Pick of the Vine
Headquartered in Miami, Florida, Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc. is the nation's largest wine and spirits distributor and broker. The company currently has operations in 35 markets across the U.S. Nationwide; the multi-state distributor employs more than 12,500 team members. Today, a centralized fleet management department for all markets is part of the company's operations and supply chain management activities.
"Great Dane has worked extremely hard to accommodate our specification needs and special requests," says Les Smart, Fleet Operations Manager at Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc. "That effort by the manufacturer has been very important because prior to three years ago, we did not have a single Great Dane trailer in our fleet. Their support is essential to our growing and successful relationship."
Since Southern Wine & Spirits started its fleet department, the company's management team has purchased a mix of Great Dane dry freight vans and reefers. Currently, there are 107 Great Dane trailers in the fleet, including 95 dry vans and 12 reefers. Initial purchases were for Classic models. In 2012, the company bought 26 Champion dry vans and Everest reefers and has 40 new trailers on order for delivery in 2013.
"With so many markets across the country, we often have different trailer needs to fill," Smart states. "Great Dane met that challenge for us by establishing a buying matrix we can use to spec dry van trailers for different parts of our operation. The matrix, which is updated quarterly, gives us both flexibility to meet specific needs and continuity across the entire fleet."
The buying matrix Great Dane established for Southern Wine & Spirits includes 28-, 48- and 53-ft Champion dry van base models. Each trailer ordered can be spec'd with a variety of options. For example, there are galvanized, HDPE plastic and laminated hardwood scuffband alternatives, and options for rear access components and pintle hooks for doubles operations, automatic tire inflation systems and aluminum wheels. Transtex side skirts, Roll-o-Matic walk ramps and Maxon liftgates can be specified as well.
"Each of these specification choices was put in place to accommodate the needs of our operations personnel," Smart relates. "Great Dane's engineering support for our innovations has been timely and completely to our satisfaction."
Great Dane has also built trailers with special specs for Southern Wine & Spirits. One recent order was for a group of 53-ft tri-axle dry vans that enable the company to increase its GCWR in Washington State by 12,000 pounds.
For reefers, Southern Wine & Spirits specs Everest models with flat aluminum floors. E-track logistics systems enable straps to be placed at any position for loading cages that hold cases of product, as well as individual cases and palletized goods. Thermo King refrigeration units are standard on the latest reefers ordered by the fleet.
For reefers and dry vans, Southern Wine & Spirits specs Hendrickson air ride suspension/axle assemblies. "We improved our load stabilization and driver comfort by going to air ride while minimizing our chances for any bottle breakage while underway," Smart reports. "We selected Hendrickson because previous experience with their products told us they are durable and reliable."
"We've had very few issues with the Great Dane trailers in our operation and when we did company has always resolved them quickly," Smart continues. "Their nationwide system of branches and dealers ensures parts availability and technical support for Penske Truck Leasing, our national maintenance provider. Great Dane is regularly proving that it's the right choice for our operation, in terms of both products and the company that designs and builds them."
Eliminating Cargo Damage with Air Ride
Hendrickson VANTRAAX air suspension/axle/brake systems are proving both durable and reliable at Southern Wine & Spirits. The integrated solution combines the manufacturer's K-2 slider box with its lightweight INTRAAX suspension/axle assembly featuring a stable and durable rigid trailing and solid axle connection design.
The latest Hendrickson VANTRAAX models have a Large-Diameter Axle (LDA) that trims up to 27 pounds compared to a five-inch axle, allowing for more cargo per load. Bending and torsional stiffness in the LDA is increased by as much as 22 percent for durability. Hendrickson axles are also designed for reduced deflection under load while a patented axle wrap and window weld provide for optimal structural integrity. Additionally, brake hardware that is attached to trailing arms minimizes axle stress rather than when welded to axles.