Citing energy and weight savings and overall operational improvements, Chiquita Brands International is adding 1,250 PrimeLINE’ container refrigeration units from Carrier Transicold to its banana fleet. Carrier Transicold is a part of Carrier Corp., a business unit of United Technologies Corp. Designed to reduce environmental impact and lifecycle cost, PrimeLINE units are the most efficient container refrigeration units available. Those acquired by Chiquita are all equipped with QUEST power-saving mode, a control software that enables further energy savings by intelligently cycling refrigeration on and off based on temperature limits designed for specific perishables.
‘Saving energy is important,’ said Juan Guell, equipment director for Chiquita. ‘We included QUEST because, for us, it’s very important from the energy side and for the carbon footprint.’
Reducing energy requirements not only cuts fuel consumption, but also provides a proportionate decrease in emissions related to shipboard energy production. This lends itself well to Chiquita’s green transportation initiatives, which focus on reducing carbon emissions and recently netted Chiquita the 2009 Circle of Excellence Award from the Distribution Business Management Association.
‘With the new PrimeLINE units, the idea will be to keep building on that,’ said Guell. ‘These units will definitely contribute significantly.
‘Speed of pulldown is also extremely important to maintain high product quality,’ Guell added. ‘Versus an older container unit, the PrimeLINE unit can reduce the pulldown time by half.’
With a 25% share of the global banana industry, Chiquita is one of the leading distributors of bananas in the United States. The new PrimeLINE units will be used on routes from Central America, 95% of which are destined for North American ports, where Chiquita banana containers are transferred from ship directly to truck chasses for inland delivery.
Guell notes that the PrimeLINE units are significantly lighter than the 14- to 19-year-old Carrier units they replace. ‘For banana companies, weight is the number-one issue. We are watching every single kilo,’ he said.
Chiquita’s new custom-engineered 40-foot steel containers are heavier than the aluminum boxes they replace, but the gain is offset by the PrimeLINE unit’s lighter weight, meaning no compromise to the number of pallets Chiquita can load in each container.
As a 100% Carrier fleet, Chiquita has a mix of ThinLINE’ reciprocating units and EliteLINE’ scroll units. From a maintenance perspective, the similarity between the PrimeLINE and EliteLINE units was an advantage, Guell explained. ‘Very few components change, so we don’t have to inventory a lot of different spare parts.’