Customers purchasing trailer refrigeration units not only require excellent cooling capacity, reliability and long maintenance intervals, but also aesthetics which help maintain the company image and reinforce the brand. Customer surveys carried out by Thermo King confirm that appearance would not rank as highly in purchase criteria as reliability, service and performance. However, aesthetics are nonetheless rated as influential by customers in the selection of new equipment. As a result, Thermo King wanted its new SLX range to have visually innovative aesthetics that customers would proudly show off on their trailer fleets. To make this possible, Thermo King tasked Senior Engineer Rafael Ibáñez, with the design of all the external panels for the new range.
After 25 years working in industrial designs – the last 10 years at Thermo King – and his participation in the development of the appearance of the V100, V200 and V300 direct drive models, the experience acquired by Ibáñez helped him take the brave step away from decades of gradually evolving traditional appearance towards a highly innovative asymmetric design.
Ibáñez says: “Products not only have to be good, but their image and the sensations received by the operator when using them must also transmit their values. With the SLX range Thermo King had functional needs that the classical symmetrical panel layout could not solve. As well as the improvement achieved in lowering the engine working speeds, the noise and the fuel consumption, Thermo King wanted the look of the product to visually convey the innovations that the new SLX range offers regarding technology, efficiency and reliability.” The challenge in developing the new SLX range was to create this innovative image while reducing down-time and maximizing equipment utilization.
Looks good, works better
The asymmetrical design of the SLX range is not only a matter of form, since the uniqueness of the design form is driven by functional requirements. Thanks to the inclusion of a condenser coil with an 80% larger face area, the new SLX range is capable of achieving faster pull-down, superior high-ambient capability and increased operating efficiency.
“Nowadays, when customers buy a machine, they take for granted that it is going to work correctly, since our degree of reliability in technology is very high. Therefore, aspects such as the design or innovative solutions are often the tipping point which leads to a purchase decision,” added Ibáñez.
Ibáñez continued: “The ones who – like me – love not only the product engineering, but also its aesthetics, usually set off from an ideal image, that little by little has to be adapted to the real needs of the equipment. Attention to every single detail is required throughout the production process.” Even the customers’ image needs were taken into account when developing the SLX. This way, Thermo King delivers its SLX units with a neutral color scheme to respect customer livery, although the units can be manufactured in any colour according to the preferences of the customers.Caring for the environment too
The achievements attained by Thermo King with its new SLX range also reflect environmental responsibility. Thanks to the use of carefully selected materials and processes, the units meet stringent environmental requirements while retaining their ability to satisfy the most demanding operating conditions. This allows 99.7% of each SLX unit (by weight) to be recyclable.
Another added value is the performance features which both minimise life-cycle costs and environmental impact. The 3,000 hour maintenance interval minimises oil, filter and coolant waste; while the Cycle Sentry system that stops the engine when refrigeration is not needed and the Bio-Fuel compatibility further reduce environmental impact.
Thanks to all these features and the excellent work performed by Rafael Ibáñez in the skin design of the new SLX range, along with chosen materials, enhanced performance and lowered fuel consumption, Thermo King has set a milestone in the market of transport temperature control units with its new SLX range.