Aug 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By David A Kolman
The company's completely temperature-controlled warehouse has an entire racking system for all incoming product. There are 35 dock doors - 21 for shipping, 14 for receiving. There are about 80 warehouse personnel.
All incoming products are received according to strict Produce Marketing Association guidelines, Rolander points out, and thoroughly inspected for quality, temperature, tampering, and pest control. In addition, the inventory is regularly inspected to ensure freshness and date rotation. Inventory is turned three times per week.
The facility has a railroad siding and two railcar doors, situated so that two railcars can be unloaded at once. Keany Produce receives potatoes and onions by rail.
Keany Produce uses a computerized inventory management program with a paper-based order picking operation. Selectors are assigned to delivery routes. All pallet jacks and lift trucks are electric and battery powered.
The company is in the process of implementing a radio frequency (RF) and barcoding system to expedite the order-picking process, maximize operating efficiencies, and reduce errors, says Rolander. “With our current system, we have about a 96% order fill accuracy rate.
To best accommodate customers, Keany Produce has a generous cut-off time of 10 pm for placing orders for next-morning delivery. It recently installed a new computer system that automatically enters and routes each order when placed. The system makes real-time adjustments to inventory to enable reliable forecasting and complete order fulfillment.
Order picking starts in the early afternoon, with truck loading starting around 6 pm. A little later, the piece, package, and pound picking begins with a crew of about 30 people. These are special orders for particular long-time customers.
Keany Produce's delivery fleet of 117 straight trucks starts routes around 5:30 am. If the trucks aren't out by then, “we're backstroking the entire day,” says Keany.
“We have serious traffic congestion problems in the Washington metropolitan area, and in the northern Virginia region close to DC, Rolander adds. Keany Produce is about 15 miles from the center of DC, close to the Capital Beltway (Interstate I-495) that encircles the nation's capitol.
The company's 125 drivers are assigned to trucks and standard routes (where a truck runs the same route each day). “We've found assigning drivers to routes helps speed up deliveries as drivers get to know their customers and where they want their products placed.
“There is a tremendous value to the relationship our drivers have developed with customers because of the friendship and trust that has been built up.”
Drivers are compensated through a compilation of many different plans - by the piece, hourly, daily rates for the drivers, and routes, says Rolander. “Each plan is designed to increase the driver's earning potential by having him work smarter. We are constantly reviewing these plans.”
Routes are fairly well established, and all trucks return daily. Some trucks are used for a second route. For the most part, deliveries, which average about 20 to 25 stops per route, require hand-trucking in.
To facilitate deliveries, all cases in an order are stickered with the name of the customer and the product.
“We usually keep four of our trucks in reserve for the inevitable problems,” Rolander notes. “Plus, we loan our trucks to caterers and country clubs that have big events, and to customers that get into a bind, for example if they experience a prolonged power outage and need to store perishables.”
Keany Produce is standardizing on non-CDL Sterling Acterra power units with Morgan 22-foot refrigerated bodies and Carrier Transicold refrigeration units. The most recent reefer unit purchases have been Supra 644 models.
The new Sterlings are similarly spec'd with a Cummins ISC 240-horsepower diesel engine, Allison World automatic transmission, and plenty of creature comforts. The Morgan bodies have a rollup rear door and a curbside swing door. All but eight of the trucks have a rear pullout safety walk ramp.
The eight trucks, used mainly for hotel dock drop deliveries, are outfitted with a Waltco 2,500-pound flipaway liftgate with a 42-inch-by-72-inch platform.
The company had run a mix of truck brands and was using straight trucks that required a commercial driver license. “When we started palletizing our loads, we didn't need such heavy trucks,” says Rolander.
It began switching from manual transmissions to automatics about nine years ago, he says, to help reduce maintenance problems and costs, and to make it easier on the driver.
The truck cabs had been painted white, but all new ones are being painted Irish green. All trucks have vinyl decals.
Keany Produce has four tractors and five trailers, each used on specific routes. The only sleeper is a 2006 Western Star tractor, outfitted with a 475-horsepower Caterpillar engine and Eaton Fuller 13-speed transmission.
The other tractors, all tandem-axle daycabs, are a 1999 International Eagle, 1998 Mack, and 2004 Sterling, all with 10-speed Eaton Fuller manual transmissions. The Sterling has a 435-horsepower MBE 4000 engine; the Mack a 427-horsepower E7 engine; and the International a 435-horsepower Cummins N14 Plus engine. The Mack tractor, which is used with the dump trailer, is outfitted with a Permco hydraulic PTO.
The company recently purchased a new 48-foot Utility single-temperature refrigerated trailer with a Carrier Transicold Ultra XL refrigeration unit. This is in addition to an older 48-foot Utility refrigerated trailer with a Thermo King reefer.
In addition to the dump trailer, two dry van trailers, also 48-footers, are used to shuttle pallets and deliver cardboard for recycling.
Until about seven years ago, Keany Produce had two people who manually did the truck routing. “But with our steady growth,” explains Rolander, “this got too cumbersome, so we began looking for routing software” and settled on UPS Logistics Technologies' Roadnet system. “It's been a phenomenal daily routing tool that optimizes delivery routes, helping us increase efficiency and productivity.”
