NCI Works to Deliver the Best Service in the Safest Manner
By Charles E Wilson
AS THE “Elite” fleet, National Carriers is driven to be number one in refrigerated transportation. That includes building a strong driver team of skilled professionals dedicated to providing the best service in the safest manner.
Further, management has made sure the drivers have the tools they need to do the job, and that includes premium late model sleeper tractors and refrigerated trailers with leading edge technology for monitoring cargo conditions in-transit. Tractors and trailers have some of the latest aerodynamic treatments.
The carrier’s 680 drivers operate 550 tractors and just over 1,000 refrigerated trailers in the refrigerated division. On the livestock fleet side, the carrier runs 150 tractors and 170 trailers.
“Over the past year, we made a major investment in state-of-the-art tractors for our refrigerated fleet,” says Jim Franck, president of National Carriers. “The trucks were spec’d with driver comfort and efficiency at the forefront. “We’re also continuing to update our trailer fleet.
“We installed new maintenance software to give us usable real-time data to keep our fleet in top running order. This is giving us the ability to perform predictive maintenance so we can maximize uptime.
“All of these factors help us deliver consistently outstanding service to our customers. Our on-time delivery rate is exceptionally high, a testament to the reliability of our equipment and the diligence of our drivers.”
The focus on fleet reliability is understandable since refrigerated cargoes account for 70% of the freight hauled by National Carriers. Thirty percent to 35% of the refrigerated cargo comes from parent company National Beef Packing Company LLC.
For many years, National Carriers had its main office at the National Beef plant in Liberal, Kansas. The carrier still lists the Liberal office as a headquarters, but most of the management team is now based at an additional headquarters location in Irving, Texas.
“We had a presence in Irving since the 1980s, and we opened the terminal in 2010,” Franck says. “This is the first free-standing terminal National Carriers has owned. With 30% of our fleet is now based in north Texas, the Dallas (Texas) area has become a critical hub. This is the crossroads for our east/west and north/south traffic. It truly has become the center of our operation.”
Well over half of the National Carriers refrigerated fleet is in longhaul operation. Overall length of haul is 700 miles, and longhaul drivers typically stay on the road three to four weeks at a stretch.
Six to seven years ago, owner-operators made up most of the driver force in the refrigerated fleet operation. Today, company drivers are the overwhelming majority in the refrigerated fleet.
See more by author in July 14 blog