Deli Express/E.A. Sween Co.

From a 100,000-square-foot facility in Eden Prairie, Minn., Deli Express/E.A. Sween Co. delivers more than 75 million sandwiches to customers in 26 states annually. With the miles its fleet logs each day, means of delivery are a key focus.

The rising cost of gas coupled with the rising concern about greenhouse gas emissions weigh heavily on all fleet operations. Gregg Hodgdon, head of Deli Express/E.A. Sween Co.’s fleet operations and a Certified Automotive Fleet Manager, has made finding ways to reduce fuel expenditures and improve the fleet’s carbon footprint a prime initiative.

“Supported by Deli Express/E.A. Sween Co.’s fleet management partner, Automotive Resources International [ARI], I explored a variety of alternative technologies to determine which fuel type could work for the organization,” Hodgdon explains. “Deli Express/E.A. Sween Co. realized that it was indeed possible to make a positive, sustainable change with traditional fuels. The [solution is] an innovative new truck design.”

New Delivery Route

The search for a more efficient delivery system was a logistical matter in itself. Hodgdon and ARI formed a team to create a truck suited to Deli Express/E.A. Sween’s particular needs while also delivering the cost, energy and emissions reductions the company was seeking.

“These partners shared my innovative vision for sustainability and understood the value this project could ultimately drive to Deli Express/E.A. Sween Co.’s bottom line,”Hodgdon says.

Deli Express/E.A. Sween Co.’s transportation design dream team included Isuzu for the diesel engine, Johnson Truck Bodies for the lightweight shell, Thermo King for the refrigeration unit and ARI, whose truck expertise and analytical tools would help calculate the design’s impacts on cost and efficiency.

Piece by Piece

Deli Express/E.A. Sween Co. chose Isuzu’s ECOMAX – a turbo-charged, four-cylinder, 3.0L engine that delivers 150 hp and 282 foot-pounds of torque. The system includes an electronic high-pressure common rail fuel injector system that helps maximize fuel economy and a premium low cab-forward design that offers superior visibility. With its B10 engine life rating of 310,000 miles (meaning only 10 percent of production samples have failed), an Aisin six-speed automatic transmission and a 12,000-pound gross vehicle weight rating, it fit the company’s desire for a chassis that was powerful and yet efficient. Even the thinner gauge steel frame provided the same tensile strength as its predecessor while reducing the truck’s weight.

For the truck body, Deli Express/E.A. Sween Co. turned to Johnson Refrigerated Truck Bodies. The company’s GuardianLT is designed and manufactured with foodservice and delivery fleet clients in mind. Though larger than previous designs, the current GuardianLT’s lightweight, durable design offers significant weight savings and can be used on various chassis types. Its high thermal performance also reduces fuel and electricity consumption without skimming on performance, which means the body helps maintain desired temperatures using less energy.

The real player in temperature control, however, is the refrigeration unit and Deli Express/E.A. Sween Co. chose the V-520 RT Spectrum direct drive unit manufactured by Thermo King. The slim-profile, aerodynamic roof-mount condenser provides the necessary refrigeration capacity and temperature regulation in both hot and cold climates. The unit’s electric standby feature reduces fuel consumption and emissions and enables rolling warehouse applications so products can be stored on the truck for later sale. It also requires less refrigerant, reducing its environmental impact, and an innovative heating applications allows thawing to happen on the truck rather than the warehouse, reducing the time between order and delivery.

Maximum Results

Dubbed the ECOMAX truck, the company has 12 trucks on the road with more planned for production. The company projects that by 2020 80 percent of its fleet will be green. The vehicles in use have shown a nearly 50 percent improvement in fuel economy.

ARI’s most recent emissions analysis of the ECOMAX reports 700 pounds less of carbon dioxide emissions each month compared to the old truck – amounting to 4.2 tons less of carbon dioxide emissions each year for each truck.

“These results are proof that it is possible to improve a fleet’s carbon footprint through weight reduction and efficient technologies while still utilizing a traditional fuel source,” Hodgdon explains. He predicts continued fuel cost savings and CO2 reductions as Deli Express/E.A. Sween Co. integrates more ECOMAX units into its fleet.

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