Food Logistics

OCT 2014

Food Logistics serves the entire food supply chain industry with targeted content for manufacturers, retailers, and distributors.

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Page 21 of 39

22 OCTOBER 2014 • FOOD LOGISTICS according to Seekins, is hoping to begin testing a natural gas fleet, but the company has not even decided which type of natural gas to test. "I can see natural gas as a viable option, but it's not the answer everywhere," he says. Dot Foods is testing a natural gas truck in its West Coast operation, Tracy notes. It is a "home every night" type of a truck that does local deliveries. "We are optimistic that natural gas could provide distribution companies an opportunity to lower their costs while reducing their emissions," he says. "However, there are still barriers to all of this such as limited fueling stations, high costs of the equipment, and the associated maintenance costs." Online ordering creates options Some companies have found solutions that marry fleet management with online ordering for customers. Rosemont, Ill.-based Reinhart Foodservice LLC recently introduced its latest version of TRACS Direct, an online ordering system that helps foodservice operators manage their business, notes Derek Exline, customer engage- ment manager. Going beyond simple ordering, the system addresses the most important and often most time-consuming tasks for a restaurant operator: building menus and controlling their food costs. In addition to placing online orders, browsing the product catalog and managing inventory consumption, customers can access recipes, analyze food costs and review purchase history. Additional product information, such as nutri- tion data, can be viewed with an additional click. TRACS Direct is accessible 24/7, so operators don't have to field quite as many cus- tomer questions and can spend more time with their kitchen staff managing the front-of-house and back-of-house functions. TRACS Direct is now also available in an iPhone version, which makes taking inventory and placing orders even easier by using the camera function to simply scan products. Based on inventory, an operator can simply push one button to replenish to par level. This also makes it easy for customers to integrate their non-Reinhart pur- chases, says Exline. Another benefit of TRACS Direct is for owners that have mul- tiple locations. They can see orders, invoices and inventories across different locations. PFG has also intro- duced a mobile app that allows customers to track their deliveries in real-time and gain access to recipes, indus- try ideas, market trends and rebates. "Timing matters in the foodservice busi- ness, so we're excited to provide our customers with the ability to track their delivery status so they can prepare and plan accordingly," says Fred Sanelli, PFG's senior vice president for marketing, brands and sales development. The app features the following options: • Where's My Truck?: Existing customers can find out when their current delivery is due to arrive, as well as when past deliveries occurred if they were away from the operation. • Recipes: This tab enables users to search a collection of recipes by type of cuisine, sea- son/occasion, day part and type of food. • News and Ideas: In this section, customers can access business ideas and product information. • Market Trends: Users are able to get weekly market updates to help them make informed purchasing decisions. • Videos: Customers can view videos on topics ranging from new products to food shows. • Savings Center: This tab provides current rebate offers available to PFG customers. • Favorites: Customers can create their own list of favorites to refer back to ideas, reci- pes and rebates whenever needed. Warehouse automation brings efficiencies, more choices While generally embracing technology, foodservice distributors are moving cautiously with automated warehouse solutions. Most dis- tributors say the cost of automated storage and retrieval systems require a high volume of busi- ness to be cost justifiable. Dot Foods' Tracy notes the company has deployed automation in its Mt. Sterling, Ill. facility. He says it is especially helpful for managing slow-moving frozen inventory. But "automation isn't the end-all solution," he says. "We don't see many (foodservice distribution) companies investing much in automation." The foodservice market continues to grow as consumers choose to eat away from home more often. While this growth creates opportunities for all participants in the foodservice supply chain, competitive pressure forces operators, distributors and manufacturers to improve their operating efficiencies. ◆ OVER 29,000 ITEMS ALWA S IN STOC For more information: AIRCLIC, 866-707-2542, CARDEC, 800-252-2332, GEOTAB, 416-352-7432, THE HALE GROUP, 978-777-9077, INTERMEC, 425-348-2600, INTERNATIONAL FOODSERVICE DISTRIBUTORS ASSOCIATION, 703-532-9400, LYTX, 858-430-4000, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CONVENIENCE STORES, 703-518-4272, NATIONAL RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION, 202-331-5900, THERMO KING, 330-659-3831, TECHNOMIC, 312-876-0004, Reinhart Foodservice allows customers to place online orders using an iPad.

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