Refrigerated containers, typically referred to as reefer containers, are commonly employed in the intermodal transportation of temperature-sensitive goods.
For example, millions of tonnes of perishable foods and pharmaceuticals are transported by reefer containers daily as they are multi-designed to carry valuable loads on both land and sea.
What are offshore reefer containers?
Offshore reefer containers are specialised refrigerated containers employed to transport perishable goods via sea, like meat, fruits, flowers, vegetables, dairy and pharmaceutical products.
Reefer containers achieve this under internally regulated and ambient conditions. In fact, they are underpinned by cold temperature and humidity control mechanisms, from the point of production to the final destination.
Offshore reefer containers are structurally similar to standard freight containers (also called dry containers) in their physical characteristics, aesthetics and standards.
For example, general design, size, and handling procedures. However, offshore reefers containers require specialised cooling equipment, external power supply and unique handling procedures.
What is a remote reefer monitoring system, and what does it do?
The offshore reefer containers are typically closely monitored during sea transportation.
For instance, temperature variations along the ship’s route can be obtained to ensure that the reefer remains safe while in transit by sea.
Reefers are exposed to harsher conditions on the sea than on land. As such, they require careful monitoring mechanisms across their refrigerated units, which facilitate air or water cooler heat exchanges to maintain optimal internal temperatures.
This monitoring is typically performed via a data logger present in the reefer container that records the internal temperature of the unit.
Reefer temperature monitoring system
Offshore reefer containers functionally focus on ensuring the exchange of uniform airflow within perishable goods. They are designed to easily control the temperature ranges, as per the specific requirement of the shipment.
This means that offshore reefer containers can essentially lower their internal temperature, instead of reducing the overall temperature of the cargo.
A reefer temperature monitoring system essentially provides a consistent overview of the temperature of the air passing through the cargo on an infrequent basis to remove the gas and heat in the cargo. Thus, ensuring proper ventilation.
Facilitated by specialised sensors, reefer container tracking systems automatically monitor reefer container conditions whilst providing functions like:
- Notifications through alarms of drastic temperature drop to maintain optimal temperature conditions.
- Accurately storing important temperature and humidity parameters in detailed log files.
Reefer location tracking
Reefer location tracking mechanisms enable freight operators to set up automated alerts based on real-time GPS data. This puts managers in full control of refrigerated reefer containers and their high-value assets.
Working in combination with sensors in the reefers, the tracking GPS tools report any temperature deviations to the temperature monitoring system.
This enables complete dual visibility into the location and temperature status of perishable assets as they move through the cold chain. This, in turn, helps to reduce sea freight operational costs and cuts the risk of cargo loss or spoilage.
Benefits of reefer tracking systems
1. Minimise temperature-related spoilage
The primary cause of temperature-related spoilage is reefer unit breakdown. However, tracking systems can help safeguard against this unpredictable occurrence via automated alerts that keep reefer units in optimal condition.
Furthermore, reefer tracking systems’ comprehensive temperature data loggers provide actionable details regarding the container’s temperature.
And if integrated with GPS location tracking mechanisms, they allow users to determine temperature variations, and periods at which variation occurs to minimise cargo spoilage.
2. Cargo monitoring
Reefer tracking systems offer end-to-end visibility into the cold chain, from any location via multiple devices. For example, shipment owners can receive mobile alerts if the reefer gets warmer than the desired temperature.
This, in turn, improves reefer fleet utilisation, reduces dwell or cycle times and minimises repositioning costs with accessible information on equipment location and status.
3. Increase operational efficiency
Reefer tracking systems automatically record temperature across the entire cold chain. Therefore, eliminating the need for manual records by creating a centralised and automated temperature logbook.
4. Faster response in case of trouble
Reaction time is important in refrigerated shipping. Reefer tracking systems allow fast response times in case of any reefer technical challenges like drastic temperature changes. This enables crews to react appropriately to save the cargo.
5. Enables data-driven decision making
With the data from reefer tracking systems, freight providers have sufficient information to optimise routes or overhead costs.
6. Smart customer service
Reefer tracking systems enable freight providers to quickly identify delays for a proactive response. They also foster good customer relationships as they enable the sharing of location and cargo status, with an accurate estimated time of arrival (ETAs).
7. Enhanced cargo security
Reefer tracking systems can help deter and help prevent cargo theft, tampering and fraud. Some systems have unique mechanisms for remotely detecting door lock/unlock, cargo movement, seal status, or even unauthorised intrusion to help ensure optimal security.
Offshore reefer container tracking with MGS
In partnership with Thermo King, MGS offshore reefer units offer a state-of-the-art refrigerated container monitoring suite to improve shipping organisations’ ability to better monitor the temperatures of customers’ reefer containers.
The platform allows for faster response times in case of cargo temperature deterioration to minimise temperature-related spoilage costs.
Our technology employs cutting-edge sensors, cloud connectivity and custom applications to help reduce operational costs, improve reefer utilisation and eliminate business risks for clients.
A graduate (Business) from KDU, Jason Tan, is the current Business Director (Sales) for MGS Icestorm and has been associated with the company for the past 10 years.
With over 13 years in the shipping industry, he has had a significant contribution to Malaysia’s oil and gas industry in the engine and boat supply sector.
His expertise includes managing offshore catering business, offshore reefer containers, AI technology, offshore gas tanks, A60 pressurized cabins, etc. His contributions have helped establish MGS, in partnership (joint venture) with Thermo King and Honeywell to produce state of art Offshore Reefer Container products.