Truckload carrier Freymiller Inc. has installed Aether MobileMax2 satellite communications systems on 200 refrigerated trailers. Although the Aether system has been designed for tractor use, Freymiller is an owner-operator fleet, and the adaptation lets it track trailers without installing expensive communications equipment in leased power units, according to David Freymiller, president of the company.

Powered by the reefer unit's battery, the wireless system provides on-demand location information even when trailers are unhooked and will soon be able to remotely monitor and control the reefers. A simple wire connection and keyboard allow leased drivers to plug into the MobileMax units for two-way messaging.

“The system automatically notifies us when a driver unhooks a trailer,” Freymiller says. Untethered trailers then broadcast location information every 12 hours until they are picked up.

Acknowledging that he has installed a full-featured satellite communications system rather than a simpler trailer-tracking unit, Freymiller says: “If we intended to use the (MobileMax) system just for tracking trailers, it's too expensive. But we're using it to communicate with our reefers, and eventually to control them remotely. We see great value in that.”