Extending your unit’s operational life span – our 5 top tips

26th October 2020

Extending the life span of a refrigeration unit can provide a massive boost to your overall return on investment. Here we offer our 5 top tips for keeping your units running to their full potential for longer.

As every Fleet Manager knows, breakdowns cost money. There’s the cost of the repair and possibly the cost of a driver sitting around idle. Plus, there are costs associated with the vehicle being unavailable for use, which typically account for 80% of vehicle downtime.

Of course, no business wants to see their trucks off the road, especially with the cost of getting them there in the first place. A refrigerated trailer usually costs somewhere between 50,000-70,000 depending upon its configuration (single or multi-temperature etc.). That’s a big fixed cost that begins to slowly depreciate the moment it’s purchased.

Worse still, when the refrigeration unit stops working that depreciation accelerates – even though the equipment itself only accounts for between 25%-50% of the total investment. That’s because both the tractor and trailer are out of action, and therefore not earning money – and that’s before you factor in cargo loss.

Our 5 Top tips

Any insights aimed at boosting vehicle uptime are therefore going to be useful. That’s why we interviewed Paulo Perreira, Aftermarket Leader Transport Solutions, and Baris Akcora, Aftermarket Product Manager, to hear their top 5 tips for keeping your refrigeration units running smoothly, and for extending their lifetime value.

Here are their responses:

#1 Stay true to the maintenance schedule

An obvious one perhaps, but the best thing you can do for your reefer units is to:

  • Stick to recommended servicing schedules, rather than running the units until they break down
  • Ensure only genuine parts are used during all servicing and breakdown activity
  • Rely only on Thermo King authorized dealers, and their unique mix of experience, product know-how, and specialist tooling

#2 Keep the unit in good condition

Alongside regular servicing is the need to proactively monitor the condition of your refrigeration units. This includes checking that the doors and panels are not damaged, as well as keeping it clean via jet washes.

In addition, we also recommend you prepare the equipment for the conditions they will be operating in:

  • Anticipate a potential heat wave by cleaning the heat exchanger, and ensuring the oil being used is able to cope with a spike in temperature
  • Similarly, you should also anticipate extreme cold conditions by again checking oil, as well as ensuring the coolant used contains an appropriate mix of glycol and water to avoid freezing
  • Calculate the fuel required (and geographical availability) if you’re transporting from hot to very cold climates – see our blog on winter fuel

#3 Enhance performance with upgrades

Another strong tip is to retrofit the latest Thermo King technology to boost your refrigeration units beyond their initial design. This includes products that help your equipment run more economically, and offer long-term value and measurable cost savings.

A good example of an upgrade is solar panels. These can be particularly relevant for fleets where vehicles are parked up for extended periods of time. Finding individual trailers with telematics can be a simple process, but only if the system hasn’t drained all available battery power. With solar panels, the battery remains topped up – independently of the engine.

#4 Act immediately on alarms

It can be easy to ignore alarms, to reset them and hope for the best. However, the simple truth is that alarms are activated for a reason. Some may point to an immediate, and potentially catastrophic failure. Some may suggest a ‘non critical’ problem.

Either way, extending the lifespan of your equipment demands you act upon any alarm, and take the unit to a trained Thermo King dealer for the necessary fix. As with any complex machine with numerous working parts, the quicker you apply the fix, the less damage caused.

#5 Extend your coverage with Connected Solutions

The trouble with alarms is that you’re never quite sure when and if a drivers sees them activated. For long-haul journeys in particular, a problem can occur some time before detection. Hence the value of telematics, and maintaining proactive visibility across your fleet of any potential problem:

  • Contact drivers the moment an alarm is triggered
  • Guide them to the nearest Thermo King dealership, if necessary
  • Contact the dealership in advance with details of the alarm code
  • Re-route other vehicles if necessary to deliver loads to schedule
  • Monitor unit usage to better predict and schedule services

Aftermarket – a host of value adds

Keeping refrigeration units in ideal shape after purchase is a task embraced by Thermo King’s Aftermarket Team. To complete this mission, the team offers a variety of services including:

  • Service kits – to provide customers with the reassurance of knowing that they’re sticking to the correct maintenance schedule, that each service is comprehensive, and that genuine parts are being used
  • Preventative maintenance contracts – available locally through dealers, as well as from Thermo King for those customers operating long haul across different countries, and covering the full maintenance of the unit
  • Upgrade products – including solar panels, energy curtains, and special coils for companies using sea ferries in warm climates.

Extend the value of your investments

Thermo King refrigeration equipment is designed to offer the best quality and best durability available on the market. That said, poor maintenance and operational practices could limit the lifespan of individual units – and impact your overall return on investment.

To learn more about the help available for optimizing units, and our Aftermarket Service, please visit here.