Posts Tagged “Techtrol”
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.
This sojourn began in September 1974 as I began learning all I could about the produce and trucking industries and combining those two interests with what eventually led to creating the Produce Truckers Network. During its 20-years on the air it was broadcast on over 60 radio stations across the U.S. and Canada, before becoming a part of satellite radio for four years.
The essence of those radio reports continues to be viable to this day, as it re-emerged as HaulProduce.com.
It is very encouraging receiving the regular phone calls and e-mails saying the website is providing informative, useful information, whether it comes from owner operators, small fleet owners, carriers, or third parties.
Ironically, when I entered this industry it was a period leading up t0 the deregulation of the trucking industry. Unfortunately, this “deregulated” industry has to deal with more stifling regulations than ever.
After four decades of relationships established in both the trucking and produce industries, and collecting a wealth of information scattered throughout the internet, providing information you can use in your business continues to be a priority.
A special thank you goes to TransFresh Corp. that provides the Techtrol CO2 process that extends shelf live of berries and other items in-transit, thus reducing the chances for claims or rejected loads at destination.
Another special thank you to truck brokerage Cool Runnings.
I have known Rich Macleod of TransFresh and Fred Plotsky at Cool Runnings for decades and deeply appreciate their sponsorship since day one of this venture. Both companies represent the finest in business ethics and practices.
We are looking forward to more companies are coming aboard in the New Year.
However, without you, our readers and subscribers, none of this would be possible. Thank you so much for your continued support.
As we embark on 2015, this is wishing you a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year filled with safe travels.
— Bill Martin
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.)
One of the most important functions to perform when loading a refrigerated trailer is to take not only the pulp temperature, but an adequate number of pulp temperatures. But how many is enough?
Rich Macleod of TransFresh Corp. in Salinas, CA states, “I would get two temperature readings per pallet from each lot going into the trailer. If you had a lot of peaches, nectarines and plums, you would want at least two pulp temperatures from each of those stone fruits – so about six pulp temperatures.”
TransFresh is well known in the produce industry and the refrigerated trucking industry for its Techtrol atmosphere process where carbon dioxide (CO2) is pumped into a plastic bag that covers and surrounds a pallet of strawberries and some other perishable fruits. Studies have shown Techtrol’s CO2 atmosphere extends the shelf life of some fruits.
It is critical to know whether produce items have been pre-cooled at shipping point and what the temperature of the product is when loaded. It could mean a big difference upon arrival at destination, especially if there is an issue with the quality and condition of the product.
This is of course in a perfect world, which often is non existant at shipping point. Macleod is well attuned to the “politics” and what goes on at loading docks. Too often, there may be resistance at the dock when a trucker wants to take his own pulp temperatures.
“In the strawberry trade we run into this (at the loading dock) because they don’t want the trucker punching holes in the techtrol bag. (At least) that is the excuse. We very carefully train our customers to let the drivers do that and just take a piece of tape and cover it (the hole in the bag) back up again. There are special stickers so you can cover the hole,” Macleod says.
He is aware the driver must contend with the policies of management at shipping point. The driver might even have to deal with a forklift driver, who on that particular day just doesn’t want to take the time to allow for the pulp reading. In reality, Macleod said it usually comes down to the “outlook” of the people where the loading is taking place.
“As important as it (taking pulp temperatures), I don’t think that is a real comfortable thing for drivers to do. What I see is maybe 10 to 15 percent of the loads get pulped by the driver,” Macleod observes. “The key is the driver should be aware of what the pulp temperature is. Some shippers, or people on the dock will take the pulp temperature for them (driver).”
From the shipper’s point of view and from a safety aspect, Macleod notes, when a shipper and the trucker take the pulp temperature together, that is okay. If the shipper is concerned about food safety issues, whose temperature probe do you want used?
(This is the second 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.)
Shipments of Mexican sweet onions have been crossing the border into South Texas since mid February and are about three weeks or so later than normal, due to cold weather. The Texas 1015 sweet onion crop in the Lower Rio Grand Valley is pretty much mirroring the Mexican onions and are behind schedule as well.
The Texas 1015 onion shipments should get underway within the next week and loadings should continue through May. The Winter Garden District just south of San Antonio should start shipping sweet onions the first week of May and continue for about eight weeks.
