by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

5 Reasons to Bundle Transportation and Warehousing with One Provider

5 Reasons to Bundle Transportation and Warehousing with One Provider

Siloed logistics approaches don’t work in today’s cold chain shipping environment. Here’s how to centralize those functions and get back to doing what you do best.

With organizational silos rapidly giving way to more open and collaborative business styles, being able to “flatten out” the logistics function and bundle multiple services with a single provider is becoming more and more important.

“For both small and large transit companies, maintaining multiple locations or expanding into new markets involves lots of variables,” FleetOwner reports. “Exploring costs and service-bundling options could mean greater efficiencies and money saved—and a better chance of success.”

Here’s how cold chain shippers can benefit from bundling:

  1. Focus on your core competencies. No more running around, trying to oversee and micromanage multiple providers and getting them to “talk” to one another. When it’s all under one roof, your central transportation, warehousing, and logistics provider will handle it all for you and allow you to focus on what you do best: supply customers with refrigerated and frozen goods.
  2. Use your provider’s infrastructure to save time and money. Delegating multiple company functions—such as warehousing and distributing—to a single service provider can result in significant time and cost savings. “Bundling these services together with one provider serves to reduce the resources required for oversight as well as provides for economies of scale,” FleetOwner notes, “as a transportation and distribution provider can often utilize their infrastructure and purchasing power to reduce distribution and fleet cost.”
  3. Have a single point of contact. Bundling logistics services with a single provider means you need only make one phone call, send one email, or schedule one meeting to get everything you need. Because this provider will serve as your focal point, you’ll avoid the wasted time, effort, and cost associated with tracking down multiple providers to get your questions answered or problems solved.
  4. Get consistent results. If you’ve historically used multiple providers for your cold chain transportation and warehousing needs, then you probably understand pains like inconsistent service levels, fluctuating rates, and unpredictable outcomes. By bundling these services with a single provider, you can avoid these uncertainties and focus on getting consistent results from one business partner.
  5. Create a win-win partnership. When companies skip around from supplier to supplier, they never really get the chance to create true, lasting partnerships with those providers. By putting the time and effort into working with one logistics provider, companies can create win-win collaborations that can help them shepherd their cold chains through even the toughest logistics environments (i.e., the current driver shortage and capacity crunches).

Demand for next-day delivery, the driver shortage, and rising transportation rates are all pushing cold chain distributors to find ways to work smarter, better, and faster in today’s transportation environment. In their quest to manage more volume and deal with more complex customer demands than they’ve ever faced in the past, more shippers are bundling fulfillment, warehousing, and shipping with single providers that can meet all of their current needs while also helping them prepare for the future.

To improve your cold chain shipping efficiency, contact us today to learn how Hanson can help.

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

5 Reasons to Use Continuous Improvement in Logistics

5 Reasons to Use Continuous Improvement in Logistics

Cold chain shippers can gain efficiencies and save money by paying closer attention to the art of continuous improvement.

Whether a shipper wants to save money on transportation, lower employee turnover, develop more competitive products, improve customer service, or operate at a higher level of efficiency—or, all of the above—the path to getting there usually includes at least some type of continuous improvement.

Here are five reasons why:

1. Continuous improvement helps improve employee engagement. Also called operational excellence, lean transformation, Kaizen, or any other number of names, the act of continually honing and perfecting a company’s operations has become an imperative in today’s business environment. For example, it’s a particularly good tool for improving employee engagement. “At its core, continuous improvement is designed to empower employees to solve problems that bug them and gradually improve the efficiency of their work processes. Lean lets employees know that their ideas are important,” Nawras Skhmot points out in 5 Benefits of Continuous Improvement. “When an employee makes a suggestion for improvement, the idea can be carefully tested; and if successfully implemented company-wide. This changes the employee’s role and responsibilities from being a passive actor to being an active participant in the business processes.”

2. It drives waste out of costly processes. Commonly known as Kaizen, continuous improvement is defined as “a method for identifying opportunities for streamlining work and reducing waste.” Formalized by the popularity of lean/agile/Kaizen in manufacturing and business, continuous improvement helps companies identify cost-saving opportunities and work better, smarter, and faster.

3. Your competitors are probably already doing it. Facing steep competition, pricing pressures, a tight labor market, and various other challenges, companies that don’t continually step up their games often find themselves left in the dust and scrambling to catch up to their competitors. “While there are numerous ways in which businesses can compete, logistics ranks high among them. Improving logistics to a point and then taking a passive approach to the system allows competitors to gain advantages in terms of cost savings, improved quality, and production capacity,” Dennis Hartman writes in Why Is Continuous Improvement in Logistics Important? “Even incremental improvements in logistics can translate into significant savings over time and lay the foundation for further improvements in the future.”

