Opportunities for advancement

For more than 80 years Thermo King has delivered the latest developments in refrigerated transport technology. This year, the temperature-control specialist unveils the the future of trailer refrigeration – the Thermo King Advancer – and begins the rollout of its state-of-the-art hybrid systems for trucks and high-loaders.

In 1938 the founders of Thermo King developed the first successful mechanical transport refrigeration unit thus creating a completely new industry and a whole new standard of living. Fresh food, available any season, has greatly improved the quality of life, and enormously improved people’s health.


This technology has advanced dramatically through these 80-plus years. Innovation in areas like precision temperature control, telematics, and electrification contribute solutions to big challenges posed by the current pandemic, food loss, and climate change adapting to meet efficiency, environmental and customer requirements.

Thermo King Advancer A-Series
In June 2020, Thermo King unveiled its re-imagining of the trailer refrigeration unit, the Advancer A-Series trailer refrigeration unit that was designed to meet customers aspirations for reliable, responsive, and cost-effective technology. An innovation meeting Thermo King’s vision for developing refrigeration capabilities that are ready today but built for tomorrow – redefining what’s possible in cold chain logistics.

The ambition behind Advancer is to move beyond incremental enhancements and to create a trailer refrigeration unit that features innovations never before seen on the market. Equally, the performance delivered by the A-Series is unrivalled, featuring ground-breaking temperature control, superior load protection, and unmatched fuel efficiency. Combined, these capabilities deliver greater operational flexibility, while helping customers achieve significant improvements in fleet uptime and total cost of ownership.
Performance to push boundaries

The new architecture incorporates the expectations of customers that were gathered in detail and factored into the design from the outset, along with decades of Thermo King’s knowledge and experience. As a result, Advancer includes unique features that comprehensively address a wide range of operational and financial challenges, including:

  • Fully variable airflow that can be regulated for each journey and cargo and is independent from unit engine speed.
  • Advancer is up to 40 per cent quicker to pull down and up to 30 per cent more fuel-efficient than the market average. This unrivalled electrical and fuel efficiency contributing to lower CO2 footprint and engines with 50 per cent less emissions than the maximum allowed by latest NRMM Stage V emission standards.
  • Electronic engine speed control on the A-400 and A-500 units, which makes them the first units on the market to give complete transparency of fuel levels and fuel consumption. The fuel consumption data will be recorded, displayed, and made available remotely via telematics.
  • Lower maintenance costs and enhanced serviceability compared to the predecessor, thanks to sensors offering more insight into the engine, fuel, battery and the performance of other key components.
  • Future-ready power agnostic capabilities that can utilise diesel, axle generator, or shore power sources with ease.
  • Fleet intelligence as standard, with Advancer being the first-ever unit to offer 2 years of full telematics connectivity in the purchase price.

Modular design for being power agnostic
With a modular design, Advancer offers future-ready power agnostic capabilities that can utilise diesel, axle generator, or shore power sources.
Today, Advancer can run from the diesel engine; plugged into an electrical power source at a distribution centre; as a hybrid, using a generator on the engine of the tractor that powers the refrigeration unit. Thermo King is also collaborating with BPW to develop a zero-emission, axle-powered solution. This technology will use the energy recovered via the trailer axle to operate the refrigeration unit in electric mode. Combined with new and future battery technology, this will enable the operators to switch to electric drive, independent of vehicle motorisation.
The response to this product representing Thermo King’s vision for the future of trailer refrigeration has been very positive. Advancer won the first place in ‘Smart Trailer’ category of Trailer Innovation 2021 Awards – a renowned industry prize, which has been promoting outstanding ideas and product innovations from the trailer, semi-trailer and body industries since 2002. The Advancer Project was also awarded by Engineers Ireland in Engineering Innovation and Sustainability category in recognition of its engineering vision and creativity and for its impact on the environment.

Sustainable manufacturing
Not only does Advancer deliver superior performance for our customers, it pushes Thermo King forward to deliver on its sustainability commitments.

Advancer units are manufactured at a Thermo King plant based in Galway, Ireland, a facility regarded as a pioneer of sustainable manufacturing practices. The site was one of the first in the company to send zero waste-to-landfill and has implemented vital water harvesting practices to reduce water use – with the goal of becoming net positive in water use.

When it came time to design Advancer, the team was diligent about designing the product itself for more efficient manufacturing to reduce energy use, move the needle toward carbon neutral production and source as much renewable energy as possible.
Now fully operational, the production line for Advancer uses 65 per cent less energy to produce than previous trailer units. Some of the key changes that created these efficiencies include reduced time to build each unit, a smaller manufacturing footprint and more electrical testing instead of diesel testing.

In addition to reduced overall energy use, the energy that is used to manufacture the Advancer units is more sustainable. Advancer is manufactured in the Galway plant on a 100 per cent carbon neutral manufacturing footprint, and 65 per cent of the energy consumed to manufacture the product is from renewable sources.
The team continues to look for opportunities to create efficiencies within the manufacturing process, with a goal to deliver a production line that is 100 per cent carbon neutral and 100 per cent renewable energy by July 2021.

T- and UT-Series Hybrid
Thermo King is also delivering hybrid refrigeration systems for trucks and high-loaders across Europe. The new T- and UT-Series Hybrid refrigeration systems seamlessly switch between diesel and electric mode allowing transporters to operate in inner cities, residential areas and low emission zones with the unit’s diesel engine turned off.

Greggs, UK’s leading bakery food-on-the-go retailer with more than 2,000 shops nationwide and serving over six million customers a week, is one of the first customers in Europe to experience the benefits of the new hybrid refrigeration systems from Thermo King. Three new trucks with Thermo King Hybrid systems will contribute to lowering the environmental impact and reducing operating costs of their truck transport operations in central London.

“Thermo King units have been our systems of choice for several years now,” said Greggs Group Logistics Manager, Richard Penna.

“Their units have delivered good flexibility and work efficiency to our operations, and we could also always count on the Thermo King dealer service network to support us.

“We’re very conscious about the sustainability of our transport operations. It is paramount for us to operate in inner cities with as little noise and emissions as possible. It was a natural choice to work with Thermo King and equip our trucks with these new units that can easily switch

from diesel operation to electric, reduce the sound level and eliminate emissions. On top of that we expect to benefit from the lower daily fuel consumption.”

The new hybrid single and multi-temperature solution for trucks feature Frigoblock alternator and inverter-drive technology. The nose-mount T-Series Hybrid and under-mount UT-Series Hybrid refrigeration automatically switches between electric and diesel operation as required or necessary. This enables the transport companies to operate in inner cities, residential areas and low emission zones with the refrigeration unit’s diesel engine turned off. The system is also very well accepted by drivers, mainly due to the simple and smooth transition from one drive technology to the other. The driver only needs to set the vehicle when leaving the depot and the system will switch electric and diesel modes seamlessly during the working day depending on the unit’s requirements.

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