Smart Fridges

The simple refrigeration unit is not quite so simple, Smart Fridges are now available with telematics offerings handling GPS location of the vehicle but also temperature and other important data from the refrigeration unit’s internal microprocessor. There are two main types of monitoring on offer, through the fridge maker’s own system or third party offerings.

Smart Fridges


The telematics system will monitor:

  • Set point
  • Supply air temperature
  • Return air temperature
  • Ambient temperature
  • Remote product probes
  • Unit mode (start/stop or continuous)
  • Engine mode (high speed or low speed)
  • Compressor data
  • Alarm notifications
  • Intellisets (pre-programmed configurations)
  • Hour meters
  • Door open or closed (when equipped with a door switch)
  • Fuel level (when equipped with a fuel level sensor)
  • Battery voltage
  • Functional parameter settings

On top of this, many operators (especially in rail where the units are unattended for long periods of time) can choose to utilise two-way communication and control. This means the operator can remotely from anywhere in the world via internet portal:

  • Setpoint change
  • Clear alarms
  • Initiate defrost
  • Change Stop/Start or Continuous
  • Initiate pretrip (unit self check/diagnosis)
  • Change high/low speed
  • Change IntelliSet
  • Set date/time
  • Change sleep mode
  • Change FreshProtect
  • Change Return Air/Supply Air control
  • Override door shutdown


Things like location data and geo-fencing can also be used to control the unit. For example, when the unit enters a specific geo-fenced area, it might automatically change the set point temperature to suit a particular cargo. For security, it may activate to send alarm notifications to the fleet manager (via SMS or email) when the doors are open outside of specific geo-fenced locations.


Smart Fridges


The future belongs to big data analytics. Trained technicians can now view much more fridge data such as temperature, pressure, current data from the diesel engine, compressor and refrigeration circuit as well as the position or readings from every sensor on the unit. From this data a trained technician can make accurate diagnostic decisions as if they were standing in front of the unit itself.  Taking this to the next logical stage stage, the operator can accumulate enough operating data about units, and begin to accurately predict what will happen in the future based on understanding the conditions leading up to an event, moving from diagnostics to prognostics.


All of this is done now across the cloud with specific web portals. With more and more information systems becoming connected (truck, trailer, fridge, brake systems etc) many operators will be looking to aggregate all of these spare data connections from various providers into one feed via XML connections or API into their ERP systems.



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Author: Tim Giles

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