Posts Tagged “diesel fuel”

Check List – Part V: Caution Using Fuel Saver Mode with Reefer Units

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RichMacleod13With the cost of diesel fuel it can be tempting to use the refrigeration unit’s fuel saver mode, but this is not always the best decision.

In the fuel saver mode the fan may not be running at a high enough speed to move enough air to keep the ambient heat from coming through the trailer walls, says  Rich Macleod of TransFresh Corp., Salinas, CA.

“You can’t afford to have that  air movement capacity compromised in any way, because the load will warm up.  We do see that over and over again.”

These problems usually occur because such decisions are based on the cost of fuel, he says.

“The (temperature) charts come in and you can see it on the recording thermometers.  You get this up and down spiking on the recording thermometers,” Macleod states.

Then the reefer unit is unable to keep up with the demand for cold air and the temperature recorder shows this gradual warming up inside the trailer.

Hauling Wet and Dry Commodities Together

Although it doesn’t appear to be a major problem, Macleod says one of the things a driver should watch for during loading is when the waxed corregated cardboard is extending all the way from the top of the pallet to the trailer floor.  This can block air flow to the pallets.

“From a practical stand point this is a reason the driver needs to watch the trailer being loaded,” Macleod observes.  “You want to make sure that paper doesn’t extend below the base of the wooden pallet,”  says Macleod, “but this rarely happens.”

In another scenario, he says shippers use a light grade plastic cap that goes over the top of the pallet, which effectively keeps the water from transferring from a wet commodity to a dry commodity.  If the water reaches the cardboard of a dry commodity, then the container gets wet and collapses and damages the product.  This can also lead to decay of a commodity that should remain dry.

“You are really trying to create a barrier to do that.  Probably the most common is using a type of cardboard container covered with wax,” Macleod concludes.

(This is the final in a five-part series featuring an interview with Rich Macleod, vice president, pallet division North America for TransFresh Corp., Salinas, CA.  He has been with the company since 1976, and has a masters degree in post harvest science from the University of California, Davis.)


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Randy Boushey: Rates Lagging from Years Ago

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“When I started trucking 30 years ago, I was making similar wages to what these guys are making today,” states Randy Boushey, who used to truck a lot and still owns three older Freightliners he uses when in a pinch.

Randy still has his CDL, still trucks on occasion, but focuses more on being president of A & L Potato Co., a 71-year-old company that packs and ships potatoes out of East Grand Forks, MN.

He recalls making “big money” by comparison to what drivers are receiving today. 

“I wish I’d put some of it away.  What’s the farmer’s prayer?” he asks himself.  “Please God let me make lots of money this year, and I promise I won’t piss it away this time.”

Randy still has fond memories of the days when he spent more driving a big rig.  In fact, he claims he would put another newer models on the road if getting and keeping good, qualified drivers wasn’t such a challenge.

He ships a lot of red potatoes out of the Red River of North Dakota and Minnesota.

Randy has seen scenario from both sides of the fence; as a produce trucker and as a produce shipper.  He realizes how important trucking is to the equation.

“Customers don’t want to hear excuses because they didn’t receive their potatoes because you couldn’t get a truck,” Randy says.  “Getting trucks to come into the valley has been a challenge early in the potato season, because there hasn’t been a lot of outbound loads here.”

Randy points out a number of changes in transportation are occurring in the Red River Valley.  For example, Britton Transport of Grand Forks, ND recently acquired Scott’s Inc., a truck brokerage.  Pardee Transportation of Brooks, MN has bought out Prairie Line, a small fleet based in Fargo, ND.  Plus, there was another trucking that recently filed bankruptcy.

“It is not going to get any easier.  As good as our freight rates are on our commodities leaving here, that is only half of the puzzle.  We’ve got to be able to load the trucks back into here.  With $4-plus per gallon diesel fuel, it is imperative there is a decent rate for the truck,” Randy concludes.

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