With capital tight for investment in new, more energy-efficient equipment, is a goal of reducing operating costs while also improving environmental stewardship simply too lofty? Not for shipping lines that take advantage of the QUEST power-saving mode for their existing Carrier refrigeration units.
“Offering a relatively short payback period, the QUEST control software option refreshes older container refrigeration units with contemporary energy-saving efficiency,” said Phil Laros, global service program manager for Carrier’s Container Products Group. “The QUEST option is also an appropriate upgrade for new units.”
QUEST, which stands for Quality and Energy efficiency in Storage and Transport, governs the run-time of container refrigeration systems and cycles refrigeration on and off based on temperature settings for specific perishables. This technique maintains the temperature of produce in transit, whereas the conventional refrigeration approach is to precisely control the supply air temperature.
Allowing the refrigeration system to cycle on and off in a controlled fashion results in a significant energy savings – up to 50 percent on units equipped with Carrier’s ThinLINE® refrigeration unit – without compromising protection of perishable cargoes. QUEST mode is backed by research from leading specialists in post-harvest food quality preservation and transport, the Agrotechnology and Food Sciences Group of Wageningen University and Research Center in the Netherlands.
QUEST mode can be specified for newly purchased equipment, and an increasing number of fleets are doing just that. As many leading fleets are finding, it can also be added to units already deployed by the experts from Carrier’s service center network. Installation is a matter of changing controller configuration software files and uploading the QUEST protocols into the controller during pre-trip inspections, according to Laros.
One major shipping line recently conducted a QUEST mode upgrade for its fleet, comprised 90 percent of older ThinLINE units and the rest EliteLINE® units. In doing so, the fleet can potentially reduce carbon emissions by up to 220,100 metric tons a year, the equivalent of removing nearly 40,200 cars from the road annually. The prospective energy savings over the life of the units is also substantial.
For fleets considering upgrades and wanting to know the possible financial savings with QUEST mode, Carrier has an Energy Cost Model that can help, Laros said. The model factors in variables such as the type of on-board electrical power generation systems used by the fleet, fuel type, engine thermal efficiency and fuel consumption. Calculations also take into consideration number of refrigeration system running days on board per year, container size, type and temperature of cargo carried and type of Carrier units used.
Although significant savings will be had with all types of Carrier refrigeration systems, the percentage of savings is greater with ThinLINE units than EliteLINE and PrimeLINE® units, because those units are more energy efficient to start with. So the mix of units is another consideration, Laros said.
Fuel prices, which vary weekly and by location, are also factored. The model has helped select shipping lines decide to upgrade based on their own anticipated usage.
“A growing number of shipping lines have found that they can significantly improve operations and enhance their bottom lines through technology enhancements to equipment they are already using,” said Laros. “QUEST mode makes existing equipment more energy efficient, which in turn reduces operating costs and improves reduces its overall environmental impact.”
In this age of high fuel prices and growing concern over what gets dispersed into the atmosphere, shipping lines are exploring every possible way to reduce their energy needs and carbon footprint. QUEST mode answers the call.
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