Buffaload Logistics aim for diesel-free refrigeration with sustainable solution from Hultsteins

Following successful trials of a Cold Chain Federation member Hultsteins’ on-board electric generator, Cold Chain Federation member Buffaload Logistics have committed to fit the system to all of their tractor units, thereby eliminating diesel consumption and harmful emissions from their entire temperature-controlled trailer fleet.

Called Ecogen and manufactured in the UK, the lightweight hydraulically-driven system was fitted to a Scania 6×2 and put to work for a total of 230 hours over approx. 50,000kms. The results, say Buffaload were little short of incredible, as not only did the system use no fridge diesel, but also, there was no additional consumption from the tractor unit.

“At first, we couldn’t believe the figures” says Ross Taylor, Buffaload’s CEO. “But sure enough, the Ecogen, connected to the tractor’s PTO, ran the fridge unit perfectly for around two-months and not a drop of diesel was burned. Effectively, we were saving an average of four litres every hour while the fridge was running. Put simply, the system gives us diesel-free and pollution-free refrigeration, while adding literally no cost to the operation – apart of course from the initial outlay.”

Any savings gained from using Ecogen will  be ploughed back into other sustainable projects aligned to Buffaload’s carbon-neutral programme, explains Ross.

Ross goes on to explain that Buffaload had been exploring the market for an electric generator capable of working with any 6×2 tractor unit while powering any TRU, and Hultsteins’ Ecogen was the only solution which ticked all the boxes.

“This is obviously an important factor” explains Ross. “While other electric generators only work with certain tractors and fridge models, EcoGen is universal, which means it fits easily to every existing 6×2 and powers all leading fridge marques. This gives operators unrestricted choice of equipment and makes retrofitting easy too.”

Hultsteins, based in Sweden, have been designing and producing hydraulic and electric-drive transport refrigeration systems for nearly 60 years and as the environmentally-damaging effects of diesel consumption are now widely visible, retailers and transport operators are turning to the Ecogen system to validate their respective environmental objectives. For the UK, Ross Taylor and his company is leading the way:

“Some years ago, we embarked on a carbon-efficient journey.”  adds Ross, “We realised that an operation of our size can have a major impact on the environment and so we set about creating an integrated low-carbon network. In basic terms this means working with like-minded businesses whose environmental policies are compatible with our own.”

Accordingly, Ross predicts that once the Hultsteins’ Ecogen systems are all up and running, Buffaload Logistics will be making an annual carbon saving in the region of 400,000kgs. Furthermore, he says that as urban restrictions on polluting vehicles bear down on the transport industry, Buffaload’s refrigerated double-deckers (expected to number 300 by spring of this year) and all refrigerated vehicles using Ecogen will be exempt from scrutiny.

“This is not just about the obvious advantages of reduced running costs, but more to do with our contribution to a healthy UK environment, the air we breathe and global warming in general. Now is the time to make a difference and for our part, Hultsteins and Ecogen are already making an impact.”

Regarding the cost of operation, Buffaload expects a return on investment of 21 months and given its simple design, based on several decades of proven technology, the Ecogen system is not expected to add any additional maintenance requirement. “I first operated an identical system to this one, 25 years ago,” Ross recalls “it was as bullet-proof then as it is today.”

Ecogen was developed by one of the  UK’s leading pioneers of electrical generators  for transport refrigeration, Stephen Maile. His company Cold Connect was acquired by Hultsteins in 2019.

“We changed the name over the door, says Steve, but apart from that, we continue to manufacture our systems and Ecogen to ensure Euro 6 Emission standard is met for the cooling system as well as the truck, here in the UK the same way as before. Hultsteins’ sustainable solutions are working for  retailers and operators in several European countries and we are delighted that Buffaload are leading the way, here in the UK.”

Developed for truck or tractor units, Ecogen is a slim-fit hydraulic drive generator which connects to the engine’s PTO and simply plugs in to any refrigeration unit with mains electric operation. Fuel consumption and emissions are virtually eliminated while generating a constant 400-volt, 3-phase electrical power to the same standard as the mains supply.

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