Posts Tagged “United”

Webinar on Produce Trucking is Scheduled

By |

By the United Fresh Produce Association

The North American Produce Transportation Working Group (NAPTWG) will 102_0248host a webinar on produce transportation best practices on Wednesday, July 18 at 11:00 am PT/2:00 pm ET. The session will give an overview of the best practices and delve into the roles and responsibilities of the shipper, carrier and receiver in facilitating a seamless, safe, and sustainable global supply-chain. Speakers include industry veterans with varied perspectives: Dan Vaché, vice president of supply chain management, United Fresh; Doug Stoiber, vice president, L&M Transportation Services, Inc.; Jim Gordon, operations manager, Ippolito Fruit & Produce LTD.; and Doug Nelson, special services manager, Blue Book Services, Inc. A question and answer period will follow the presentation and the session will be posted on the website as a resource.
“As summer quickly approaches, the webinar will be especially valuable to anyone involved in the movement of perishables and refrigerated cargo via truck,” said Dan Vaché, vice president of supply chain management for United Fresh. “It’s vital that the entire industry be on the same page when dealing with the movement of fresh fruits and vegetables. We need to ensure the cold chain remains intact and to prevent complications in the distribution and delivery of our fresh and wholesome products.”
Registration is complimentary to all interested parties. Register now!

This is the first in a series of educational webinars the NAPTWG will hold. For more information, please visit the NAPTWG website, or contact Dan Vaché, vice president of supply chain management, at 425-629-6271.
The North American Produce Transportation Working Group (NAPTWG) is comprised of more than 25 national and regional produce industry associations, transportation service providers, grower/shippers and perishable receivers. In cooperation with United Fresh Produce Association, NAPTWG works to provide best practice resources to those involved in the fresh produce supply chain.

Read more »

Transportation Guidelines Now Available in Spanish

By |


The North American Produce Transportation Working Group (NAPTWG) announced the posting of a Spanish version of the comprehensive best practices document on their website. The site offers best practice and guidance documents pertaining to the handling and transport of fresh produce to facilitate a seamless, safe, and sustainable global supply-chain. The transportation resources are intended for shippers, receivers and carriers.

“With so many warehouse workers, truckers and others in the industry speaking Spanish, it is vital to have this document translated. It is a very technical document, so it’s crucial that all parties understand this in its entirety,” said Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas in Nogales (FPAA), Arizona and NAPTWG founding member.

“Presenting these documents in Spanish is a milestone for the NAPTWG and our efforts to harmonize the fresh produce supply chain. Translating the site to make it available to a wider audience is a sign of the group’s commitment to strengthening our cross-border relationships for the advancement of the industry,” said Dan Vaché, vice president of supply chain management for United Fresh.

For more information, please visit the NAPTWG website, which now offers documents in Spanish and French.

The North American Produce Transportation Working Group (NAPTWG) is comprised of more than 25 national and regional produce industry associations, transportation service providers, grower/shippers and perishable receivers. In cooperation with United Fresh Produce Association, NAPTWG works to provide best practice resources to those involved in the fresh produce supply chain.

Source: The North American Produce Transportation Working Group

Read more »

Group is Seeking to Attract More Produce Truckers

By |

Better treatment of truckers was a primary theme at a session titled, Transportation Best Practices for the Produce Industry, held during the annual show of the United Fresh Produce Association, May 1, at the Dallas (TX) Convention Center.

The theme of the meeting is based around a set of transportation guidelines released earlier this year by The North American Produce Transportation Working Group (NAPTWG).   The group has released a document combining various transportation guidelines for the produce industry to use, with the end result being better treatment of truckers leading to more refrigerated equipment and drivers being available to haul fresh fruits and vegetables.

A member of the audience tells the panel there is a shortage of 200,000  drivers and “we’ve got some problems coming up” with an improving economy.

Panel member Ken Lund, vice president, support services,  Allen Lund Co., said the average age for truckers is over 55, and not that many drivers are entering the industry.  There are 2.7 million Class 8 trucks and 98 percent of those are companies with 10 trucks or less.  Most refrigerated produce haulers have a one truck operation, he says.

“We want drivers to be treated well,” Lund states.  He adds that today more retail receivers are treating drivers better.”

Lund notes the USA is looking at an eight and one-half to nine percent unemployment rate, yet there are “tens of thousands of openings” in transportation.  “But there are not a lot of people entering the industry and we want to make it better for them.”

He points out the Allen Lund Co. has a transportation education program for drivers providing them various kinds of information such as how to take the pulp temperature of produce to ensure product being loaded has been pre-cooled.

