Creating a Winning Team

With an eye to the bottom line, operational partnerships between 3PLs and their food customers are more comprehensive and innovative than ever.

“We were able to set up a program here to receive their frozen imported products and have them inspected by the USDA. We then put the products into our tempering facilities and deliver them based on production needs,” explains Kevin McVey, vice president of business development for RLS Logistics in Malaga, NJ.

The frozen meat is brought up to a temperature of around 28 degrees to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. “The meat is still in a semi-frozen state, but when they receive it at their facility, it is not frozen solid and the meat can be further manufactured without chipping, creating higher yields,” McVey explains.


A little over six years ago, The Topps Co. recognized it had several things in common with some of its regional competitors—which could effect benefits for all. Topps talked with Kane is Able (its 3PL) and another confectionery manufacturer warehousing with Kane about developing a unique co-loading program.

“We had a common customer base and we both utilized a unique national distribution network of independent regional temperature-control carriers,” says Ron Zaykowski, director of supply chain management for Topps in Duryea, PA. “We realized we could achieve economies of scale if we had Kane buying transportation collectively on behalf of both of us.”

Topps’ products, and those of its load consolidation partners, require temperature-control shipping to protect them from high heat and humidity.

So Topps began optimizing its order-flow process at the shipment planning stage, which reduced lead times by pooling freight with other participants in the program.

“Kane embraced this opportunity to morph itself into a provider beyond its traditional warehousing and distribution services because this concept made a lot of sense,” Zaykowski says. “This innovative idea has grown into an extremely successful national outbound temperature-control shipping program unique in today’s competitive environment.”

Even more noteworthy is the fact that Topps and the other participants recommended professionals they knew could effectively manage such a program. “These were experienced people who were self-starters who could really develop this kind of program,” continues Zaykowski. “So establishing the program was collaborative right down to who was going to manage the program.”

Topps eventually handed off the coordination of its outbound confectionery shipment planning and outbound transportation to Kane. “All their products are shipped to us from their manufacturing locations and we store the products in northeastern Pennsylvania,” reports Kane.

Kane handles all the inventory management software, sharing real-time inventory data with Topps via EDIs. Topps’ finance department relies on the data to review inventory levels, and Topps’ supply chain personnel use the data to service its customers.

“So that is a delicate balance, because financial wants inventory as minimal as possible and supply chain wants enough to fulfill orders,” Kane says.


Detention charges at intermodal yards are something DSC Logistics can handle effectively for Pinnacle Foods Corp. of Cherry Hill, NJ.

“A lot of Pinnacle’s products are very heavy and originate from the Midwest and East Coast, so they ship quite a bit intermodally,” says Joey Davidson, director of business development for Chicago-based DSC Logistics.

DSC operates two California DCs for Pinnacle—one in Tracy handling deliveries in northern California, Oregon, Idaho and Washington; and one in Mira Loma handling deliveries in southern California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona.

Shipments of seasonal products like pickles and cake mix created problems because of the surge in volume during those times. “It’s not like you can even out the flow of products during these seasons,” continues Davidson. “So they wound up paying detention charges at the ramp, especially during their surge periods.”

To overcome this, DSC began a drop-and-hook program to have a drayage company pick up the containers once they were dropped off at the rail yard in southern California.

“The dray brings the containers to our facility and even if we don’t have the capacity to unload trailers when they are dropped here, we store them in our secured lot until we can unload them into our DC,” says Davidson, noting that Pinnacle saves about 70 percent on its inbound costs since using the program that began last fall.

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