First in Food

First in Food

At Columbian Logistics Network, 1st in foodwe are often asked what makes us the best in the delicate science of food logistics. To put it another way: what makes us First in Food?  A typical answer would rattle off a number of certifications and point to a rigorous training program (which we have). A less typical answer would reference an organizational chart staffed to food safety accountability (which we also have). At Columbian Logistics, however, food safety is personal. It permeates the culture, the processes, and the systems…and it is everyone’s job.

Recently, a Columbian employee on the sales team was walking through a warehouse for an impromptu tour and discussion. At the spur of the moment, the sales person and the potential customer decided to use the side entrance to the warehouse.  This secured entrance is only accessible by Columbian employees with the appropriate badge. Upon noticing two unrecognized persons on the warehouse floor, a lift truck operator reported the unknown visitors to his supervisor. The Warehouse Supervisor then met the tour in the middle of the warehouse floor and politely, but firmly, asked the visitors to come to the front office to sign in properly, review the food safety guidelines, and obtain a proper badge for the visitor. The tour group complied, and the customer mentioned that this level of attention was clearly not being paid at other warehouses he had visited. At Columbian, it was par for the course. Both the lift truck operator and supervisor were recognized at the next all-employee meetings for this demonstration of food safety (protection from unintentional harm) and food defense (protection from intentional harm) mentality.

Similarly, a recent Continuous Improvement suggestion came in from lift truck operators indicating that, especially in nasty winter weather, trailers being spotted to the door would occasionally not be lined up exactly with the dock shelters on the outside walls. Citing food safety and worker safety concerns, a request was made to modify the Yard Management System (YMS) to provide a way to prompt drivers to re-spot the trailer in a way that provides a proper seal from the outside. One small modification later, and the warehouse now has a “re-spot button” that sends a signal to the tablet in the switching unit and keeps everyone moving. This tremendous gain in productivity and safety was accomplished through our Continuous Improvement program, but at its core was a concern for food safety and worker safety.

Many organizations can point to plaques on walls or organizational charts in order to stake a claim on a food logistics culture. You will find many of those bona fides nearby on this page. Many firms that claim to specialize in the food business focus entirely on finished goods- cases on pallets ready for the store shelf. Our focus looks far upstream from there. On a daily basis, we handle raw food ingredients, packaging materials, Work in Progress (WIP) inventory, allergens, and more. For us, food logistics is not an industry, it is a way of life…and it is personal.

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