by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

How the New Generation of “Fast Food” is Impacting Food Logistics

How the New Generation of “Fast Food” is Impacting Food Logistics

Much like Uber did to ground transportation and Airbnb is doing to the hotel industry, doorstep food delivery is disrupting the food supply chain with its promise of delivering everything from raw ingredients to hot-and-tasty dishes right to the consumers’ doorstep.

In a world where searching for ingredients, visiting a store for those goods, and then going home to cook meals is giving way to more immediate, on-demand options, the logistics industry has found itself in an interesting position.

And when consumers can get their favorite meals with the tap of a mobile phone, both cold chains and refrigerated warehouses must be able to adapt quickly to that level of order fulfillment.

“The cold chain industry is changing fast. Between the increased development and usage of temperature sensitive biologic pharmaceuticals and consumer preferences for convenient, fresh foods, the cold chain must adapt quickly,” Datex Corp., notes in its 2018 3PL Refrigerated Warehouse & Cold Chain Trends report.

The All-Powerful Consumer is in Charge

With more than 600 refrigerated warehouse operators across the U.S., the cold storage warehouse industry is dominated by the top 10 companies, which own 80% of the market. This trend is poised to continue, Datex reports, as the largest enterprises merge or acquire smaller cold storage warehouse operations.

Consumer power is a major factor dominating the cold chain, where convenience, wholesome food, and just-in-time delivery are converging and creating new supply chain challenges. The shift away from highly-processed foods with a long shelf life to temperature-sensitive perishable food products, for example, requires an adjustment in the food supply chain.

“Because consumers value convenience and fast delivery, there are added complications,” Datex notes. “From U.S. ports to distribution centers, 3PLs and privately-owned refrigerated warehouses, designing a cold chain that meets consumers’ needs can seem daunting.”

More fresh and chilled products are being ordered in smaller quantities and from a wider range of product choices, Datex adds, leading to a proliferation of new product development, product and packaging changes, and updates.

“The food and grocery industry is changing at breakneck speed, due to consumer buying habits and expectations,” Datex concludes. “The cold chain needs to change and must become as flexible and transparent as possible and that will take technology, forward-thinking business executives and investments in innovation.”

Feeling the Impacts

In Blue Apron and the Subscription Retail Supply Chain, Arc Advisory Group’s Chris Cunnane says consumers like the model for its sheer convenience. Suppliers, on the other hand, face some unprecedented challenges in the race to provide that convenience.

Ensuring that ingredients are kept fresh during the delivery process, for example, incorporates both storage and delivery. The last mile, warehousing expenses, and labor also present their own challenges for companies with these new food delivery models.

“With continued innovation, and more companies joining the subscription ranks, the market is poised to continue to put more control over the shopping experience in the hands of the customer,” Cunnane notes. “The big question is whether these companies have the supply chain to accommodate the change.”

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

You Don’t Have to Go it Alone: Why Outsourcing Transportation is a Smart Idea in 2017

You Don’t Have to Go it Alone: Why Outsourcing Transportation is a Smart Idea in 2017

Depending on which industry you’re working in, transportation logistics account for between 5% and 50% of your product’s total landed cost. That’s a significant outlay for any company that wants to remain profitable and viable in today’s constantly-changing logistics environment, where “going it alone” isn’t always necessary or financially feasible.

The cold supply chain, for example, is becoming more and more challenging to manage as regulatory issues, carrier capacity crunches, the need for sophisticated technology platforms, and driver shortages all take a toll on a firm’s ability to make the best possible transportation decisions. In fact, these challenges can make maintaining the in-house expertise needed to stay profitable nearly impossible.

The question is, how do you know when it’s time to stop handling transportation internally and turn some or all of it over to a reputable third party? Here are three obvious clues:

1. You can’t keep up with increased and/or fluctuating order volumes. If the 2016 holiday season hit you hard, or if your company is growing but not keeping up with the new order volume, it’s time to take a good hard look at how you’re managing transportation.

