The early days of Winter refrigerated vehicles

Then, as now, the needs of the customer are paramount.

The history of the family-owned company Winter Fahrzeugtechnik, based in the German state of Hesse, goes back all the way to 1959. Inspired by the growing demand for a hygienic way to transport fresh goods such as meat and vegetables, the idea arose to panel the inside of a vehicle with glass fibre-reinforced plastic, or GFRP for short. From this original idea Hubert Winter, father of today's Managing Director Jürgen Winter, went on to develop kits made up of moulded parts in a system design, focusing at the time, in the mid-1960s, on the booming van sector.

By 1990 Winter Fahrzeugtechnik was specialising in insulated interiors. Thanks to its long years of experience, Winter has been able to extend continually its position in this segment. "To provide for all the body variants of all the different manufacturers, you need moulded parts and special tools, which we produce ourselves. And that is precisely our greatest asset", according to Jürgen Winter.

The "System Winter" – a synergy between product and consultancy service.

At Winter, no customer gets a refrigerated vehicle "off the shelf", as it were. Every conversion is customised precisely to the requirements of the user and for the type of transport undertaken. The starting point is the analysis of needs that takes place before work begins on any vehicle conversion. "we need to know what products the customer will be carrying at what sort of temperature, how many hours a day the vehicle will be on the road and how often it is likely to stop for loading and unloading", explains Christian Wenig, authorised company officer and Head of Sales. All this information flows into an individual calculation of wattage, which is then used as the basis for determining the most suitable refrigeration unit with the optimum cooling capacity. 

We don't sell a product, we sell a system.
Christian Wenig Authorised officer and Head of Sales

As well as the refrigeration unit itself, Winter offers a multitude of interior fit-out options – from floor coverings and shelving through to complete partitioning systems to accommodate varying temperature zones within a single load compartment.

But it is really the comprehensive consultancy and after-sales service that add up to make the Winter product such an all-encompassing worry-free package of the highest quality for every customer – the "Winter System" as it is known.

Mercedes-Benz VanSolution. The highest accolade in terms of quality.

The pronounced understanding of service prevailing at Winter makes collaboration with Mercedes-Benz an easy choice. As a Mercedes-Benz VanSolution Partner, Winter is given help to take the service offering for the shared customer to a new level.

Every customers gets a refrigerated vehicle that is individually customised to their needs and built in guaranteed Mercedes-Benz quality. "The Mercedes-Benz VanSolution partnership is a high accolade for any bodybuilder. It gives us the confirmation that we are able to meet the high quality standards of Mercedes-Benz. That makes us really proud", reports Jürgen Winter.

The refrigerated vehicles supplied by Winter Fahrzeugtechnik offer ideal solutions for the "Retail and eGrocery" sector. Uses range from the carrying of foodstuffs in the refrigerated goods and fresh-food sector through to the chilled protective transportation of flowers and the transport of temperature-sensitive products such as medicines.

The wide range of available equipment options allows the Mercedes-Benz VanSolution, comprising the new Sprinter with Winter refrigeration fit-out, to satisfy the most diverse customer requirements. A variety of stowage systems, floor coverings and further equipment items, for example a removal protective air curtain, are among the further options available to customers.

The integrated refrigeration system is a further special feature of the Mercedes-Benz VanSolution with Winter refrigerated vehicle.

As none of the components are located on the vehicle roof, this design does not only have a positive impact on fuel consumption, but also makes the vehicle suitable for use in underground garages.

The optimum securing of loads during transport is guaranteed by the airline rails that run all the way round, to which lashing straps and locking bars can be attached. From the cockpit, the driver is able to monitor the refrigeration temperature at all times and, if necessary, to regulate it.

The most important material used in the interior fit-out of Winter refrigerated vehicles, then as now, is GFRP. This glass fibre-reinforced polyester resin is light in weight and strong, yet permanently elastic, and results in a non-porous and homogeneously sealed surface that complies with many hygiene standards.

The one-piece floor pan, as well as the overlapping design of the sealed segments, ensure a leakproof cargo area that is easy to clean, thereby supporting the maintenance of the required hygiene levels in the vehicle.

A look behind the scenes at Winter Fahrzeugtechnik.

For Winter, customer satisfaction is fundamental to good quality.

Like Mercedes-Benz, Winter Fahrzeugtechnik has set itself the objective of offering every customer the precise vehicle that they need to carry out their daily work in the best way possible. It is not just quality that is needed here, but also a consultancy service that is geared explicitly to the customer's needs.

To ensure that this is the case, it is vital that all the parties pull together with the same understanding of quality at the forefront of what they do. "For Winter, employee satisfaction is the top priority in the company's philosophy. Our view is, you see, that only a satisfied employee will be happy in his or her work. And only people who enjoy coming to work will also produce quality." This sustainable approach includes the practising of values such as mutual respect and an open leadership culture. 

Our aim is to deliver quality - in partnership with Mercedes-Benz.
Jürgen Winter Manager

A shift is already identifiable in the way food producers do business. The branch format and mobile sales concepts are the way the market is growing, and the "Retail and eGrocery" sector demands urban concepts that allow direct delivery to customers in their homes.

Developing in parallel with this is the issue of electric mobility, which is set to play an important role in the future, especially in the inner cities. Winter Fahrzeugtechnik has been well prepared for this for some years now, with its battery-powered refrigeration systems. Winter's aim is to achieve a market position with its electric refrigerated vehicles over the next few years that is on a par with that which it currently holds with normal vehicles. "A vision that links us with Mercedes-Benz", according to Jürgen Winter.