Dean Foods’ Alta Dena dairy adds 5 Ryder NG trucks

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Ryder System Inc. on Thursday, June 23, announced delivery of five natural gas-fueled delivery vehicles to Dean Foods, Ryder’s first customer for natural gas commercial vehicles made available through Ryder’s agreement with the San Bernardino Associated Governments in Southern California.

The $38.7 million effort is part of a joint public/private partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy, the California Energy Commission, the Southern California Association of Governments Clean Cities Coalition and Ryder System, Inc. The Ryder/SANBAG project includes 202 NG vehicles, upgrades to three maintenance facilities for the proper servicing of NG vehicles and the construction of two fueling stations.

Dairy processor Dean Foods has made a significant commitment to reducing carbon emissions in its transportation fleet and investing in alternative fuel technology. With 6,000 refrigerated trailers, 3,000 refrigerated delivery trucks, 2,000 delivery tractors and 6,500 daily routes for direct store delivery, Dean Foods is the eighth largest private carrier in the country.

The Ryder natural gas vehicles are the first of their kind in the Dean Foods fleet, and produce up to 27 percent less greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional diesel vehicles. Ryder delivered the compressed natural gas trucks to Dean Foods’ Alta Dena Dairy division in Southern California in early June.

“Dean Foods constantly looks for ways to reduce costs and drive efficiency in our operations,” says Tom Murray, Pacific Coast Group vice president for Dean Foods, which includes Southern California’s Alta Dena Dairy. “Advancements in transportation technology like the Ryder CNG vehicles also lower our carbon emissions and improve our environmental footprint in the communities like Southern California, where so many of our employees work and live.”

“We are very excited to have Dean Foods as our first commercial fleet customer for gas vehicles in Southern California,” says Alex Madrinkian, vice president of sales for Ryder’s West region. “Our participation in the SANBAG project puts Ryder at the forefront of alternative fuels options for commercial heavy-duty vehicles. We are committed to leadership in helping our customers manage their businesses more effectively, whether through fleet management outsourcing, affordable vehicle options, or these new natural gas offerings.”

The five single-axle tractors pull 28-foot delivery refrigerated pup trailers, and Dean Foods expects a smooth integration of the new vehicles with minimal impact on current operations. The company anticipates adding more CNG vehicles to its fleet in the future to support its Smart Fleet initiative, an enterprisewide effort to “green the fleet” by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants through delivery route optimization, new technology and equipment and training for drivers. Smart Fleet activities play a role in meeting the company’s carbon reduction goals of 20 percent by 2013.

“Through our initiatives like the Southern California SANBAG joint partnership, Ryder offers an affordable entry point to help customers invest in an abundant long-term domestic energy source,” says Madrinkian. “And we give them the flexibility to switch their fleet to green when they’re ready. In other words, it’s sustainability without a catch.”