The consolidation program guarantees the availability of appointments, which is a big benefit, notes Slawny. Prior to operating the consolidation program, Gehl occasionally faced situations where the customer agreed to accept late delivery because it did not have an appointment available. “The spot market was getting better and more reliable. But we had no way to know for certain, so we made the decision to partner with a proven provider. We went from having to bid and schedule dozens of separate LTLs each week for our customer – to shipping far fewer consolidated loads through a single dispatcher. When everything leaves as a full truck, your average time spent per case sold drops significantly.”
The biggest benefit, reports Slawny, is the reduced time required in scheduling and loading trucks. “Prior to this program, everything for this customer went out as LTL. The thing is it doesn’t take that much longer to load a full truck as it does to load a quarter of a truck. You still need a bill of lading, an appointment, and you need to back the truck up to the dock. Now we can put more on a truck, which reduces the number of trucks waiting and the time to load them. We have been able to increase the amount of product going off our dock without having to add any additional personnel.”
Heard It through the Grapevine
Most of us have grown up knowing the familiar smiling arbor maid on boxes of raisins we might have found in our school lunch bags. About 66 percent of the over 240 million pounds of raisins and dried fruits Sun-Maid Growers of California produces annually is sold in the US. The company also enjoys a robust market overseas, where it sells the remaining 34 percent of its products to retailers in 57 countries. About 75 percent of the company’s product is raisins, with the remaining percentage accounting for over 30 different varieties of dried fruits, reports Slinkard.
Sun-Maid utilizes the services of several regional consolidation providers to ship product to 18 warehouses in North America for distribution to national retailers. It maintains multi-week inventories in each of these warehouses.
Sun-Maid has been operating its consolidation program (serving Texas and Oklahoma) with Dallas-based Shippers Warehouse for about 15 years. Shippers Warehouse approached Sun-Maid with its program, called Grocery Direct Consolidated Transportation (GDCT), because of the inherent benefits the logistics provider envisioned for Sun-Maid. “Sun-Maid sells its goods to retail grocery customers in LTL quantities, exactly the target consignee group that GDCT was designed for and put in place to serve,” explains Ken Johnson, president and CEO of Shippers Warehouse.
The real advantage of partnering with Shippers Warehouse is the consolidation information the provider shares with its clients, reports Slinkard. “They give us good rates and even better rates whenever they consolidate our loads. There are other warehouses in that region that could charge about the same for warehousing, storage, and handling. But what distinguishes Shippers Warehouse from other providers is the additional savings we get.”
Slinkard is "ecstatic" when he receives his monthly report from Shippers Warehouse. “It shows me how I am saving thousands and thousands of dollars every month because of the consolidations. This helps me keep my budget numbers reasonable.” He adds that Shippers Warehouse provides to its clients monthly reports showing the exact number of loads shipped and the additional savings resulting from consolidations. “Although some providers out there will consolidate shipments, we found they sometimes keep the additional savings for themselves.”
Retailers like the program as well because rather than having to receive five separate trucks with partial loads, they can receive one truck with product from those five vendors, explains Slinkard. “So there is only one appointment necessary, one truck, one truck driver, and one dock that is tied up. It is simply a lot more efficient.”
Products are picked up at the Kingsburg manufacturing facility, usually by intermodal carriers like JB Hunt, Schneider, or NYK Logistics. Shipments travel intermodally to the Dallas warehouse, where Shippers Warehouse inventories about 70 different Sun-Maid SKUs. “They maintain several weeks’ worth of inventory for each of those SKUs, then they draw from those stocks to fill orders for the individual retailers in that region,” explains Slinkard. “So the inbound deliveries are meant to replenish their stock.”