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West Coast and California Logistics Blog

The Importance of Scalability in ECommerce Order Fulfillment

Growing from 100 orders per month to 15,000 per month.  For most companies, that’s a dream come true.  But if you have the wrong solution in place for eCommerce order fulfillment, that’s a dream that may never materialize.  Here at Weber, this type of quick growth spurt can, and has, happened with eCommerce order fulfillment clients.  The only way to handle it is to have an operation that can seamlessly scale to meet the uptick in demand. 

California SB 1402: What You Need to Know

Does your logistics operation source drayage services in California?  If so, read on as new legal developments in the state can put you on the hook for damages if the drayage provider you hire is misclassifying employees as independent owner/operators.

This latest shot across the bow in California’s labor battles comes in the form of California Senate Bill 1402 (SB 1402).  The Bill was signed by Governor Brown on September 22, 2018 and will take effect on January 1, 2019.  In this article, we’ll summarize the new Bill and explain what it means for shippers and other companies that hire port drayage companies in the state of California.

Finding the Optimal California Warehouse Space for Your Products

California.  A very big state with a very big population.  In fact, it’s the largest consumer market in the U.S. and thus a very sensible place to have a distribution center.  Making California even more sensible, from a distribution perspective, is the fact that most of the Pan-Pacific freight arrives via its ports.  For many companies, these combined facts make logistics strategy simple: place a DC in California close to the arriving port and the West Coast distribution riddle is solved.

Looking a bit closer, however, we can see that West Coast distribution isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.  In this article, we’ll take a closer look at choosing the right California warehouse space for your company and the impact it has on your port-to-market speed.

How to Reduce Your Chassis Rental Fee

When considering all the costs involved in getting your containerized goods from port to market, it’s easy to think of all the “big” things that drive up your spend.  These big-ticket items include your ocean carrier, drayage, and warehousing costs. 

As your container makes its way through your supply chain, however, there’s a smaller – but cumulatively significant – cost that is likely eating away at your margins: the chassis rental fee.  In this article, we’ll examine key ways to reduce this fee and improve the profitability of your operation.

Select an Asset-Based Carrier for Drayage to Speed Distribution

Many companies will choose to have their ocean carrier perform “port-to-door” drayage services.  While this approach may be convenient, it can also be detrimental to your port-to-market distribution speed as it’s easy to become a small fish in a big ocean carrier pond. When you turn to an asset-based carrier such as a 3PL provider for drayage, its assets are as good as yours.

Importing from Asia: Selecting the Right Shipping Port

Your company has made a cost-driven decision to manufacturer in Asia and import from Asia back into the U.S.  The by-product of that decision is a much lengthier supply chain and cash cycle.  Your job, in logistics, is to mitigate the negative impacts of your import supply chain by designing an efficient U.S. distribution strategy.  And one of the first things you will need to decide is your destination port. For this decision, you’ll need to look at the impact of port location on time-to-market, customer satisfaction, freight costs and inventory costs. 

Weber Opens New Long Beach Drayage Facility

Weber Logistics has opened a new port drayage facility in Long Beach, CA, less than 1 mile from the port.  Situated within the Overweight Corridor, this new facility will handle Los Angeles and Long Beach port drayage, as well as transloading, and weight reduction for overweight loads to make them compliant with California highway regulations. 

FROM PORT TO MARKET: How to Speed Distribution of Asian Imports to West Coast Ports

There’s a new supply chain mantra in the post-Amazon era, and that mantra is SPEED.

Whether you are delivering to retailers or consumers, or both, customers want products faster in a more predictable time window.

If you import from Asia, your company has made a strategic decision to lengthen its supply chain to lower actual product costs. While you can’t control this decision, you can control how goods are transported and what happens once a container hits U.S. shores. It’s here that you can make a real difference to your company’s financial health by reducing supply chain cycle time and shrinking the cash cycle.

Weber Adds New Inland Empire Warehouse

Weber Logistics has opened a 300,000-square-foot warehouse in Eastvale, CA (Inland Empire Region) for distribution of food and consumer packaged goods for multiple clients.

Container Drayage Companies: Securing Reliable Capacity Despite the Driver Shortage

As container volumes at West Coast ports continue to increase year after year, it’s becoming more difficult to move those containers inland.  The problem?  Container drayage companies simply don’t have enough drivers to meet demand.  And, when you are fortunate enough to secure dray capacity, you can expect to pay 10 to 15% more than you were just a few years ago. 

eCommerce Fulfillment Services: Thinking Outside the (Amazon) Box

Just as Scotch is to transparent tape and Kleenex is to tissue paper, Amazon is synonymous with eCommerce.  If you’re selling products online, chances are a sizeable portion of your efforts take place on Amazon’s site with its 197 million users per month. 

But, just because Amazon’s marketplace is where you want your products to be, doesn’t mean that Amazon’s fulfillment service (Fulfillment By Amazon – FBA) is the best method for you to store your products and ship them after sale on Amazon or anywhere else.  There are many third-party logistics (3PL) providers that, although smaller than FBA, are just as adept at handling your eCommerce fulfillment services.

Location and Cost Make Central Valley Logistics a Win-Win

California’s Central Valley consists of all or part of 19 counties in the center of the state – extending from Bakersfield in the South up near Redding in the north.  It’s home to the state capitol of Sacramento, and is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world.  In addition to “the Big Tomato” (one of Sacramento’s many nicknames) and the over 230 crops grown in the Valley (tomatoes included), the Central Valley is home to a burgeoning logistics industry. 

In fact, when it comes to balancing location and cost, Central Valley logistics offers a combination of the two that is unparalleled on the West Coast. 

Can you successfully fight chargebacks issued by retailers?

True or false: when a retailer issues a chargeback penalty to you, the fine is permanent and indisputable. 

In our experience as a 3PL provider, we find that chargebacks can be based on incorrect or incomplete information and are often worthy candidates for dispute. 

In this article, we’ll provide tips to help you fight these chargebacks and reverse unwarranted penalties. 

Advantages of the Port of Oakland for Import Freight

Just as Hollywood blockbuster films get more notoriety than independent films, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach tend to get all the attention when it comes to the movement of inbound container freight to the West Coast.  After all, these ports are the busiest in the U.S. and have set new volume records yet again in 2017.