Panel member Frank Swanson, category manager,  U.S. Foods said, food safety is a concern for his company.  “We look at how to get transportation companies that take care of the product and maintain the correct temperature.”

Panelist Ken Nabel, president, Kingston and Associates Marketing, LLC points out a lot of military personnel are coming home, receiving discharges and should provide a lot of potential for jobs as drivers.

Another member of the audience asks the panel  what is the leading cause of produce loads being rejected?

Bret Smith, director of commodities procurement, Safeway Inc., responds the majority of kicked loads results from temperature problems with fruits and vegetables, as well as issues relating to quality.

“We need to know if a problem exists in route, not when the load arrives,” Smith says.  He adds having a driver check list, plus ensuring the driver has been trained to “check all components” associated with the load helps to avoid problems with claims.

Lund points out that there are seperate points on the NAPTWG website for shippers, truckers and receivers.  Those points can be found at:

What is the number one issue for produce transportation in 2012?

Nabel believes it is the cost of diesel fuel.

Smith cites “having good companies (carriers) with a good driver base.”  He also says the high cost of goods Safeway must purchase for its stores is a concern.   On the plus side, Smith believes docks used to consolidate loads are becoming more efficient, which is making consolidated loads more attractive to drivers.

Lund, obviously looking weeks ahead to the peak spring and summer shipping season for produce states, “When rates get high, a lot of people jump into the market (especially) when rates hit $10,000 from California to New York….Prices (rates) have gone up.  Ten years ago it was $3,000 from California to Atlanta; now it’s $10,000.  If we had those prices 10 years ago….” he notes

The transportation broker then adds, “Thre are a lot of shady brokers out there and a lot of double brokering going on.”  Lund relates a lot of times a shipper will list the Allen Lund Co. on the document as a shipper.  “We are not a shipper, we’re a broker.  This is where a lot of theft occurs, as well as double brokering.”

On another topic, the panel discusses railroads and its role in hauling fresh produce.

Smith of Safeway says the retail chain has not been very successful using rail, although the company continues to consider it.

Swanson of U.S. Food cites the service of RailEx, a company working with major railroads, providing coast-to-coast unit trains.  He likes the RailEx “door-to-door” service, but says over all the service is very limited.

Lund points out that only one to two percent of the nation’s fresh produce is shipped by rail.

“Some people on Capitol Hill think 50 percent of produce should be on the rails.  But the infrastructure changes would be monumental,” Lund says.

Ending the session was an audience member asking the panel about 18 wheelers being powered by natural gas.

Lund says there has been a lot of testing in this area, however the infrastructure for cross country trucking is not available.  Most trucks using natural gas are doing local hauls.

(For more information on the NAPTWG, see press release published on HaulProduce, titled, Transportation Group Releases Best Practices.  It ran on Jan. 17, 2012)


Read more »

Produce Panel’s View of Trucking – Pt. 2

By |

The hours of service rule changes are not major, but they are confusing.  A greater focus is needed on prevention of stolen produce loads, and there are discussions of alternatives to using trucks to haul produce, but the alternatives are not that impressive in most cases.  These are just a few of the topics addressed at the United Fresh Produce Convention, held May 1-3 at the Dallas (Texas) Conventi0n Center.  The session was titled Examining Today’s Transportation Challenges and Alternatives.  (To read more about this session see the report published on May 3rd)

Dan Vache’, vice president of the United Fresh Produce Association describes hours of service as a top concern of the produce indutry.

Gary E. York,  general manager, C.H. Robinson Co. Worldwide Inc. describes the hours of service rules as “complicated”, specifically noting that twice a week driver’s are not allowed to drive between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.

“If more drivers were able to operate 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. it would mean less drivers on the road during high traffic hours,” York adds.

A member of the audience points out the hours of service regulations were altered for safety reasons, “but in some cases the changes make it less safe.”

Another audience member asks the panel about compliance of rules and regulations for truckers.   York replies that technology is helping to improve compliance and will do more so in the future.

On the topic of stolen loads, Vache’  relates there are no good answers, “but we have to police ourselves.”  For example, if a truck shows up with a load of nuts, the receiver or buyer needs to know from where it came.

There also is a lot of contraband crossing the U.S. border from the Southern hemisphere and being distributed throughout the USA and Canada.  Vache’ notes the U.S. and Canadian governments are working together to reduce this problem.

With the seasonally high volume of produce, less available refrigeration equipment and rising rates, the topic of alternatives to truck transportation are addressed.  Panel members indicate there are certain commodities and routes for transporting produce other than truck, but it is limited.

Alex Crow, national trucking manager, Hellman Perishable Logistics, says, “I don’t think we can replace trucks on certain routes, but we can do some things like with Washington state to Chicago on certain items (like apples, onions and potatoes).

