If there are trends in transport refrigeration, they concern quietness and precision.

The noise reduction comes in because such trucks often bring products to supermarkets conveniently located in residential areas — but with deliveries needed first thing in the morning. Enhanced temperature control is designed to preserve products at optimum shipping temperatures while controlling costs.

Minneapolis, MN-based Thermo King focused on such factors in the development of its SB-100 trailer refrigeration unit.

“In today’s economic climate, our customers are looking for ways to trim expenses,” explained Doug Lenz, Thermo King marketing manager, Trailer and Rail Products. “With the SB-100, we’ve carried forth both the performance and temperature control benefits from the SB Series while offering improved serviceability and extended maintenance intervals, to help customers keep operating costs down.”

The SB-100 offers airflow and capacity up to 18,000 Btuh at –20 degrees F box temperature and 100 degrees ambient. It has a single switch TG-VI controller, 12,000-hour service interval coolant, and silicone coolant hoses.

For grocery companies and food distributors that typically face early morning delivery times and customers in residential neighborhoods, the SB-100 is said to be engineered for quiet operation, using a low-noise Thermo King engine, acoustic grilles, and a bottom panel, according to Lenz. An optional Whisper™ package is available for additional noise reduction.

Performance enhancement options include a modulation feature for a continuous supply of moist, cool air to the cargo. This leads to tighter temperature control and minimizes dehydration, according to Lutz. In addition, the PrimAir™ bulkhead and duct system, as well as the DAS temperature logger and R:COM wireless download systems, are all available as options.

Another transport trend is what is called the i-Box protocol interpreter, designed to give drivers or fleet logistics managers access to information and cargo data through the existing tractor-trailer power line cord (PLC) connection.

“Thermo King is the first commercial application to be granted use of a tractor’s PLC,” explained Brian Meagher, Thermo King global product manager, Electronics. “With that connection, we are able to transmit data such as unit setpoint, discharge and return air temperatures, even fuel levels and alarm conditions, to several locations, including in-cab or through a modem to any location in the world. Depending on a customer’s needs, the data can also be obtained from the driver or a fleet manager 1,000 miles away.”

Mounted inside the reefer unit, i-Box interprets data from the controller, and transmits it through the PLC to the tractor or to an independent satellite or cellular modem.

The SB-100 trailer refrigeration unit.


The i-Box (part of a tractor/refrigerated trailer combo jointly created by Volvo and Thermo King) allows a driver to respond to critical data such as trailer temperatures, reefer fuel levels, and trailer suspension system adjustments. Going one step further, the vehicle is also capable of communicating such data to dispatch or anywhere else in the world via a satellite tracking device or RF communication link.

“With this technology, critical trailer conditions such as interior temperatures and reefer fuel levels can be communicated constantly,” explained Meagher. “And perhaps more importantly, these conditions can constantly be monitored and adjusted. It’s really the first time a fleet can proactively manage each individual tractor/trailer.”

The “Technology Vehicle” was shown this spring at the Kentucky Fair & Expo Center in Louisville. It consists of a Volvo VN Series tractor, a 53-foot Great Dane SuperSeal XLT with a vacuum panel insulation package, advanced suspension and braking systems, and Hendrickson’s VANTRAAX HKA 180 suspension with Dock Stabilizing Technology.

Completing the system is a Thermo King SB-200 trailer refrigeration unit. It is the combination of the Thermo King SB-200 unit along with Meritor WABCO’s TCSII Trailer Computer System that allows data collection and communication abilities.

For more information, visit www.thermoking.com (website).

Publication date: 08/05/2002