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Hronis goes 'greener' on one grand scale

With rising fuel costs affecting California growers' ability to get loads of produce shipped, one southern San Joaquin Valley grower-packer-shipper found that a project that began predominantly as a convenience for truckers and a timesaving element has yielded real fuel- and cost-saving, emission- reducing and area traffic-lowering benefits that greatly exceed the company's original plan.

"Installing an on-site truck scale on an adjacent parking lot was a project originally implemented as a strategic workflow enhancement," Pete Hronis, vice president and sales manager of family-owned Hronis Inc. in Delano, CA, said in a press release. The 90-ton Fairbanks scale installed two years ago "has turned out to be an environmentally friendly feature and cost-saving boon for truckers and shipping companies working with us," he said.

Ultimately, with this streamlining, the table grape and citrus growing, packing and shipping company's design for installing a truck scale at its main Delano facility facilitated getting the company's fresh-picked, high-quality table grape and citrus crops to market more quickly. Adding the scale bolstered production and helped ensure one of the company's ultimate strengths: getting its fresh-picked crops loaded and moving toward their destinations, at market temperature, within four hours of receiving an order.

The market quality of the firm's produce is enhanced through the new system. Clients, shippers and the company realized the immediate benefits; but now Hronis Inc. is finding that area residents and end customers benefit in many more economical and "green" ways from that same project. "The only one not realizing a benefit from the installation is the fuel industry," company President Kosta Hronis said in the release.

Major environmental and cost-saving benefits are surfacing for the firm's truckers, and the benefits are affecting the bottom line of every load. "Prior to our scale installation, it was 20 miles to the nearest scale, north or south of our main facility," Kosta Hronis added in the release. The scale reduces traffic on area surface streets and highways, cutting each load's weigh-and-adjust mileage by 40 miles per load.

"Forty miles, unto itself, doesn't seem like that much," he said. "But multiply that by approximately 5,000 shipments per year for our San Joaquin Valley table grapes and Navel oranges, and the total savings is upward of an astonishing 200,000 miles."

That is a lot of wasted fuel and unnecessary travel, both of which would continue to grow the local carbon footprint. "During our peak of season for table grapes, the area traffic benefits greatly when we have 40-plus trucks shipping out each day," Pete Hronis said in the release. "With the scale, we are at least a small part of the green solution as well as helping cut some of the unnecessary cost to ship."

He continued, "With California fuel prices as high as they are, there is a significant cost savings. Upwards of 5,000 hours of driving and idling time is saved, not to mention the unnecessary carbon emissions and additional wear on area surface streets and highways. All that just to get weighed and load- adjusted."