Jun 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By David A Kolman
The system works. King says most of the drivers have been with the company a long time. Turnover, mostly with new drivers who have been with the company a short time, is in line with industry standards.
There is a similar comprehensive and structured hiring and training process for warehouse personnel.
“The majority of our deliveries, probably 99%, require drivers to handle freight and run products into a customer on a hand truck,” notes King. “The other one percent are pallet drops. A typical route has up to 18 stops.
“We make an effort to keep the same driver on the same routes because once a driver learns the route and his customers, it tends to speed up the process.”
So how does the company identify the stops on a truck? A pallet can have anywhere between one to eight different stops on it. Each stop is labeled with the name of the customer and the delivery sequence. “This cuts down on driver confusion and reduces delivery mistakes,” King says.
With the new Cadec fleet management system, Cheney Brothers is starting to barcode more products for delivery and is equipping the fleet with Cadec's DeliverTracker — a handheld out-of-cab application that scans barcodes to assure accurate deliveries on and off the truck. The long-term plan is to move to paperless invoices.
“Along with improving our service, this will increase our productivity and lower overall operating costs,” he says.
The Riviera Beach facility delivers throughout the state of Florida. The Ocala facility handles deliveries in northern Florida, plus Georgia, North and South Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia. Because of the change in the hours-of-service regulations, some of the longer runs now require an overnight stay. Since Cheney Brothers' fleet is all daycabs, these drivers are required to spend the night in a hotel.
The company owned all of its equipment — all straight refrigerated trucks — until 1989. That's when it began exploring the pros and cons of leasing. As business grew, it needed more transportation capacity. It leased the first tractor trailer rigs in 1992.
Cheney Brothers no longer owns any equipment. It has full-service leases with both Ryder and Penske. Each maintains an operation at the company's two locations.
All trucks are given a once-over each night. Minor repairs and service are done onsite. For major repairs, the vehicles are taken to the lessor's shop.
One of the reasons for switching to leasing was the expansion of the company's operational area, notes King. “We were having problems finding road service companies in our outlying areas. With full-service leasing, if something happens out on the road with one of my trucks, I make a call to Penske or Ryder and they take care of it. If they can't handle it right away, they issue us a substitute vehicle.”
Cheney Brothers' fleet is comprised of 350 tractors — a mix of Freightliner and Internationals powered by Cummins 350-horsepower diesel engines. The fleet is split between automatic and 10-speed manual transmissions.
There are 400 Kidron and Great Dane three-compartment foodservice trailers — frozen, refrigerated, and dry — in lengths of 26, 36, and 48 feet. All have Thermo King refrigeration units, mostly Whisper and Spectrum SB models.
The 36- and 48-foot trailers have two curbside swing doors with pullout steps. All trailers have a 14-ft retractable underbody truck ramp under the rear door. These are R-O-M Corporation's RoadwarrioR reversible safety walkramps.
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