2.You’re not focusing on your company’s core competencies. Spending too much time and effort managing the complicated transportation process? It’s time to re-center your focus and outsource transportation to a trusted business partner.

3. Your labor costs are skyrocketing. Labor is one of the most expensive aspects of running a cold supply chain. When you outsource the task to a third party like Hanson Logistics, many of these labor worries and expenses will disappear.

The Power of One

It’s no secret that transportation buyers who move high volumes of freight have more buying power in the marketplace. As one of the fastest growing 3PLs in the cold chain industry, Hanson Transportation Logistics moves millions of pounds of freight across the country for many of the most respected brands. As an LTL shipper, you can leverage Hanson’s extensive transportation carrier network, technology, and expertise to assure efficiency and service are delivered on time, at very competitive rates.

Outsourcing transportation also allows you to:

• Drive the complexity out of transportation. From our TMS portal to your point of contact, we remove the complexity from your transportation and make it simple. We solve customer problems, deal with carrier performance, and make things happen.

• Leverage better rates. Our negotiated rates are far less than most smaller shippers can hope to achieve; and that savings goes right to your bottom line. You’ll save in many ways, including lower rates, better audits, and lower overhead.

• Tap into sophisticated technologies. Leverage our market-leading transportation management systems (TMS) technology and gain complete transparency into rates, capacity, carriers, and documentation.

• Better allocate your time. Entrusting us with your entire transportation spend allows you to devote your resources to your operational tasks and to your firm’s core competencies.

• Utilize a wide range of services. Inbound, outbound, multi-temperature, parcel; standard, expedited, guaranteed, white glove, and flatbed; we have the expertise, carriers, and competitive rates you need to thrive in today’s logistics environment

• Tackle transportation from concept to completion. From rating to scheduling, track and trace, exceptions, audit, and freight bill payment, we serve as your dedicated resource to handle the entire process.

For more information, please contact us today.

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

The Future of Cold Chain Logistics

The Future of Cold Chain Logistics

The future of cold chain logistics is almost always in transition: from growth to slow-downs, modified trends to shifted needs from customers. After two considerably slow years for the industry in 2014 and 2015, shipping providers are eager to see a new era for logistics.

That new era might be closer than we think: the Council of Supply Chain Logistics released its 27th Annual State of Logistics Report and suggested a shift to a more sound logistics industry. The report documented the positive changes in the logistics market from last year. This showed providers it may be time to accommodate accordingly.

The Findings

In this year’s report, what began as lulls in traffic and a rise in costs for businesses has accelerated into a cost efficient system. This includes having services available in plenty, with agreeable pricing and rationalized demand. The report mentioned an increase in supply chain transparency as it continues to grow. Another highlight was technological changes for 3PLs, helping enable more efficient production of data to drivers and coordinators alike.

Interpretations

What does this mean for providers? An air of excitement looking forward into a stronger industry. This also infers more promising results as the next few months finish out the quarter.

Partner with us in the new era for cold chain logistics. At Hanson, no matter the change in industry, we are always saying “Yes, We Can!” to providing solutions and pursuing excellence.

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

The 3PL as a Technology Partner

The 3PL as a Technology Partner

Buying, implementing, and maintaining supply chain software applications can be an expensive and time-consuming initiative. Whether the projects are managed by your company’s in-house IT team or outsourced to a third party, the costs associated with this function can chip away at a company’s bottom line, put undue stress on a company’s resources, and result in unfavorable levels of system downtime.

To help alleviate these pain points, third-party logistics providers (3PLs) like Hanson Logistics have been investing in supply chain, logistics, and transportation applications that help customers work smarter, better, and faster without the need for big IT investments.

Gaining a Competitive Edge

By leveraging their 3PL’s technology investments, companies are getting systems up and running faster, avoiding lengthy implementation times, and blissfully ignoring ongoing upgrade and maintenance issues.

“To gain an edge in a competitive market, 3PL providers stay up to date with the latest developments in technology so you don’t have to,” writes Global Trade Magazine’s Steve Lowery in “Going it Alone.” “The software that 3PLs create can provide visibility to monitor the entire supply chain through advanced reporting, helping inventory management, logistics planning, and many other business processes.”

