Whether they are used to carry perishable goods or medication, refrigerated vehicles occupy a special position on the road and in the supply chain alike. The Covid-19 crisis further cemented this crucial role. Innovation and Fraikin Business Solutions Director Olivier Dutrech analyzes the situation.
“Refrigerated vehicles (or temperature-controlled vehicles) occupy a special position in the supply chain as they are designed to transport sensitive goods such as food or medical products”, explains Innovation and Fraikin Business Solutions Director Olivier Dutrech.
But due to Covid-19, refrigerated vehicles have never been more essential…or ubiquitous! “While all Europe is locked down to fight back against the coronavirus epidemic, food and pharmaceutical transportation has only grown in strategic importance” notes Dutrech, “and the refrigeration industry must rise to the occasion.”
A wide range of vehicles for specific needs…
In 2019 there were 2481 newly registered refrigerated vehicles in France, and 3587 refrigerated semi-trailers. 10% of the heavy goods vehicles registered in France are actually refrigerated vehicles.
However, these numbers conceal another reality: the wide variety of vehicles in the industry. “From manufacturers to large retailers, from large retailers to local shops, from local shops to last-mile deliveries, refrigerated vehicles are quite simply ubiquitous,” says Dutrech. “But for each type of need there is a specific type of vehicle.”
This wide variety includes positive-temperature vehicles, which can transport goods refrigerated between 0 and 7°; Class-C refrigerated vehicles which can reach temperatures as low as -20°; and insulated vehicles (which can also be two-wheeled). “It is also important to understand that heated vehicles which can hold a temperature up to 12° (most notably to transport medication or artwork) may be included under the category of temperature-controlled transport”, notes Dutrech.
From Olivier Dutrech’s perspective the conclusion is clear and final. “The Covid-19 health crisis has highlighted the importance of the refrigeration industry. Changes in consumer habits resulting from a prolonged lockdown will further cement the role of these vehicles.”
Areas that are most likely to see growth include last-mile delivery, whether it is for foodstuffs or ready-made meals. “Consumers will indelibly turn toward at-home delivery services and e-commerce to limit their exposure to the risk of contamination. This is a major growth opportunity for an entire industry”, Dutrech concludes.