Keep­ing your cool

Ex­perts of­fer their tips on en­sur­ing that re­frig­er­a­tion in­vest­ments pay off

Australian Transport News - - Contents - WORDS R OB M CKAY

You would have to look to Africa or the Mid­dle East to find sim­i­lar con­di­tions that chal­lenge on-road re­frig­er­a­tion and air­con­di­tion­ing that are a part of Aus­tralian life.

Sure the ma­jor­ity of the busiest parts of the road net­work are First World but enor­mous stretches are dif­fi­cult and re­mote, mean­ing equip­ment here of­ten has to func­tion at op­ti­mum lev­els for longer than most other places. This puts the onus on own­ers to ease the strain on ma­chin­ery in be­tween ser­vice in­ter­vals.

With that in mind, ATN sought out two re­frig­er­a­tion ser­vice providers for their wis­dom on how to get the best out of their sys­tems.


Ther­mal Mark Trans­port Re­frig­er­a­tion, in western Syd­ney, pro­vides re­frig­er­ated so­lu­tions for trucks, semi-trail­ers, utes and vans. Its MD, Marc Gauci, is in no doubt where trans­port op­er­a­tors are do­ing them­selves a dis­ser­vice.

“The main rea­son re­frig­er­a­tion units break down and un­der­per­form is from a lack of sched­uled ser­vic­ing and main­te­nance,” Gauci, ex­pe­ri­enced as a master tech­ni­cian in the trans­port re­frig­er­a­tion in­dus­try, tells ATN. “Pre­ven­ta­tive main­te­nance is al­ways the best way to ap­proach it.

“When a cus­tomer calls up or a unit comes in for di­ag­nos­ing, we usu­ally find the unit has been sub­ject to ex­tended pe­ri­ods of lack of ser­vic­ing and or main­te­nance.

“Dur­ing the sched­uled ser­vic­ing and main­te­nance pro­gram we pro­vide at Ther­mal Mark, our master tech­ni­cians can in­spect the re­frig­er­a­tion units and re­port on any po­ten­tial faults to be rec­ti­fied be­fore it reaches the costly stage of break­down, loss of prod­uct/ pay­load, ex­ten­sive re­pair or re­place­ment due to fail­ure.”

His com­pany rec­om­mends reg­u­lar main­te­nance of re­frig­er­ated trail­ers at 1500 hours, 3000 hours and 4500 hours an­nu­ally.

Ther­mal Mark na­tional sales and mar­ket­ing man­ager Shaun Evans em­pha­sises de­vel­op­ment of staff in ser­vice firms is cru­cial to a pos­i­tive out­come for fleet op­er­a­tors.

“Our staff go through ex­ten­sive train­ing pro­grams whether it be in sales or the tech­ni­cal depart­ment to pro­vide our cus­tomers with the right in­for­ma­tion the first time,” Evans says.

“We un­der­stand that hav­ing re­frig­er­a­tion units fail or be­come prob­lem­atic can add costs to com­pa­nies’ main­te­nance bud­gets and, even worse, have the po­ten­tial of los­ing a client them­selves from hav­ing prod­uct spoil due to tem­per­a­ture- sen­si­tive en­vi­ron­ments be­com­ing un­sta­ble.”

Tech­ni­cal staff will be in­volved with “vis­ually in­spect­ing the unit, clean­ing any oil spills, clear­ing de­bris, mak­ing sure air flow is

“Keep­ing the con­densers clean of leaves, bugs and dirt will put a lot less pres­sure on the sys­tem”

un­ob­structed, ro­tat­ing fan mo­tors and blades, tight­en­ing any elec­tri­cal con­nec­tions and more”.


Few states have the ex­treme cli­matic dif­fer­ences that South Aus­tralia ex­pe­ri­ences, which is where Ade­laide’s MooreAir comes in. Whether in the mostly scorch­ing north or the tem­per­ate and of­ten wet south­east, cer­tain points are good for al­most any­where.

“Keep­ing the con­densers clean of leaves, bugs and dirt will put a lot less pres­sure on the sys­tem, as well as reg­u­lar checks that the fan mo­tors are all run­ning,” MooreAir ser­vice man­ager David Moore says.

“This is all you re­ally need to do be­tween ser­vices to make sure the sys­tem is looked af­ter.

“A lit­tle trick peo­ple can do on the re­ally hot days is wa­ter down the con­denser coil with a fine mist; this will cool the air- con­di­tion­ing or re­frig­er­a­tion sys­tem down quickly and keep it from go­ing out on high pres­sure.

“Yes it is sim­ple, but it makes a big dif­fer­ence as it cools down the cab or the re­frig­er­a­tion unit quickly by low­er­ing the tem­per­a­ture of the re­frig­er­ant by the wa­ter evap­o­ra­tion off the ex­ter­nal coil once it is cold, then the re­frig­er­a­tion or air- con­di­tion­ing can cope much eas­ier – it also helps with the ini­tial fuel con­sump­tion.”

Moore is an­other keen on pre­ven­ta­tive main­te­nance. “Train the me­chan­ics to look for any signs of oil on the air­con­di­tion­ing sys­tem parts. This is the sign of leaks, so re­pairs are needed,” he ad­vises those who con­trol fleets.

“The dri­ers can vi­brate to pieces in­ter­nally on rough roads – this ends up block­ing up the rest of the sys­tem, so they need chang­ing reg­u­larly.”

There are cer­tain points on the units that are prone to get­ting clogged, which are rea­son­ably easy to check but tend to get over­looked.

“Clean the bugs out of the ex­ter­nal ra­di­a­tor as this will lower the pres­sures and save you fuel,” Moore says.

“Make the sys­tem op­er­ates more ef­fi­ciently; do not hit the ra­di­a­tor with a high-pres­sure cleaner as you will bend the fins and that is worse than bugs.”

Then there are times when a cus­tomer will notice a symp­tom of an­other is­sue that needs at­ten­tion first.

“Nor­mally you are told it needs re-gassing. But the gas has to es­cape through a leak be­fore it needs re-gassing; un­der leg­is­la­tion, the gas can­not be re­in­stalled un­til the leak has been fixed,” Moore points out.

“Most peo­ple are in a hurry so they only want a quick fix, but, with air­con­di­tion­ing and re­frig­er­a­tion, un­til you have fixed the ob­vi­ous things and un­der­take a per­for­mance check, you can­not tell what, if any­thing else, is wrong with it, [such as] blocked air­flow, not get­ting cold due to blocked valves.”

Then there is the prob­lem SA has in com­mon with those ar­eas that make up by far the greater part of the Aus­tralian land mass, along with Africa and the Mid­dle East.

“Yes, dust is a big is­sue – it gets into the cool­ing ra­di­a­tor or eva­po­ra­tor, and be­cause they are moist it forms hard mud in the coil, quite of­ten block­ing it up, and duct work quite of­ten falls off, so the air is be­ing de­liv­ered be­hind the dash and not to the driver,” Moore says. “This is usu­ally an is­sue when other trades have had the dash to pieces for some rea­son.”

Above: Units come in many shapes and sizes Right: There is no sub­sti­tute for ex­am­in­ing the in­nards Be­low: Ther­mal Mark na­tional sales and mar­ket­ing man­ager Shaun Evans Op­po­site top: Truck­ing in Aus­tralia is tough on re­frig­er­ated equip­ment

Above: A con­denser that has been knocked around, which led to the com­pres­sor fail­ing

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