Thermo King's AFAM +: Green before its Time

Belgium (October 14, 2008) - Thermo King's Advanced Fresh Air Management System (AFAM+) was green before the industry - and the world - really grasped the significance of that fact. When it was launched nearly six years ago, words like organic, carbon footprint, and power savings were not the household terms that they are today.

While availability and shelf quality remain near the top of most retailers' priority lists, they are forced to consider many more factors - some of which are based on consumer demand and some that are economic in nature. The globalization of the distribution chain in combination with the availability of atmosphere control technology for the sea transportation industry partly addressed the availability issue. As a result, many supermarkets around the world now offer a wide range of seasonal fruits and vegetables year round and regularly introduce new varieties. The quality and shelf life of the products also improved as technology was able to control product ripening, enabling longer transit times. As a result, avocados tasted like avocados and bananas like bananas, no matter where they came from.

But as environmental and health-related concerns gained awareness, and fuel costs soared, there were new issues to address. And now, the environmental implications of fresh cargo transport and distribution chains are leading concerns for retailers.

"The term 'organic' is considered by many as the epitome of health and quality in food," said Pietro SONZA REORDA, product manager, Thermo King Global Marine Solutions. "It is fast transforming the food industry as consumers increasingly demand to know not only where their food comes from, but also how it is produced, transported, and preserved, as well as what the environmental impact is during the entire process. The marketplace is increasingly interested in buying food produced and brought to it sustainably."

In such a competitive market as the transport and retail industry, differentiation is seen by most as key for protecting margin erosion and winning the price wars. With legislators seriously investigating sea transport's impact on climate change worldwide, questions are raised on how fair trade activities, harvesting and the transporting of fresh cargo will be further regulated.

"These concerns and issues, coupled with high fuel costs, are all linked in determining a new landscape for the fresh cargo chain, and marine transportation technology has a big role to play," said SONZA REORDA. "Technologies making use of natural mechanisms embedded in cargo will be able to answer these new demands and survive industry changes in an environment where words like 'emissions,' 'chemicals', and 'gas injection' make people more nervous every day."

AFAM+ manages O2 and CO2 levels in a container to slow product metabolism while providing temperature management. Supplemented with the unmatched MAGNUM® container refrigeration unit's temperature control accuracy, AFAM+ manages the changes in O2 and CO2 levels when fruits and vegetables respire to achieve the optimum combination without additional dehydration. The MAGNUM controller can also be programmed to delay the fresh air vent opening, hence allowing the container's interior temperature to reach proper set point before the container is ventilated and reducing pull-down time.

"Basically, because AFAM+ manages the atmosphere so well, less heat needs to be removed from the box by the unit," explained SONZA REORDA. "That means faster pull-down and less power used, which translates into fuel and cost savings, as well as a reduced carbon footprint."

"AFAM+ was created with forward-thinking ... it offers shippers a choice when shipping perishables and extends cargo shelf life with its natural environmental management. It's an organic way to ship organic produce! Plus it is less expensive to ship - and operate - than air transport, and most importantly, is environmentally-compatible. It was green before its time, and now it's a major answer to the shipping industry's challenges," said SONZA REORDA.

Today, more than 11,000 AFAM+ systems are in service worldwide making it the most widely installed modified or controlled atmosphere system in the industry. More information can be found at

Thermo King is the global leader in solutions for temperature-controlled transport, supplying the world market from 11 production facilities and over 800 distributors world-wide. The company offers a wide range of refrigeration and heating units for vehicles of all sizes, from small vans to large trailers, as well as airborne and ocean-going containers. In addition Thermo King provides heating, ventilation and air-conditioning equipment for passenger buses and railcars.

Thermo King also offers service maintenance programs and finance solutions, as well as a range of accessories, temperature monitoring, and tracking equipment. For more information on Thermo King's products and services please visit

Thermo King is a business unit of leading diversified industrial company Ingersoll Rand, a global provider of products, services, and integrated solutions to industries as diverse as transportation, manufacturing, construction and agriculture. Further information on Ingersoll Rand can be found on the company's website at

Thermo King Corporation, a business unit of diversified industrial firm Ingersoll Rand Company Limited, was founded in 1938 and manufactures transport temperature control systems for a variety of mobile applications, including trailers, truck bodies, buses, shipboard containers and railway cars. The company operates 10 manufacturing facilities and 17 parts distribution centers worldwide. Sales and service is provided by a global dealer network of 865 independently owned companies in 75 countries.

Bram Robichez, Thermo King Corporation
32 2714 5711
Bram Robichez

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