AEL reefer

Reefer shipping carrier Africa Express Line (AEL) has placed an order with Maersk’s container manufacturing arm, MCI, for 500 StarCool reefer boxes.

The new units will be equipped with controlled atmosphere (CA) and remote container monitoring (RCM) technology and are equipped with modems for remote access to monitor the assets, temperature, atmosphere and other factors that affect the quality of perishable goods while in transit.

AEL technical director Mathew Shed said: “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.”

AEL is the logistics subsidiary of France-based Compagnie Fruitiere, a highly integrated fruit production operation that controls virtually every step of its supply chain, from production through to delivery to customers in Europe and West Africa. It operates two services connecting West Africa with North Europe and the Mediterranean.

The carrier operates eight reefer vessels – four of which have undergone a radical conversion programme that saw them lengthened, with an additional hold for reefer containers inserted, increasing overall carrying capacity by 25%.

In August, the operator concluded an agreement to charter the recently built 2,345 teu Mimmi Schulte. According to, its owner, Bernard Schulte, chartered the vessel to AEL at a rate of $11,500 a day for a year. It will take delivery of the 500 new reefer units from MCI’s production plant in Qingdao.

MCI chief commercial officer Soren Johannsen said: “We have a long-standing relationship with AEL and we are delighted that they again have chosen to add the most efficient container model.

“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.”

The “digitalised solutions” include an meter that measures energy either manually or via AEL’s full modem coverage, and the intelligent trip inspection (ITI) system now standard in Star Cool reefers.

“ITI removes the need for timely and costly pre-trip inspections and provides self-diagnostics that confirm whether the container is ready for the next trip,” MCI said.

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