4. The benefits of continuous improvement are well documented and immediate. For shippers, improvement opportunities not only within their own operations, but also across their logistics operations, transportation networks, and end-to-end supply chains. In fact, by taking an all-encompassing, supply chain-wide view on continuous improvements, companies can see significant benefits from their efforts, including improved productivity, lower costs, decreased delivery times, and other strategic gains.

5. If you’re not improving, you’re stagnating. Continuous improvement helps cold chain shippers enhance their processes and products in ways that traditional business approaches can’t match. “In the modern workplace, knowledge, and technology quickly becomes obsolete over time. If you are doing business in the same way that you did five or 10 years ago, your company will quickly go out of business,” Skhmot concludes. “Continuous improvement gives organizations a framework for reaching the next level of excellence.”

If you’re looking to gain efficiency and save money, contact us today.

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

Thank You, Mr. Hanson.

Thank You, Mr. Hanson.

Merlin-HansonMerlin Hanson was recently appointed Chairman Emeritus of Hanson Logistics, following a decades-long successful career in tool and die, logistics and automated equipment systems. Mr. Hanson was Chairman of the Board since he purchased the company in 1989. Hanson Logistics is just one of several thriving companies Mr. Hanson has built during his career. He shares that of all of his successes, he is most proud of the employees he has been able to work with over the years. “We’ve been fortunate to build major companies into fine operations with great people, offering them good wages and benefits,” Merlin said. “That’s overall what I’m as proud of as anything.”

A Tool Man at Heart

After an honorable discharge from the Navy, Merlin began learning the toolmaking industry as an apprentice. He soon worked his way to a supervisory position. During this time, he was able to continue gaining experience building a team of dedicated staff, which he grew from 20 to 100 employees under his watch.

A Logistics Company Bears His Name

 A toolmaker by trade, Mr. Hanson stepped out of the machining arena to purchase Southern Michigan Cold Storage in the late 80’s. Under his leadership, he drove a company rebranding to Hanson Logistics. The company has since grown to nine facilities in Michigan and Indiana, employing 300 Teammates, with a refrigerated transportation fleet and the country’s largest and most successful frozen food consolidation program located in Hobart, Indiana.

A Vision for the Future

 A key consideration for Merlin within his various organizations is the impact that they have on the surrounding community and to the families of current and potential employees. “Our purpose is to create an environment that is comfortable to move into, with good schools. I think that’s part of the responsibility for people who employ others in the area,” he said.

Building for Upcoming Generations

From beginning his career as an apprentice to leading several successful companies, Merlin understands the importance of training future generations. With a passion for growing his companies and also supporting and encouraging his employees and bolstering the surrounding communities, Hanson continues to advocate for individuals and families in the area. Through apprentice programs and with upward growth within the organizational ranks, Merlin has established an ongoing legacy that will benefit many people for years to come.

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

U.S. Growers Thrive as Consumers Load Up on Fruits and Veggies

U.S. Growers Thrive as Consumers Load Up on Fruits and Veggies

Spring planting time is here and as the produce season kicks into full gear it looks as if 2018 will be another good year for the nation’s food growers. With consumer tastes continuing to tilt in the direction of fresher, local, and more wholesome meal options, the companies that supply fruits and vegetables are in high demand. According to Packaged Fact’s Fresh Produce: U.S. Market Trends and Opportunities report, consumers’ consumption of fresh produce grew steadily—albeit modestly at about 1.3%— between 2011 and 2016. Those moderate annual gains are expected to continue over the next several years through 2021. “Fruit and vegetable producers benefited from steady growth among the U.S. population, as well as from the fact that all age groups have high usage rates, especially Gen X adults,” says Packaged Facts’ David Sprinkle in a press release. “Fruits and vegetables are expected to continue experiencing growth in niche areas as consumers persist in seeking out novel flavors from around the world. Increases in disposable personal income will support purchases of premium fruits and vegetables, including non-GMO, organic, and locally grown types. Also, marketing strategies focusing on health and the delicious taste of fresh produce will help fruits and vegetables to expand their appeal and per capita consumption.”

Millennials Love Frozen Foods

Frozen foods are on a tear this year, and both fruit and vegetable growers are benefitting from consumers’ renewed interest in frozen options. Forty-three percent of Millennial shoppers said they have purchased more frozen foods this year than last year, according to a new report from Acosta. The frozen food revival also crosses generational lines, with 27% of GenXers, 19% of Baby Boomers, and 19% of the Silent Generation are also buying more frozen this year. Acosta attributes the growth to several industry trends, including:
  • Convenience drives prepared meals, and frozen meals enable consumers to have a stock of meals whenever they are out of time/ ideas/ fresh ingredients
  • Health and wellness – frozen food enables companies to offer longer shelf life without preservatives; textures are maintained without the use of artificial ingredients, and manufacturers are able to offer niche products at a better price point, including vegan options.
  • Better value for the money – hectic, unpredictable meal consumption leads to a staggering amount of food waste, and frozen food decreases the amount of food spoilage.
  • The rise of breakfast – with the search for new breakfast options, consumers are warming up to breakfast sandwiches and other frozen baked goods.

