ROCKVIEW FARMS requires absolute reliability and durability from its fleet. The Downey, California, dairy wants trucks and refrigeration units that do not have to be touched for 10 years, except for routine maintenance.
In practice, 10 years is just the first life for fleet equipment at Rockview. Old trucks have a habit of showing up in the shop long after they have been retired from the company's active fleet, because Rockview has a large group of independent distributors who deliver company product in trucks they have purchased from Rockview, says Ismael Vargas, fleet manager.
Rockview Farms is a family-owned dairy that has been serving the Los Angeles Basin and Southern California since 1929. Weekly volume totals well over 500,000 gallons of fluid milk weekly. The independent contractors supplement a company fleet of 75 refrigerated trailers and 40 refrigerated straight trucks. The trailer fleet is used to serve large chain accounts and distributors in outlying areas such as Riverside and San Diego. The straight truck fleet serves wholesale customers in the Los Angeles Metro area. Wholesale routes run seven days a week and typically carry 20 stops.
10 New Straight Trucks
Roughly a year ago, Rockview replaced 10 of its straight trucks. The new vehicles are equipped with Thermo King TS-300 refrigeration units. Designed for trucks in the 20- to 24-ft range, the TS-300 uses an open-drive scroll compressor and the TK 3.74 three-cylinder diesel from Yanmar. Rockview purchased TS-300-50 series units, which have electric standby. The standby motor produces 7.2 horsepower. Vargas says that three factors entered the decision-making process: overnight operation, high summer heat, and closely spaced multiple stops.
The delivery process at Rockview begins at 2 am. To make sure trucks are on the road at that early hour, they are loaded the night before and plugged in to run on electric power. Until recently, electric standby was seen as a cost saving for fleet operation. It remains a noise reduction factor, running the units quietly overnight. If power goes off while the units are in standby mode, the Smart Reefer control system starts the engine to keep the refrigeration going on diesel power.
The dairy is near a residential area. “Noise can be a problem, and we want to be a good neighbor,” Vargas says. “Making sure the units are quiet is important. If I lived near a dairy, I would want to know they were working to keep the noise levels down. These TS units are quiet on standby and with the engines running.”
Automatic Unit Shut-Off
Los Angeles has a hot summer climate, and the farther inland the routes go, the hotter it gets. Daytime temperature in Riverside is often 20° hotter than the official Los Angeles reading, which is taken at the airport near the ocean. Temperature recovery in that heat is important, especially when the stops are closely spaced and units don't have much time to run between door openings.
Drivers sometimes forget to shut the unit off during a delivery stop, Vargas says. Some of them seem to think that leaving the unit running will help keep the box cold. If the door is open, a running unit actually pushes cold air out of the body and sucks in warm air. The result is that the unit must work harder to recover to the thermostat set point before the next stop. To counteract this problem, Rockview specified door switches on its new trucks. When the doors are opened during a delivery, the unit shuts down automatically and starts again when the door is closed.
The early route start time means that most deliveries take place while people are still sleeping. Keeping units quiet is important to Rockview. The TS-300 units are designed to meet strict European noise regulations. The engine and compressor are quiet, and noise has been reduced even more by carefully tuning the intake and exhaust systems. Sound absorbing panels in the unit case reduce total radiated noise as well.