The U.S. Army Contracting Command has turned to Klinge Corp. of York, Pa., to help develop refrigerated containers that function in adverse conditions and are easier to handle and transport.
“Typically, there have been containers that are taking up a larger footprint, that are harder and more costly to deploy,” said Sales Manager Jason Flynn. The company’s new design, now under development, should take up considerably less space and be more easily transported.
The containers in question provide a range of refrigerated goods to forward units. These typically include foodstuffs as well as medical supplies, but run a wider gamut. For instance, the company has helped NASA maintain temperatures of adhesives, glues and paints while in transit.
In a traditional scenario, a refrigerated unit will fill a 20-foot container, taking up considerable cargo space while on the move. Klinge’s design utilizes collapsible walls to reduce that footprint to about one-third that size — still big enough to house a refrigerator unit during transport, but far smaller than the typical box.
The smaller unit simplifies logistics on a number of levels.
“They are not going to need specialized equipment, specialized container handlers. A more standardized forklift will be able to move these on and off the trucks,” Flynn said. “Also, they can be airlifted much more quickly and easily, as opposed to 20-foot containers that have to be trucked in.”
Once the development contract is fulfilled, Flynn said, the company expects to take on the work of replacing all joint services refrigerated containers, an inventory that includes several thousand units.
In addition to portability, designers have focused on energy efficiency in the new design.
Today’s units can consume far more energy than is needed, with power output often designed to chill unnecessarily large spaces: in short, refrigeration overkill. Flynn describes a better-insulated system, one whose energy output is geared more precisely to the unit’s actual usage.
“With the smaller size, there will be less fuel needed in the field, which means less transport and fewer people needed to move that fuel,” he said. That could help keep personnel out of harm’s way.
The ability to perform precision temperature control also could help Klinge meet the needs of pharmaceutical transport, which often demands a higher degree of specificity. With medicines, “it’s not just building a cold box,” Flynn said. “It’s building a cold box that can perform in certain environmental conditions with the accuracy readings that are required. Just producing cold air is not enough.”
All these elements should result not just in a more efficient box, but in a more efficient soldier, Flynn said.
“We can give the war fighters just what they need to perform their mission more effectively,” he said. “We’re trying to simplify things so they can focus on that mission.”