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 24 of 39 FOOD LOGISTICS • OCTOBER 2014 25 grams, such as OHL's Making Our Customer Great, that includes evaluations of customers' supply chains to identify opportunities for qual- ity improvement and best practices that can be shared throughout OHL's customer base. Kenco's Todd Johnson, senior vice president, operations, suggests the best way for shippers to boost the return on their 3PL investment is "to have a strong cultural fit with your logistics providers and create long-term goals." He emphasizes that, "Cultural fit can be the single most important element of a successful 3PL partnership, since the chemistry between the two companies—and the people who work for those companies—can make or break a busi- ness relationship." When companies share values, communica- tion occurs naturally, interactions are produc- tive, and success in ongoing, says Johnson. "Trust is a big component. If you can avoid micromanaging every transaction with your 3PL, then both of you can focus on the results," he says. "To do this, the partners should capital- ize on their strengths and be equally invested in each other's success." According to Johnson, many companies start working with a 3PL to fix an isolated problem at the lowest possible cost. However, those rela- tionships are usually temporary and only fill an operational gap. On the contrary, a thoughtfully planned 3PL partnership, with a strong cultural alignment, can produce invaluable system-wide results that focus on sustainable operational gains, rather than a temporary price break. Choptank Transport's Covey agrees with the idea of leveraging relationships to uncover opportunities for cost savings throughout the supply chain. "Always ask your 3PL for suggestions regarding possible cost savings," he explains. "Opportunities to save on pricing can range from a change in pal- letization, alternate days and routes for shipping, intermodal options and volume pricing." While moving from a transactional relation- ship to a collaborative one may not come easy for some shippers, "Open books are easier to read," proposes Blair Thomas, director of cus- tomer care at Columbian Logistics Network. "Sharing information with your 3PL shouldn't be considered a loss of control. Consider it an investment into a partnership." Thomas advocates pushing the boundaries of that partnership into new territory. For example, instead of putting the sourcing of supply chain services into the hands of the purchasing depart- ment, "We recommend letting the supply chain professionals handle the sourcing in order to produce a more collaborative solution." He adds that, "For better visibility and control of your inventory, consider putting the 3PL on your IT system's platform. It's become more common, and 3PLs can often provide the operational expertise you're looking for without the cost and headaches of EDI or other commu- nications integration." Load Delivered Logistics' Nathan underscores the key role of software and technology in the overall relationship between shippers and 3PLs. "The supply chain and logistics world is quickly changing. Gone are the days of faxing and emailing—the name of the game is automa- tion and technology. In pricing, warehousing, billing and sourcing alike, manual processes are being streamlined and automated, allowing for increased, high-level analysis and growth. Ship- pers who adopt automation and find 3PL part- ners who do the same will be the ones escalating the customer experience and leading the way for the next generation supply chain." ◆ For more information: CHOPTANK TRANSPORT, 800.568.2240, COLUMBIAN LOGISTICS NETWORK, 888.609.8542, KENCO, 800.758.3289, LOAD DELIVERED LOGISTICS, LLC, 877.930.5623, OHL, 877.401.6400,

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