Case Study: Pioneer Foodservice

Pioneer Foodservice

Pioneer Foodservice is an award-winning distributor of fresh and frozen meat, fish, groceries and other hospitality products across the north of England and southern Scotland.

5 min read

Pioneer Foodservice is an award-winning distributor of fresh and frozen meat, fish, groceries and other hospitality products across the north of England and southern Scotland.

It operates a fleet of 70 vehicles from three depots in Carlisle, west Cumbria and Tyneside, with over 4,000 products stocked. It supplies clients including restaurants, pubs, hotels, retailers, farm shops and schools.

Products include Lakeland beef, lamb and pork, own-brand Chefs Selection food and ingredients, national food and drinks brands and regional drinks, puddings, ice cream, chutneys and preserves.

Pioneer is affiliated to Caterforce, National Catering Butcher, The British Frozen Food Federation and The Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board.

Frigoblock refrigeration systems and maintenance from MWL

Pioneer operates a fleet of 70 vehicles, ranging from Ford Transit and Mercedes Sprinter vans to 26-tonne trucks. The majority of trucks are between 7.5 and 12 tonnes and fitted with Frigoblock refrigeration systems supplied, installed and maintained by MWL.

These vehicles operate on multi-drop units where doors are opened and closed numerous times. So rapid temperature drop-down and accurate chilled and frozen temperature controls are paramount.

All the vehicles carry a range of catering and hospitality products, from food and drinks to tableware, cutlery and cleaning items.

Storage is typically split between a freezer section kept at below -18 degrees, a chilled section kept between 1-3 degrees and an ambient section.

To service and maintain the refrigeration units across the fleet, an MWL engineer makes a scheduled weekly visit to Pioneer’s Carlisle depot.  In addition, MWL can send an refrigeration engineer at any other time to any location, if ever required.

Our service and repair engineers are available 24/7, every day of the year, ensuring optimal reliability and efficiency of operations and peace-of-mind to the client.


Outcome and client feedback

Speaking about the benefits of Frigoblock technology, Jonny Forsythe, Operations Director at Pioneer, said: “We’ve used Frigoblock systems for 20 years. We feel they are best for what we do, because they really rapid and powerful. Fast temperature drop-down and accurate temperature control is vitally important.

“We can provide customers with accurate temperature histories for all our chilled and frozen products. This is important for customers’ operations, for food safety and for environmental health inspections.

“Frigoblock systems also offer a really good return on investment. The reliability is excellent and the units perform well for years. In fact, Frigoblock units last longer than truck chassis. We can get 15 or 16 years of service from each Frigoblock unit, which is twice the length of a typical chassis.

“Because of this, we can remount refurbished truck backs fitted with Frigoblock units onto new chassis. We’ve recently bought six new trucks and two of them are fitted with remounts, which illustrates this.

“We know that other types of transport refrigeration units are available and would cost £5,000 or £6,000 less to buy. However, in my experience, they are less reliable and less powerful than Frigoblock. We do use some other types of units in some other vehicles. But, for us, Frigoblock’s pull-down power is the big selling-point for our main vehicles.

“Frigoblock technology is also cleaner than traditional diesel-powered refrigeration units. We use less fuel, which saves money, and comply with new transport emissions regulations, which is important for our future.

“With traditional diesel-powered refrigeration units, the generator kept running to keep the truck cool if the vehicle was standing idle. It was bad for the environment. Generator engines could be kept running all day, using fuel and putting out emissions.  But Frigoblock technology does away the need for that. You can make deliveries, turn the truck engine off and when restarting the Frigoblock’s power will drag the temperature back down very quickly to offset small changes in temperature.

“The only reason we don’t use Frigoblock units on our smaller vans is because they are so powerful. If Frigoblock units for smaller vans were to become available, we’d probably use them too.”

Regarding MWL’s service and maintenance support, Jonny added: “An MWL engineer usually visit our Carlisle depot every week to carry out all the service and maintenance that’s needed.  If we ever have a problem, we just call MWL and they send an engineer straight away. There’s never any difficulty. I’ve been at Pioneer for many years and MWL has never left us high-and-dry. They’re totally dependable, 24/7.”

Michael Ward Limited Pioneer Foodservice Review

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