Thermo King, Landshire develop custom vans to streamline distribution

Landshire Sandwiches has grown much through its 50-plus years, evolving to best service a growing customer base.

Starting out years ago with trucks and (electric stand-by) trailers that traveled many miles each day between its manufacturing facility and customer locations, the company eventually added strategically placed distribution centers to more efficiently cover Landshire's Midwest territory.

In 2008, the company sought a way to combat high fuel prices. The answer came in the form of a new distribution model that included 40-foot, self-contained refrigerated pods, similar to oceangoing containers, and fuel-efficient, custom-designed Sprinter vans.

“We currently have eight pods in place throughout designated routes and have seen a significant reduction in miles driven by the vehicles servicing those areas; they simply do not have to travel as far between loads,” said Joseph Trover, chief executive officer. “In addition, the Sprinter vans used in these areas more than doubled the miles per gallon achieved with the older box trucks they replaced. We went from 7 to 10 mpg to 17.4 mpg, which has provided a considerable net savings to the company.”

Landshire Sandwiches partnered with CSTK of St Louis (www.cstk.com), its Thermo King dealer for more than 20 years, to develop the vehicle. The goal was a vehicle that not only offered the improved fuel performance, but also quality temperature control and easier maneuverability for drivers.

“The first batch of Sprinter vans featured a CSTK-customized installation package that included a four-step insulation process and a Thermo King V-300-20 small truck refrigeration unit,” said Allen Lane, CSTK chief operating officer. “The second batch of Sprinter vans included 14-ft Morgan Bodies and Thermo King V-500 truck units. The entire van fleet was designed to maintain an average internal temperature of 18 degrees and includes an R:COM cellular tracking system for real-time vehicle and temperature monitoring. The vans are non-cumbersome; they really do drive more like a car and offer better ground-level access.”

All of the Sprinter vans are leased through Ryder, and most of the pods are at Ryder facilities, which offer servicing and logistical conveniences, as well as added security measures.

The vans are built to Landshire's specifications to complement the new pod satellite locations. According to Trover, the system allows for faster, easier expansion due to its flexibility. “We can service more accounts out of each pod, and because there is less driving, there is more time to service each customer,” he said. “And our drivers love the change. They like the added accountability of managing these locations. They are responsible for the inventory and paperwork, which is all submitted electronically from on-site computers. And they love the vans.”

Landshire operates approximately 80 route trucks, as well as its 19 new Sprinter vans, to cover 85 service routes. The fleet runs a combination of Thermo King TS-200, V-300, and V-500 truck refrigeration units — all of which are covered by Thermo King SVC's Silver centralized billing program.

With manufacturing headquarters in Bellville IL (in the St Louis MO area), Landshire services convenience store, grocery, and vending customers.

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