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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3 P L / R e f r i g e r a t e d L o g i s t i c s Food Logistics asked a handful of 3PLs with a significant presence in the food/beverage sector their thoughts about how customers can "get more" from them while maintaining a mutually beneficial arrangement. "With capacity levels at an all-time high and little relief in sight, building relationships with your core transportation service providers has never been more important," states Steve Covey, executive vice president, Choptank Transport. "Shopping by price alone, and not service and reliability, will leave many shippers with big problems when seasonal surges occur and there is tightened capacity. Maintaining a strong sup- ply chain will help ensure operations continue to run smoothly, without interruption due to lack of capacity." Indeed, the capacity crunch is only getting worse. The American Trucking Association (ATA) estimates the industry is short by roughly 30,000 truckers nationwide while the improv- ing economy is straining an already extremely tight market. It's no wonder that more shippers have come to appreciate the value of building a relationship with their 3PLs in the current environment. Robert Nathan, CEO of Load Delivered Logistics, LLC, also advises shippers to focus on relationships as they look for ways to opti- mize their transportation and logistics strategy. "The first step towards getting more out of your 3PL is consolidating your carrier net- work. To maximize 3PL performance, shippers must create mutually beneficial, dedicated relationships with their logistics providers. That means working with fewer, more special- ized carriers, creating open lines of communica- tion and focusing on automation tactics and technology," he says. Additionally, "If you ship perishable products, working with a 'Jack of All Trades' 3PL will only harm your cold chain," says Nathan. "Instead, focus your transportation spend on logistics providers who specialize in what you ship—those providers have relation- ships with the right carriers and the knowledge and experience to handle your product safely. Once you choose the right 3PL, increasing integration and automation with your provider will ensure that both parties are accountable, accurate and as efficient as possible." Relationships are naturally a two-way street, and at OHL a considerable amount of effort is placed on customer service as a foundation for building that relationship. "The customer relationship and strong col- laboration should be at the heart of the services the 3PL provides," says Sean Kelly, senior vice president, food and beverage vertical. "At OHL, one of our core values is to provide customers with superior customer service that drives con- tinuous improvement through operational excel- lence, innovation and flexibility." To enhance customer service and collabora- tion, OHL incorporates several vital compo- nents into its relationships with customers, including strong account management with regularly scheduled meetings and ongoing com- munication; forecasting tools and metrics that are contractually tied to account performance outcomes; and continuous improvement pro- R ecent surveys of the third-party logistics (3PLs) industry are uncovering similar fndings when it comes to how 3PLs are repositioning themselves in the market. In short, many 3PLs are seeking to avoid commoditization by offering value-added services to customers while strengthening the relationship between the two parties. 24 OCTOBER 2014 • FOOD LOGISTICS GETTING MORE FROM YOUR 3PL Taking collaborative relationships to the next level pays dividends for today's food and beverage shippers. B Y L A R A L . S O W I N S K I Relationships are a fundamental aspect of business. Creating true partnerships between 3PLs and customers opens up new possibilities for cost savings and collaboration.

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