Refrigeratedtransporter 1927 Able Freight Precooling Photo

Able Freight’s Hawaii facility bids “aloha” to precooler

Jan. 17, 2017
Able Freight is one of North America’s leading perishable logistics providers, with more than 20 years of experience and cold storage warehouses in Los Angeles, San Francisco, central Mexico and Hawaii.

Able Freight is one of North America’s leading perishable logistics providers, with more than 20 years of experience and cold storage warehouses in Los Angeles, San Francisco, central Mexico and Hawaii.

Jim Pope, chief financial officer of Able Freight, recognized a need for precooling and recooling at the company’s Honolulu facility. He had two requirements for a new precooler: power and portability.

“We get fresh produce off planes and trucks that needs to be cooled in a hurry,” said Pope, “and we didn’t have a space in Honolulu to designate a whole separate room for precooling.”

He said the cooler in Honolulu is only about 6,000 square feet. Due to space limitations, the room has to be used for different purposes at different times.

The Honolulu facility is just down the road from an airport cargo facility where Able Freight’s shipments arrive, most often from its warehouses in California.

Kapu Kiyuna, Able Freight’s station manager in Honolulu, said coolers at the airport have to accommodate a variety of different products. Therefore they’re usually kept between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit—much too high a temperature to maintain the cold chain for perishables like berries and mushrooms stored at Able Freight.

Kiyuna, who joined Able Freight in 2012, said the company doesn’t like to leave cargo at the airport and will make its own pick-ups. “We’ll do the extra handling to pick it up to make sure it retains its temperature,’ she said.

“Time is very important in perishables,” said Pope. “The quicker you can cool it down, the longer it’s going to last. The longer you keep (produce) in a refrigerated environment, the longer the product is going to last—and the better it’s going to taste.”

Based on a recommendation from one of Able Freight’s customers, Pope reached out to Global Cooling Inc. The Philadelphia-based company manufactures the Jet-Ready Precooler, one of the world’s most powerful precoolers.

Built with two 10-horsepower motors supplying the power to two specially designed fans, the forced-air cooling tunnel moves twice as much as air as the standard farm-built unit.

After discussions with Jim Still, Global Cooling’s president, Pope had a Jet Precooler ordered to Honolulu.

“I’ve got to say, the power is impressive,” said Pope. “It pumps out a lot of wind. That thing moves a lot of air in a hurry.”

Kiyuna said the precooler was set up in the facility’s refrigerated warehouse, where the temperature usually runs about 33 to 35 degrees Fahrenheit. Pallets of produce then are left in front of the precooler for a few hours before repacking it and sending the cargo off to customers on the neighboring Hawaiian islands.

“A lot of our customers want to make sure that the produce stays in the cold chain,” said Kiyuna. “It’s an added feature that we can sell to our customers.”

The Jet Precooler can also easily be moved around the facility with a forklift. Kiyuna said electrical outlets were installed all around the warehouse so the precooler could be used almost anywhere.

Kiyuna said Able Freight now has the only refrigeration unit at Kona’s main airport.

While Kiyuna said she is thrilled with the precooling upgrade made in Honolulu, she would like to see the facility expand even further.

“I know we can go bigger,” she said.

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