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Hercules Manufacturing Co. received five additional orders following a key presentation and inspection of the first uniquely green hybrid vehicle to Prairie Farms Dairy, Inc. From the chassis to the refrigerated body, this green proof-of-concept (POC) vehicle is an engineering first and is set to revolutionize the refrigeration transport industry by preserving the environment.
"This makes a stronger statement to their environmental interests as well as their approval of Hercules in this first of its kind green hybrid transport for the refrigerated truck industry," said Joe Banna, president emeritus for Henderson, Ky.-based Hercules.
With an $80,000 investment in research and development and using Eaton Corp.'s hybrid diesel/electric technology, Hercules developed the first green coldplate refrigeration hybrid unit of its kind. This advancement will save customers of refrigerated products an estimated $7,000-plus annually per vehicle in fuel and maintenance costs while being environmentally safe. Plus, the truck's hybrid engine technology could reduce annual CO2 emissions by up to 43,000 pounds per vehicle, compared to conventional refrigeration systems.
"It is a green solution in terms of the environment, but also in terms of the additional money saved to the companies who employ it," says Jeffrey Caddick, owner and CEO of Hercules.
"We chose Hercules because they are at the forefront of this groundbreaking technology and they have an extended association with Eaton Corp.," says Jay Naples, corporate fleet manager of Prairie Farms Dairy, Inc., based in Carlinville, Ill. "Being the first to try this new green hybrid design, we hope to set a precedent in our industry and establish environmentally friendly transportation."
As an all-electric, green and zero-carbon footprint refrigeration system, the green Hercules body combines heating and cooling capabilities with over-the-road power generation in a direct-store-delivery (DSD) vehicle. This unique refrigeration design eliminates the complexity of onboard generators and/or inverters with a seamless power management module that uses the hybrid chassis battery system during the delivery day and shore power at night. Ideal for designated "non-attainment" areas, benefits include reduced emissions, automatic hot gas defrost, fuel usage reduction, better serviceability, greater return on investment, noise reduction and increased driver convenience, all critical features for addressing today's environment and green sustainability goals.
Through re-engineering and newly developed electronic controls, the green truck can use the electricity generated by the hybrid motor to recharge its cold plate refrigeration system on the road, enabling companies to run longer routes since the weight of the refrigeration system has been reduced to improve fuel mileage. It also means the green hybrid truck can go without needing to return and repower the cold plates in its refrigeration system, which lose their cool gradually.
"Delivery costs are one of our highest expenses," says Ed Mullins, chief executive officer of Prairie Farms.
Prairie Farms will put the green hybrid vehicle on the road immediately where it will be wirelessly monitored 24/7 by Hercules to track the performance of the POC vehicle. The additional five vehicles ordered will go into production upon receipt of hybrid chassis.
"I am hopeful this new engineering breakthrough will return our 108-year-old company full circle to 1930, when Hercules was the first to create a mechanically refrigerated truck body," Caddick says.