Refrigerator telematics solutions
Carrier and Thermo King are the world’s leaders in high-technology heating, air-conditioning and refrigeration solutions. These companies provide a number of heating and air conditioning tools for the transportation industry.
Mapon Expert devices are compatible with single and multi-compartment Carrier Vector units, as well as all Thermo King units that can transfer data through Thermo King iBox. Mapon provides a means to transfer data from the units via the mobile network to Mapon tracking platform.
Here are some potential use cases of the refrigerator data:
- Temperature monitoring
- Reefer alert code retrieval and maintenance planning
- Battery state monitoring
- Engine hours and fuel consumption monitoring
- Integration with external IT systems, for example, shipment tracking solutions, providing this data to clients or dispatchers in the office in real time.
Reefer units seem pretty simple at first – you set the desired temperature, set a needed run mode and off you go. Unfortunately, a number of errors can occur in this process and having a way to check the fact that the driver has set up everything correctly is essential. Mapon tracking platform provides precise data about the state of the reefer unit and thus provides a way for the dispatcher in the office to keep track of the shipment.
All of the temperature data is displayed in a form of charts, allowing filters, detailed zoom on both axis and detailed information about each specific data point. Due to the fact that the temperature data is tied together with GPS data, it is possible to check not only when the changes in the temperature mode were made, but also where it happened.
Mapon monitors all of the Carrier / Thermo King reefer unit temperatures:
- setpoint temperature (required temperature for the cargo, red color),
- supply air temperature (the temperature of the air that is blown into the compartment, blue color),
- return air temperature (the temperature of the air that is coming out of the compartment and represents the actual temperature of the cargo, green color),
- ambient air temperature (temperature outside of the refrigerator)
Defrost cycles are also being monitored and can be filtered so that no questions regarding out of range temperature measurements are raised.
Reefer alerts and maintenance planning
Both Carrier and Thermo King reefers provide a set of alert codes that can be used to understand what happens with the reefer unit. Some of the alert codes describe error conditions and reefer shutdown, whereas some are used to provide information regarding regular maintenance intervals and other informative issues.
By getting this information over the air in form of alerts you can manage your reefer units much more effectively. You can plan maintenance operations and in case of urgent issues find the closest Carrier / Thermo King service center inside the Mapon software.
Getting the information about the unit status and alert codes as soon as possible is vital in transporting temperature-sensitive goods. According to EU directives for driver work and rest periods, truck drivers can drive for 4.5 hours straight, which means that if something happens with the reefer unit during the trip, it might take up to 4.5 hours for the driver to notice the problem. In case of getting this data remotely a number of solutions are possible:
- The driver can be notified straight away about the fact that the reefer unit has stopped or has some issues. The driver can take an action as soon as there is a parking lot available.
- The dispatcher in the office can be notified and he can contact the driver to make sure everything is correct.
Battery state monitoring
Mapon expert device also reads the battery status of the reefer unit. If the refrigerator is not being operated for longer periods, the battery can be drained completely, which leads to a need to replace the battery and thus excess costs for the company.
As soon as battery voltage drops an alert is sent via Mapon tracking platform and the client can handle the situation.
Engine hours and fuel consumption calculations
Carrier and Thermo King reefer units also provide information on the number of hours the unit has been operated in each of the power modes (diesel/electric). This information can easily be used to calculate approximate fuel consumption and thus make sure no fuel is being stolen from the unit.
Most of the transportation companies already use some solution for managing and tracking their shipments. Mapon tracking platform also provides an API for the clients to integrate refrigerator data in their existing systems.
If you have some internal system for reefer maintenance planning you can easily integrate with the Mapon tracking platform so that you could receive alert code data about each reefer unit in real time.
In order to retrieve data from Carrier and Thermo King units, two separate devices are needed – a Carrier gateway / Thermo King iBox that is connected to the refrigerator unit and a Mapon Expert device that is connected to the gateway / iBox unit and transfers the data to Mapon tracking platform. Both devices are powered by the reefer unit battery.
Case study – Kreiss
Kreiss is one of the biggest European transport companies located in Riga, Latvia with a total fleet of around 1200 trucks and 1000 refrigerated trailers. Having a fleet this big and constantly growing it imposes serious challenges in terms of shipment tracking and temperature monitoring, avoiding human errors in both – the trailer operation and dispatching the shipments from the office.
By deploying Mapon’s remote reefer data retrieval and integration project Kreiss has gained a clear competitive advantage and set new standards for the refrigerated product shipping companies willing to operate in this market while also automating lots of internal processes in terms of reefer unit maintenance and temperature tracking.
Resolving issues on the road
By setting up the solution Kreiss has been able to resolve a number of human error issues on the road. Some of the most popular ones:
- mistaking positive numbers with negative (instead of operating at +6C, the reefer is being operated at -6C)
- missing or adding an excess decimal point (instead of operating at +6C, the reefer is being operated at 0.6C)
Issues like these can easily seriously damage the shipment.
In addition to correcting human errors, Kreiss has also been able to resolve a number of issues regarding reefer error conditions while driving. Also, simple repair operations by the driver are possible due to the fact that the technician from the office has access to reefer data and can consult the driver on what steps to perform to resolve the issue.
Kreiss has an internal shipment planning and dispatching system, where they can set up required reefer parameters for each of the shipments. This data is sent to Mapon tracking platform and set up as time-bound alerts. If the temperature or run mode in the time-bound slot is not within the specified range, an alert is generated and sent back to Kreiss shipment management system. This solution allows complete automation in terms of temperature monitoring.
Additionally, Mapon has developed an option to use the alerting system for cooling down cargo. There are cases when the cargo should be shipped at 4C, but it is not cooled to that temperature at the point of loading. If the driver will set a setpoint of 4C and the actual cargo temperature will be around 15C, the reefer will supply the compartment with a temperature below 0C which might damage the cargo.
Mapon system has a built-in mechanism for providing alerts on when to lower the temperature step by step to cool down the cargo without harming it.
Providing access to data for clients
The days when clients were ready to wait for the shipment to arrive and see a printout of the temperature from the reefer unit are over. Kreiss is an innovative company and has understood that early on. Clients are provided a tracking link, which includes easily understandable charts of Carrier reefer unit data – the setpoint temperature, run mode, return air temperature.
Clients are able to follow the data in real time and don’t need to analyze long paper printouts to find problems with the shipment. All data is displayed in a chart and thus it can be easily overviewed.
As soon as reefer unit emits an alert code, it is directly sent to Kreiss internal maintenance planning system, where reefer technicians take the decision on how to react. Either they schedule a maintenance operation in their planning system or contact the driver on how to resolve the issues right away.