Nutritious and Natural Both Rank High

Right now, Food Industry Executive says grocery shopping preferences are “trending heavily toward nutritious, natural foods from transparent manufacturers that share their health goals.” Successful manufacturers are following suit, the publication reports, while convenient and healthy frozen options from restaurant-style appetizers to full dinners and desserts are “revitalizing the frozen food aisle, despite the common belief that fresh trumps frozen.” Packaged Facts points to the Green Giant brand as a good example of how frozen food marketers are getting back on track. The brand changed hands in November 2015, when B&G Foods purchased it from General Mills for $765 million and began breathing new life into the brand. In less than a year it was rolling out a series of new and innovative Green Giant frozen products, including veggie tots, a “kid-friendly, mom-approved alternative to potato tots and French fries that are filled with vegetables such as cauliflower or broccoli instead of potatoes; riced veggies, made from 100% vegetables and with no sauce or seasoning, are positioned as alternatives to traditional rice; and mashed cauliflower, an alternative to the typical potato side dish. “Since the acquisition of this iconic brand, we have been working tirelessly to meet consumer desire for new, delicious ways to incorporate more vegetables into their daily lives,” Robert Cantwell, chief executive officer of B&G Foods told Packaged Facts. “This consumer desire has inspired the creation of new Green Giant frozen innovations, as well as the brand’s modernized persona, with the intention of bringing back the Green Giant with a purpose — adding more vegetables to America’s plates.”

Addressing Logistics Challenges

As produce season heats up, both manufacturers and their logistics providers are keeping an eye on capacity, rates, regulatory changes, and other issues that could impact their supply chains. With U.S. crop volumes growing between May and July—and due to the time-sensitivity of such shipments—expect available frozen and refrigerated capacity to shrink and rates to rise accordingly. “Tight U.S. truck capacity and rising rates marked the first quarter of 2018, and the outlook for the remainder of the year is more of the same, if not worse,” JOC reports. “That is the dilemma for shippers of perishable goods, especially food, who are seeing growing demand from buyers, on the one hand, tempered by a capacity crunch on the other.”
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

Our Role in Exceptional Customer Experience

Our Role in Exceptional Customer Experience

As many of you know, March is National Frozen Foods month. Thanks to the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association, Inc. (NFRA) for their recently launched promotional efforts on why frozen food continues to offer an excellent value with minimal waste. Their points are spot on:

  • A wide variety of single serve and small plate options – portion control at its best.
  • Requires little preparation – the picking, cleaning, slicing and dicing are already done.
  • Flash-freezing technology delivers “perfect preservation,” freezing at the peak of freshness, right from the field or sea.
  • Your favorite foods are always in season.
  • Eco-friendly packaging is keeping frozen foods fresher longer and retaining more nutrients.
  • New brands and product lines are aligned with current health trends.
  • No spoilage or food waste – use what you need and put the rest back in the freezer. Money-saving!

This impact is hitting home as well as the Hanson Logistics teammates gathered at the America Frozen Food Institue’s, AFFI Con 2018, where the enthusiasm for the future of the frozen foods industry is optimistic. That said, the vast majority of growth appears to be in developing countries, while the U.S. enjoys a modest uptick in frozen food sales.

Late last year, an Acosta 2017 Insights Report pointed to the fact that 43 percent of Millennials are shopping frozen more frequently. All generational demographics indicated an increase in frozen food purchases, including 43 percent of Millennials; 27 percent of GenXers; 19 percent of Baby Boomers; and 19 percent of Silents.

While we’re not involved in the development or marketing of frozen food products, we can — and do — make a contribution to the consumer’s experience. On time, in full delivery of freezer case ready appetizers, bakery, entrée, and dessert items is our task at hand. Providing our customers with supply chain transparency, Class A warehouse space, accurate picking, and refrigerated truck capacity as needed is a behind-the-scenes scenario unfamiliar to most. The majority of consumers grabbing a quick bite or serving dinner to friends and family don’t give much thought to the growers and processors, warehouse and customer service staff, and drivers who make it all happen.

At that’s OK. Just keep making your selection from the freezer case, and we’ll keep fulfilling our “Yes, We Can” promise. Thanks again to our friends at NFRA and AFFI for their role in making it all happen.

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.