SCARBOROUGH, Maine -- A three-month test of equipment that makes it easier to unload pallets placed sideways has yielded 8.3% in transportation savings for Hannaford Trucking Co., a subsidiary of Hannaford Bros. here.
Loading pallets sideways on a truck allows distributors to maximize trailer space, an important issue for supermarkets amid pressures to make supply chain operations more efficient.
"Normally we fit 24 pallets on a trailer, but by turning some of them sideways, we fit 26," said Brian Tighe, operations manager at Hannaford Trucking.
"This is about an 8.3% strict increase in productivity, which in essence reduces transportation costs by 8.3%. But these results were from a limited test," he added.
The equipment is attached to the fork wheel openings of a pallet jack. When placed under the side of a pallet, it can raise the pallet 4 to 5 inches off the ground, allowing it to be pushed or pulled.
Tests at several Hannaford stores in Maine and New Hampshire have shown the product pays for itself after seven deliveries, said Tighe.
Based on these results, Hannaford will "most likely" purchase additional equipment for other locations, to be phased in through 1998, though Tighe added that no final decision has been made.
"Ideally, we would just leave the equipment in the store so that when the delivery gets there, the store associate can attach it to the pallet jack and start unloading the truck," Tighe said. The product, called a Pallet Jockey, is from Refrigerated Resources, Newport Beach, Calif.