"Retailers are looking to increase their turns and that goes back on manufacturers, changing our mix on what we do," says Tony Lucarelli, executive vice president of Henningsen Cold Storage Co. in Hillsboro, OR. "We see higher inventory turns now than in the past and that is driven by retailers wanting to keep less product in their DC. For example, many vegetables are harvested during a particular three-month season and the inventory needs to be stored in bulk the whole year. Companies are getting that inventory in and out every few weeks now."
What are the new demands from customers today? Lower cost, more efficient means of information flow and better service, along with enhanced food safety and security, according to Tippmann of Interstate Warehousing.
"Flexibility and great communication in everything we do," adds Andrew Janson, executive vice president of business development for Hanson Logistics, St. Joseph, MI. "We are being asked to provide transportation solutions into our facilities and then on to our customers. Freight consolidation is at the top of the list. We are answering this call by expanding our services into the Chicago market with the addition of a new ‘best in class' consolidation center."
At U.S. Cold Storage in Cherry Hill, NJ, Jerome Scherer, vice president of national sales, marketing and government affairs, says customers are asking for fully integrated warehouse and transportation services supported by online visibility for inventory and order flow information, highly accurate and timely order fill and delivery and partnership relationships.
USCS operates 30 full service facilities consisting of nearly 130 million cubic feet of refrigerated warehouse space. It offers a wide range of cold storage services that incorporate RF scanning, transportation management and integrated logistics supported by eUSCOLD online services for real time information access and order placement.
PRWs Step Up
"We are looking to expand across the U.S.," says Lucarelli of Henningsen Cold Storage. "We now have eight facilities: five in the West, two in the Midwest and one in the Northeast. Historically, we've been a manufacturing support company, locating our facilities next to theirs. Our PRWs in Oregon and Washington provide both manufacturer's support and distribution services."
Interstate Warehousing/Tippmann Group is upgrading its warehouse management system after spending two years evaluating WMS systems world-wide, leading to selecting Red Prairie as its provider. "We have implemented it in three out of 12 locations, with complete conversion planned in 24 months," says Tippmann. "Not only has our WMS reduced office and warehouse labor, it has enhanced our accuracy and customer satisfaction."
Janson of Hanson Logistics credits the success of his company and its customers to his employees. "We strive to hire the best teammates we can find, and continuously train and work to retain them with an excellent compensation/benefits package," he reports. "Our business is a people business. Our teammates are our most important assets. Technology is improving all of the time. We are doing our constantly working to stay up to date with the most proven technology available as well as continue to expand our transportation service offerings to meet our specific customer needs."
Scherer of USCS says his company has been doing the following:
Expansion of existing facilities to meet growing customer needs;
- Modification of facility designs from bulk warehousing to order pick/distribution racking and layouts;
- Construction of "greenfield" facilities in new geographic areas to expand national distribution capabilities on behalf of existing and new customers;
- Complete redevelopment of IT systems to integrate services;
- Nationwide RF bar code system implementation for WMS;
- Use of voice recognition technology for warehouse operations;
- Adaptation of Internet-based customer service applications and full implementation;
- Adaptation toward paperless systems;
- Expansion of services to include cross docking, trans-loading and short hold storage;
- Just-in-time programs for raw material supply to manufacturers;
- Development of billing systems for variable storage periods and SKU level rating;
- Development and implementation of USCS TMS for effective transportation management;
- Retrofit of existing facilities and redesign of newly constructed facilities with energy efficient equipment and materials;
- RFID services development.