Posts Tagged “Fresh Produce Mixer & Loading Guide”
With Rich Macleod’s pending departure from TransFresh Corporation June 30th, he leaves a legacy of being one of the most important individuals making immense contributions to in-transit perishable hauling since refrigerated truck transportation was invented following WWII.
It was 40 years ago that Rich joined TransFresh based in Salinas, CA, a company barely 10 years old focusing on perishables transportation.
Having known Rich much of this time and before that having covered a number of presentations by one of his mentors Dr. Bob Kasmire, Rich has always had a “soft spot” for produce trucking and the drivers of the big rigs delivering fresh fruits and vegetables.
“One thing that is critically important to anyone working in this trade is to respect every single level of those people that are feeding the retail chains and the consumers,” Rich says. “A lot of respect for the drivers comes from hanging out on these docks taking pulp temperatures, or atmosphere readings, or doing these studies on what’s going inside these trucks from a temperature standpoint.”
During this time Rich often spent a lot of time talking with truckers.
“They are a good group of professionals for the most part,” Rich says.
He also believes over the years produce shippers have started showing more respect for the men and women hauling those perishables. He also sees fewer incidents of lumpers at unloading docks “messing” with drivers.
Likewise, he is observing more receivers following the Costco model. In other words, if the truck arrives on time, it will be unloaded on time. By no means does he see a perfect world in this regard as there are still claims and “monkey wrenches” thrown into situations.
“But for the most part there has been a gradual improvement in the attitudes towards the drivers,” Rich states. “I don’t know how you run a business without making sure the transportation piece is being well taken care of.”
Rich adds one doesn’t get to where they are in a career without a number of mentors. A very important influence was Dr. Kasmire. He worked very closely with Dr. Kasmire as a research assistant at the University of California, Davis on transit issues. When Rich left for a career at TransFresh the two continued to working on projects together.
“A number of things in his publications are actually ideas that he and I generated together,” Rich recalls. “That’s why I have a soft spot for transportation. It is clearly generated by what Bob Kasmire taught me and what we’ve done together over the years. It’s really some of his passion coming through in my career.”
Rich still sees opportunities for progress that can be made with equipment and with drivers for the safety of our food. At the same time, it can’t be done by cutting corners.
“The reality is the drivers know when people are cutting corners. They know when they stuff (over load) a trailer there is a risk. They know when the buyer puts things on the truck that’s a risk. These guys know and they keep their mouths shut because that’s where they are on the job. They could actually be efficiency experts,” Rich says.
Meanwhile, nearly 30 years after Rich created the Fresh Produce Mixer & Loading Guide, he still receives probably 100 requests a year for it. The ground breaking in-transit research on berries at TransFresh will continue.
Rich seems very comfortable with the fact Michael Parachini, whose been with TransFresh 27 years, will continue his work. He describes Michael as his “right hand arm” for the past 20-plus years, working with the shipper base, Techrol process and equipment that plays a key in longer shelf life for fruit. He also names Reilly P. Rhodes, who has been with company over 20 years, saying he will have expanded roles that include marketing. Rich says Reilly has been instrumental in developing storage solutions for blueberries.
While retiring as the director of the TransFresh Pallet Division, Rich isn’t one to be complacent in a rocking chair. He will devote more time to helping the family with his aging parents, being more a part of the family grape and wine business, Macleod Family Vineyard in Sonoma County, CA, plus playing music in a local band. Rich also hasn’t ruled out sharing his vast knowledge through consulting.
The guide continues to be a useful tool in preventing the transporting of incompatible fruits and vegetables, which can result in the loss of product quality, and even lead to claims or rejected loads.
Over the years Macleod believes increased knowledge of what produce items mix well together during transit has contributed to reducing problems with refrigerated produce loads arriving at destination – particularly on longer hauls. As stated on the guide, “Some items may tolerate less than perfect conditions for short periods (less than two days). Produce mix and temperature becomes critical with longer transit times.”
However, despite all of the information available on the topic, problems with arrivals of product at destination due to incompatibility of the produce on board still occurs.
“They (shippers) know if there is a load that is 90 percent head lettuce and there is a pallet of apples in the trailer, that is not good,” Macleod says. But sometimes chances are taken with incompatible items, especially if the transit time is not very long.
“The sensitivity of what does and doesn’t go on a load has really improved in the last five years,” Macleod notes.
