Posts Tagged “hauling”
When hauling the more perishable produce items such as strawberries, knowing your reefer unit, maintaining proper temperature and taking a pulp temperature at shipping point becomes even more critical. Doing things right results in delivering a better product to your customers, as well as reducing claims and load rejections.
These points are among some important findings in a study released last year, Comparison of Pallet Cover Systems to Maintain Strawberry Fruit Quality During Transport. As the title indicates, the study compares modified air controlled strawberry shipments using carbon dioxide (CO2).
Following up on that report, HaulProduce.com had an extensive interview with Rich Macleod of TransFresh Corp. of Salinas, whose product Tectrol came out looking pretty darn good when compared with competing companies offering controlled atmosphere bags covering palletized loads of strawberries.
The project was a combined effort of the University of California, Davis and the University of Florida in conjunction with the USDA.
“What this (study) demonstrates is when you put a bag over the pallet, you are going to get some in-transit warming,” Macleod observes. “It doesn’t matter whether it is a Tectrol (application) or somebody else’s bag because the warming is about the same for all of them.”
Where Tectrol shined in the study was the quality of the berries upon arrival after the cross country hauls from California to the east coast.
But back to the issue of in-transit warming. Rich points out when a palletized load is entirely bagged, the driver has to account for warming when adjusting the refrigeration unit set points accordingly at a colder temperature than if the load were “naked.”
He says, “I believe you can run a fully bagged Tectrol load (of strawberries) at 30 degrees F. if your (reefer) unit is well calibrated and your unit was built within the past four years.”
However, realistically Macleod knows most drivers prefer a 36-degree F. setting. As they become more familar with these type of loads they find out one can drop the setting to 34 or even 32 degrees.
“They (drivers) should not have issues with warmer product, if it is bagged. And they should not have any issues with frozen product. There are a number of drivers that have been incredibly successful handling Tectrol loads at 32 degrees F., but they know their units inside out and have them calibrated. They know what the floors are and the coldest temperatures that unit will be. Thirty-two degrees is a reasonable compromise.”
Macleod stressed that even if the fruit has been properly pre-cooled, carriers have to realize those bagged pallets will increase the temperature.
In fact the study itself points out in shipments with non covered pallets, the clamshell packaged strawberries remained at 32 to 35 degrees F. However, pallets covered with bags resulted in the temperature increase of three to four degrees by the time it arrived at destination.
“The rise in temperature during shipments indicate the trailers were unable to maintain the recommended 32 degrees F….” the study states.
What can a driver do if the pallets are already covered with CO2 filled bags upon arrival at the dock?
Although it is too late for a visual inspection of what is being loaded by the driver, Macleod says, “a well run (shipping) company should allow the driver to take a pulp temperature and they (shipper) should provide tape to reseal that hole (made by the driver to take the pulp temperature). It is a common practice and shippers respect that.”
(This is Part 2 0f 5, featuring an interview with Rich Macleod, vice president, pallet division North America for TransFresh Corp., Salinas, CA. He has been with company since 1976, and has a masters degree in post harvest science from the University of California, Davis.)
He’s still running over the road, but he takes off a couple of months each year, raised five kids, and still enjoys what he is doing.
The resident of Grand Forks, ND began trucking at age 26. Until seven years ago when he became a driver for Troy Pecka Inc. of East Grand Forks, MN, he was an owner operator. Now 65, Duane doesn’t want to work as hard, pretty much selects his hauls, and still does his share of trucking. Yet, he usually takes off around January and February each year and relaxes in Arizona.
“I owned a truck for 25 years. I really enjoyed it. I paid for every truck I bought and I can’t complain. I had five boys and one girl and most of them went to college. I don’t have a lot of money left, but I accomplished that anyway,” he says in a modest, soft spoken voice.
“All my kids are grown and they are doing pretty darned good,” he says. The only kid involved in trucking is a son with a couple of trucks that run locally for a business his son owns.
So how does a guy raise give kids, vacation two months year and pretty much set his own driving schedule?
Duane says if you are a produce trucker, you have got to be “connected” and “be careful because a lot of people are out there who won’t pay.” For the young, inexperienced persons entering trucking he suggests relying on the credit and rating services such as the Blue Book and the Red Book. These will give one a good idea of how reputable a company is and show their pay practices.
“When it comes to rejected loads or claims, you sometimes learn as you go. I look my loads over when I’m being loaded. You can telll when the produce is fresh, or if it is ‘iffy’.”
When it is “iffy” with quality or appearance concerns, Duane stresses the need to tell your customer about its condition. It is better the load be “kicked” by the buyer at the loading dock than after you have delivered it to the customer. The shipper may not like what the trucker is telling the customer, but that shipper will also realize the product isn’t what it should be.
Duane says there are a lot of good trucking companies to work for, but that Troy Pecka was an independent trucker himself, plus his father and brother were in trucking.
“Troy understands the whole business. I go (on hauls) when I want to go with his truck, just like it was my own. All he expects is that the truck makes money. There are five or six guys my age that work for him and he wouldn’t have it any other way. He knows when you leave with a load it is going to get there,” Duane says.
Duane actually leased his own truck to Troy Pecka Trucking for four years, before selling it and becoming a company driver.
He is now driving a 2007 Kenworth T-600 with a C-13 Cat engine with 475 h.p., pulling a Great Dane trailer.
Duane has nothing but praise for the Great Dane, saying “you pay for what you get.” He cites the Dane’s heavy insallation and sturdy floors, noting some cheaper brands of trailers “are throw aways” because they are not built as well.
“I haul quite a bit of produce,” Duane relates. “I’ve hauled everything you can possibly imagine. We do haul some frozen items. I haul a lot of raw (fresh) potatoes out of the Red River Valley.” However, he also hauls everything from watermelons to lettuce, cabbage and other vegetables and citrus out of South Texas.
“I’ve always hauled a lot of produce and always made a living at it,” he states.
That’s pretty obvious, having raised five good children and vacationing in Arizona during part of the winter.