As with a well-crafted indie film, however, the Port of Oakland should not be overlooked.  It set records of its own in 2017 and is increasingly relied upon as a port of entry for U.S. importers.

Finding the Right 3PL Provider: Is Your Growth Journey a Logistics Dream or Nightmare?

It was a great day for your business – Costco agreed to carry your product, both in stores and online. Awesome!  

Your team worked hard for this deal and, after the celebration, you went home for some much-needed rest before starting to tackle this great new opportunity the next day with your current third party logistics partner (3PL).

That night, a vivid dream transports you to your desk the following morning. You call your 3PL provider to begin discussing a rapid ramp-up process for planned volume increases. But instead of excitement about the new opportunity, your 3PL instead expresses concern and tempers your expectations about what can be done and how fast.

3PL Onboarding and Retail Compliance Requirements

Whether it’s your first time outsourcing or you’re changing providers, partnering with a new third-party logistics (3PL) provider is an exciting time for your logistics operation.  It is a time for your weaknesses to be turned into strengths and for vital elements of your supply chain to be optimized.  As part of this, your 3PL will be focused on enhancing your performance in the eyes of your retailer partners, and meeting – and exceeding – your retail compliance requirements.  And it all begins during the onboarding process. 

Product Distribution: Shrink Order-to-Delivery Cycle Time with Transloading and Deconsolidation

Transloading is by no means a new method of product distribution, but the rationale for implementing it has changed over the years.   In the past, transload operations were primarily a cost-savings play as the contents of multiple 20-foot and 40-foot ocean containers can fit into relatively fewer 53-foot domestic trailers.  This results in fewer trips and therefore lower costs.   With the “Amazon-ization” of the supply chain, however, transloading – and its ally, deconsolidation – continues to thrive as a go-to strategy for a different reason: speeding order-to-delivery time. 

C-TPAT Certification: Is it right for you?

Created in the aftermath of 9/11, the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) was formed to strengthen and protect foreign trade and U.S. border security.  It is a private-public partnership between the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and companies such as importers, exporters and many other supply chain professionals.  By pursuing C-TPAT certification, member companies can enjoy a variety of supply chain benefits that can boost operational safety and efficiency.  For some companies, however, these benefits may not outweigh the effort needed to meet requirements. 

Food Distribution Logistics: Finding a 3PL Who Has What It Takes

Handing all or part of your food distribution operation over to a third-party logistics (3PL) provider may seem like a leap of faith.  After all, you’re relying on the 3PL’s ability to maintain food quality throughout the distribution cycle and to keep your company compliant with FDA and other requirements.  But with the proper due diligence, you can be confident in a provider’s ability to drive superior performance in all areas, from compliance and safety to operational execution and cost control. 

Here are a few key questions you should ask as part of your qualification process for food distribution partners. 

Finding the Right 3PL for Chemical Warehousing Solutions

There is no shortage of third-party logistics providers (3PLs) that claim chemical logistics expertise and have space for your hazardous and non-hazardous chemicals.  But, separating the seasoned pros from the less qualified operations can be difficult.  In this post, we identify 5 tips to help you find the right 3PL provider for safe and reliable chemical warehousing solutions.

3 Candy Transportation Habits You May Need to Break

When it comes to eating too much candy, some people find it a hard habit to break.  And, when it comes to candy transportation, many confectionery shippers have a few bad habits of their own.  The following details three common examples.

Retail Suppliers: Why Supply Chain Metrics are Critical to Retaining Your Business

In modern baseball, the analysis of player performance has less to do with time-honored traits (e.g., power, speed, agility) and increasingly more to do with metrics.  With these metrics, teams define the “best” players as those that perform well in key statistical areas like “on-base percentage” and “slugging percentage” – not necessarily who can hit the ball the farthest.  

The same is true in the modern supply chain, where – like baseball analysts – retailers keep score and measure statistics. And that close scrutiny ultimately increases the pressure on you, the retail supplier.

Air Freight Shipping: When Does It Make Sense?

Air freight shipping.  In the eCommerce world, it’s a major component of everyday business.  For freight shippers outside of eCommerce, however, it’s far less common than truck, rail, and ocean transport.

Refrigerated Transport: Multi-Temperature Safety Considerations

“Can you transport products with different temperatures together and do it safely?” 

Can One Warehouse Store Different Temperature-Sensitive Products?

Storing different temperature-sensitive products together is a little like running a pet store.  While they may have very different care requirements, a lizard, a puppy, and a goldfish can all co-exist safely under the same pet shop roof provided their individual needs are met. 

The same holds true in the warehouse, as products with totally different – and often opposite – requirements can be stored together safely as long as appropriate measures are taken. 

Hazardous Material Storage: Frequently Asked Questions

If performed incorrectly, hazardous material storage can be an extremely dangerous undertaking.  A single slip up or oversight doesn’t just impact line items on a balance sheet, it puts lives at risk.  With the right provider, however, hazmat storage can be just as safe as the storage of any non-hazmat item. 

Optimizing Long-Haul, Temperature-Controlled LTL Shipments

There is currently no solid national solution for long-haul, temperature-controlled LTL shipments between 55 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit.  Consequently, candy manufacturers and other shippers with this temperature requirement use a multi-stop truckload solution to move goods to retailers in different regions. This strategy poses increasing problems as TL capacity tightens and as retailers levy tougher penalties for shipments that don’t hit requested arrival dates (RADs). For shippers feeling this pinch, a pool distribution strategy may be a lower-risk, lower-cost alternative.

Mexico Logistics: Manufacturing in Mexico, Distribution in the U.S.

For many companies, Mexico has long been an ideal manufacturing location due to lower costs and close proximity to American consumers.  What has often been less than ideal, however, is the distribution of those finished goods after they leave the plant.  Mexico logistics is often fraught with hurdles such as border uncertainties, inadequate warehouse capacity, and security concerns.  To overcome these hurdles, many companies are enjoying the best of both worlds: manufacturing in Mexico and shipping finished goods to a U.S. logistics facility for distribution. 

