Freedom through an eskie

When Olivo Cold Logistics, a French manufacturer of insulated containers for the food and beverage industry, was looking for an Australian distributor, it found CoolPac.

On the outset, it was a bit of an odd match. CoolPac is a leading provider of medical cold chain solutions, with a specialising in vaccine cold chain. The Australian-owned company was founded in 2001 by Lyn Radnell and Andrew Gibson, who both have more than 30 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical industry. When they founded the company, they were not involved in the food and beverage industry.

But the team at Olivo recognised that CoolPac would appreciate their solution. As Gibson, the owner and quality director of Coolpac, tells Food & Beverage Industry News, they more closely mirror the work CoolPac does with the pharmaceutical industry. They use what he describes in Australian terms as “industrial eksies” to ensure supplies are kept at precise temperatures right up until they can be transferred into a fridge.

These insulated containers are a far cry from the Australian norm of refrigerated trucks.

The benefits, Gibson explained, of moving away from these trucks, was that they not only keep food at a precise temperature throughout the entire process but offered flexibility.

These “industrial eksies” are not to be confused with you back car seat eskies, however. As Gibson explains, these storage units can run on the large size, anywhere up to the size of single pallet. This means that warehouse workers won’t have to worry about hauling 200 small eskies in and out for every trip: these industrial warehouses can take the volume.

“These eskies enable transport and 3PL companies to basically make obsolete the idea of having one frozen truck, one refrigerated truck and one ambient truck to deliver food to supermarkets or service stations,” explains Gibson. “Instead of making three deliveries with three different trucks, you can deliver every type of food and beverage in just one truck.”

Eliminating the need for refrigerated trucks comes in handy in areas with noise curfews. For instance, in Sydney, refrigerated trucks can’t drive at night because of the noise. With the use of the Olivo containers, a normal truck can make refrigerated deliveries at night.

While the concept of moving away from refrigerated trucks might challenge Australian norms, the use of industrial eskies is common in Europe.

“In the winding streets of Paris, there would be no way you could make deliveries with large refrigerated trucks,” said GIbson. “Trucks need to park wherever they can. Drivers roll the eskies down the tail ramp of their truck, and you see drivers wheel them around the alleyways to make deliveries to all the smaller stores.”

The benefits of multiple food products in one delivery don’t just make life easier for the transportation company. For the service station or grocery store, they can receive daily deliveries of anything they need.

“If it’s a hot day, and they have a major run on ice cream, they don’t have to wait a week to be topped by us,” says Gibson.

This advantage was huge for a beverage company that took up the Olivo system in Australia through CoolPac. The company originally had two departments that managed deliveries, one for orange juice that had to be maintained at a very precise temperature, and another for ambient beverages, for instance soft drinks. With the Olivo systems, the company was able to move all their products using just its ambient trucks.

“They were actually able to restructure the company and only have the one delivery department,” says Gibson.

More than just helping the company internally, these eskies have allowed the company to expand its footprint. Previously, it wouldn’t make deliveries of refrigerated products to rural areas if the order size didn’t justify sending a refrigerated truck. With the Olivo units, it can offer the refrigerated orange juice to all rural areas, delivering it along with its ambient products.

For French-inspired patisserie chain Laurent, the European concept was an easier sell. Gibson explained Laurent was among the earliest adopters of the Olivo system, and it’s common to see its eskies being rolled through the Chadstone shopping centre, and elsewhere, towards Laurent shops. Its refrigerated products can maintain their temperature, right up to when they are unloaded at the shop.

Gibson notes, however, that Laurent continues to divide up its deliveries with frozen some days, and cold on others.

“What they are doing is not taking advantage of having three deliveries at once, but using the different temperature controls on different days,” he said. “This way the truck just needs one unit.”

The next step for the Olivo units is more than just transportation, but as permanent units in warehouses. Gibson said the major beverage company has trialled in warehouses, and it’s making a major difference in streamlining its operations.

“They are using it now as part of the pick and pack systems,” he said. “It offers so much more flexibility, they are actually reengineering all of their business processes around it– imagine all that change, just from an eskie.”

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