Shipping line Africa Express Line (AEL) has announced that it is expanding its refrigerated container fleet with the addition of 500 Star Cool Integrated containers from Maersk Container Industry (MCI).

According to MCI, its fully integrated refrigerated containers and Star Cool Controlled Atmosphere (CA) technology are a guarantee of high energy efficiency and effective care of the ripening process of perishables.

The containers are set to be deployed to service AEL’s owner, French fruit exporter Compagnie Fruitière, for routes to and from Europe and West Africa.

“We set out to invest in containers that would protect the high-value produce we transport while saving energy,” said Mathew Shed, AEL’s technical director. “After comparative field trials, the controlled atmosphere technology clearly demonstrated its ability to help ensure the produce arrives at its destination in optimal condition. We will also take advantage of the energy saving applications and remote monitoring capabilities of Star Cool. Not only will they help us optimise operations, but they will also help us stay true to the CSR commitments we share with our owner, Compagnie Fruitière.”

All Star Cool containers are equipped with modems for remote access to enable real-time monitoring of the produce, temperature, atmosphere and alarms. To achieve further energy efficiency, AEL revealed that it would activate the StarConomy reefer control application, proven to halve energy use while maintaining the same temperature inside the container.

“We have a long-standing relationship with AEL and we are delighted that they again have chosen to add the most efficient container model,” said Soren Johannsen, MCI’s chief commercial officer. “The integrated Star Cool 2017 model provides a whole suite of new efficiency-enhancing features to support the needs of modern container operations – from monitoring and controlling the atmospheric conditions on the inside of the container to digitalised solutions that allow for transparency and expanded data access.”

Star Cool reefers include an energy meter that offers a reliable tool to measure energy use in real time, as well as Intelligent Trip Inspection (ITI), which provides an enhanced digital inspection system to avoid timely and costly pre-trip inspections.

To supplement its fleet of specialised reefer vessels, AEL is reportedly chartering the new build 2,345-TEU ‘Mimmi Schulte’, equipped with high reefer plug capacity, to carry the new 40-foot high-cube Star Cool CA reefers. Delivered directly from MCI’s factory in Qingdao, in China’s eastern Shandong province, the maiden voyage is scheduled for West Africa.