A Wal-Mart trailer with a Spectrum SB unit installed.

Thermo King Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., have been working together for a number of years on the latest in efficient, green technologies. Thermo King’s products are helping Wal-Mart move toward its environmental sustainability goals, including improving the efficiency of its fleet.

Thermo King and Wal-Mart are responsible for the creation of several new product solutions, including the Spectrum™ multi-temperature trailer reefer unit and the TriPac™ Hybrid Auxiliary Idle Reduction and Temperature Management System. Products such as these were developed by Thermo King and tested in conjunction with Wal-Mart.

When Wal-Mart wanted a three-zone, multitemperature reefer unit for trailers with a 30-foot frozen compartment in the middle, they came to Thermo King. After much development and testing, the Spectrum SB was born. Today, every one of Wal-Mart’s fleet of approximately 6,000 refrigerated trailers is equipped with a Spectrum. Wal-Mart said the unit has become “the industry benchmark” for multitemperature performance.

The TriPac system also came about as a way for Wal-Mart to address a specific need. The company loved the efficiency of the Espar cab heaters they were using, but wanted air conditioning as well. Wal-Mart played a key role in the testing of the TriPac system, which is now among the best-selling auxiliary power units (APUs) on the market.


According to Thermo King, its Spectrum SB with the SmartReefer2™ (SR-2) controller offers Wal-Mart numerous environmentally friendly features. The unit is available with electric standby, which allows it to use electricity during loading and stationary operation, reducing fuel consumption, diesel emissions, maintenance, and noise. The hybrid model 50 units offer electric-to-diesel-switching as a standard feature, said the company, and all models feature bio-diesel compatible engines.

As a side note, another important environmental edge provided by the Spectrum SB is the TK486V engine, which meets the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Tier 4 emission requirements, exceeds current Tier 2 requirements, and meets all EPA requirements through 2012.

The Spectrum SB also offers the EMI-3000 Extended Maintenance Interval, which Thermo King said allows for 3,000 hours between scheduled maintenances, resulting in less waste oil, less spillage, and fewer used filters that require disposal. According to Thermo King, maintenance costs are also reduced up to 45 percent over competitive models.

“The Spectrum helps Wal-Mart reduce costs in a number of ways. It’s good for the environment and good for our business,” said Tim Yatsko, senior vice president, transportation, Wal-Mart.

The hybrid TriPac system provides heating, cooling, and power to the truck cab while charging the battery, all without needing to run the engine. The fuel savings and reduction in emissions with the TriPac system was so significant that Wal-Mart retrofitted its entire fleet of 7,000 tractors accordingly.

“We believe the TriPac system is the most efficient and reliable APU on the market,” said Yatsko. “We estimate that this installation could help us save $25 million in fuel costs.”


Going forward, the two companies said they intend to continue the tradition of working with one another to develop new technologies. As California may soon require plugging in at loading docks, Wal-Mart has begun testing of the Spectrum SB 50, the multitemp hybrid unit that Thermo King said meets the proposed legislation. Wal-Mart is also providing Thermo King with tractors and trailers to help test future technologies, such as a high-capacity, alternative APU system.

Thermo King said its newly expanded, state-of-the-art Frederick McKinley Jones Research and Development Center will provide an ideal laboratory for testing and development of the technologies for the future.

“We’ve shared a close relationship with Wal-Mart over the years, and the company has always been more than willing to assist us in testing our latest technologies,” said Ted Fick, president of Thermo King.

Publication Date:09/10/2007