documenting arrival times and delivery durations. “However, if door openings occur at unexpected times, say in the middle of a delivery route or when the vehicle is parked for a driver rest break, this could be an indication of suspicious activity that requires further investigation,” Fragnito says.

In cases where cargo theft is discovered after the fact, the log of door openings may be correlated with chronological data and, if the vehicle is equipped with telematics, GPS data to determine likely locations where the theft occurred. Just as door-monitoring software may provide clues to cargo theft, fuel-level sensing systems may help detect instances of diesel stolen from the refrigeration unit fuel tank.

“The purpose of the fuel-level sensing systems is to help prevent the refrigeration system’s tank from being completely emptied, so as to maintain protection of cargo inside the trailer and to avoid a situation where air gets drawn into the system fuel lines, resulting in an accidental system shutdown that would require special service attention for restart,” Fragnito says.

Fuel-level monitoring software can alert drivers to a low-fuel condition and can even turn off the refrigeration unit, if the fuel drops to a critical level.

“The software also monitors the rate of fuel consumption, and that may provide added security in other ways,” Fragnito says. For example, if the software records a sudden loss of fuel along a delivery route, it could be an indication of fuel siphoning. Additionally, fuel consumption tracking and fuel-level sensing may provide added verification of when a driver or fueling service fills the refrigeration unit’s tank. This can be reconciled against receipts to ensure accurate billing.

From a security standpoint, door-opening and fuel-level monitoring capabilities become more powerful tools when telematics capability is added. Telematics capability provides near-real-time remote monitoring of the trailer, which can be combined with geotracking, so dispatchers can be alerted to unscheduled door openings or sudden losses of fuel, as well as the time and location where the events occur. Today’s trailer refrigeration systems are powerful and efficient cooling machines made smarter than ever with increased use of microprocessors, sensors and various software that enhances control functionality. When it comes to claims involving theft, a trailer refrigeration system could possibly become a key witness in helping fleets identify when and where goods were stolen or even trigger an alert that may prevent the theft from occurring at all.

You May Also Like

Phillips introduces Rear-Vu universal backup camera for commercial trucks

Phillips says the Rear-Vu Backup Camera offers low latency, a 170-degree wide angle and over 50 feet visibility.

Phillips-REAR-VU

Phillips Industries launched its Rear-Vu Backup Camera for the commercial trucking industry. Phillips says Rear-Vu is designed to be equipped to any trailer, and features a proprietary WiFi connection that extends more than 70 ft.

Phillips tells us Rear-Vu integrates with any ELD navigation system, with automatic over-the-air firmware updates. Additionally, the company says the camera has a 170-degree wide viewing angle, more than 50 ft. of visibility behind the trailer and ultra-low latency of less than 0.25 seconds for real-time viewing. It can also be used continuously while driving, allowing drivers to monitor traffic behind them.

Freightliner M2, SD Plus Series launch updates its medium-duty truck offering

Freightliner introduced the new Plus Series–enhanced versions of its M2 and SD models, including the M2 106 Plus, M2 112 Plus, 108SD Plus, and 114SD Plus. The enhanced models provide a major update to the interior and electrical systems of the M2 and SD models. The OEM noted that the Plus Series is designed to

Freightliner-MD-SD-Plus-Series-1400
Truck cruise control technology that looks at the road ahead

If you’ve ever visited the Northeast region of the country, you’ve most likely encountered intimidating terrain. The winding roads. The steep hills. The intricate routes that challenge any seasoned driver, and, most recently, advanced cruise control systems that aim to improve fuel efficiency and driver comfort.   Related Articles – Four ways A.I. can help cut

Four ways A.I. can help cut diesel fuel costs

The fluctuation of fuel prices has made it more challenging to operate day-to-day. Drivers get paid by the mile, and, when fuel costs go up, margins shrink, impacting how fleets profit and pay their employees. Intelligent technology can lessen the impact of high prices by improving overall fuel efficiency. Related Articles – New ways to

trucking-technology-hacking
Peterbilt GM Jason Skoog charts today’s truck support, tomorrow’s truck solutions

Peterbilt made headlines recently when it became the first major North American OEM to open orders for an electric truck, the Peterbilt 220EV. In this exclusive interview, Peterbilt General Manager and PACCAR Vice President Jason Skoog details the technology investments that are keeping fleets productive during this year’s trying pandemic and laying the groundwork for

Peterbilt General Manager PACCAR Technology Electric Truck

Other Posts

Hexagon Agility, Brudeli announce CNG/RNG system integration with PowerHybrid technology

The setup enables the powertrain to switch between hybrid modes, providing flexibility for fleets to operate with different energy options.

Penske, Daimler Truck North America, Carrier Transicold introduce all-electric Class 7 refrigerated truck

The truck combines Class 7 Freightliner eM2 battery-electric body with Carrier Transicold’s Supra e11 eCool electric refrigeration unit.

Ford to provide charging infrastructure for city of Dallas

As part of the agreement, Dallas will install Ford Pro chargers at city worksites and use Ford Pro smart charging software.

Accelera showcases new technology at ACT Expo

“We now have over 1.5 billion miles in the field on our e-mobility products,” Amy Davis, president of Accelera, said.