A Match Made in Heaven?
Plus: How Warehouse Operators Can Cash In
Orders continue to pile in for the “Tesla Semi” – the specialty automaker’s not-yet-built, heavy-duty, electric truck. All the big users are clamoring for production positions: Anheuser-Busch, UPS, and PepsiCo are among Tesla’s 400+ reservations for this revolutionary method of moving freight around the country.
This new truck has a projected range of 500 miles; enough range for a driver to take advantage of their full ten-hour work limit.
There are a ton of questions yet to be answered about this $180,000+ vehicle, but let’s address the most daunting one: the need for a massive nationwide charging infrastructure.
There Musk Be Enough Stations
Elon Musk is promising a network of high-voltage Megachargers that will be able to power-up these monsters in one hour. That is not a typo; the ability to power-up in one hour.
Now, I’m the last to question Musk’s ability to defy the laws of infrastructure gravity (after all, he describes the performance of these beasts as BAMF, which stands for Bad Ass M*… – well, you get the gist). But, wow! The investment in a nationwide charging station network will take time, and a lot of it. And as the network goes live, given the initial sparse number of charging locations, there will be plenty of competition for a spot as drivers vie for precious charging time.
Enter Carrier’s TransiCold Vector Reefer Unit
Looks like a typical package system, right? Well, in fact, this new offering revolutionizes the method of trailer cooling.
In the past, reefer units consisted of a diesel engine and a compressor unit. The engine was directly connected to the compressor, and cooling only happened when the small diesel engine was running.
Carrier, with its Vector reefer unit, has modernized and crushed this outmoded concept. Instead, this hybrid unit includes a battery and an electrically-run compressor; the diesel engine only runs when the battery charge drops to a level that requires “recharging.”
Generating an Analogy
Think Chevy Volt here: the wheels are only powered by the electric motors, and the small on-board engine only comes on to recharge the battery.
Back to Carrier’s Vector. The diesel engine does not run consistently. Therefore, the on-board excess charging capacity in the trailer’s reefer engine can be run to charge something else; the “something else,” for example, being the Tesla Semi.
This ad-hoc charging could be used to charge the truck either when the truck is in transit, or during the driver rest period.
In addition, the diesel engine in the reefer unit could be used exclusively for truck charging when there is no load on the trailer.
Of course, the ideal situation would be an abundance of convenient charging locations. In the meantime, however, we may just have a match made in automotive heaven.
Power to the Plant
What does this mean for warehouse operators? I predict we’ll see the installation of dock-based, “Musk-built superchargers” to be utilized by both in-house and outside drivers.
Taking it one step further, the service of providing a full charge to a visiting driver, for a fee, will surely become a profit center for the facility.
Keeping an Eye on The Outcome
With the potential for time- and cost-efficiency benefits to warehouses, not to mention increased profits, Food Tech, Inc., is eagerly watching for details on when these new Tesla Megachargers will become available.
What say you on this electric super-truck phenomena? Do you believe it will meet the touted expectations? And how could it benefit your distribution practices and warehouse operations?