Detention Charges in Shipping: What They Are and How to Prevent Them

When your container reaches its destination port, a lot needs to happen before your goods get to market. At this point, it is possible to begin incurring accessorial charges, which can pile up quickly. In this blog post, we’ll cover detention charges in shipping – one of the most common charges you’ll want to avoid after your container hits the port. 

Where Should I Locate My SoCal Warehouse?

The logistics question of where to locate your company’s distribution centers and how many you should have is pretty complex. Some consultants charge tens of thousands of dollars to gather the details and develop a software-aided recommendation.

But if you import goods via the Port of LA or Long Beach and you’ve made the choice to distribute from Southern California, analyzing the best SoCal warehouse location is a bit easier to do.

Importing Into LA: 5 Cost-Saving Tips for Shippers

The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are the busiest ports in the U.S., handling over $450 billion worth of goods each year.  This kind of volume leads to congestion that can really slow down your supply chain, and your cash cycle.  If you are importing into LA or Long Beach, here are 5 tips that can save you time, money, and quite a few headaches.   

FBA Shipping:  A Double-Edged Sword for Online Sellers

For online sellers, Amazon.com is a major double edged sword.

On the plus side, the marketplace gives sellers direct access to 250 million buyers. According to Forbes, 4 of every 10 dollars spent online goes to Amazon. Sellers can’t afford not to list their goods there, and Amazon knows it – which brings us to the other side of that very sharp sword.

Can One Warehouse Handle All Types of Hazmat Chemical Storage?

Several types of chemicals occupying the same storage facility.  Sounds dangerous, right?  It doesn’t need to be. 

Can Your 3PL Meet Walmart On Time In Full Requirements?

Walmart’s relationship with its suppliers has made headlines recently as the retail giant implements its new On Time In Full (OTIF) policy that will dole out fines for late, early, and incorrect deliveries. 

Negotiating 3PL Contracts

The retailers and manufacturers who use third party logistics (3PL) services agree: logistics outsourcing is an effective strategy to drive down operating costs, while improving service. But one area that can be a sticking point is 3PL contracts. We’ve got some tips to make this process go smoother.

How to Reduce Port Fees in Southern California

For large-volume importers, drayage costs and port fees can eat up a good chunk of the transportation budget. So it pays to dig in and understand where the money is being spent and whether smarter, cheaper alternatives exist.

Managing Client Relationships

3PL partnerships work best when both parties are engaged and understand each other.  Like any relationship, it takes some work to get to the ideal level of partnership.  The 2017 Annual Study on the State of Logistics Outsourcing published by Dr. C. John Langley stated:  91% of 3PL users and 97% of 3PL providers reported that their relationships are successful and that their work is yielding positive results.  Following are three keys to establishing an effective successful relationship and avoid a costly breakup and transition.

A Spotlight on KPI Metrics: On-Time Shipping

Holding your 3PL accountable to deliver on the service promise can be difficult.  However, a key component of that is monitoring key performance indicators (KPI’s).

Characteristics of GREAT Teamwork

Throughout my career in logistics, teamwork has been an essential – and rewarding -- part of my operational SOP. Everyone’s role is vital in a successful operation;that synergy ultimatelydrives productivity, quality, and timeliness. 

Handling your Supply Chain this Holiday Season

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the holiday season are critical periods for many companies. For both brick-and-mortar retailers and online merchants, the holidays may be the year's peak sales period, representing in excess of 50% of their annual business. With so much on the line, it is critical to be prepared.

Different Generations, One Goal

As a company grows, so does its need for new talent, and in today’s workforce there are several generations to choose from. One can select from the well-seasoned Baby Boomer to the green bushytailed Millennials, each with their own strengths. Figuring out the correct balance for a company can be a challenge and takes some understanding of where the company stands in its development. All customers, regardless of their respective generations, are looking for the same things from a 3PL: timely communication, meeting delivery times, and avoiding additional cost. 

Keep in mind the following when dealing with different generations.  

  • Be aware of preferred work styles: Boomers tend to prefer detailed instruction and guidance while Gen X and Millennials work better on teams.
  • Adopting effective communication: This is key for effective and timely communication. Understanding the preferred method of communicating that a customer wants can alleviate communication barriers. For Veterans and Boomers a fixed hour work week can mean they are not reachable after a certain time as they typically prefer a phone call or personal conversation. Millennials, on the other hand, have communicated via technology all their lives, and are continuously connected and readily available as such -- a text message later in the evening many not be intruding.  
  • -Identifying the most successful feedback techniques: Understanding how the generations view feedback can help avoid pestering clients with hourly updates, or on the flip side, worrying them with minimal updates. Developing a relationship with customers can lead to a clearer and tailored feedback channel. A “No news is good news,” approach may suit a Boomer client, but the same approach would not be suitable for a connected Millennials utilizing live feed software.
  • Recognize the different reactions to conflict: Avoiding conflict should be a primary goal in every customer relationship. However, when problems occur, understanding what approach a customer will take can expedite solutions. Whether the customer expresses their concerns via a corporate hierarchy as a sign of respect as is frequent with Boomers, or take an immediate and direct approach as is seen in Gen Y, they are both looking for relief. With this understanding one can present solutions to the right parties or teams both timely and directly, making best use of everyone’s time.

Understanding Warehouse Insurance and Liability

Your products are the life blood of your business. Their secure movement through the supply chain, from manufacturing point to final delivery to your customer, is critical to your success.

Driving Dissent

We all face the drive to “get it done” and usually it means “get it done right now!”  But sometimes in the rush to mark the next item off our “to do” lists, we stop listening. We stop engaging our partners – and we stop listening to constructive dissent which is often the last best defense we have against really getting it wrong!

The Advantages of a 3PL with blended Asset/Non-Asset Based Transportation Services

There are many transportation services to choose from when deciding which one is the right fit for your business.  A company with robust assets – a fleet of actual trucks providing service – paired with a strong network of carrier partners (brokerage) is able to provide a comprehensive, cost-effective transportation solution that may well be the best fit for your needs.

An Introduction to EDI

What is EDI?  EDI is an acronym for Electronic Data Interchange and is commonly defined as: an electronic communication method that provides standards for exchanging data via electronic means without human intervention. 

