Müller trials zero-emission HGV refrigeration

Müller Milk & Ingredients is trialing the use of solar panels and kinetic energy to power the refrigeration units on its HGV fleet.

The dairy company, which maintains industry leading service levels by operating logistics in-house, is testing whether renewable energy can power its 635 refrigerated HGV trailers, as an alternative to refrigeration powered by diesel engines.

Cold Chain Federation members, Müller, in partnership with Sunswap, trialled the delivery of fresh milk in South West England using 13.6 metre refrigerated trailers that are battery and solar-powered.

In Scotland, and in collaboration with Carrier Transicold, the business is also testing a 13.6 metre refrigerated trailer system powered by kinetic energy. The Carrier Transicold Vector eCool converts energy generated by the trailer axle and brakes into electricity, which is then stored in a battery pack to power the refrigeration unit.

As Müller’s customers continue to priortise supply chain resilience and lowering carbon, the trials aim to establish whether renewable energy solutions allow the business to maintain its quality and service levels, which sit at almost 99% in 2023.

Per trailer, the solar and battery powered system would save 3,700 litres of diesel and 9 tonnes of carbon every year. Carrier’s Vector eCool system would eliminate all carbon emissions associated with traditional refrigeration units operating with an auxiliary engine.

Following completion of the trials, the business will consider further testing or a wider rollout throughout its network.

Müller has also trialled fully-electric shunt vehicles within its Manchester dairy and is now considering a full rollout of the electric shunt vehicles at the site, with each vehicle saving an estimated 3,700 litres of diesel each year and 9 tonnes of carbon.

Enhanced driver training and higher capacity vehicles are also in place to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  

Dan Hamby, Head of Distribution at Müller Milk & Ingredients said:

“Customers and shoppers expect us to look for ways to reduce carbon whilst maintaining our industry leading levels of product quality and customer service.

“With each trailer capable of transporting 8,000 bottles of milk, we have to maintain the correct temperature and make sure we hit the delivery windows to meet our customer obligations. Our approach is to test, learn and introduce innovation which is sustainable and scalable.

“We are unique in that the vast majority of our logistics operations are in-house, giving us the ability to work with our customers, and throughout the supply, to find the right solutions. As we look to deliver a better dairy future, we will continually innovate to reduce our impact.”

Michael Lowe, Sunswap CEO said:

“We love working with forward-thinking and innovative distributors such as Müller to decarbonise their supply chain and reduce their energy costs. We’re thrilled to complete yet another successful trial ahead of entering production at the beginning of 2024.”

Scott Dargan, Managing Director UK & Northern Europe at Carrier Transicold said:

“Since its launch in 2020 the Vector eCool has been helping an ever-growing number of businesses meet their sustainability goals, and we’re delighted to see Müller join that list. As it was the first trailer system of its kind available in the UK, we were proud to lead the charge when it came to decarbonising the cold chain, and now we look forward to working closely with the Müller team to ensure they maximise the benefits the eCool can deliver.”

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