Dean Foods, Thermo King Introduce Green Reefer Technology

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Dean Foods, Thermo King Introduce Green Reefer Technology

Dairy giant Dean Foods has unveiled a delivery vehicle equipped with a new prototype truck refrigeration system — an advanced, cost-efficient and environmentally sustainable system that significantly reduces the emissions associated with traditional diesel-powered transport refrigeration.

The diesel-free, hybrid electric-powered refrigeration technology, developed by Minneapolis-based Thermo King, will help Dean Foods reduce its carbon footprint while creating operational efficiencies and cost savings. The technology also represents a step toward achieving Dean’s 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.

“Our highest priority is reducing the cost and improving the efficiency of our operations,” said Harrald Kroeker, president of Dean Foods’ Fresh Dairy Direct business unit. “Innovations that eliminate the use of diesel fuel, which is a major expenditure and our second-largest source of emissions, drive cost savings to our business that benefit the environment.”

The electric-powered refrigeration units replace traditional mechanical models that rely on a separate diesel-powered engine to facilitate cooling while en rout and require oil, filters and antifreeze 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, an important consideration for local communities.

The prototype truck refrigeration system has already been put into service in Dean Foods’ Dallas-area fleet. It has made daily deliveries from the company’s Oak Farms Dairy facility since March 2010. The company aims to achieve at least a 50 percent savings in diesel fuel usage compared with 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. Because Dean Foods typically replaces about 200 delivery trucks each year, innovation such as this is an important step toward substantially decreasing fuel usage and related carbon emissions.

“Our size and scale give Dean Foods the ability to implement changes in our operations that have tremendous positive impacts on the environment and for the entire food and beverage delivery industry,” said Chip Jones, SVP of sustainability and corporate responsibility for Dean Foods. “We continuously adopt innovative technology across our 13,000-vehicle network, and collaborating with strategic suppliers like Thermo King is a critical tactic in advancing our company’s sustainability goals.”

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.

“This emission-reducing technology delivers superior functionality by offering fresh and frozen precise temperature management with complete flexibility for the management of fleets,” said Dave Regnery, president of the Hussmann, Thermo King and Trane businesses in North America.

Dean Foods officials say achieving the company’s carbon reduction target will yield millions of dollars in cost savings. For instance, improving the transportation fleet’s fuel efficiency by just 1 mile per gallon reduces annual fuel purchases by 3.6 million gallons and related greenhouse gas emissions by 36,000 tons.

The largest dairy processor in the Unites States, Dallas-based Dean Foods markets products under more than 50 local and regional dairy brands, as well as through private labels.

Thermo King, a business unit of Ingersoll Rand Co., Ltd., was founded in 1938 and manufactures transport temperature control systems for a variety of mobile applications, including trailers, truck bodies, buses, shipboard containers and railway cars. Ingersoll Rand’s family of brands includes Club Car, Hussmann, Ingersoll Rand, Schlage, Thermo King and Trane.