Dairy products giant Müller is testing whether solar panels and kinetic energy can replace diesel engines to power its fleet of refrigerated HGV trailers.
The company has teamed up with Sunswap to trial the delivery of fresh milk using refrigerated trailers that are totally battery and solar-powered.
The solar and battery-powered Sunswap system, per trailer, can eliminate all diesel, saving 3,700 litres and 9 tonnes of carbon every year.
This latest trial is one of a number of different technologies Müller is trialling in a bid to cut the carbon footprint of its HGV fleet.
In collaboration with Carrier Transicold, the business is also testing a refrigerated trailer system powered by kinetic energy.
The Carrier Transicold Vector eCool converts energy generated by the trailer axle and brakes into electricity, which is then stored in a battery pack to power the refrigeration unit.
The system can eliminate all carbon emissions associated with traditional refrigeration units operating with an auxiliary engine.
Both trials also aim to establish whether renewable energy solutions will allow the business to maintain its quality and service levels, which are above 99% in 2023.
Following completion of the trials, Müller will look at either further testing or a wider rollout across its network.
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Müller has also trialled fully-electric shunt vehicles within its Manchester dairy and is now considering a full rollout of the electric shunt vehicles at the site, with each vehicle saving an estimated 3,700 litres of diesel each year and 9 tonnes of carbon.
Enhanced driver training and higher capacity vehicles are also in place to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Dan Hamby, Müller Milk & Ingredients head of distribution, said: “Customers and shoppers expect us to look for ways to reduce carbon whilst maintaining our industry leading levels of product quality and customer service.
“With each trailer capable of transporting 8,000 bottles of milk, we have to maintain the correct temperature and make sure we hit the delivery windows to meet our customer obligations. Our approach is to test, learn and introduce innovation which is sustainable and scalable.
“We are unique in that the vast majority of our logistics operations are in-house, giving us the ability to work with our customers, and throughout the supply, to find the right solutions. As we look to deliver a better dairy future, we will continually innovate to reduce our impact.”
Michael Lowe, Sunswap chief executive, said: “We started Sunswap, the world’s only purpose-built battery and solar-powered refrigeration system to support forward-thinking and innovative distributors such as Müller to decarbonise their supply chain and reduce their energy costs.
“We’re thrilled to complete yet another successful trial ahead of entering production and our units entering service at the beginning of 2024.
Scott Dargan, Carrier Transicold managing director for UK and Northern Europe, said: “Since its launch in 2020 the Vector eCool has been helping an ever-growing number of businesses meet their sustainability goals, and we’re delighted to see Müller join that list.
“As it was the first trailer system of its kind available in the UK, we were proud to lead the charge when it came to decarbonising the cold chain, and now we look forward to working closely with the Müller team to ensure they maximise the benefits the eCool can deliver.”