At Gerlinger, we make it our mission with our straddle carrier designs to help customers find innovative solutions that meet their needs and exceed their expectations. While many of our designs look to the future for inspiration, occasionally looking towards the past can present the solution for a present problem.
When Gerlinger was approached by Diamond Fruit, a “big pear and cherry packing company,” as explained by Maintenance and Project Manager Nick Erickson, we were asked to help solve an issue that the company desperately needed addressed.
“We were trying to centralize,” remembers Erickson. “We had a production facility 15 miles away, and we were trying to bring its products to the centralized location of our main plant to increase efficiency. This created new challenges in the increased amount of bin handling we were experiencing.” All of the fruit processed by Diamond Fruit comes out of the orchard in large plastic bins. Finding a way to transport these large bins without damaging the fruit inside became the biggest priority for Nick and his team at Diamond Fruit.
To address this issue, Nick and his team first looked at a variety of conventional solutions to meet their transportation requirements. Airport luggage carriers, large flatbed trucks, and cargo transports were all considered, but they all didn’t offer the combination of mobility and efficiency that Diamond demanded. What Diamond needed was exactly the same type of vehicle the fruit industry had relied on in the past.
A New Type of Straddle Carrier
“Straddle carriers had been used in the fruit industry a long time ago,” said Erickson. “In fact, Diamond used some back in the 40s or 50s. But they had fallen out of favor in the industry, so we started exploring other options.” Once those options had been explored, Diamond quickly realized that a straddle carrier would still make an ideal solution to their current transportation problem, if only they could find a company to work with.
In the spring of 2018, Diamond Fruit reached out to Gerlinger for a solution to their transportation dilemma. “After reaching out to Gerlinger, Rod Comstock (Product Line Manager) came down to our facility. Gerlinger was already building carriers for other industries like gas and oil refineries, but it had been quite a while since they had made a carrier for the fruit industry,” recounts Erickson.
One of the reasons why the fruit industry had moved away from the use of straddle carriers was due to how out-of-date the technology had become. Most carriers used in the fruit industry were chain driven and high maintenance. They had developed a reputation as being unreliable. However, carrier technology has come a long way at Gerlinger.
“Rod asked if Gerlinger and Diamond could work together to find a solution for our needs. We were really excited about the possibility.”
The team at Gerlinger started to explore what features a straddle carrier would need to meet Diamond’s transportation needs. Rod and his team toured the Diamond facility, interviewed key staff, and examined the transportation hurdles the business faced. Based on the information they collected, Gerlinger was able to create a new type of straddle carrier expressly designed to meet the needs of agriculture industry.
Meeting Our Customer’s Needs
The Gerlinger Fruit and Vegetable Bin Carrier was an immediate success for Diamond Fruit. “The same year we got the carrier, we added 12,000 bins to our cold storage and a new production line at our main facility that processes 100 bins an hour,” explains Erickson. “Without the carrier, I don’t know how we would have managed our production other than to use four or five lift trucks. I would say that the Gerlinger Carrier is doing the work of at least five lift trucks.”
When describing what Diamond’s experience working with Gerlinger has been like, Nick only had one word, “Outstanding.” “We’re really glad to have found them, and the fact they were willing to help us on our project… They delivered.”