Sea Turtle Rescue: Report from Florida
At FedEx Custom Critical, we pride ourselves in our role as problem-solvers, with a “can do” attitude. FedEx Custom Critical moves shipments with special requirements all the time; but, the call from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation provided us the unique opportunity to take part in an unprecedented effort to rescue turtles from an unfortunate fate.
We (Megan and Joe) arrived in Florida last Tuesday. I (Megan) am from Dedicated Services at Custom Critical and specialize in providing dedicated equipment to our customers to meet their needs. I (Joe Reedy) am with Temperature Control Services and was assigned to manage the demands for temperature and motion control. We initially thought it was as easy as getting a truck in place, work out the route, pick up the eggs, and be on our way. Though true in logic, so much more that has gone into this project.
The wildlife agencies described the delicate handling that needed to take place. Turtle eggs would be placed in soft Styrofoam coolers with air holes on all sides and top. The air holes could not be covered and air must be able to flow around and over the entire container. These containers would then be placed on skids and loaded on the FedEx Custom Critical trailer. When the original skids arrived, we quickly realized they did not meet our high FedEx quality standards – they would not suffice.
With the help of our FedEx Custom Critical Engineer, Jason Vance, and in coordination with Tim Newitt at the Panama City Pallet Company, we were able to develop a solution to transport this precious cargo in a method most likely to increase survival rate. We quickly designed customized skids to support the base of the container while allowing for air flow on all four sides and the top of the containers. Hand secured straps will also be used to support the Styrofoam coolers and reduce any movement. Skids were built to exact specifications to ensure each set of two skids would fit snugly side by side, thus reducing any potential movement. In addition, “Skid –Mate” cushions, engineered for specific weight tolerances, were installed on each skid to maximize dampening performance, thus reducing shock and vibration while the eggs are in-transit. The agencies overseeing the move of the turtle eggs signed off on the use of these cushioned, customized skids. In one day, Tim and his crew from PCPC put together the pallets that would have taken us two days!
This week has been focused on logistics, working with several different environmental and sea turtle agencies to determine the best method and timing for transport. Maintaining tight temperature ranges is a critical need for the turtle eggs. The trailers being used for transport were designed by FedEx Custom Critical and are equipped with one of the best temperature control units on the market: SB310+. The cargo area will easily maintain the temperature needs of 80°F-90°F.
We have one of the best FedEx Custom Critical teams driving the truck for us for the next several months of this endeavor. These owner operators have been with us for 26 years and have collectively over 8 million accident-free miles!
This is our second week in the Gulf Coast preparing for the moves. We have learned so much from the biologists and volunteers that have devoted their time, and some of them their careers, to studying, monitoring and saving the sea turtles. There has also been a great group of team members at Custom Critical in Akron, Ohio who have been standing by and assisting as needed during the preparation – we couldn’t make this happen without the assistance of our Dedicated Services, Quality and White Glove groups. We have also been coordinating with other FedEx operating companies regarding logistics and planning.
It’s a true honor and privilege to play a part in this extraordinary event, potentially saving the lives of thousands of threatened and endangered Sea Turtles along the Gulf Coast. Look for more information after our first deliveries to the Atlantic Ocean.