10/31/2017 – MDI partners with Duke Energy to power refrigeration trailers

Posted on: October 31st, 2017 by admin


October 31, 2017


By Virginia Annable
(Lenoir) News-Topic


In the truck yard of Merchants Distributors, Inc. (MDI), hundreds of trailers sit waiting to be loaded with grocery store merchandise, often food in need of refrigeration. Trucks attached to some of these trailers sit with the diesel engine constantly running to power the refrigeration, but toward the middle of the lot trailers now quietly run the refrigeration units with a new electrical connection.


MDI partnered with Duke Energy to add 36 electric plugs to MDI’s truck yard to decrease the amount of fuel used, said Brent Vaughan, MDI’s director of facilities engineering, at a ceremonial ribbon-cutting.


“The plug-ins give us the ability to keep food safe day in and day out … They allow us to run a lot quieter and a lot more environmentally safe,” Vaughan said.


The project was announced over the summer but was in the works for two years, he said. The electrification lowers fuel emissions, cuts costs, and reduces noise pollution.


MDI trucks idle for a combined 1,200 hours each week, Vaughan said. Based on this, the company hopes to save 31,000 gallons of fuel a year with the new plugs.


The difference in noise is noticeable, comparable to standing next to an idling diesel engine or a plugged in refrigerator.


“It’s amazing how much quieter it is,” Vaughan said, noting that the noise reduction is good for truck drivers who are in the lot often.


Of MDI’s 570 trailers, about 200 are equipped to be plugged in, Vaughan said. The company had some plug-in stations that it was already using, but the older plugs are situated in inconvenient ways, Vaughan said, and the new plug-ins are more advanced.


“We’ll use these first now … They have features to allow us to track usage on the new ones,” he said.


If the newest stations work out, MDI could add another 36, Vaughan said, especially if the company continues to grow over the coming years.


“As long as our usage is good, the way business is going it looks like we’ll add more,” he said.


Vaughan said the company also considered putting similar plugs at Lowes Foods grocery stores – owned by Alex Lee, Inc., MDI’s parent company. But he said since trucks are at the stores only for a few minutes at a time, for now it is not planned.


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