Sainsbury's is working with fleet electrification specialists Flexible Power Systems (FPS) on a new type of smart plug required to power electric Transport Refrigeration Units (TRUs).
After a successful trial last year, the supermarket rolled out five electric refrigerated trailers to its lorry fleet that emit zero carbon, reducing the overall impact of the vehicle, helping to protect local communities from air pollution.
In order for the retailer to make further carbon savings it is working with FPS to design, develop and deploy the new smart plug required to power electric TRUs, as well as serving the current fleet.
Working with FPS’s smart charging system, the plugs will manage power demands from plugging in TRUs of all types in the distribution centre.
By using this technology at Sainsbury’s depots, the supermarket claims it will save 4 tonnes of carbon per vehicle a year.
The future-proofing project begins as the ban on red diesel approaches. As of April 1, red diesel will no longer be available at a rebated rate for many commercial applications, as part of the Government's plans to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions and improve air quality.
Patrick Dunne, director of property and procurement at Sainsbury’s, said: “Following the announcement of our newly accelerated target to be net zero in our own operations by 2035, we’re committed to trialling and investing in pioneering technology to enable us to lead the way to a decarbonised future.
“We will continue to introduce fully electric refrigerated trailers to our delivery fleet over the next 20 years and are excited to be working with FPS to maximise our carbon savings even further, making our delivery fleet more efficient and better for the planet.”
Michael Ayres, managing director of FPS, says that the decarbonisation of trucks will be “challenging”, because of their size, the distance they travel and payloads they carry.
“Increasing electrification in transport refrigeration and ensuring our electrification eco-system around the vehicle technologies works operationally is an important first step in this journey,” he explained.
“Workable transport refrigeration unit vehicle technologies are coming to market now and the upcoming ban on red diesel only serves to make this more urgent for operators, and we’re excited to be working with Sainsbury’s to find solutions to expand plug provision at their distribution centres, some of which have power constraints.”
He added: “Today's solutions are insufficiently robust and lack the communications capability for advanced control features like smart charging that could resolve these issues.
“Our new smart plug, within our electrification IoT ecosystem, will help meet this need.”
The Government intends to phase out the sale of all new petrol and diesel heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) by 2040, with the sale of 3.5 to 26 tonne HGVs phased out by 2035.