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Market told to ‘make room for a much bigger Thermo King’

In the face of persistent market rumours that Thermo King is exiting the reefer container sector, the company responded robustly at Intermodal Europe 2019, held this week in Hamburg.

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“I would encourage all of you to make room for a much stronger, a much bigger Thermo King because we are back,” Jessica Poliner, vice president and general manager, Thermo King Global Marine, Rail and Air, told delegates.


Poliner outlined a series of commitments to the reefer industry, many of which will happen in 2020, including the launch of new genset products and a Controlled Atmosphere solution, supplying telematics as standard on all Thermo King reefers and gensets, and offering the widest temperature pull-down range with more refrigerant options than any other company in the industry. She also outlined an environmental initiative that is targeting a 25% reduction in global food loss and food waste “merely by applying cold chain technology”.


Giving her first ever presentation at an Intermodal Europe conference, Poliner acknowledged that she was addressing an audience representing a tight-knit industry. “After some consternation, some thought and very good advice, I want to talk about something I’ve heard about over the last year and half in this job, travelling the world, meeting a bunch of customers, and even something as recent as this week, which is these unanswered questions about what Thermo King is or isn’t doing,” she said.

Thermo King's Jessica Poliner
Thermo King's Jessica Poliner

“We have worked over the years to make ourselves different, arguably too different. We have the lowest set point in the industry. Our Magnum Plus pulls down to -40 degC. No other product in the industry can do that. We also have our Super-Freezer product that pulls down to -60 DegC. There is no other product in the industry can do that.


“We have the only genset that is lifetime CARB-compliant unit that does not have to roll out of California in seven years.” This was a reference the California Air Resource Board regulations that set limits for greenhouse gas emissions across the US West Coast state.


“We have also developed other win-win offerings for our customers,” she continued. “Our global maintenance programme covers extended warranty beyond industry standard, and supports our best-in-class total cost of ownership. Our expanded after-market solution provides opportunities in manufactured and competitive parts, making us a one-stop-shop for our customers’ needs. Our objective is to increase productivity and reduce downtime and unpredicted failure for our customers.”


Despite listing these and various other achievements, Poliner acknowledged that this was not enough. “We’ve heard you loud and clear, so I want to share with you our vision going forward,” she said.


“We will offer the widest temperature pull-down range with more refrigerant options that anyone else in the industry,” announced Poliner.


“We will offer a full range of generator set options, including not only the lifetime CARB-complaint unit, but we’ll offer another model for the rest of North America that does not necessitate lifetime CARB, an NRMM-compliant unit for Europe, and also a more modular unit,” she added.


Reversing an earlier decision, Poliner revealed that Thermo King would release a Controlled Atmosphere solution due to growing customer demand. “We’re also focussed on telematics capability and compatibility and ease of use across distinct platforms, starting with our gensets,” she said. “And we will offer telematics as standard on our reefer and genset products.”


She concluded: “Our vision is to remake Thermo King, and to offer the broadest product portfolio in the industry. We are committed and here to stay. Next year, I know that I won’t be able to give the same presentation and make the same promises, so we will walk the talk and remake Thermo King.”


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