Bob Castelein, EURECA project:

Netherlands: “Reefer containers hot item on the market”

The reefer container is currently very popular in logistics, and that’s why more and more of them come into circulation. That comes with problems, but each problem has a solution. The man for those solutions is Bob Castelein, PhD candidate at the Erasmus University Rotterdam and involved with the EURECA project (Effective Use of Reefer Containers Through the Port of Rotterdam). During the ‘The Future of Agri-Logistics’ event of the Rotterdam Food Cluster, he talked about his research.

Bob Castelein, PhD candidate at the Erasmus University Rotterdam

In the past, reefer containers were mostly used to transport fruit and vegetables. Nowadays, the containers are also used for trainers, medicine and even live lobsters. As a result, the market for reefer containers is gradually growing, and their share on the market compared to conventional containers is growing along with that. Additionally, more and more shipments have to transported in this manner as well.

So far there aren’t a lot of problems yet. However, there are a number of challenges on the market. After all, reefer containers require maintenance. They can break, resulting in lost shipments. Reefers also have an ecological footprint. That sometimes even causes problems in ports, when too many of these containers all have to be plugged in at the same time.

In Bob’s research for the EURECA project, he listed three conclusions for the reefer container market. Firstly, Bob looked at the parties in this supply chain. What are their interests and their visions for the future, and do they have the right capacities to realise these?

The second conclusion is that it’s necessary that port companies can facilitate the reefers in their ports. This can be achieved with so-called cold clusters. These clusters are meant to house all cooled cargo, and they also take care of all Customs procedures and inspections. This results in the gaining of time for the parties involved.

These clusters should also have all necessary facilities to provide the conditioned containers with energy. This can be achieved with renewable energy. The clusters can also absorb a surplus of energy from other sources.

A third conclusion is regarding the development of smart containers. These containers should be capable of announcing when maintenance is required. This also allows for data to be gathered to keep track of the shipment’s status.

Bob’s conclusions can contribute to a faster transport of cooled products in reefers. Besides, it should tackle the technical problems, and it can provide in the better provision of information regarding the actual status of a cooled shipment.

For more information:

Bob Castelein
Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam
+31(0)6 50 749 184

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