Kwik Trip is unique in the convenience store industry because it maintains total quality control over a wide variety of products by producing and packaging those items in state-of-the-art facilities, says Chuck Trivett of the Zone and Fresh Dept. “Food safety is essential during the transportation and distribution of our products, so we’ve adopted solutions that are flexible enough to allow us to ensure quality in our yard and on the road, preventing cargo damage and enhancing customer satisfaction,” he adds.
Headquartered in La Crosse, WI, Kwik Trip operates over 400 stores throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa under the Kwik Trip, Kwik Star, Hearty Platter and Tobacco Outlet Plus names. The company has its own bakery, commissary, dairy and distribution warehouse. Convenience Transportation, a subsidiary, delivers dry, fresh and frozen goods in multi-temp trailers, as well as petroleum products with a fleet of 150 vehicles.
In the fleet are Freightliner, Kenworth, Mack and Peterbilt straight trucks and tractors, and Utility trailers with Carrier Vector and Thermo King SR2 refrigeration units. There are also Mack, Peterbilt and Volvo tractors and Polar tankers for petroleum deliveries.
“We own all of our equipment and have an on-site Fleet Services Dept. that handles all maintenance and repairs,” Trivett explains. “The reason we have many vehicle makes and models is to meet a variety of operational needs. We also base our choices on cost and on our experience with each manufacturer.”
With customers and new food safety regulations putting greater demands on its refrigerated fleet operation to ensure product integrity, Trivett says Kwik Trip has to monitor product temperature as closely during transit as it does in its production and packaging facilities. The company’s needs include the ability to be notified of any variation in load temperature from a pre-specified set point. In addition, Kwik Trip requires historical data on load temperatures that it can supply to customers and regulatory agencies if required.
Technology is allowing Kwik Trip to ensure that all this is achieved throughout the entire distribution process. Blue Tree Systems has been the company’s provider of temperature management solutions since 2005 when it adopted the first-generation Blue Tree RF Yard Reefer Management system. Last fall, Kwik Trip made the decision to adopt Blue Tree’s onboard temperature management solution, the cellular R:COM platform, to monitor and manage set point and return air temperatures in its multi-temp trailers.
The R:COM solution at Kwik Trip is credited with saving loads by allowing managers to view live and historical temperature data, monitor product temperature during deliveries, and be notified if a trailer is out of temperature range. “Last month, we had a trailer with a refrigeration unit that was set with an incorrect temperature,” Trivett relates. “With the R:COM system, we were able to determine the temperature range and how long it was in effect and, most important, that the load was still good.
“In that instance, we were able to look back and track down the exact time the refrigeration was started, the temperature setting, and the length of time it was not set properly,” he continues. “That kind of visibility on each and every delivery not only prevents lost cargo incidents, it ensures enhanced product safety and integrity.”
“Temperature management systems have closed a gap in our delivery operations,” Trivett adds, “and are helping ensure we achieve our product quality goals throughout the entire distribution process. We expect to realize a return on our investment in this enhanced temperature tracking solution from preventing cargo claims in about one year.”