As the price of a barrel of oil remains highly volatile, the cost of labour continues to rise and congestion in terminals and ports increases, the marine transport industry is on the lookout for best practices and technologies that make them more cost-effective and efficient.
Customers expect confirmation that their load arrived safely upon arrival. This makes pre-trip inspections (PTI), ensuring that the container reefer is operating correctly and is ready for its next load of refrigerated cargo, a necessity in the container industry.
Innovation and cost savings are welcomed by the industry; however the implementation of new procedures takes a commitment to process change. Traditionally PTIs have been a manual operation, taking place at ports and depots after a container is unloaded. This requires up to three hours of run time while consuming electrical power and personnel labour. Luckily, technological advancements in this process are making this manual procedure a practice of the past.
Kay Henze, Thermo King’s global sales director Marine Solutions, opines that an advanced pre-trip inspection tool such as its SMART-PTI helps meet the growing market requirements and enables fleets to document their procedures while turning containers around faster.
SMART-PTI events, made possible due to the MAGNUM PLUS MP-4000 controller, are logged automatically. While the reefer unit is operating, its performance is being monitored and the results are stored in the controller memory. When the SMART-PTI event is completed, the results are shown on the controller display. A simple visual check of the display will determine if the container will go into the green-tagged, ready-for-use stack, or if further checks are required. A universally-understood smiley face is shown when the reefer has passed the PTI inspection.
The SMART-PTI remains valid for whatever period the shipping line feels appropriate, typically 30 days. An operator can request SMART-PTI results at any time by accessing the controller keypad. If the unit is equipped with a Thermo King remote monitoring system, the results can even be accessed remotely.
Not having to operate a unit through a normal PTI test can save up to three hours in running time (electrical power) if a full PTI is performed. Additional savings include the labour time required for operating the unit through a PTI test and moving the containers to a PTI station.
Estimations based on a global average of refrigerated containers being loaded four times per year indicate that using SMART-PTI translates into approximately US$200+ annual savings per reefer. For short sea carriers or fruit companies that make more frequent turns these savings increase considerably.