How to Get a Good 3PL Solution

You realize that partnering with a 3PL service provider can save you money and expand your capabilities.  Yes! Good idea!  Partnering with a 3PL is a smart option to take your business to the next level with a variable cost structure, flexible capacity along with technology and expertise to improve your supply chain.  What are some keys to get the solution you need? 

Why Utilizing a 3PL is Cost Effective

In today’s growing e-commerce world, online businesses are in a position to optimize their operations that will fuel growth, because they are able to focus on a single product-to-consumer distribution channel.  Many of the technical aspects of e-commerce business such as social marketing, website design and content management continue to be executed by in-house staff. These functions are crucial and have to be in house as they are the foundation of growing startups and online business. But when it comes to the operational and logistics aspect of the business, adding on an outside partner that has the knowledge and expertise to optimize your supply chain could provide great value.

5 Ways to Effectively Communicate with Customers

Communication is vital to any business operations but in supply chain it is critical for everyday success. A slip in communication can cause major problems and huge losses down the road. These are the 5 ways to effectively communicate:

4 Mistakes to Avoid This Holiday Season

For many retailers, the holiday season is the biggest and busiest season of the year. Some companies report that up to 40% of their total revenue comes from the holidays alone. Mistakes during this time are costly, especially because there is a very short window of time to make corrections and recoup losses. Below are four mistakes to avoid this holiday season:

4 Key Things to Consider for Chemical Storage Facilities

Storing chemicals is no easy feat; there are numerous rules and regulations that have to be followed. On top of this, regulations change and get stricter over time so it is important to do a thorough investigation of a facility before deciding where to store your product. Here are the top 4 things to consider when choosing a chemical facility:

Benefits of 3PL Services in the Overweight Corridor

In society today, there is a large focus on weight. For many, the temptation of a pink box in the office can be cringing if you are trying to watch the pounds.  Luckily in the logistics world it can be a good thing to be heavy – when it comes to containers. Although overweight containers are not allowed to travel across town, they have a home in the overweight corridor. A distribution plan that includes heavy containers and the overweight corridor can equal great savings.

The Key to Upholding Quality in an Operation: Internal Audit Programs

Does your warehouse or 3PL provider have an internal audit program in place?  It is critical for all operations follow standard operating procedures (SOP’s) – that’s how you get to the quality we need to deliver on our promises. 

Centered around Communication

As the Distribution Center Manager for Weber Logistics’ Stockton facilities, and throughout my career in Warehousing, Logistics and Supply Chain, it has become apparent that one of, if not the, most important factors to success in the field is communication.

A Partnership Approach to 3PL Logistics

What is the key to a successful business? We all have a common goal and that is to grow our businesses. The key is to bring in new partners and not just customers. You want to form new partnerships and not categorize them as customers. Here are the principals to the partnership approach - 

Leading High Performance Teams

Management practices have evolved over the last 40 years or so. There has been a slow but unmistakable move towards a more inclusive and more open leadership style. That style supports a level of informality and dissent that is sometimes difficult for some of us old timers!  Still, there is a lot to be said for the honest communication this style engenders.

Trust: Key for a Successful Third Party Logistics Partnership

With any good relationship’s foundation you will find trust. We constantly hear it. Just trust me. Without any backing or reasoning, just TRUST ME. Now if referencing dinner, okay… I trust you, but let’s raise the stakes… your life? your children’s lives? Not so easy now. Well for many their company is their life or their child. You can’t expect someone to trust you with their company’s livelihood just because you say so.

Gear Up for SOLAS Compliance

We have all heard about SOLAS by now, but the time has come to ramp up efforts for compliance. Do you have all the facts? We have gathered information from credible sites to create FAQs that can help sum up the new regulation.

Tips for Choosing a 3PL for Pharmaceuticals

Pharmaceuticals have become a necessary expense for almost all Americans. Nearly 60% of all Americans are taking prescription drugs and 80% are taking over the counter drugs. According to statista.com, the total number of nominal spending on medicines in the US was $425 billion and projected to increase to $574 billion in 2019. As the industry continues to grow pharmaceutical manufacturers must keep up with the increasing demand.

There are high stakes in the supply chain process of pharmaceuticals. Not just anyone can handle the rigorous demands the pharmaceutical industry brings. Challenges include health and safety regulations, close temperature monitoring, product integrity and more. As pharmaceutical manufactures look to 3PLs to outsource logistics services, there are many things to consider besides price.

Where it’s Good to be Heavy – The Overweight Corridor

In society today, there is a large focus on weight. For many, the temptation of a pink box in the office can be cringing if you are trying to watch the pounds.  Luckily in the logistics world it can be a good thing to be heavy – when it comes to containers. Although overweight containers are not allowed to travel across town, they have a home in the overweight corridor. A distribution plan that includes heavy containers and the overweight corridor can equal great savings.

What to Expect After the 3PL Selection Process

As the saga of the 3PL selection process comes to an end and a contract is signed, one must prepare for what comes next. A new journey with your 3PL is now beginning; a journey called the onboarding process.

The onboarding process shows a great deal about the 3PL partner you selected. At this time the truth comes out; maybe you received amazing rates, but now experience a lack of service and attention. Maybe you paid well above market price, but the service is impeccable. Regardless, you want to know what you are getting into, good or bad. A company’s onboarding process will ultimately say a great deal of how it operates in the long run and will set the tone for the relationship.

Feel Confident with your Chemical Logistics Selection

chemical_warehouse.jpgAs consumers we live in a world where we are forced to constantly make decisions. Some require a great deal of time and research such as buying a car and some are simpler such as buying lunch. Although some may argue that is a greater feat. Nevertheless, there are endless options. With all the options available today, how do you decide and be confident in your decision?

Well, chemical logistics is no different. There are a variety of options to be considered.  Although we think we are AWESOME. Your choice for a chemical warehousing facility should not be based off our bias. We want you to be fully confident and 100% on board with your decision.

That is why we have a worksheet with 7 tips to choosing a partner for chemical storage and distribution. These will help you find what questions to ask when looking at prospective partners and key things to look for.

