Savannah, GA,
03:00 PM

Food for Transportation Thought

As last mile delivery booms, the demand on food delivery service heats up


The Market

The impact of e-commerce, driven by retail powerhouses like Amazon (and everyone chasing them), on last-mile delivery isn’t just conjecture, it’s a reality. New orders for manufactured durable goods in June increased $2.5 billion, or 1.0 percent, to $251.9 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau announced in July. Shipments of manufactured durable goods in June, up 10 of the last 11 months, increased $4.1 billion, or 1.7 percent, to $251.6 billion. Fleets are on the front lines of change. One of the most impacted segments has been the food service industry. For instance, Amazon, again, made headlines last year with its acquisition of Whole Foods, and the increasingly-stringent food safety requirements from the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) went into effect in April 2017.

“Whether it is prepared meals or traditional produce and food distribution, consumers expect goods delivered to their home or business as quickly and as efficiently as a FedEx overnight package,” said Eduardo Navarro, director of business development at Great Dane Truck Bodies. “This increase in demand for delivered goods to customers’ front doors has created challenges for logistics companies and fleet managers in charge of delivering food products that require different temperatures.”

People bring their personal retail experiences with them to work – the Prime-driven, free two-day shipping can’t be escaped. To the customer, it might not matter if the food product is perishable or not – they want to combine those items into as few transactions as possible and want it delivered on time at the right temperature.

“So a restaurant owner, for example, would order paper napkins as well as tomatoes, frozen fries and ice cream tubs, all in the same order,” Navarro said. “This creates a challenge for food distributors who have to source vehicles that need to maintain a wide range of temperatures efficiently. They also have to develop a culture that cares about maintaining good cold chain practices throughout the entire process. From the standpoint of the fleet manager, they are now tasked to design a vehicle that can safely transport and maintain different kinds of food products at multiple temperatures throughout the day.”


The Equipment

Thanks to decades of experience listening to its customers’ changing demands, Great Dane has developed a full line of refrigerated trailers, truck bodies and even an all-electric refrigeration system that can address these challenges. In the trailer product line, Great Dane offers its legendary Everest reefer. The Everest reefers come in two varieties – single and multi-temperature models. The single-temperature Everest is the highest-performing, most thermally efficient trailer on the market and the multi-temperature Everest offers as many as three temperature-controlled compartments and an ambient section for maximum refrigerated flexibility.

On its line of refrigerated truck bodies, Great Dane is now able to offer the complete line up of solutions for food distributors, from the traditional aluminum construction Alpine S-Series, to its composite line, the Johnson Series. Great Dane’s Alpine S-Series refrigerated truck body sports the industry’s most advanced modular panel foaming process that produces an extremely thermally-consistent product. The modular design joins the panels in a way that creates a continuous blanket of insulation at all connection points.

If you’re looking for a solution with multiple options and customized solutions, look no further than the Johnson Series. The Johnson C-Series composite truck body interiors are made of smooth white fiberglass that is corrosion-resistant and extremely durable. The R-Series provides a lighter weight, reach-in truck body option that touts thermal efficiency, durability and multi-temp capabilities. The Johnson S-Series packs maximum thermal efficiency into an 8-foot long body engineered to fit into a ¾-ton or 1-ton pickup truck.

“Great Dane’s goal is to champion the needs of its customers by ensuring the safe and efficient delivery of goods. Before we offer a cookie cutter solution, we like to sit with our customer to understand their challenges and evaluate their entire cold chain management practice,” Navarro said. “To address some of the new FSMA requirements dealing with handling temperature-controlled products, Great Dane is the only manufacturer that offers refrigerated trailers and truck bodies with Microban, a technology that helps prevent bacteria growth and odors.”

“As the demand for last mile food distribution increases, customers’ expectation on quality and consistency will be as high as if they picked the grapes themselves,” Navarro said. “This will force food distributors that want to be successful to work closely with trailer and truck body suppliers to design better equipment. Great Dane is poised to take advantage of this growth. We have been in the industry for decades and have the right experience and products to help our customers. We engineer trailers and truck bodies that offer more flexibility for these new demands, while being safer for drivers, and providing the lowest total cost of ownership.”