A number of Mexican produce loads are crossing the border in South Texas ranging from carrots to strawberries, raspberries and roma tomatoes, among other items.
Some good news on the berry front is that TransFresh Corp. of Salinas, CA is working with a warehousing facility to provide its Techtrol CO2 process for Mexican berries crossing the border. Bagged pallets of berries with the gassing process has been found to extend the shelf life and quality of berries. It also reduces the chances of claims relating to the quality of berries.
Texas citrus shipments led by grapefruit and oranges are moving in steady volume from the Lower Rio Grande Valley. About 100 loads of Texas oranges are being shipped weekly.
South Texas and Mexican produce – grossing about $5000 to New York City.
Greenhouse growing of vegetables continues to increase whether it is in Mexico, the U.S., or in this case Ontario. It’s popularity is rising, not only because weather conditions can be controlled, but the product itself is ususally better tasting, especially with something like tomatoes. Ontario does have loading opportunities for produce haulers, although we are not normally talking in truck load quantities.
Most of the Ontario greenhouse vegetables are located along the northern shores of Lake Erie, including the towns of Leamington and Kingsville. The reason is this area receives more sunshine than anywhere else in Canada.
The leading green house vegetables are tomatoes, English cucumbers and peppers. This year it is estimated Ontario will ship 448 million pounds of tomatoes, an increase of nearly 18 percent over last year. There should be 250 million pounds of English cucumbers (nearly 23 percent more) and 170 million pounds of peppers, up nearly 31 percent.
There also is much smaller volume with eggplant and specialty peppers and specialty tomatoes.
About 70 percent of the Ontario greenhouse veggies are shipped to the U.S.
While the cukes, peppers, and egglant are compatible for loading together in a truck, the tomatoes are not a good fit. That’s too bad since volume wise at any one time, greenhouse tonnage is relatively low, even though it continues to increase.
If you ever want to check out what fruits and veggies are good for putting on the same truck, check out the Fresh Produce Mixer & Loading Guide from TransFRESH Corp. These are the same folks that provide the Tectrol atmosphere that adds shelf life to strawberries and other products, which helps to maintain quality.
To check this info out, just click on the TransFresh ad on this website.
The study was conducted by the University of California, Davis and The University of Florida.
While a primary goal of the study is to find better ways to have produce with better quality and flavor delivered from the field to the kitchen shelf, transportation plays a key role in this.
Rich Macleod of TransFresh Corp. describes this as a “global process” where it must be considered that actions taken during the entire handling process can influence even the best varieties of product that end up in the hands of the consumer.
“The study confirms my private belief, plus our private research over the years,” he says. “If you do these processes correctly; cool it, transport correctly with good temperature control, with a CO2 atmosphere, you are going to deliver better fruit to the consumer.”
In the report, it details strawberry shipments with palletized loads covered with bags and carbon dioxide (CO2). The transcontential shipments compared the modified atmosphere shipments of CO2 West, PEAKfresh, PrimePro and Tectrol (TransFresh).
The results of the study may show why Tectrol is the dominant supplier of bagged, controlled atmosphere shipments out of California. Macleod says over half of the California harvested strawberries in California are shipped using the Tectrol process by TransFresh. California also grows and ships the vast majority of the nation’s strawberries.
The summary of the study’s findings probably explains why many strawberries look great when shipped and still are beautiful when displayed in your local supermarket. However, how many times have you purchased strawberries in the store and no sooner get home and notice quality problems occuring (a common experience with yours truely, the purveyor of this website)?
The study summarizes, “The Tectrol cover was sealed to the pallet base, a partial vacuum was applied, and pressurized CO2 gas was injected inside….CO2 concentrations within pallets at the beginning and end of transport were higher (11% to 16%) in the sealed Tectrol system and relatively low (.06% to .30% in the open CO2 West, PEAKfresh and PrimePro cover systems.”
Continuing, the report states, “The incident of fruit decay was low (1% to 1.4%) after transport, but increased substantially following a 2-day shelf life at 68 degrees. However, fruit from the Tectrol pallets exhibited significantly less decay (36%) after shelf life than the CO2 West (39%), non covered (pallets)(41%), PrimePro (42%) and PEAKfresh (43%).”
(This is Part 3 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.)