Here are just a few of the tips you will find:

Check the provider’s reputation with objective sources.

Don’t rely on the 3PL’s marketing claims to gauge capabilities. Check those claims against the opinions of outside companies and agencies familiar with the provider. For instance, local fire departments with jurisdiction over the provider’s warehouses are part of the local permitting process and will be aware of the company’s ability to manage health, safety, security and  environmental requirements for hazmat storage. With a little research, it may also be possible to identify the 3PL’s current or past customers. Call up these companies and ask for a candid assessment.

Choose a partner for present and future needs.

Too many Requests for Proposals ask only about a 3PL’s ability to address current needs. Instead, you should anticipate your needs well into the future and look for a partner that can satisfy these requirements to avoid the cost and risk involved in switching providers. For instance, today you may not be moving goods via rail, but you may want to exploit this lower-cost shipping option in the future. In that case, choosing a warehouse with a rail spur is smart planning. Likewise, your need today might be for simple pallet in/pallet out storage and distribution. But what if future requirements involve, for instance, repackaging 50-gallon drums into ten 5-gallon pails? Can the provider handle the job? Does the provider even want to do this kind of work?

Look for a provider of integrated services.

You’ll find many candidates for chemical warehouse services and many for last-mile transportation. But the pool of chemical logistics providers that can integrate these services with seamless visibility to product at rest and in motion is much smaller. The advantages of integrating logistics services with one provider include:

  • Maintain the integrity of the product throughout the distribution cycle, including adherence to temperature control requirements.
  • Create a closed loop supply chain by bringing reusable containers back to the warehouse after deliveries.
  • Ease your management administrative


For more tips on vetting chemical warehouse providers, read our Insight paper: Chemical Logistics: 7 Tips for Choosing a Partner for Storage and Distribution.

Key Questions when Looking for Southern California Port Services

When importing goods into Southern California ports, getting cargo through Customs is just the begging of a large puzzle.

You still need to get your containers out of the port, find a transload facility (if overweight), find a warehouse to store your product and transportation for final delivery. That’s a lot of different pieces to put together. The best way to approach this puzzle is with a 3PL partner. They can manage the entire process to ensure all the pieces fall perfectly into place.

Before you select a 3PL, find out what your needs are. Below are some key questions that you may be faced with:

Find the Best Warehouse Pricing the First Time Around

When the search begins for a 3PL, we evaluate and consider many things. One of the make or break factors includes pricing. Now, do you want a rate generated on the spot or are you willing to wait for some number crunching? While some warehouses offer standard rates that can be provided on the spot, these rates may not be the best deal you can get. Most warehouse pricing models use a variety of data which includes product volume, case size, pallet size and weight. Evaluating and manipulating all this data, means if you want the best rate for your situation, it cannot happen overnight.

Establishing a Relationship with Your 3PL Provider: 5 Points to Communicate

With costs consistently rising, a 3PL partnership should be defined by more than just the cost of storing and shipping a pallet. For example, how much value does this 3PL bring? Do you even have a “relationship” or are they simply another vendor sending another invoice? Well, some of the best results are derived from companies who outsourced 3PL services and developed a relationship with them.

Location Key for Supply Chain Services

In California, location is everything! It is considered in almost every decision made. Where to live, where to shop and even where to eat! Just as the importance of location is easily seen in personal day to day life, it is even more important for a business.

The beauty, however, about location is that there is no one perfect place for everyone or everything. Depending on the wants, needs and situation of an individual or company, the perfect location will always vary for different groups.

5 Tips for a Productive and Efficient Warehouse

In the logistics and supply chain industry some of today’s biggest buzzwords are efficiency and productivity. Finding a warehouse that operates efficiently & productively will ultimately reduce costs, so who doesn’t want that!

New Logistics Solutions for Port Services Guide

Ever wonder how you can gain the competitive advantage over your competition? 


How about with an amazing port distribution solution? A new solutions guide for port distribution is now available that explains the basics of utilizing transloading services. We hope after reading this guide, you can then use this knowledge to cut and control your costs.

Say Goodbye to End of Year Inventories

In the past, annual inventories were executed at the end of the year based on an organizations accounting year. While that was a method to get a good annual inventory count, it had its challenges with the following:

3PL’s can Help with Seasonal Fluctuations

As the final holiday push for many companies sends merchandise out of the warehouse and to retailers’ shelves, inventories become minimal and can leave many paying for empty warehouse space. Third party logistics providers are a great option for companies who have fluctuation in their inventories. To save costs, you need someone who can handle these fluctuations with an appropriate structure.

New White Paper on Supply Chain Services in Northern California

Northern California is a large market for supply chain services. It is easy to become overwhelmed at the idea of selecting a particular location for your manufacturing or distribution. Don’t worry, Weber is here to help. We have developed a white paper to help you better understand the Northern California market and reasons to take a second look at choosing Stockton as your primary location.

Shipping Cold Freight? Save Money by Collaborating.

We see the dialogue in films again and again. Two individuals, John and Jane, trying to catch a taxi cab, “Where you headed” asked John, “uptown” said Jane, then John replied “me too, want to split a cab?” Just as a taxi cab will cost the same overall price with one person vs two people inside, wouldn’t you rather share and pay less!

The same principle can be applied to shipping cold freight. Shipping some of your product alone can cost big bucks. That same truck filled with other products going to the same location, equals savings for everyone. The image below can help paint the picture of utilizing pool distribution.


Searching beyond the Digital Surface to find the Right Partner

Technology we love it! Right? Well, when it comes to the dating world, not quite. The days of courtship, chivalry and face to face interaction are not long gone, but they are rare. Dating today can be done by a click of a button or a swipe to the right. Online profiles are set up to share only the things people want others to see, photos of only their best looks and the most adventurous times. Based on surface level information, the dating games begin. As individuals start to date multiple people at once, it becomes a lot of work to keep up with different people; checking your online account, text messages, phone calls and calendar. At what point do you stop and narrow the dating to one individual and attempted a committed relationship to move forward together?

The new world of 3PL selection has many similarities to dating thanks to technology.