In addition, Lowery points out that sophisticated software systems analyze and track processes to eliminate inefficient areas and fast track necessary links in the chain. “By outsourcing logistics needs to a 3PL,” he writes, “a company is able to focus more on its core competencies while being ensured that its logistics needs are being handled by reliable, seasoned professionals who are not only good at what they do but constantly looking for the newest ways to improve clients’ tech options.”

Technology: The Missing Link

Already working directly with shippers to manage transportation of products in the most economically feasible and efficient manner possible, logistics providers rely heavily on technology to determine the best rates, select the best routes, and track shipments as they move around the world.

The same providers are using online platforms, websites, mobile devices, EDI, and password-protected platforms to share information with customers in real-time, thus taking on the technology investment burden and equipping multiple customers in the process.

For example, 3PLs use transportation management systems (TMS) to orchestrate product movement across the supply chain and the related transportation choices. Using reports and data, the software gives the 3PL visibility into the customer’s supply chain performance and supports future decision making.

At Hanson Logistics, we continually invest in upgrades to our supply chain systems. For example, through Infor’s Supply Chain Management System, all customers have secure access to their own inventory information, in addition to real-time order status visibility, inventory availability, and shipment status. The system has built-in parameters that are triggered in the event of back orders, order acknowledgement, shipments, or delays. This enables shippers to manage exceptions via pager, text, fax, email, or other means of communications with their contacts. In addition to dovetailing with our WMS, Hanson’s Transportation Management System (TMS) offers:

  • Track & trace, allowing customers and Hanson staff to track shipments through delivery
  • Customer defined reference numbers for added continuity
  • Secure access that gives shippers and authorized consignees tracking ability for transparent customer service
  • Easy-to-use interface for customizing event management and notification preferences
  • 24/7 access to instant rate information, carrier performance, and costing matrix, and reporting by carrier, location, date, activity, etc.

By leveraging these and other capabilities directly through your 3PL, you gain insights into the TMS-generated data that helps your company supply a high degree of customer service and satisfaction to its own clients. With a bigger emphasis being placed on the customer experience, having these real-time, actionable insights in today’s competitive business environment can mean the difference between a long-term customer and an unsatisfied client.

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

5 Ways 3PLs are Modernizing Logistics

5 Ways 3PLs are Modernizing Logistics

Third-party logistics providers (3PLs) like Hanson Logistics continue to make significant inroads in improving and modernizing logistics. With new products, safety regulations, and quality standards being introduced all the time, 3PLs give careful consideration to the challenges and opportunities associated with shipping and distributing temperature-sensitive products. Here are five ways that these providers are modernizing cold chain logistics right now: 

  1. Conducting thorough risk assessments on an ongoing basis. It’s no longer enough for a shipper to send out products in hopes that they will be handled properly on the way to their final destination. By helping customers identify potential points of weakness in the transportation or distribution process, 3PLs are playing an increasingly important role in companies’ overall risk assessment strategies. 
  1. Leveraging technology to streamline the supply chain. It’s no secret that the greater the number of touch points there are along the cold supply chain, the higher the risk of failure occurring at one or more of those points. By using technology to improve supply chain visibility and develop transparent tracking and accurate forecasts, 3PLs can simplify the distribution process and ensure expedient, uninterrupted service for end customers.
  1. Adhering to stricter and stricter safety codes. Food, beverage, and pharmaceutical manufacturers must follow precise guidelines when making, storing, transporting, and delivering their products. Top 3PLs understand all of the rules associated with these requirements and are helping their customers adhere to these strict safety codes and regulations.
  1. Extensive training on advanced systems and solutions. The best technology in the world is useless if no one knows how to use it and maximize it. By training staff members on proper software and application use, and by maintaining in-house teams to run and maintain their systems, 3PLs are leveraging cold chain-specific systems such as advanced monitoring, temperature control, and humidity control to manage the wide variety of items that are transported daily.
  1. Providing the quality and consistency that manufacturers require. In some industries, speedy delivery is a top priority. For others, it’s the safe handling of high-value goods. Within the cold chain, shippers want consistency and quality – two measures that they can rely on when working with a 3PL like Hanson Logistics. Accustomed to working with sophisticated products that require an extreme level of detail and care, we help customers attain higher standards while delivering what they want most: consistency and reliability.
by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

