Compared to their diesel counterparts, the positive impact on air pollution of zero-emission transport refrigeration units (TRUs) is evident. This is certainly worth restating in light of the recent report published by prestigious medical journal, The Lancet, which links 6.5 million deaths worldwide to air pollution.
Another strong benefit of clean TRUs is their extremely quiet noise levels, which subsequently also leads to further benefits: enabling night-time deliveries, hence more flexibility for fleet operators and further reductions in emissions as there is less traffic at night, and also helping urban planners reduce day-time congestion.
At Dearman, we are starting to see operators and regulators increasingly looking at enabling night-time deliveries. We already know this is what several household supermarket brands are calling for. In terms of regulation, take for example Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s draft transport strategy which recently closed for consultation. The strategy is clear that it wants “to ensure that delivery and servicing plans facilitate off-peak deliveries using quiet technology”.
The noise level of a diesel-powered TRU can reach 75-80 decibels (dB(A)), almost the equivalent of being near busy city traffic. The most advanced diesel-powered TRUs can operate in low noise mode at 65 dB(A), but that is only feasible at reduced cooling capacity which in turn can impact produce quality.
Without compromising cooling capacity, a Dearman TRU is currently as low as 65db(A) if uninsulated and has the potential to be lower than 60db(A) with an insulation pack where required. For comparison, a normal everyday conversation would be around 60dB(A). 60dB(A) is also the requirement of the Dutch government for retail trade businesses conducting loading and unloading operations at night. This requirement is known as the international PIEK standard.
With rising populations and hence more delivery trucks on our roads, urban planners can see the significant congestion problems that will arise if action is not taken now. Freight vehicles already represent one-third of London’s morning peak traffic. This will worsen given London’s 8.7 million population is expected to rise to 10.5 million over the coming 25 years. The London picture is likely to be representative of other major cities in the UK and elsewhere around the globe.
By helping to tackle air pollution, noise levels and congestion all at once, encouraging the take-up of zero-emission TRUs is, quite literally, an overnight fix.