Bigger Doesn’t Always Mean Better: Why Regional 3PL Providers are a Perfect Fit

 

Everyone remembers the fairy tale story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears? As a refresher – Goldilocks sat in the chairs of the Papa, Mama and Baby Bear. She ate their porridge. And she finally fell asleep in Baby Bear’s bed after trying out all of them because it was “just right”. This story can be revamped into the 3PL selection process for many companies. Whereas, a company has gone to a national vendor thinking big has got to be better. Isn’t that the philosophy of the American dream?

Unfortunately, this shouldn’t be your approach when you are selecting an important extension of your organization, a partner who will share the responsibility of your supply chain. You need to ensure that you open your discussions to regional players who may be the perfect fit for your organization. Below are a few reasons why a regional provider can be a better fit at this time.

Utilizing Data to Lower Warehouse Rates

We all know how the story goes when it comes to finding the lowest price, “you get what you pay for” they say. Wouldn’t it be nice for once to pay less for great quality! When it comes to warehousing rates, you can. Data is the key!


Check out our Commercial Warehouse Pricing Guide to learn more. This warehouse pricing guide will explain the importance of data and will show you how to utilize your data to get low rates for quality service.

True or False: Cross Docking is to Transloading as Ice Cream is to Gelato ???

At the surface, a scoop of gelato and a scoop of ice cream appear to be the same thing. They look the same, they are both cold. Despite their similarities, we know they are different when we taste the two. What makes them different is the work that is done to create the final product. In the logistics industry, we can look at transloading and cross docking in the same way. The end result appears to be the same; however the manner in which the services are performed to get to the result are different. Transload is a form of cross dock just as gelato is a form of ice cream.

For those new to the supply chain game, we want to help make the services distinguishable. Here are some details about each service to help you find the best suited for your needs.

Benefits of an Upgraded Transportation Management System

Our society today is all about upgrading to the next big thing. We wait in line for hours and hours to get ahold of the newest gadgets. Why? Because, they are usually smarter, better, faster and stronger. Who doesn’t want that, right? Well, a new upgraded transportation management system (TMS) has made Weber’s transportation services smarter, better, faster and stronger. We are excited about its functionality and the capabilities it brings to our team. Here is a list of functions that you can also benefit from by having a provider that utilizes an upgraded TMS.

You Can’t Build Success on a Rocky Foundation: Things to Consider During Onboarding

Any good relationship requires a solid foundation to build upon. In order to establish a solid foundation you need trust, respect and commitment. This same foundation is necessary when partnering with a new third party logistics company. Although each person has their own way of doing things in a relationship, both individuals must trust the other has their best interest in hand. The same principal applies with the client – provider supply chain relationship.

As the onboarding process begins, clients should be open to accepting the standard operating procedures (SOP’s) of their new logistics partner. At Weber we have found may clients want to replicate the systems and procedures they were previously utilizing. If you bring your same routine to your new 3PL partner, you will experience the same results and will NOT maximize efficiencies. Leaving old systems and procedures behind are crucial steps to establish the foundation for success in the short term and long term.

The Same Game with Different Rules - Chemical Warehousing

Chemical Warehousing 101

Whether you’ve been in the game for years or have just jumped in, you know when it comes to chemical warehousing, a whole new rule book applies.

Why Grading a Potential 3PL Partner is Like Grading a Restaurant

Do you ever feel like breaking out of the everyday routine and trying a new dinner spot? Well before hopping in the car and driving aimlessly, try turning to the internet to find suggestions and reviews of a few places. Now what are the key things most people look for in a restaurant? Perhaps… parking availability, the ambiance of the venue, hi-tech ordering gadgets, cleanliness of the restrooms, or price on the menu? Those are all good characteristics to review, however, don’t forget the most important of all… SERVICE!

A lack of service can ruin an entire dinnercheckbox-_service experience and detour you from ever returning regardless of how tasty the food was. Just as you evaluate and value the service at a restaurant, you should evaluate and value the service of a potential third party logistics warehouse. By service we are referring to “associate engagement” within the 3PL. For many companies in the market for a new 3PL, there will be an intense focus on the economics, contract provisions, possibly IT capabilities, however, we know that when associates are engaged in our business and more importantly, in our client’s business, we win and our clients win. If you can refuse to go back to the restaurant, why should your product keep going back to a warehouse with poor service?

Become the Holiday Hero: Prepare your DC for the Food and Beverage Industry during Peak Season

When you think of the holidays, what pops into your mind? Is it a winter wonderland, super sales, nonstop festive music, or is it all the FOOD! Can you image the holidays without your favorite holiday food and drinks to enjoy and share. The holidays would be ruined!

At Weber we don’t want to spoil the holiday spirit. Peak Season is approaching for the food and beverage industry and most are gearing up for holiday distribution. In order to ensure Weber can accommodate all our customer’s needs during this time, here are a few golden rules we use:

 

Reasons to Setup Distribution Services in the Overweight Corridor

When you are in the process of buying a house, what is most important? You always hear… Location! Location! Location! For many, location is the deciding factor. You want to be located in a spot that saves you time, money and allows you to accomplish necessary tasks. The same can be said when searching for a distribution solution. Depending on your needs, your solution may rest in the Inland Empire, near the border, in Northern CA or near the LA/LB ports.

For companies importing products into the Port of Los Angeles or Long Beach, a facility near these ports can be the solution. Shippers who are looking for an overall reduction in their supply chain costs look to be closer to the port. If the facility is in the overweight corridor, this provides even more of an advantage to shippers.

Outsourcing B2B and B2C Fulfillment to Reduce Costs and Complexity

Online shopping continues to grow at exponential rates. As the volume of online sales rises, many companies continue to struggle with managing the distinct fulfillment differences between B2B and B2C channels. The trick is adapting processes to handle picking and packing of individual items for eCommerce fulfillment.

Benefits of a Border Distribution Center

Selecting a location to manufacture and set up distribution is different for all companies. Mexico is re-emerging as a leading location for manufactures due to increasing labor and fuel costs in China and Mexico’s accessibility into the United States. Many companies especially those in the automotive and aerospace industries are taking advantage of the situation manufacturing in Mexico and setting up distribution in the United States along the Mexico border.

