Dixie Produce gets creative in cost-cutting efforts

06/30/2011 02:06:00 PM
Dan Gailbraith

To increase fuel efficiency, decrease emissions and improve service, one Tennessee company is adding two dozen high-tech trucks to its fleet.

In June, Dixie Produce Inc., Chattanooga, Tenn., took delivery of 12 new Navistar Co. International trucks with MaxxForce engines, said Lee Pittman, owner and president.

The company expects to soon receive 12 more trucks.

Pittman said he was excited about the new and better technology used in the trucks.

“They have an incredible technology package that monitors everything — routing, GPS, temperature tracking and communication,” he said. “It enables us to store data on everything that we do.”

Each truck has two separate temperature zones, something Dixie Produce’s old trucks didn’t have. The two zones enable consolidation of products that require different temperatures. That could make deliveries more convenient for customers and eliminate some extra deliveries.

The drivers monitor and control temperatures from inside the cabs, and the trucks’ data are transmitted to a computer at the office, where staff can constantly monitor the temperatures in each truck and track changes when doors are opened for deliveries. A light will flash on the office monitor when a truck’s temperatures are outside a particular range.

Daily and weekly data are stored and can be reviewed as necessary, Pittman said.

The new trucks are more fuel efficient and they meet more stringent emission requirements than Dixie Produce’s old fleet. The trucks are equipped with low-rolling-resistance tires, speed governors and automatic engine shut-offs to prevent idling longer than five minutes.

The cutoff switches can reduce engine run time by more than 500 hours per year, which could save an estimated 350 gallons of fuel per year per unit, Pittman said.

The trucks’ smooth bodies are wrapped with fruit and vegetable graphics and the Dixie Produce logo and are equipped with safety and convenience features, such as extended grab handles, premium ramp and oversized step packages, Pittman said. They also have backup cameras.

Dixie Produce has more than 60 trucks in its fleet and distributes produce throughout most of Tennessee (except Memphis) and into Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina. It is a member of Nashville, Tenn.-based Produce Alliance LLC.



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