Maersk Container Industry celebrates 25 years of refrigerated evolution

25 years ago, Maersk Container Industry (MCI) introduced the company’s first refrigerated (reefer) container, paving the way for two and a half decades of transportation of perishable goods across the world in a more efficient and environmentally friendly way than ever before.

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Maersk Container Industry celebrates 25 years of refrigerated evolution 2:42

Today, MCI not only focuses on the reefer container and the reefer machine itself, but also on digitalization. This is because connectivity has become more important and valuable to customers worldwide, enabling them to constantly monitor the condition of goods during transport.

“We are proud of the Star Cool platform and our technology. We are the only marine reefer OEM that designs and manufactures a complete unit. We are also the only OEM that was born from the shipping industry, allowing us to build on over 100 years of experience. We continue to develop our technology and build on this heritage by working closely with our customers to find even better ways to increase our value to customers by improving their cargo care, reducing their costs and achieving their environmental objectives”, commented MCI CEO Sean S. Fitzgerald.

Maersk Container Industry - 25 year reefer anniversary

Global impact
The concept of refrigerated containers evolved from the late 1960s and represented a major evolution for the shipping industry. Before the advent of reefer containers, temperature-sensitive products were very popular but difficult to transport. This limited consumption and resulted in high prices for consumers.

The development of reefer containers launched a revolution for consumers around the world. As reefers were adopted by shipping companies in large numbers, shoppers found themselves able to buy their favourite fruits and vegetables any time of the year at affordable prices. At the same time, producers were in a position to access global markets that had previously been out of range. Before reefers, the perishable nature of such goods meant that sales were restricted to local markets. This not only deprived producers of lucrative global trade but also left them vulnerable to regional market fluctuations. Reefers changed this dynamic virtually overnight.

“Having achieved our initial technical and functional goals, our engineers pushed on to pioneer further innovations. The result was the launch of the Star Cool Integrated concept. This saw the refrigeration unit being directly integrated into the container box to create a reefer that provides greater cargo care, weighs less, carries more and consumes less energy than comparable products, without compromising strength and durability”, said Fitzgerald.

New innovations, new markets
Another major innovation saw the introduction of the controlled atmosphere system Star Cool CA. This significantly increased the transportation window for high-respiration soft fruits and opened up new markets for producers and consumers alike. MCI also introduced the use of environmentally friendly refrigerants and became the first manufacturer to offer its own real-time data capture and tracking technology.

“Along with its front-end user interface, our Sekstant system provides operators with real-time information on the GPS location of each individual container, as well as the precise internal temperature in relation to set point. This enables maximised cargo quality and consequently less food loss, as well as being able to keep track of the unit’s physical location to guard against theft or tampering”, Fitzgerald concluded.