Posts Tagged “TransFresh Corp.”

In-Transit Challenges, Part I: Modified Atmosphere Makes a Difference

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RichMacleod13Among the most perishable produce items refrigerated haulers transport are berries.  But a produce trucker’s risk of a claims or rejected load at destination is certainly reduced thanks to TransFresh Crop., the widely recognized leader of in-transit, pallet modified atmosphere service.

The Salinas, CA based company, now approaching its 50th year of operation, offers fully automated pallet service systems which tailor the specific atmosphere mixture for each pallet unit.  Benefactors of TransFresh’s  Tectrol® Service Network range from shippers, to truckers, receivers, and ultimately the consumer.  It is a process whereby pallets of berries are sealed with bags and infused with CO2 (carbon dioxide), a process that extends shelf life of the fruit.

Rich Macleod of TransFresh says the Tectrol process continues to dominate the market share in the produce industry, but says there will always be competition.

“If you want the modified atmosphere or the CO2 blanket for your berries at retail, it has got to be sealed and it has got to be at the right (CO2) level,” he states.

TransFresh has a group of technicians conducting inspections at retail operations upon delivery of some loads.

“We are pretty unique in this area.  The driver shouldn’t be too surprised to see a technician standing at the back of his trailer taking readings of the atmosphere,” Macleod says.

Feedback from produce truckers is appreciated by the technicians and those drivers appreciate what is being done, once the process is explained to them, he notes.

Still, there are challenges.   For example, there may be turnover at retail and a new produce buyer may be looking to cut costs, or a new strawberry salesman may be wanting to increase profit margins.  However, Macleod says if part of that decision involves not using the controlled atmosphere bags on the pallet, that retailer is not going to get the pay back he expects.

If you haul California strawberries, perhaps you have noticed some consolidations with some companies and down sizing of operations by others.  Strawberry growers have been faced with increasing production costs and there has been a trend to focus more on growing raspberries, blueberries, etc.

At the same time, Macleod believes a few of the larger berry shippers who have successful marketing programs, appear to be doing quite well. — Bill Martin

(This is Part I in a III-Part series based on an interview with Rich Macleod, vice president, pallet division North America for TransFresh Corp, Salinas, CA.  He has been with the company 40 years and has a masters degree in post harvest science from the University of California, Davis.)


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Wishing you a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous Year!

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DSCN4602In January marks it 4th anniversary.  During this month we will have posted on the website 1,000 produce trucking reports and other news items and features.

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

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











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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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Check List – Part II: The Importance of Taking Pulp Temperatures

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RichMacleod13(To see the TransFresh and Techtrol  atmosphere checklist go to the post of  April 10, 2014, or to:

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.)







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Check List – Part I: Technology is Growing, but Drivers are Still the Most Important Factor

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RichMacleod13As 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

“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.)


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Winter Hauling Tips – Part II: Condition of theTrailer is Critical

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RichMacleod13Having a trailer in good condition is as important as ambient (outside) temperatures in affecting the condition of a load of perishable produce.

With age, trailer insulation deteriorates, notes Rich Macleod of TransFresh Corp. of Salinas, CA.  However, a bigger threat to trailers are the beatings they take from forklifts and pallets “that tend to attack those sidewalls.  They tend to stretch them, buckle rivets, punch holes.  All of that gradually degrades insulation.  Then moisture gets into that insulation,” Macleod states.

Drivers should check the manufacturer’s  stated value of insulation over time that collects moisture.  It is the damage not only to interior walls, but outside trailer walls that excellerates the degrading process, he notes.  These same principals apply to summertime hauling as well as loads in wintertime.

“If you have damage to the outside of the trailer and are driving though a rain storm, moisture is getting in the insulation.  Then you get in some 25-degree (F.) weather and the insulation with moisture is freezing.  Then there is no insulation value,” Macleod says.  ” You are just creating an ice block.  Now you are hauling around an ice block instead of insulation.”

