Ask the Expert – Thermo King

Thermo King continues its reign over the transport temperature control solutions industry  

Claudio Zanframundo is the Vice President of the Global Marine, Rail and Air division of Thermo King, a leader in transport temperature control solutions and a strategic brand of Trane Technologies.  

Peter Østergaard Hansen is Sr. Product Manager for Marine, Rail and Bus at Thermo King, a leader in transport temperature control solutions and a strategic brand of Trane Technologies.  

What is Thermo King and what makes you stand out from competitors? 

Claudio Zanframundo: Thermo King® is a worldwide leader in sustainable transport temperature control solutions and a strategic brand of Trane Technologies, alongside our HVAC for buildings strategic brand,Trane.  

Thermo King pioneered transport temperature control in 1938 and our first marine reefer unit was launched in 1956. Since then, Thermo King has developed an entire product line of marine transport refrigeration units. This includes the Magnum and Magnum Plus units, which are best in their class, offering lowest set-point of -40°C. In the most common segment of -30 to +30°C, we offer the newest unit, the ‘Container Fresh and Frozen’ (CFF), which can reach and maintain best-in-class, precise temperature control in the toughest conditions. 

Thermo King is the only supplier covering all modes of transport – sea, road, rail and air. Our comprehensive product range includes refrigeration units for long haul, inner-city deliveries, last-mile deliveries, intermodal, HVAC rail and bus, Cold Storage Solutions, marine and air. Our products and solutions are backed by an extensive, global dealer network that provides expert, factory-trained service.

What is CFF REEFER technology and how is it used by Thermo King?  

Peter Hansen: The CFF unit is the culmination of our deep container refrigeration knowledge acquired from the intermodal use of reefer units on rough roads and even rougher seas. The CFF provides optimal COP (Coefficient Of Performance), temperature control accuracy and air management (humidity, CO2/O2).  

The CFF offers shipping lines improved temperature and humidity control, lower total cost of ownership, and the implementation of low pressure, lower GWP R513A refrigerant. The units have been tested by several major shipping lines, we also successfully completed a third-party testing with Cambridge Refrigeration Technology. 

What are the benefits for your customers? 

Peter Hansen: The CFF is a game changer in terms of energy efficiency. It features an advanced temperature management control system that delivers best-in-class, precise temperature control, as well as less energy consumption, which is a great winning point from the total cost of ownership and sustainability point of view.  

Overall, Thermo King´s reefer offering ranging from SuperFreezers reaching a -70°C set-point, Mangum Plus with -40°C set-point and CFF with the industry standard -30°C set-point is the broadest portfolio in the market. Our focus remains on driving value adding features for customers in the cold chain, no matter what set-point or mode of transport they operate. 

Now, even after the pandemic, when we developed the SuperFreezer to hold mRNA vaccines at -70°C, we have several projects and customers requiring ultra-low temperatures in seafood and pharma where customised solutions are needed. 

What other technological innovations have been developed at Thermo King? 

Claudio Zanframundo: In the Thermo King Genset range, we just launched a UnderMount Flex Chassis model. It´s a ISO1496-2 compliant power pack with 3000 hours service interval, more compact and based on the Thermo King SG3500 genset model. This genset truly stands out in the market with the long service interval, advanced controller, optional telematics with fuel sensor monitoring. 

One of the largest Global shipping lines placed an order for over 3000 of our CFF units, over 1500 of our SG5000 Clip-on gensets designed for the North American market, with deliveries under way, but unfortunately, I can’t name the company.  In North America, we successfully closed several deals with shipping lines, leasing companies and trucking companies for both SG5000 and SG3500 genset models. 

In the industry, digitalisation and use of data is now a big trend. Getting access to data, translating data into information and providing knowledge to internal and external stakeholders. Thermo King has controllers with data logger incorporated to constantly monitor performance of the equipment, and log events. With patented SMART PTI (Pre-Trip Inspection) we have and intelligent solution where we take measurements at the same time every day during voyage and compare condition, temperature and energy use, creating a pattern to monitor the health of the specific reefer units for years. This data can be stored in the cloud and contribute to reducing operating costs. 

Within the context of sustainability and energy-efficiency, how is Thermo King keeping ahead of the game?  

Claudio Zanframundo: Sustainability is key for the Shipping Industry in general. Thermo King invests in research and development that correspond with evolving and emerging technologies and allow us to deliver sustainability-driven products and services that offer value, dependable performance and environmental responsibility. With the latest IMO meeting in July 2023, and the adopted revised strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping, which target reaching net-zero GHG emissions from international shipping close to 2050, we all have to act. 

