Jessica Poliner

Vice President & General Manager

Thermo King Global Marine, Rail & Air

Session Title: Beyond the market: (re)making room for Thermo King


Can you provide an overview of your topic session? Why is this an important topic to discuss?

Under the lens of sustainability and innovation, and in light of the industry’s recent challenging times, Thermo King is excited to share how it is (re)making itself in this industry. This includes investments in research and development that correspond with evolving and emerging technologies and allow us to provide our customers and the industry with products and services that offer value, dependable performance and environmental responsibility. It also includes continuing to have a voice and influencing the direction that our industry takes when it
comes to the technology used – to ensure a better world tomorrow. In other words, we will share why Thermo King is committed to be the supplier of choice for reefers and generator sets today – and a partner through the lifecycle.

What has been the biggest challenge to your business in 2019?

After several difficult years, our business has redefined itself and is building momentum, embracing our purpose and passion, and moving forward with both resolve and tenacity. Through significant investments in people, products and process, we are both committed and ready to emerge stronger as the horizon brightens for the shipping container Industry. 

How has the reefer market changed in the last year? What are the biggest challenges?

From our perspective, though the shipping industry is conservative by nature, reefer units are evolving faster than ever. Drivers include emerging technologies, the need for sustainable solutions, ever-changing supply chain processes, high-value cargo, and humanitarian needs such as the global food waste epidemic. Real leadership in these key areas is essential.

Remote connectivity is becoming a standard in the industry – a lifeline for shippers, yet real standards still do not exist. With the backdrop of IMO 2020, Global Warming Potential (GWP) and power consumption are increasingly relevant topics in the market. As an industry, we need to figure out how to achieve sustainability goals without sacrificing performance, reliability or temperature control. Cold chain integrity has always been vital in Marine transport for food safety and economics but as global food waste reaches levels in excess of one billion metric tons, end-to-end preservation of the supply system may just be that critical link to solving this global problem. 

Is new reefer technology at odds with sustainability?

Maritime transport continues to be the most sustainable mode of transportation, and the reefer unit makes that possible. Technology, the gas and refrigerant debate, and environmental regulations such as CARB continue to evolve as our sustainability imperatives become increasingly more clear and urgent. Reefer refrigeration remains in step – not at odds, with sustainability. The conflicts come in the form of disagreements from the manufacturers and our industry itself as to what direction to take or what technologies to adapt. Refrigerants are a great example as the debate involves more than just availability; it involves costs to obtain and incorporate into reefer designs, safety, energy efficiency, and more. 

What measures should be taken by the industry to ensure market sustainability & growth?

Focus needs to be on quality, standardization, and efficiency to ensure market sustainability and growth. We need to leverage data in a way not done today to support these focal areas and in turn, support growth of the industry and the integrity of the entire cold chain. We believe that the shipping industry can do all of that, and that it is our responsibility to make this world a better place. This not only includes the environmental health of our planet but the elimination of food waste as a way to combat hunger globally. 

Why do you think events such as Intermodal Europe are important for the industry?

Key players, contributors, stakeholders and customers all under one roof for one week provides a captive audience – to not only share the latest developments and ideas, but to also connect in person across the industry. Spending time with customers and listening to their needs and concerns always provides a priceless opportunity for fine-tuning and improving the service and products that we provide. This is what truly motivates Thermo King.