The condition of trailer doors also is important.  Make sure the door is sealing properly.

Macleod says the rules for temperature control in the trailer are the same for summer and winter, except when it gets down to 25 degrees F. or less.  Then there is more leeway in moving the set point on the reefer unit upwards to protect the load.

Additionally, Macleod notes if hauling tropical fruit that is subject to cold temperature injury, be especially careful with the loading pattern, as well as make sure the reefer unit is performing as it should.

Manufacturers of trailer refrigeration units have made significant progress in controlling air temperature, air return and air output sensors because of improved  and better written computer programs, he notes.

Macleod says this results in loads of fresh product being less likely to freeze, or to become too warm.  It used to be the air going into the trailer unit was above the set point, it would put out an unlimited amount of cold air.  In some cases the cold air going through the air chute would freeze product in the back of the trailer.  This gets the BTUs in the trailer without having to drop the temperature.

“They have been able to write the programs into the reefer unit that controls the air out put much more effectively so you don’t get the temperature extremes such as freezing and warming in the load, because you are able to control that air flow much better,” Macleod says.

 Now manufacturers have designed equipment to control the air to go only a certain amount of degrees from the set point.  Additionally, the fan will go into high speed for air circulation, rather than at a lower speed, to encourage air mixing.

(Rich Macleod is vice president, pallet division North America for TransFresh Corp., Salinas, CA.  TranFresh provides Tectrol, a service where the atmosphere integrity of  berry shipments  is maintained at a 10 percent or higher CO2 level.  This provides better quality arrivals of berries and longer shelf life.)


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Winter Hauling Tips – Part I: Avoiding Cold Spots in the Trailer

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RichMacleod13Whether it is in the heat of summer, or in a bitter winter storm, a produce hauler’s main concern for a load of fresh produce is maintaining the best possible temperature range, according to Rich Macleod of TransFresh Corp., Salinas, CA.

However, he notes the cold winter months can be more difficult in some respects for items ranging from tropical fruits to Mexican tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers and bananas.  The challenge comes from keeping such products in a very tight temperature range, which reduces your options.

As an example, Macleod points to hauling tomatoes.  A driver normally wants the product tranported in the 50 to 55-degree F. temperature range.

If those tomatoes are being loaded against the trailer sidewalls and the refrigeration unit is set at 50 degrees F., there may be some “hot spots” because air circulation is not as good.  Hauling tropical fruits is not as critical in this situation.

However, it can be critical for a cold sensitive product such as bananas, especially if those bananas are loaded against the sidewalls, or the air flow on the trailer floor is blocked.  If it’s zero degrees outside,  there are going to be some cold spots in the trailer.  It can do some pretty signficant damage to bananas, which will turn gray when ripened, Macleod says.

“The general rule is you need good air flow around the load and under the load by keeping the product away from the sidewalls and on pallets off of the floor (of the trailer)….whether it’s cold outside or hot,” Macleod states.

When hauling “colder” crops such as broccoli or strawberries, he says the rules are pretty much the same as they are in summertime.  The trailer’s cold spots in winter are the same as the hot spots in the summer, because these occur where there is the least air flow.

Macleod notes it is easier to maintain a temperature range of 30 to 34 degrees F. in the winter because the reefer unit isn’t  fighting the outside heat of summertime.

“Now if it is zero degrees outside and the wind is howling, I’d be watching that temperature pretty closely.  The drivers are usually pretty good about paying close attention to it.  The temperature in the trailer becomes more critical when the outside temperature drops to 25 degrees F., or below,” Macleod says.

(Rich Macleod is vice president, pallet division North America for TransFresh Corp., Salinas, CA.  TranFresh provides Tectrol, a service where the atmosphere integrity of  berry shipments  is maintained at a 10 percent or higher CO2 level.  This provides better quality arrivals of berries and longer shelf life.)


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