The Key to Accurate Warehousing Rates is Accurate Data.

3PLs utilize profile worksheets to calculate rates. Each 3PL has its own worksheet, but the approaches are similar. At Weber, we look at a variety of data, including product volume, case size, pallet size and weight.

Is the Honeymoon Over with your Current 3PL?

Many will say there is no better part of a relationship than the honeymoon phase. Both parties are always there for one another, care extremely about their partner and will do anything and everything to keep their partner happy. You are barely scratching the surface and uncovering your partner’s true identity. Things seemed great at first, but what if you are not so happy now with what you find? Suddenly promises are broken, goals are different and the synergy is gone.

It’s possible you overlooked investigating a few things because they looked great at the surface level. If your 3PL is not living up to the expectations from when you signed the contract, it might be time to start exploring other options and re-evaluating your current provider.

7 Frequent Chargebacks and Steps to Reduce Them

Are you receiving chargeback after chargeback after chargeback? Well, you are not the only one my friend. Companies can lose hundreds of thousands in profit if they do not resolve inadequacies in compliance.

Over the past few decades retailers have amped up their vendor compliance with a view to speeding their order-to-cash cycle times and making their distribution centers maximally efficient.  When goods are not received before or after the expected date or contain errors in labeling the vendor is subject to a chargeback based on the percentage of the value of the shipment.

Seven of the most frequent chargebacks by category include:

6 Tips to Select the Right Chemical Warehouse Partner

What do chlorine, nitrogen and ammonium hydroxide have in common? Well if you guessed THEY ARE DANGEROUS… You are correct! These are EXTREMELY dangerous chemicals that require proper handling. Without the proper knowledge and necessary caution these products can create havoc for any person or company.

Hazardous chemicals cannot be stored at any location. They have a huge liability and not just any one can handle this product. It can become a headache trying to find the right partner to store your product with and trusting it will be in good hands. Weber is here to try and reduce the stress; we have put together some tips to help you in the selection process for a chemical warehouse partner.

The Latest on West Coast Ports: One Year Since Labor Negotiations Began

Nearly one year has passed since labor negotiations began in May 2014 between the Pacific Maritime Association and International Longshore and Warehouse Union. On February 20, 2015 they came to a tentative 5 year agreement. The ILWU membership voted on their tentative agreement May 22 and approved the contract. The five year contract, which is retroactive to July 1, 2014, will expire on July 1, 2019. 

Looking back a year ago before the negotiations, teamsters picketing, chassis shortage and increased volumes… there was a standard “normal” in efficiencies. Vessel, yard and gate operations have been improving in recent weeks, yet have not returned to normal. Recent articles by the JOC discuss the expectations and challenges of the West Coast ports now and in the near future which can be summarized below: 

Is getting back to "normal" a good thing?

Yes. Getting back to that “normal” is great because it means the ports are on the road to recovery. Since last fall there has been extreme congestion and backlog with a peak of 28 vessels at anchor waiting for a birth to open up. The Marine Exchange of Southern California reported, there were no vessels anchored for many days this month, which is a great sign of recovery. Part of this is due to the increase in ILWU man-hours, which were much higher in April, compared to last year. The terminals added around 60,000 man hours according to the PMA to clear the back log.

6 Essential Logistics Key Performance Indicator (KPIs)

We live a world today filled with data. Your logistics company may be investing in technology upgrading systems, but are you taking full advantage of the data you currently have in front of you?

We’ve all heard it again and again… “The numbers don’t lie”. Key performance indicators are crucial in evaluating your supply chain’s performance. KPIs can tell if work is being done efficiently. There are countless KPI’s that can be used depending on the needs and wants of the customer. It doesn’t matter how many reports you run, if they do not have meaning.   

6 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Intermodal Service

In recent years rail roads have been experiencing a boom in order to keep up with increasing demand from shippers. The infrastructures are being upgraded and capacities are increasing due to demand. Struggles this past year at the Southern California Ports, emphasized the need for diversity in a transportation plan. Intermodal transportation offers an important opportunity to lower shipping costs while cutting carbon emissions. Transporting a medium- to long-distance load via intermodal costs 15 to 40 percent less than moving the same load by truck. And studies show that shipping by rail is three to four times more fuel-efficient – and therefore more environmentally friendly – than shipping over the road (OTR). Although transportation managers often shied away from rail in the past, many companies today make Intermodal a key element of their transportation strategies.

Tips to Evaluate your Warehouse Provider and Lower Costs

It’s tough to compare competitive warehouse bids. Precise warehouse rates require a more detailed analysis. Companies often cannot provide all the data requested, so 3PLs have to make assumptions in order to complete the pricing profile. Different 3PLs make different assumptions, and these differences are reflected in different rates for the same exact volume and services you need to ensure you are getting an apples- to-apples comparison. When it comes to warehousing services, the best price doesn’t always result in the best value. Find a logistics partner you can trust that sets a high bar for quality.   

How a 3PL Provider Can Help Reduce Order Turnaround Time

“I want it and I want it now!” the mantra of consumers. Companies are doing everything they can to compete with one another in order turnaround time.

Amazon was one of the first to enter this realm with Prime 2 day shipping. Many big box retailers have jumped in the game of quick turnaround time for orders. They allow consumers the opportunity to order online and deliver to home or to store for pick up in days or even hours.

One week delivery simply does not cut it anymore. Partnering with a 3PL can help you deliver your product the quickest way possible. 

Lower Costs by Boosting Employee Morale

Do you have disengaged employees?

Well, if you said yes you are not alone. About 70% of U.S. workers are disengaged.

Why should you care about employee engagement?

These disengaged employees are costing your company money. Did you know disengaged employees cost the U.S. economy up to $350 billion per year due to lost productivity. A study by Gallup found companies who increased employee engagement experienced the following:

 

What Does the New LA-LB Gray Chassis Pool Mean for You?

Let’s start by simply explaining what this new Gray Chassis Pool is all about.

3PL as Alternative to Traditional Food Distribution Companies

Food manufacturers who sell through traditional food distribution companies must absorb a significant price mark-up on route to the retailer, raising their prices on the shelf.  

