Since first opening its doors in 1976 in Beaumont, Texas, Jason’s Deli has expanded into a successful foodservice chain, with more than 200 delicatessens in 25 states.
Because it specializes in high-quality, healthy foods, the restaurant chain must maintain precise control over its distribution network. In early 2005, Jason’s Deli was one of the first restaurants in the U.S. to remove artificial trans-fats from its menu. Jason’s Deli negotiated directly with growers and manufacturers to eliminate the ingredient, a process that took more than four years to complete.
In October 2008, the chain made another move that would radically alter its distribution system: It eliminated highfructose corn syrup. The company procured new versions of breads, dressings, deserts and dozens of other food items.
This kind of control and flexibility in a foodservice supply chain doesn’t come easily. Behind the scenes, Jason’s Deli owns and operates two regional distribution centers (DCs) in Arlington, Texas, and Charlotte, N.C. According to the company, four to five DCs will soon be added.
The regional DCs provide a competitive advantage, according to Aaron Mater, Jason’s Deli’s director of distribution. The DCs allow the company to leverage buying power to control prices, food quality and customer service.
“We keep margins on our product low, so it is critical that we operate our entire supply and distribution chain efficiently,” says Mater. “Having our DCs in close proximity to our stores is key to this strategy.”
The restaurant chain is also meticulous when it comes to planning internal DC operations. Total cost of ownership guides every decision, including the selection of lift trucks.
For the Charlotte DC, Jason’s Deli chose a fleet of Jungheinrich AC lift trucks. “The combination of low maintenance, efficiency and cleanliness made our decision easy,” Mater says. Two Jungheinrich ECR 336 end rider pallet trucks with 96-inch forks both pull product and unload trucks four pallets at a time. In the coming months, three additional Jungheinrich end riders will be added to the fleet for service in dry goods, freezer and cold storage.
A variety of storage systems are employed in the DCs to accommodate product moving at varying rates. EFG 220 electric, three-wheel counterbalanced trucks operate in and around the drive-in, push-back and selective racking systems. Additionally, an ETR 320 pantographic reach truck is used to pick and place product in racks 33 feet high.
Operators say the trucks are efficient and comfortable. “We run one shift a day, during which we both ship and receive,” explains Mater. “We can get up to three days on one charge, which we attribute to the regenerative braking system, in which energy is fed back to the battery.
“The performance is exactly what we anticipated,” Mater concludes. “That, coupled with the low maintenance and long operating cycles, is making our total cost of ownership for these trucks very appealing.”
Powered Vehicles News
Greenfield Site Selects Fuel Cells
LATHAM, N.Y.—Plug Power Inc. says Central Grocers Inc. is purchasing 220 GenDrive fuel-cell units to power the lift truck fleet at its new distribution center, which is currently under construction in Joliet, Ill. Central Grocers expects the facility to be operational by the end of first quarter 2009.
The company chose the fuel-cell power units for a new fleet of Yale lift trucks. Air Products will supply the liquid hydrogen storage compression system and indoor fueling dispensers. Yale Equipment Services will service the lift trucks and fuel-cell units.
“Central Grocers represents the first greenfield site to incorporate our GenDrive solution into its operations,” says Andy Marsh, chief executive officer of Plug Power. “Greenfield sites offer the potential for the greatest financial and operational benefits to our customers by eliminating the need for capital investments in batteries and the associated chargers, storage and changing system.”
Crown Creates Productivity Package
NEW BREMEN, Ohio—Crown Equipment Corp. has launched Insite, a productivity-focused program that provides information about lift trucks, operators, applications and fleets. It collects and analyzes data, both inside and beyond lift trucks.
Elements of Insite can be used together or separately. The program includes the InfoLink fleet management system, FleetSTATS program, SureSpec application and Access 1 2 3 Comprehensive System Control.
“By capturing material handling data and other knowledge gained from Insite, we foresee a future where fleet managers are able to analyze results and make better decisions that will improve their overall efficiency and bottom line,” says Crown President Jim Dicke III.
“Crown Insite gives our customers a more comprehensive picture of their fleets in real time,” he adds. “More than just the data, it’s the collective knowledge and systematic interpretation of data that leads to better decision making.”