About four years ago, Keany Produce added Roadnet MobileCast to the Nextel Direct Connect, instant push-to-talk, mobile phones it issues to all drivers. The MobileCast bundles dispatch, tracking, and delivery management software functionality with Nextel phones using wireless data communications.
With MobileCast, daily route plans are downloaded into the phones each day, Rolander says. In addition to talking with drivers using the push-to-talk feature, the phones enables communication via two-way text messaging, and allows viewing truck movement in real time via GPS information.
“Our Nextel phones have a call alert feature that we use to let a driver know we need to reach him, or to warn him of a traffic problem or other situation.”
With the Roadnet and MobileCast systems, Keany Produce personnel can look at a computerized equipment map and see real-time location of trucks and can track drivers.
“This is a great benefit to our customers,” says Rolander. “If a customer wants to know when his delivery will arrive, we can look at the map in real time and tell him. Whereas before, if we needed to know where a driver was, or had to get a hold of him, we would start calling stops and inconvenience our customers, asking them to have our driver call in.”
Rolander runs a report each day of the previous day's routes. The systems flags, and shows at a glance, if there were any unplanned stops or route path deviations, and pinpoints where these occurred.
Route trucks are typically kept for about five years, accumulating about 300,000 miles. Bodies and refrigeration units are refurbished at that time, then put on new chassis, and used for another five years.
Keany Produce has a second, separate trucking operation, called Keany Express, for hotshot deliveries. These are urgent orders, such as a last minute function or a banquet count increase, that need to be delivered as soon as possible.
The Keany Express fleet is made up of six Isuzu NQR trucks with 5.2-liter diesels and automatic transmissions. They have 14-foot Morgan refrigeration bodies and Carrier Transicold Supra 550 refrigeration units. Like the route trucks, the Keany Express trucks have a rollup rear door, curbside swing door, and pullout safety walk ramp in the rear.
“During our peak periods we'd rent small vans to supplement our transportation department,” remembers Rolander. “At times, our salespeople would use these to make deliveries. One day our sales manager, Roy Cargulio, jokingly said: ‘These deliveries aren't Federal Express, they're Keany Express.’ I liked the idea and ran with it.
Working in secrecy, Rolander bought a Ford E350 van chassis with 12-foot refrigerated body and decaled it with a motion type logo he came up, and Keany Express was born. “When I unveiled the truck, it was hugely well received. Our customer started asking for it by name.”
The operation, begun 11 years ago, has continued to grow. The hot shot trucks normally run 18 to 24 routes each day.
Keany Produce owns all trucks, which are washed every Sunday by an outside contractor. After completing their lifecycle, they are sold to used truck dealers.
It has an onsite three-bay maintenance shop that used to maintain a staff of service technicians. It now outsources all repair and maintenance work to a third-party that leases the shop.
“We're in the produce business, and as our business grew, we decided we needed to focus more attention on managing the company rather than on truck servicing,” says Rolander.
Keany Produce has been using Driver's Alert fleet safety and vehicle monitoring system for about 20 years. “It's a safety tool that works very, very well,” says Rolander. “We get calls to bring things to our attention, but in equal volume, we get calls to compliment our drivers.”
Drivers who receive a compliment get a gift certificate to one of the restaurants Keany Produce delivers to as kudos for their efforts.
With Driver's Alert, each vehicle is given a unique “how's my driving” decal number with a toll-free number for motorists to phone in complaints or compliments about driver safety, Rolander explains. Operators take the call, create a report, and send it to the fleet.
The monitoring system “is really nice because it develops a history per route per driver that we use for annual driver reviews.”
After running millions of miles each year, the company has an outstanding safety.
“After 9/11 the insurance market got very strict and rates went up significantly,” he explains. “We responded, overhauling our safety program and developing a very comprehensive one that both penalizes and rewards our drivers. The program has paid huge dividends.
“Ever year since we've implemented that program, we've trended downward in frequency of accidents and in insurance premium reductions. If you put the effort into safety, you can realize significant savings.”
When it comes to hiring drivers, Keany Produce looks for candidates with verifiable years of experience behind the wheel, a good safety record, pristine driving record, solid work ethic, and compatibility to the company's culture. Produce experience is not a prerequisite as the company has an extensive training program.
The company looks for many of these same qualities and qualifications when hiring personnel for the warehouse and processing operation. Employee turnover is low, and opportunity for growth is available in managerial positions.
Food safety has always been the highest priority at Keany Produce, stresses Keany, and the company is vigilant about keeping employees focused on food safety. Comprehensive food safety and handling is a large part of the orientation and training for all employees.
It has meticulous food handling practices and food safety standards, based on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), a systematic preventive approach to food safety.
Looking ahead, Keany Produce's “greatest challenge is to keep improving our efficiencies in all aspects of our operation because of the increased costs of doing business, especially with fuel and labor,” says Rolander.
“We also have to continue to focus on satisfying customers and our employees, who are on the front lines. It can take years to get a customer on board, and just a few seconds for a bad employee to lose a customer.”
Keany Produce remains a family-owned business, and all owners are hands on, actively involved in the operation day-to-day, adds Keany. This gives customers and employees the benefits of a stable operation and personalized service.
As the company goes forward, one thing will remain unchanged, he emphasizes, and that is “our commitment to excellence.”
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