Trailer Magazine

The silent partner

  • From the November 2018 issue.
The silent partner

Western Sydney–based refrigerated logistics company, FoodBoss, has been in business for well over half a century. The company is a big fan of Carrier Vector trailer refrigeration units, specifically due to their plug-in electric capabilities.

Incredibly, it’s now been two decades since Carrier introduced the Vector E-Drive technology which went on to revolutionise the transport refrigeration market. 

When released it was way ahead of its time, however it is now mainstream and a technology platform for the future, as alternative energy sources and improvements in battery technology become available. 

Many refrigerated transport companies take advantage of the innate (built-in) electric standby ability of the Vector platform that allows them to run on mains electricity rather than diesel wherever possible. 

Depending on the respective prices of diesel and grid power for the operator, the cost saving from running on electric versus the cost of running for the same period on diesel can be significant.

This coupled with virtually no noise or emissions and a substantial reduction in engine running hours – therefore minimising engine service and maintenance costs – make running in electric mode an attractive option.

One company that is making exceptionally good use of this particular feature is Penrith (NSW) based FoodBoss Transport, an establishment with more than 60 years of experience in refrigerated logistics.

The company was founded by Laurie Gibson in the mid-1950s, initially collecting milk cans from local dairy farms for the Nepean Milk Depot at Penrith. This quickly progressed to truck and tanker pickups throughout the Penrith and nearby Hawkesbury regions.

Originally named Fordcraft Fresh Logistics, the organisation grew organically in synch with the developing needs of the milk industry.

In the 1970s, in response to the evolution of the Nepean Milk Co-Op, the company expanded to offer clients transportation of other refrigerated goods including packaged products. This involved line-haul distribution to other depots throughout NSW, keeping the business growing with the addition of both staff and vehicles.

The decade of the 1980s brought investment in a fleet of prime movers and trailers as the company’s commitment to quality and service saw workloads continue to increase. Importantly, Laurie’s sons Robert, Graham and Ian also came on board.

During the final decade of the 20th century, Fordcraft Fresh Logistics expanded into newer markets across regional NSW. This opened the door to many new clients who were seeking quality, cost-effective and compliant logistics services.

Shortly after the turn of the century Ian Gibson became Managing Director and was committed to maintaining the foundation of honesty, integrity and reliability on which the business was built. He introduced interstate haulage across Australia, and a number of rigid trucks were added to the fleet to offer a daily service for metropolitan Sydney customers.

Around 10 years later Fordcraft Fresh Logistics acquired FoodBoss Cold Storage, which was built in 2007. This exciting development enabled the company, for the first time in nearly 60 years, to offer clients a completely integrated cold logistics service. With the deal sealed, Fordcraft Fresh Logistics relocated to new premises in Lambridge Place, Penrith, and changed its name to FoodBoss Transport.

An important strategy for success in any business is staying at the cutting edge in both business practices and equipment choice. It’s for these reasons that FoodBoss Transport Managing Director, Ian Gibson, has invested in Carrier Vector E-Drive fridge plants to the tune of 22 units.

“I’ve gone to the Vector E-Drive units principally because their cooling capacity on electric standby is exactly the same as when running on diesel,” Ian says. “As we run a cold store, most of the vans are loaded up to 48 hours before departure so we can plug them in after loading and they sit there silently until it’s time to go.

“We also deliver to one of the big wholesale supermarket chains and they are happy to let us plug in to electricity while waiting to unload as they appreciate the massive reduction in noise.

“It’s a big thing today, having the ‘green footprint’ in terms of noise, heat and emissions reduction,” Ian explains. “I also like the fact that the E-Drive units have scroll compressors with far fewer points of potential refrigerant leakage compared with belt-driven compressors.”

Unlike conventional fridge units, Vector E-Drive has no mechanical coupling between engine and compressor. Instead, the diesel engine spins a generator which in turn feeds AC power to the compressor, fans and other related equipment in the same manner as a household fridge or air-conditioner.

Asked about the nature of the work, Ian replies, “We specialise in consolidations and we operate across all six mainland states with about 40 clients. That ranges through ambient, chilled, frozen and pharmaceutical goods, the latter requiring a critical temperature of 5 degrees C, plus or minus one degree.

“We try to be as diversified as possible with our operations,” he adds. “The infrastructure we have with the cold storage facility and the specific transport equipment we use has enabled us to develop the company in synch with our clients’ needs. At the end of the day that’s the key to having a successful business.”

Fast Fact
Carrier Vector E-Drive refrigeration units have the same cooling capacity whether running on diesel or electricity.

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