Green Supply Chain Management and the 3PL

Green Supply Chain Management and the 3PL

Ever since the first third party logistics (3PL) firm opened its doors 40 years ago, 3PLs and cold storage providers like Hanson Logistics have evolved and transformed to meet their customers’ needs. With more businesses paying close attention to the environmental impact of their supply chains—and finding ways to offset the carbon footprint associated with producing and distributing food products—3PLs play a vital role in making the transportation component “greener” than ever.

According to the Green Supply Chain Management, Environmental Collaboration and Sustainability Performance report, green supply chain management “integrates environmental thinking into supply chain management” and aims to minimize or eliminate waste. Hazardous chemical, emissions, energy, and solid waste all fall under the GSCM umbrella; so does the waste associated with product design, material resourcing and selection, the manufacturing process, the delivery of final product, and end-of-life product management.

Once implemented, green supply chains help promote lean operations, earn the respect of customers, business partners, and employees, and improve profitability.

“Green supply chain management plays a vital role in influencing the total environmental impact of any firm involved in supply chain activities,” write the report’s authors, “and thus contributing to sustainability performance enhancement.”

Already on the road delivering goods for multiple customers, 3PLs play a part in green supply chain management by helping to reduce emissions, consolidate loads, and reduce fuel consumption. Always looking for ways to improve fuel efficiencies, upgrade their fleets to modern standards, and run vehicles at full capacity, logistics providers help decrease the emission of greenhouse gases, create greater savings-per-mile, and cut down on the total number of trucks on the road.

These and other environmentally conscious efforts help measurably reduce shippers’ carbon footprints while also helping food manufacturers run more efficient supply chains. At Hanson Logistics, we know that the success of the value-added food sector is premised on a reliable cold chain that’s economical, compliant, and environmentally conscious. As the complexity of the agricultural and processed food supply chain continues to grow with the proliferation of flavor profiles, varieties, and wholesale and retail SKUs, the need to “think green” is sure to grow exponentially.

By focusing on emission reduction and fuel conservation, and by efficiently laying out their facilities in a way that helps reduce equipment usage, transit times, and energy, today’s 3PLs are leading the pack when it comes to “greener” supply chains. With efficiency and sustainability at the core of our business processes, we help food suppliers achieve their own green supply chain and sustainability goals while also helping them work smarter, better, and faster in today’s competitive business environment.

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

The Evolution of the 3PL Industry: You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby

The Evolution of the 3PL Industry: You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby

The logistics industry may have a robust and lengthy history, but the third party logistics (3PL) sector is less than 40 years old. Even on that shorter timeline, the evolution of the 3PL industry has grown over the years to meet better customers’ changing and complex demands. Today, these multifaceted, agile organizations provide a solid backbone for shippers of all sizes and across all industries.

The trend of outsourcing logistics services to third parties gained momentum in the 1980s. Some attribute this shift to the Motor Carrier Act of 1980, which deregulated the trucking industry and allowed warehousing companies to more easily move into freight management. When information technology (IT) emerged in trucking and warehousing between the ‘80s and ‘90s, the streamlining of logistics processes, communications, and supply chains became even more prevalent.

Global logistics gained popularity in the 1990s as companies expanded their product reach into quickly emerging global markets. As these new global trade zones presented new challenges for companies that were used to the domestic market, 3PLs stepped up to the plate to help. Supply chains continued to increase in complexity, which heightened the need for more efficient transportation management. Both domestically and internationally, 3PL providers offered more integrated logistics services to help shippers address those complexities.

