For a family-run company that has been in the beverage business for more than a century, Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling Co., Atlantic, Iowa, is by no means stuck in the past. Late last year, the company grew from two locations to nine, expanding its territory to cover most of Iowa and portions of adjoining states. As part of the acquisition, Atlantic also has accelerated its shift to end-load equipment, including the recent purchase of 16 new Kenworth T370 tractors and 13 new trailers.
Just a few decades ago, beverage fleet managers worked with a well-established and generally predictable set of equipment-related variables to arrive at a total fleet operating cost that could be factored in to the wholesale product prices charged by a distributor.
Because of GPS devices, drivers nowadays are used to being instructed to “turn right in 500 yards” or — for those a little more navigationally challenged — “make a legal U-turn when possible.” Beverage distributors are equipped with these advantages as well, but the latest telematics solutions offer some added perks to help drive efficiency, safety and more.
Even though fuel costs have stabilized somewhat, few other items are immune from upward price trends, and competition shows no signs of letting up. With this in mind, it’s as important as ever for fleet managers to wring every penny possible out of delivery costs.
Beverage Industry recently surveyed a sample of its readers to gain insight into the size and makeup of current delivery fleets, future vehicle purchase plans, as well as operational concerns and strategies.
After Colorado home brewer Jeff Lebesch returned from a trip across Europe on his “fat tire” mountain bike in 1989, he began brewing an amber beer called Fat Tire in the basement of his Fort Collins, Colo., home.
Tires, by a wide margin, are the top maintenance cost for most beverage fleets. Containing these costs requires frequent, thorough inspections and diligently maintaining proper tire pressure to prevent a tire’s early demise.