The vehicle rental and leasing business has assisted chilled meat supplier Danish Crown with its UK transport operation for more than 20 years and was recently tasked with helping the company achieve climate-neutral production.
Danish Crown’s UK heavy vehicle fleet comprises eight 13.6-metre refrigerated trailers and five DAF tractor units used for trunking around the country. The vehicles were supplied by Salford Van Hire on a five-year contract hire agreement.
Steve McNally, contracts and fleet engineering director at Salford Van Hire, said: “It’s a modern fleet, and the company is constantly looking at how it can improve its carbon footprint.
“We looked at a series of options, including the trailer fleet, which was fairly new, so it wasn’t practical to change the refrigeration units themselves. Also, if your starting point is the tractor unit, then it’s quite difficult to make significant changes, particularly with newer vehicles, so we needed to consider alternatives.”
The company turned to Hultsteins’ Ecogen range, which transforms existing diesel transport refrigeration units (TRUs) to electric. The system is fitted to the tractor unit and runs off the engine’s power take-off.
Generating 400 volts, it connects to the fridge motor via a five-pin plug and converts the TRU of any trailer to which it couples into an emissions-free electric item.
Mark Simmons, site director at Danish Crown, said: “In addition to the fuel savings we expect to make – over 85% less expenditure on fridge diesel – we will also be slashing our CO2 emissions: given that every litre of diesel burned, produces 2.65kgs of carbon and our fridges will now run mostly on electricity from the Ecogen systems, we will be reducing emissions by around 50 tonnes every year.”
Simmons said that the Ecogens represented a ‘simple way’ to reduce CO2 as they could be fitted to the company’s current pool.
He added: “The big benefit, compared with a lot of other electric options, is that it doesn’t matter what trailer you pull. There’s no issue with matching up at all, and it will work with most late model fridge units with a simple adjustment.
“It’s so unrestrictive, and one of the easiest and most effective options we could offer. It allowed us to convert Danish Crown’s trailers to electric immediately, and keep the existing fridge units in place, so it was a very economical way of improving the company’s carbon footprint.
“We replaced one of the tractor units early, so all of them could run on electric instantaneously but, other than that, the vehicles, the trailers, and the TRUs remained the same.”
Danish Crown’s articulated heavy vehicle fleet has been equipped with Hultsteins’ Ecogen units since early May, rendering its TRUs emission-free.
McNally added that the ability to retrofit the Ecogen units to existing vehicles is pertinent due to the widespread supply chain issues which are forcing operators to hold onto older vehicles and equipment beyond typical replacement cycles.
He said: “Supply issues mean that a lot of operators are running their vehicles and trailers for longer, because there are huge problems with lead times for replacements. That makes a retrofit system like the Ecogen a much more practical and immediate solution.”