As the 3PL industry continued to evolve, certain providers opted for specializations like cold storage and refrigerated transportation. Using their own temperature-controlled facilities, vehicles, and unique capabilities (i.e. SKU mixing and special pallet configurations), providers helped food manufacturers save money on fuel, labor, equipment, and overhead—all while reducing those customers’ carbon footprints.

In the early 2000s, rapid technological advancements—including the expansion of the Internet—compelled 3PLs to begin providing “connected” supply chain solutions. Using technology platforms to better integrate inventory management, transportation and logistics processes, and order management, 3PLs extended their technology infrastructures to their own customers. In turn, those customers could avoid having to make big investments in technology infrastructure, software, and IT personnel. It was a win-win for everyone involved.

The 3PL market is still in expansion mode. As of 2014, the 3PL market in the U.S. alone was worth more than $157 billion and growing at a rate of 7.4 percent. Using advanced technology (including logistics software), 3PLs like Hanson Logistics are providing supply chain solutions to an expanding array of companies. Customers gain greater visibility and control over their supply chains and reap significant cost reductions along with the ability to focus on their own core competencies.

We’ve enjoyed being your best frozen food 3PL partner over the last 11 years, and we look forward to watching the industry evolve for years to come.

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

Keeping Cool in the Temperature-Controlled Logistics Industry

Keeping Cool in the Temperature-Controlled Logistics Industry

Temperature sensitivity and the complex logistics from manufacturer to customer present many challenges to the temperature-controlled supply chain.

Failure to maintain the correct temperature in moving food or beverage can result in degradation, spoiling, and microbial growth. While countries like the United States have advanced temperature-controlled warehouse and transportation technology, less-developed countries do not.

The U.S. imports 17 percent of the 650 billion pounds of food consumed each year, and some of those markets from which food is imported may have limited cold-storage infrastructure. Those nations’ varying infrastructures become just one barrier to the efficiency of cold chains in the U.S.

Empowered with advanced technology, the U.S. food industry is focused more on visibility and traceability as top priorities that can help prevent potential issues in the cold chain. With new advances in tracking and scanning technology, shippers and 3PLs can gain better visibility into temperature-controlled transportation, ensuring greater food safety and quality. Because the cold chain involves many steps, each manufacturer, 3PL and carrier should have a list of checks and balances, sharing the responsibilities of the process.

One way to reduce the risk of damaged product and waste is through consolidated loads, such as the Hanson Logistics Velocities program. Consolidated loads are handled less frequently, which lowers the risk of damage and decreases transit time. With state-of-the-art TMS technology, Hanson Logistics also provides end-to-end supply chain visibility. Customers and Hanson staff alike can track and trace shipments through delivery.

Choosing to partner with a knowledgeable 3PL allows retailers to rest assured that temperature-sensitive shipments will arrive on time and in the proper condition. Subsequently this will strengthen relationships between manufacturers and retailers, which is key to having an efficient overall cold chain.

Contact Hanson Logistics today to receive best-in-class temperature-controlled transportation expertise from the beginning of the cold chain through the end, keeping each partner cool in the process.

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

GCCA Interview with Andrew Janson, President of Hanson Logistics

GCCA Interview with Andrew Janson, President of Hanson Logistics

We believe our success in the frozen food and 3PL industry is only possible with the seasoned logistics professionals on our management team.

As part of a recent issue of COLD FACTS magazine, the Global Cold Chain Alliance (GCCA) interviewed Andrew Janson, President of Hanson Logistics, to learn more about the current state of the cold chain industry and how it may continue to evolve in the future.

Janson joined the (then) Hanson Cold Storage team in 2004 as Vice President of Business Development. He serves on several boards, including the International Refrigerated Transportation Association (IRTA) and is currently Chairman of the Michigan Frozen Food Packers Association (MFFPA).

COLD FACTS: With 27 years of experience in food logistics, what’s the most significant change that you’ve seen in the cold chain industry?

ANDY JANSON: Technology, without question, both in the warehouse and transportation. When I started in this industry, we were picking with paper and pencil. Applying labels to cases of produce was a big advancement at the time. Today we have computers on forklifts and many warehouses are completely paperless—scanning pallet IDs, directed put-away, EDI, satellite tracking of trucks, trailers and reefer units, energy management systems and on and on.

