CRST rolls out new temperature-controlled team service
November 28, 2011
Earlier this month, freight transportation and logistics services provider CRST International rolled out a new expedited Temperature Controlled Team Service (TCTS), which it said is a division of the company’s largest operating company, CRST Expedited.
Company officials said this service is initially focusing on transporting chilled and frozen products, with typical customers being cold chain retailers and producers delivering products such as fruits and vegetables, dairy meats, fish and shellfish, confections, ice cream, pharmaceuticals, wine, beer and health and beauty aids. They added that CRST Expedited has the largest domestic team carrier service.
“CRST will be the only transportation company in the U.S. offering an exclusive temperature controlled service supported by team drivers,” said Dave Rusch, President and CEO of CRST International, in a statement. “We will be providing transcontinental transportation of perishable products in less than 60 hours at a price that is competitive with single drivers. Typical single driver perishable deliveries take about five and a half days.”
According to CRST, the approach of TCTS in approaching the seasonal nature of the TCTS market largely has to do with being able to increase or decrease capacity based on peak seasons or individual retailer or producer needs, which the company is doing by cross-utilizing the 2,000 team drivers in the CRST Expedited fleet.
When CRST set out to establish TCTS, it retained Surface Intermodal Solutions LLC, to help establish its new reefer operations. Surface Intermodal Solutions is led by intermodal experts Ted Prince and Tom Finkbiner.
In an interview with LM, Prince explained that there are multiple benefits when it comes to using team drivers for temperature-controlled service, including:
-providing faster transit for short-duration commodities;
-for high-value commodities, the load is never left unattended, and law enforcement has identified unattended loads as the most vulnerable; and
-for all commodities, load shifts usually happen in day 4, 5, or 6, and team transits are always under 3 days.
And with CRST currently one of the only carriers providing this type of service, Prince said that other carriers have not taken the plunge yet, because most trucking companies prefer to operate regional operations with single drivers.
“There are other team options, what makes CRST unique is that you get company teams in company tractors 100 percent of the time,” said Prince. “Some competitors use owner operators, and others use single drivers. Since the perishable business is very seasonal, it is often difficult for companies to handle the volume swings. CRST already has 2,200 van expedited teams. The strategy is to flex capacity between dry and perishable (and back.) This will help both dry and reefer customers.”
In terms of what shippers will like best about this new offering, Prince cited team transit at single driver pricing, coupled with the benefits of CRST economies of scope and scale, and legal service, as many companies are buying single driver service and expecting team service—this can only be done with drivers running “hot” and is not an issue with CRST teams.
CRST is beginning this service with 25 driver teams running between Southern California and the Northeast. According to company data, transit times between Los Angeles and Boston, Philadelphia, and Newark are 66 hours, 60 hours, and 61 hours, respectively for team drivers compared to 114, 102, and 105, respectively, for single drivers.
Going forward, Prince said that as volume grows and geographical scope expands CRST will add capacity, noting that as a $1.5 billion company with no debt; adding capacity is no problem for CRST.
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