SAN ANTONIO -- H.E. Butt Grocery Company here has seen significant dollar savings and reduced transportation miles with the use of new multitemperature transportation technology, a movable bulkhead referred to as a "skinny bun."
The bulkhead, which utilizes a thermostatically controlled fan between frozen and perishable product loads to keep each at an ideal temperature, allows frozen loads to be stored in the front of the trailer and produce loads in the rear.
Delivering frozen and produce in the same trailer has allowed H-E-B to reduce incremental miles traveled, said Troy Retzloff, director of the retailer's Houston Retail Support Center. H-E-B is saving "significant dollars" with the thin and movable bulkhead, each of which costs about $1,400.
"In the past 12 years [of using multitemperature trailers], we have found a way to save some money," he said.
While the bulkhead can be moved to accommodate the size of either the frozen or produce loads, the form-fitting units are not interchangeable -- each bulkhead is designed for a specific trailer. Retzloff, who spoke at the Distribution Conference held here last month sponsored by the Food Marketing Institute, said H-E-B found that out the hard way.
About two months ago, a multitemperature load was mistakenly taken out on a trailer with a movable bulkhead that was not specified for that trailer, he said. The minus 20-degree cold from the frozen side worked its way through a small leak in the seal, and $10,000 worth of produce was frozen. The load was lost.
In spite of this minor setback, H-E-B plans increased use of the skinny bun bulkhead in its transportation fleet. "It works for us," Retzloff said.