Thermo King as a brand of Trane Technologies, continues to help solve for some of the world’s biggest sustainability challenges and inspire a movement with bold 2030 Sustainability Commitments. These commitments include a pledge to reduce customer greenhouse gas emissions by one gigaton (2% of the world’s annual emissions, the equivalent of the annual emissions of France, UK and Italy) through our products and solutions within Heating, Ventilation, Air-conditioning and Refrigeration (HVAC&R) in buildings, processes and transport. Thermo King designs and manufactures reefer units with intelligent controls that protect the cargo and reduce food loss with less power consumption. The CFF unit for example helps achieve these goals increasing the power coefficient and reducing our customers’ environmental impact.  

Cold Chain food loss (from harvest till retail) and food waste (from retail food service and home) is one of the highest contributors to overall Green House Gas impact. We as reefer OEM can influence food loss indirectly, while directly we can reduce power consumption and the selection of refrigerant. 

Thermo King’s focuses on sustainability and implementing the low GWP refrigerants, which is another must for our industry. We will actively work with the stakeholders in the Container Owners Association to ensure the works on “refrigerants of tomorrow” focus elements like efficiency, performance, safety, TCO, availability, and likelihood for it being the industry leading refrigerant for reefer containers in global operation.  

How does Thermo King ensure that pharmaceutical goods are preserved and delivered to the highest level, without wastage or damage?  

Claudio Zanframundo: Pharmaceutical products require a dependable and unbroken cold chain at all stages, including strict, often extreme storage temperatures. The rising demand has also put the spotlight on the sustainability aspect. Logistics companies, while needing to comply with the stringent requirements specific to the pharma industry, have paid attention at how transport and storage can impact their sustainable practice goals, carbon emission reduction requirements etc.  

Advanced use of technology for transparency and real time monitoring; increased focus on digital transformation and improving visibility are one of the trends shaping the pharma distribution industry.  

Greater visibility of the flow of pharmaceutical products, using real-time supply chain information systems and traceability tools makes it possible to track shipments in real time. Real-time monitoring capability is especially important with pharmaceutical products, because without it there is no visible indication when a product has deviated from a set temperature. It is one of the key safeguards to provide confidence that the efficacy and integrity of the product have remained intact.  

The pandemic has further strengthened the importance of the Good Distribution Practices (GDP) Regulations. Even the best equipment can give poor results if it is not used correctly. The GDP standards require compliance with a set of rules designed to ensure the quality, safety and security of medicines throughout the entire supply chain, making the application of good practices essential.  

The objective of Good Distribution Practice (GDP) guidelines is to ensure that the high level of product quality, determined by good manufacturing practices, is maintained throughout the distribution chain.  

And what about when it comes to other products, like foods?  

Claudio Zanframundo: Thermo King employs state-of-the-art technology, real-time monitoring, and a focus on sustainability to ensure that food and other valuable cargo are delivered to the highest standards, without wastage or damage. 

Cold chain integrity is a priority. Our technology aims to prevent temperature fluctuations during transit, thereby minimizing food spoilage and waste.  

In terms of monitoring, our intelligent controllers come with energy logging, Smart PTI, and an array of sensors and telematics solutions. These tools enable real-time tracking and data analysis to ensure products are kept at optimal conditions throughout their journey. 

Our digital offerings also support shipping lines in complying with environmental standards, by helping them monitor actual power consumption. This is particularly important for aligning with IMO vessel classifications with a CII rating. 

As an exhibitor at Intermodal 2023, what can visitors expect to see from you at the show this year?  

Claudio Zanframundo: At Intermodal 2023, visitors to the Thermo King stand can expect insightful showcase focusing on the theme “We protect your valuable cargo” with strong emphasis put on sustainability. I will speak at the conference and delve into “Intermodal Equipment of the Future” discussing Thermo King and Trane Technologies commitment, the Gigaton Challenge and initiatives to reduce CO2e emissions for our customers. I will also cover the importance of cold chain integrity to minimise food loss as well as an overview of our product portfolio from the reefers, cold storage, intermodal to digital solutions.  

We’re proud to be the only supplier covering all modes of transport – ocean, road, rail and air – using active refrigeration units. At the exhibition we will showcase the Super Freezer in special insulated container allowing pharma, seafood, ingredients and other sensitive materials to be transported and stored in temperatures down to -70°C.  We will have the CFF unit, an Advancer Intermodal trailer refrigeration unit designed for short sea shipments and the SGFM-3500 genset for flex-chassis, energy efficient, telematics enabled and offering long service interval to reduce TCO. 

Read more news and exclusive features in our latest issue here. 

Never miss a story… Follow us on:
International Trade Magazine

Media Contact
Joseph Clarke
Editor, International Trade Magazine
Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 920

Subscribe to our newsletter

Don't miss new updates on your email
Scroll to Top