The first of a new configuration of light commercial vehicle has entered operation with Essex & Suffolk Water. Purpose-designed for carrying scientific water samples, the vehicle is based upon a Fiat Doblo platform cab mounted with a lightweight, copolymer polypropylene plastic body and an innovative refrigeration solution using Carrier Transicold’s NEOS 100S unit. Carrier Transicold helps improve global transport and shipping temperature control with a complete line of equipment for refrigerated trucks, trailers and containers, and is a part of UTC Climate, Controls & Security, a unit of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX).
According to Vehicle Lease & Service Ltd (VLS), the leasing arm of Northumbrian Water Group, which owns Essex & Suffolk Water, the NEOS 100S unit is the right fit for this innovative new bodywork design.
"We wanted to construct the body for this new vehicle out of copolymer polypropylene, but I was told refrigerating a plastic body wouldn’t be possible without a vast amount of condensation being generated," said Dave Foster, fleet engineer, VLS. "Most of the fridge manufacturers I spoke to shied away from getting involved, but the team at Carrier Transicold UK were incredibly supportive. This wasn’t something they had done previously in the UK, but they were more than willing to work with us to find the right solution."
Following a series of tests led by Steve Newton, Carrier Transicold regional technical manager, and independent tests carried out by VLS, it was determined that the NEOS 100S unit would fit the bill perfectly.
The NEOS 100S is a conventional split system, alternator-driven unit for commercial vehicles with a load space of up to six cubic metres. It is mounted externally on the vehicle’s roof to create additional internal space, and has a slim-line evaporator that can be installed into even the smallest of cargo compartments.
Unlike direct-drive systems, the NEOS 100S uses power from the vehicle’s alternator to maintain cooling or heating capacity regardless of engine speed. This guarantees temperature integrity and ensures faster pull-down whilst reducing engine load, resulting in improved fuel consumption.
"Water samples require delicate handling and must be transported in a secure load space at between +2° and +8°C," added Foster. "Our previous vehicles took up to 20 minutes to pull down to the required temperature, but with the NEOS 100S unit, we have reduced the pull-down phase to just eight minutes. Being electrically driven also means the Carrier unit delivers significant fuel savings."
The vehicle bodywork was designed and manufactured by Tamworth-based Strong’s Plastic Products. It offers a range of benefits for the customer, including a lightweight design that yields lower fuel costs, excellent heat resistance and low maintenance. It also offers enhanced durability, as Strong’s claims it will not risk cracking like Glass-Reinforced Plastic (GRP), or corroding like metal. Similarly, its long projected life means both the body and refrigeration unit can be transferred onto a new platform cab for a second life, reducing whole-life costs to VLS.
"We’re proud to work with such a forward-thinking customer, who challenged us to apply the NEOS 100S technology in a different way," said James Bell, key account manager, Carrier Transicold UK.
VLS currently has one of the new Fiat Doblo platform cab vehicles in operation with Essex & Suffolk Water, and has a further five on order to replace older vehicles in the fleet. These units will all be covered under Carrier Transicold Golden Cold®fixed maintenance agreements as a result of the ‘exemplary’ service VLS says it has already received on the initial development unit.
Golden Cold covers all maintenance recommended by Carrier Transicold, carried out by manufacturer-trained technicians using genuine replacement parts, plus access to 24-hour emergency assistance throughout the UK.