Temperature Control For Freshness

Chances are you have seen an Edible Arrangements delivery vehicle in your neighborhood or you have sent a fruit bouquet or box of dipped fruit from Edible Arrangements. The company, founded in 1999 in East Haven, CT, is the leading purveyor of delicious, high-quality, artistically designed fresh fruit arrangements.

Edible Arrangements has more than 1,103 locations operating or opening soon worldwide, including more than 885 in the United States.

Freshness is the most essential component of product quality for Edible Arrangements. Their drivers make multiple trips to and from the company’s stores each day, logging an average minimum of 200 miles daily.

VEHICLE ATTRIBUTES

When Edible Arrangements sought a more fuel-efficient vehicle than the traditional cargo vehicles the company had been using, it determined that Ford’s Transit Connect van would make for an ideal solution, requiring little modification and providing greater fuel efficiency.

According to Kamran Farid, chief operating officer at Edible Arrangements, the company’s leaders liked the Transit Connect van because it is easier to drive than larger cargo vans, and is more stylish. In addition, the van has plenty of space for transporting arrangements.

Ford’s Transit Connect offers 135 cubic feet of cargo volume, with 59.1 inches of floor-to-ceiling load height and 47.8 inches of load width between the wheel arches. There is more than six feet of cargo floor space. The split rear cargo doors open at a standard 180 degrees, or an optionally available 255 degrees.

JOB SPECIFIC MODIFICATIONS

In late 2009, Edible Arrangements worked with its Ford dealer to bring the Ford Transit Connect vans over from Europe. At the time, these vans were not being produced in the U.S.

To produce their approved corporate vehicle, the two companies then collaborated with Thermo King and Sub Zero Insulation & Refrigeration Technologies to design a reliable, all-electric refrigeration environment specifically for the Transit Connect vans.

Thermo King is a manufacturer of transport temperature control systems for a variety of mobile applications and a brand of Ingersoll Rand. Sub Zero is a manufacturer of custom refrigerated/insulated commercial truck and van liners.

Sub Zero handled the custom thermo insulation of the vans using a technically advanced, low viscosity, two-component rigid polyurethane foam system. The foam insulation will resist attacks from moisture, crude oil and most commonly used chemicals and solvents, say company officials.

The rigid polyurethane foam system is designed to prevent air, moisture and heat infiltration, making it the most efficient thermal insulation product in the market place today, they note.

REFRIGERATION SYSTEM

Originally, Edible Arrangements selected all-electric refrigeration systems from Thermo King for its Ford Transit Connect delivery fleet. These refrigeration solutions offer shore power (electric standby) as a standard feature, which allows drivers to plug into standard electric outlets to power the refrigeration unit rather than having to use fuel during pre-cooling, loading and unloading.

The shore power feature reduces demand on the van’s engine and reduces carbon emissions because drivers can pre-cool a van by plugging it into a nearby outlet, explains Doug Lenz, director of product management and marketing for Thermo King. When departing, the driver unplugs, and the van’s alternator takes over to provide the needed power to keep the products refrigerated en route.

To support the refrigeration units, higher capacity alternators were added to each van.

The all-electric refrigeration systems have no diesel engines, so they use less fuel, produce fewer emissions and run quieter, all while delivering reliable temperature control, he says.

INCREASED VERSATILITY

Up until 2011, Edible Arrangements was offering both the Thermo King B-100 (the all-electric unit) and V-200 (the vehicle-powered unit) refrigeration units to its franchisees. In 2011, Edible Arrangements started offering only the V-200 because it provides greater versatility, says Lenz.

The compressor in the V-200 provides increased capacity - 60 percent at peak - over the B-100 at a 35-degree F box temperature, he notes. The truck engine drives the compressor in the V-200 unit, which has the same horsepower requirements as the upgraded alternator on the B-100 unit.

The increased capacity provided by the V-200 offers Edible Arrangements more versatility than the B-100, adds Lenz. Edible Arrangements can place the V-200 in any ambient condition and be assured that it will perform.

The V-200 refrigeration unit is also available with optional shore power for pre-cooling and storage, and with hot water heat, designed for extremely low ambient conditions.

All new vehicles purchased for Edible Arrangements are ordered from their Ford Partner, Crowley Ford, and processed through Sub Zero for insulation, Thermo King Northeast for the refrigeration package and Sign Pro for vehicle wraps.

Currently, Edible Arrangements utilizes DATTCO, a transportation solutions provider, which serves as their fleet manager.

MORE EFFICIENT OPERATION

Using customized vans with refrigeration units equipped with shore power, Edible Arrangements officials report that the company has achieved fuel savings of 27 percent over traditional vans.

Edible Arrangements now has more than 200 Transit Connect vans equipped with Thermo King units, with electric standby.

As more and more franchisees replace their older delivery vans, Edible Arrangements anticipates that its total fleet of more than 1,300 vehicles will be upgraded to Ford Transits Connects using Thermo King refrigeration units with electric standby.

ENVIRONMENTAL AWARDS

In September 2010, leaders at Edible Arrangements were recognized for their commitment to environmental responsibility when they received the first-ever Thermo King Energy Efficiency Leader Award for the operational efficiency of its Ford vans.

Edible Arrangements was also the recipient of Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Green Circle Award for its contribution to reducing emissions with the upgraded Ford Transits.

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