He adds there are more larger carriers hauling produce and they are becoming more sophisticated with what to put in the trailer on mixed loads. He laments there seems to be fewer independent owner operator than in the past doing long haul trucking.
Macleod sees more shippers using their own brand on many fruits and vegetables, and they have become more particular how these products are loaded and transported because their name or brand is on the box.
He points out when a produce hauler picks up product in a warmer climate, there usually is a lot of activity, because a lot of produce is being moved. This increases the chance the product may not have been pre-cooled. While Macleod does not see this as a huge problems, he notes it still does happen.
“The primary protection for the driver (and receiver) is they know the pulp temperature of the product going into the trailer,” Macleod says.
Since Macleod works a lot with strawberry shipments, particularly through TransFresh’s Techtrol program, he is seeing less resistance to the driver being provided pulp temperature information on product just being load. He isn’t sure if it is a major problem with other produce commodities.
‘In the packaged vegetable industry they (shippers) clearly don’t want the driver punching a hole in it, but there is a way to do it. But it’s incredibly important to what that (pulp) temperature is going into the trailer,” Macleod stresses. “It impacts how much demand is going to be put on your reefer unit, the quality of the product, and it can impact the chances of rejected loads.”
Even if the driver did not observe the loading, he can still alert the customer (receiver) while still at the dock, if he notices the product is three to four degrees warmer than it should be.
(This is the fourth 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.)
As technology creeps more and more into our daily lives it is becoming more invasive through monitoring and surveillance devices. Whether it is the collection of our buying habits or social media postings, we are being tracked. It certainly extends to professional drivers who deliver most of our nation’s freight.
“The electronic policing, or monitoring, has got to be incredibly irritating to the drivers,” states Rich Macleod (see photo) of TransFresh Corp. in Salinas, CA, who has spent nearly four decades studying in-transit issues that have resulted in valuable information for the refrigerated trucking industry. For example, his creation of the Fresh Produce Mixer & Loading Guide in the 1990s is still used as a reference, and has undoubtedly contributed to preventing countless number of claims and rejected loads.
Macleod laments during the past two generations of truckers, it has moved away from the independent owner operators, or the “cowboy” image, towards team drivers and relay teams.
He correctly views the long haul drivers as very independent individuals, but now those truckers are being asked (or told) to have electronic monitoring of their log books, not to mention deal with other modern day devices.
“I imagine there is a lot of grinding and gnarling of teeth (by drivers),” Macleod says. “How that relates to loading and check lists is just going to be a fact of life.”
It is noted there are trucks coming out of Mexico being ripped off by gangs and cartels, which is just something else contributing to the monitoring and surveillance of the physical location of loads, not to mention the in-transit temperature at any given time.
“We are just going to have to get over it and play in that Orson Wells world,” Macleod relates. “In some respects it is unfortunate, but it’s a fact of life.”
Continuing, Macleod adds, “The reality is, you can have all of this fancy technology and this ‘eye’ in the sky, but if that reefer unit is not maintained properly, if the bulkheads are not maintained properly, and if the load isn’t unloaded correctly, this monitoring is quite frankly blowin’ smoke.”
He reminds everyone the real goal in trucking is to deliver fresh perishables at the right temperature in a timely fashion.
“It still remains with the foot print of the driver to assure his load is protected and with the correct temperature.”
However, it also is important to have a good relationship between the buyer (receiver) and the shipper at loading point. Macleod gave a scenario where a driver may have a great checklist, know what he is doing, yet be forced to compromise, due to something like the number of pallets being put in the trailer.
“It is upon the driver to be vigilant,” he stresses. because one or both of the parties involved in the transaction may want to put two or four more pallets in that trailer that already has 26 or more pallets in it. The driver knows it could adversely affect anything from air circulation to being over weight. “That driver may lose the argument in such a case, but he’s really the last in the line of defense, to avoid unnecessary problems – and it helps if that driver is knowledgeable in these areas.”
This is where a check list….becomes a key component. Speaking of check lists, one can be found at www.transfresh.com.
“We are doing all of this monitoring, figuring out where the load is, and making sure the load is at the right temperature,” Macleod surmised. “Yet, the loading dock person can mess this whole thing up. If the goal is to maintain the product at the proper temperature, it can be at the wrong temperature even though you tracked it perfectly across country.”
(This is the first 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.)