McBurney Transport Group Powers through Winter with Solar Panels on Trailers

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McBurney Transport Group has opted to fit all new refrigerated trailers with solar panels from Genie Insights, following an extensive one-year trial.  The 50-watt panels have been fitted to the roof of each trailer with the primary function of keeping fridge batteries in a charged state to prevent battery related breakdowns and costs.

McBurney Transport Group has been using the asset management system, Freeway Fleet Systems, since 2018.  The system, which was also supplied and implemented by Genie Insights, manages all of McBurney Group’s fleet maintenance, scheduling and analysis.  Using three years of data from the Freeway system, the company was able to ascertain the extent of its fridge battery related costs so recognised the benefit that solar power could potentially deliver.

In 2021, McBurney Group had a solar panel fitted to one trailer and ran this in the fleet for 12 months as a trial, including over the winter period to ensure that the panels could perform all year round.  The test trailer operated all over the UK and Ireland including the most remote northerly regions of the country with the worst weather conditions and shortest daylight hours.

During the trial, multiple downloads were taken from the solar panel’s charge controller at key points throughout the year, which gave visibility of the battery’s state of charge.  This data enabled McBurney Group to confirm that whilst there was a draw being taken from the battery when the fridge was not running, the solar panel was putting enough charge back in to counteract this consumption.  This data, coupled with the fact that there were no fridge battery related costs recorded during the same period, proved the success of the trial.

Following the successful trial, the company is now in the process of fitting 146 new trailers with Genie Insights’ solar panel kits. Because the solar panel prevents the battery from draining completely and having to be jump started, it also prolongs the life of the battery giving a secondary benefit.  Not only will McBurney Group see a cost saving from reduced breakdowns, it will also save on premature battery replacements.   

Sammy Hamill, Fleet Manager at McBurney Transport Group explained the company’s decision to fit the panels to all new trailers: “This is just another example of how we have worked closely with Genie Insights to improve the performance of our fleet and uptime for our customers, which is ultimately what we are always striving towards as a business.  We also like to be at the forefront of trialling new technologies, and we were surprised to see how such a simple and cost-effective solution could provide the answer to the battery related issues we know are becoming increasingly common in the refrigerated transport industry.”