York indicates railroad service has improved, pointing out a rail delivery from Washington state to Chicago can occur within 12 hours of what a single truck driver can deliver.  Rails are now delivering loads to the East Coast in six days.

However, York adds that a problem with rail service is the lack of intermodal equipment.  There also is the challenge of rails being able to compete with trucks when it comes to backhauls, or return loads.  Rails remain an option, are slowly increasing their volume, but York doesn’t see any significant improvements in the next three to five years.

An audience member comments there are transportation problems in moving potatoes out of Idaho.  The challenge is getting the equipment to Idaho to make the hauls.

Concerning the CSA safety enforcement systems for trucks that used to be known as SafeStat,  Vache’ says in the future the scores will have more meaning as the government is better able to track carriers.

“It’s going to force carriers to be more selective in the drivers they hire,” Vache’s states.  “It is going to revolutionize the industry.  It will result in liability becoming a bigger issue for carriers.  Technology will result in more efficiency to the industry, but more liability.” 




Read more »

United Produce Panel’s View of Trucking

By |

If you want to know how produce trucking issues are viewed by some folks in the produce industry, you should have been at the annual convention of the United Fresh Produce Association, held in Dallas.   Specifically, the session was held  on May 1st by wholesalers/distributors and titled Examing Today’s Transportation Challenges and Alternatives.

The 60-minute meeting was held in the same Dallas Convention Center that will host the Great American Trucking Show August 23-25.

Among the issues dealt with were the driver’s shortage, detention,  and hours of service.  (Within the next few days I’ll provide more coverage on the session ranging hours of service to stolen loads and dicussions of alternatives to trucks for moving produce).

On the program was moderator, Ron Carkoski, head of Four Seasons Produce, Inc.; Alex Crow, national trucking manager, Hellman Perishable Logistics; Ken Nable, president of Kington and Associates Marketing, LLC; Dan Vache’, vice president, supply chain management, United; and Gary York, general manager, C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc.

Concerning the availablity of drivers, Crow noted there was only a “moderate” shortage of drivers — amounting to about 200,000.  “We need to treat drivers as professionals.  We are feeling the shortage,” Crow related.  His logistics company had even hired professional “head hunters” to  find more drivers.  “We (as an industry) expect drivers to be professional, but often don’t treat them like professionals.”

Crow believes the driver shortage results from issues such as not paying them enough, to excessive waiting times for loading and unloading.  “With the multi pick ups and multi drops we have to let the customers (receivers) know they need to pay (extra) for that.”

York at C.H. Robinson concurs.  He points out driver salaries trail other occupations and many would be truckers chose higher paying jobs in construction and elsewhere.

“In 2004 we saw 1.6 million housing starts.  Today there are about 600,000.  Housing starts next year are projected to be about one million, and “drivers tend to go where the work is.  As the economy improves, the driver shortage will increase, and transportation will cost more in driver wages.”

Vache’ of United, who has an extensive background with in-tranist temperature recording devices (such as Ryan Instruments and SensiTech), adds, “Drivers are tired, not just of being treated like second class citizens, but third and fourth class citizens.  They are away from home a lot and they have families to support.  What can we do to make it more attractive for drivers to enter trucking?”

York urges shippers and receivers to work on efficiency in reducing wait times at the docks.  There also needs to be faster turn around times between loads.  He notes while detention charges certainly are not “mainstream” in the produce industry, detention charges are being applied more than in the past.

A benefit for drivers will be advances in technolgy, York believes, which can be used to expedite action on loads involving claims.  Technology can help “lay the blame” in a claims dispute and thus reduce the amount of claims arising.

Regarding efforts to increase gross vehicle weights for Class 8 trucks from 80,000 to 97,000 pounds, no one expressed much hope Congress will deal anytime soon with this issue.

Vache’ says increasing truck weight limits will be safer because of the industry continues to improve its safety record, equipment is better, etc.  Heavier loads will also reduce the number trucks on congested highway.

York calls the idea of bigger trucks “appealing.”

Nable adds that heavier trucks will reduce the “footprint.”   In other words, it would be good for the environment.

While the panel emphasizes the pros of increasing weight limits, the downside from a driver’s point of view were largely ignored.  For example, increased weight limits will result in more wear and tear on trucking equipment, consume more diesel fuel, and result in higher costs of operation for the trucker.  Will the produce industry willingly increase rates accordingly?  Most truckers I have talked to believe they will be expected to haul the heavier loads without additional compensation.  The prospects of the produce industry increasing freight rates for hauling heavier loads was not addressed by the panel.





Read more »