Maersk Line has been working regularly with Wageningen Food & Biobased Research since 2005. The collaboration has provided Maersk with much value and insight. "We have achieved considerable energy savings, and are able to offer a broader range of services to our customers," says Henrik Lindhardt, Head of Reefer Research & Support at the Danish multinational.
"We move more than cargo. Customers must be able to rely on their cargo arriving at the correct destination on time and in good condition. We think along with our customers – for example on how to respond to new legislation – and are continuously innovating.
Wageningen Food & Biobased Research and Maersk Line have been business ‘partners’ since 2005. In the beginning of the collaboration we examined reefer containers, in order to get them approved for transport of flower bulbs.
In 2006 we became involved in a new project: Quest. Together with Wageningen experts, we developed an approach that reduces the energy consumption of refrigerated container transport by up to 65%; energy is by far the biggest cost contributor in our industry. We always thought that cooling and air circulation in our containers should run continuously. The project started from a revolutionary standpoint for this sector: that cooling compressors could be turned off for specific periods and air circulation could be reduced, without the load (product) being affected. Our initial assumptions proved to be true and the approach works in practice.
After Quest, we began a continuing, structured engagement with Wageningen Food & Biobased Research. One of their experts in climate control, Leo Lukasse, has been our regular sparring partner ever since. We know each other well now and we contact him with most of our issues, large or small. Leo ensures our questions receive scientifically sound and justifiable answers.
For example, we commissioned a study into the cause of chilling injury to bananas. The outcome was that, in addition to the transport conditions, factors such as packaging also play a role. Bananas packed in an open plastic crate are more susceptible to cold than bananas in a traditional cardboard box. Consequently, we adjusted the transport parameters and the loading of the containers – with excellent results.
A tremendous benefit from working together with Wageningen, is that we can now transport brine-frozen tuna; a huge market for us. In the past, our refrigeration equipment would be blocked by ice very fast, as the tuna load contained many litres of ice cold salt water. Wageningen experts helped develop a technique that removes the ice before the airflow is restricted; a patent is on its way. The Wageningen Reefer Test Facility has been an invaluable resource during this particular project.
The same language
We are very pleased with Wageningen Food & Biobased Research as our partner. We come from different worlds, but speak the same language; Wageningen experts understand, better than any others, the problems and opportunities in our sector. They do not only bring knowledge and expertise, but real interest and good listening too. I am convinced that together with them we can implement many more innovations in our sector: digital tracking of cargo condition and actions required to maintain quality, for example."