- Food Logistics
- Manufacturing Support Services
Congratulations! You have successfully executed your Request for Proposal (RFP) event and contracted all of your new carriers. You have even acquired some pricing locked in for two years. All of your plant locations have routing instructions, and your vendors are onboard with entering your inbound material shipments into your Enterprise Resource Planning’s (ERP) transportation module for automatic carrier selection and tendering.
Your freight is ready to be moved within the model you have set up. You have spent a significant amount of time on network design, planning, procurement, and contracting. Then suddenly, you realize that you did not clearly and formally define expectations for performance, measures, score-carding, communication, performance improvement, and corrective action. How will you control this beast?
First, do some reflection on your business. What value, service, or product are you selling to your clients? Is the nature of your market place and competition dynamic with compressed timelines and high volatility or is it more relaxed with a slow-boat modus operandi? This element and many other business rules will determine how you choose to measure performance and success in your supply chain. Functional areas from Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) integration, freight invoicing, status tracking, timely acceptance of orders and load tenders, and communication of all information related to your supply chain is fair game when considering how to manage relationships with carriers.
The key to keeping a strong and positive relationship with your carrier partners is setting realistic expectations early enough in the procurement process. Make sure to have clear expectations for measurement types and frequency, time period, intent of the program, improvement, and corrective action processes toward mutual benefit. If there is value to the partner beyond retention of your business, you will be much more successful.
Many shippers utilize partner relationships in their supply chains, relying on a network of carriers, storage facilities and technology providers to keep their business moving. Tying all of the disparate services into a cohesive network is costly challenge. Columbian Logistics Network provides a blended solution of transportation and warehousing for it’s customers. “We recently had a warehousing customer who was having a difficult time finding transportation for Midwest shipments. Vetting carriers, negotiating rates, it was draining a lot of their resources. We were able to step in and move product on our trucks, and turning on that service took a fraction of the time because of our pre-existing relationship” Notes Doug Johnson, Vice President at Columbian Logistics Network.
Regional Freight & Blended Solutions
Trucks with the Columbian Logistics name are a common sight on Michigan roads, providing pool distribution throughout the state every day, but Columbian has also operated a fleet of short haul trucks under the name ‘Sprinter Services’ since the mid 80’s. These trucks service routes from the Grand Rapids dispatch center to points within Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Wisconsin. “Our customers prefer working with us because we take the time to learn about their business and provide solutions that support on-time delivery and cost goals. We are more than just shipping from point A to point B” stresses Erick Haskell, General Manager of Transportation.
For customers with national freight needs, the Transportation Management group taps into a deep network of carrier partners to develop custom solutions. “We can leverage our spend to secure competitive rates for our customer, and our team has the industry experience and tools to manage transportation very efficiently” notes Paul Laidler, Director of Logistics Operations. One specific example is shipping status report on all orders, generated for a customer daily. “It’s saved our customer’s Service Reps a lot of time emailing and calling for each update.”
Clean Transportation: Food Safety Specialists
While the Columbian Logistics transportation customer profiles runs the gamut of industries, from automotive parts to paper and packaging, food and beverage manufacturers can find an extra level of security in Columbian’s focus on food safety and security. “Shipping can be an area of high risk with dock delays and dirty trailers. Our warehouses are SQF & AIB certified, and we operate under a HACCP plan. We apply those same principals to our trucks to ensure products are not compromised in transit.” Notes Haskell. A ‘Clean Trailer’ program implemented across the Columbian fleet provides an effective framework for drivers, and is also extended to carrier partners via the Transportation Management Group.
Capacity and Service
Utilizing one partner for warehousing and transportation can save valuable time and money for shippers. You can learn more about our fleet and blended service at www.columbianlogistics.com/transportation or call anytime at 616-514-1904.