CF: What factors impacted Hanson’s decision to enter the 3PL market in 2004?

AJ: Customer demand for transportation services caused Hanson Cold Storage to rebrand our organization as Hanson Logistics and offer transportation services utilizing both asset and non-asset based solutions.

Read more of the interview at www.gcca.org.

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

A Cold Chain Best Practices Checklist

A Cold Chain Best Practices Checklist

The best cold chain practices have evolved significantly over the past ten years in parallel with the evolution of the global supply chain. This evolution was the result of free enterprise at work; the best got better. Now, the FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act) will add an addditional metric to frozen product distribution. This act is the result of simple questions from consumers about today’s complex food chain. As consumers ask more questions about where products are sourced, they also question handling and packaging procedures. Make sure your 3PL has the answers.

Readiness checklist:

  • Audit of your distribution facilities
  • Identify risks and put actions in place to fix issues
  • Train and document procedures
  • Perform preventative routine maintenance
  • Invest in technology
  • Evaluate transportation options
  • Know regulatory standards

Let’s break this checklist down into four primary areas: Operations, Training, Technology and Regulation.

Operations for distributing frozen foods include warehousing and transportation. It is important to distinguish between the two because both include their own risks and regulations. Warehousing and storage facilities have their own criteria for audits, especially if they are third-party owned.

When auditing distribution facilities, check for the following*:

  • State of the facilities should be modern and incorporate sanitization in their design
  • WMS is used to manage daily tasks and direct work
  • Storage is designed to prevent spoilage, contamination, and separates allergens
  • Zones are established for temperature control or product-specific needs
  • Tamper-proofing measures are in place
  • Staging is fully enclosed
  • Loading patterns are known and followed by employees

*not an exhaustive list

Transportation of products can be managed with a fairly standard set of criteria with a few new additions required by the FSMA. These criteria apply to both commercial and private reefer fleets. Mixing rules need to be enforced so that carriers avoid commingling incompatible freight. Shipping units, like palettes, insulated totes, dunnage and covers, need to be in good shape or replaced regularly. Loading facilities need to be easy to access, and their appointment scheduling should be optimized for quick turns. Once the freight is loaded, the carrier should know what to do to check and maintain temperature while not compromising the quality of the food. The FSMA Sanitary Transport Rule goes a bit further to address both safety and sanitary transport. You or your logistics provider must keep written work procedures and records on all shipments. Transport equipment needs to be in good condition, and communication about the shipment must flow freely between involved parties.

The next primary area satisfies the Sanitary Transport Rule’s final aspect: training. Inadequate or incomplete training leads to waste and product loss. Make sure your warehouse or carrier have training programs in place. Under the Sanitary Transport Rule guidelines, employees must be trained so they are aware of proper handling and know how to prevent or recognize contamination. The training is not limited to work procedures. Employees also must be trained on personal hygiene.

Time and temperature are integral parts of the cold chain, but what about technology? Advances in connectivity make sharing data achievable and practical. Sharing information easily helps in decision making because parties (shipper, carrier, and consignee) can be alerted to issues, and all have the data they need to decide what to do right away. At a minimum, your company should have a WMS and a TMS. If you outsource these functions, your providers should give you web portal access.

Finally, know your regulations, and be proactive. The complexity of food safety regulatory standards requires dedication and expertise so that your company is up to date with improvements even before they become a law. This forward-looking mentality gives your company a competitive edge and ensures the safety and quality of your products.

Not all 3PLs possess the necessary knowledge required to navigate the complex cold chain. At Hanson Logistics, our team’s extensive experience in refrigerated warehousing and transportation sets us apart from the rest. Our best practices in logistics don’t just meet the stringent regulations and requirements—they exceed them, while simultaneously ensuring customer satisfaction. For 3PL expertise that applies a “Yes, We Can!” philosophy to every challenge, contact Hanson Logistics today