Pool Distribution for Confectionery Products

Freight logistics professionals can learn something from Match.com - the dating services that links you with complimentary partners.

Video: Cold Chain Warehouse Processes

 If you’re managing a cold chain warehouse, expiration date management and product integrity are constant worries. Slip up and you risk losing inventory, angering customers, or incurring fines. 

That’s why choosing an experienced partner for cold chain warehousing and refrigerated trucking is critical.

Choosing a Food-Grade Warehouse: 5 Areas to Evaluate

When outsourcing warehouse distribution, it’s essential to find the right 3PL partner. One that understands how to run a food-grade warehouse and remain in compliance with all regulatory requirements. 

We write about it in our paper: Choosing a 3PL for Food Product Distribution.

Want Accurate Warehouse Pricing? Provide Good Data.

To provide a warehouse pricing quote, most third party logistics providers (3PLs) use profile worksheets.  Each 3PL has its own worksheet, but the approaches are similar.

C-TPAT Benefits for Importers

Companies that import products often ask us about the benefits of the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism.  We write about it in our paper “C-TPAT Membership: Is It Right for You?”

Let’s review these C-TPAT benefits. But first, a look at the basics of the C-TPAT program. 

7 Steps to Reduce Chargebacks

Tired of retailer chargeback penalties? Here are seven steps you can take in your distribution operation to minimize chargebacks. We write about it in more detail in our paper: "How to Reduce Chargebacks in Your Vendor Compliance Program."  

Southern California Warehousing for Importers

When importing goods into Southern California ports, getting cargo through Customs is just the start of the challenge.

Panama Canal Expansion Project to be Completed for 2016 Opening

According to a report by the Tico Times, a widened Panama Canal will be open for business in 2016 after a $400 million cash injection to help complete the long-delayed project.

The Panama Canal expansion project was initially planned to have been completed in 2014, in time for the canal’s 100th anniversary. Now, Canal authorities say construction will be finished in 2015, and the widened canal will open in early 2016. The widening will allow the Canal handle so-called “Post-Panamax” ships with a capacity of up to 15,000 containers, instead of the current maximum of 5,000. 

Chemical Warehousing 101 – New Primer Available

Chemical Warehousing 101 – New Primer Available

The rules of warehouse storage for many product types are quite similar.  But when it comes to chemical warehousing, a whole new rule book applies.

Candy Distribution Video

At Weber, we distribute a lot of candy.

In fact, if you’ve eaten any of the sweet snacks pictured here and you live in the Western U.S., it’s a pretty sure bet that the candy traveled through a Weber distribution center. 

What exactly happens at Weber’s temperature-controlled warehouses to ensure that the quality and integrity of these products are maintained throughout the cold chain distribution cycle?

Check out this 2-minute video to find out.

Can you lower your warehouse rates?

As a 3PL that provides warehousing services, we get that question a lot.

If the characteristics of the project are not changing, then the real question being asked is, “Can you lower your profit?” 

Well, we could, but then we’d have little or no money to reinvest in the business.

Eventually, quality would suffer and we’d go out of business.

Cold Chain Distribution: Check out this 2-Minute Video

 

Do you manage distribution for temperature-controlled products?

If so, you know that expiration date management and product integrity are constant worries. Choosing an experienced partner for cold chain warehousing and transportation is critical.

Check out this 2-minute video from Weber Logistics on cold chain logistics management. 

Save with Pool Distribution for Refrigerated Trucking

You need to get across town fast.

With no car, your choices are public transport or a cab.

Of course you want to take a cab.  But the wallet’s a little thin, so maybe a bus is the way to go.

But hold on.  What if you could share an air-conditioned cab ride with a few others who are also headed across town, and pay the same as the cost of a bus ride?

Welcome to pool distribution: direct car service for a mass transit price.

Addressing Misconceptions About Intermodal Freight

Over-the-road trucking has had its challenges in recent years, thanks to driver shortages, HOS regulations, rising fuel costs and capacity shortages.  During that time, railroads have been improving tracks and facilities, as well as service offerings, to meet shippers’ needs. That has led to a steady increase in the use of intermodal services.

Choosing a Chemical Warehouse Provider

You’re not going to choose just any 3PL to store and ship your chemical products.  The liability and safety risks associated with hazmat storage and shipping are just too great.

But how can you evaluate 3PLs to ensure you’re working with an expert company that can actually advise you on proper procedures for storage and handling?

Here are three tips for your vetting process.  Read our Insight paper for all 7 tips.  

1) Look for experience handing the class of chemicals you market.
3PLs that handle one class of chemicals are not necessarily qualified to handle others. For instance, non-regulated chemicals do not require the same stringent storage and handling procedures as flammables, oxidizers, explosives, corrosives, and other hazmat substances. Flammables, for instance, require firewalls and in-rack sprinklers. Make sure the chemical warehouse provider understands the requirements for your class of chemical and has the necessary operating procedures, permits, and physical environment to store and handle such products.

2) Limit transportation miles.
With chemicals, fewer miles are better. For one, hazardous chemical transportation is dangerous, and more miles means more risk. Secondly, transporting chemicals is expensive. Commercial drivers with a hazmat endorsement on their licenses earn 15%-20% more an hour than other drivers. Equipment and insurance costs add to this expense. The location of the provider’s warehouse is very relevant to the goal of reduced miles. Finding a provider that is centrally located to efficiently reach your customer base will reduce your costs and risk. Weber Logistics serves the chemical warehousing needs of many large companies who need a distribution point in California.

3) Choose a partner for present AND future needs.
Too many Requests for Proposals ask only about a 3PL’s ability to address current needs. Instead, you should anticipate your needs well into the future and look for a partner that can satisfy these requirements. This avoids the cost and risk involved in switching providers. For instance, today you may not be moving goods via rail, but you may want to exploit this lower-cost shipping option in the future. In that case, choosing a warehouse with a rail spur is smart planning. Likewise, your need today might be for simple pallet in/pallet out storage and distribution. But what if future requirements involve, for instance, repackaging 50-gallon drums into ten 5-gallon pails? Can the provider handle the job? Does the provider even want to do this kind of work?

For more tips on vetting chemical warehouse providers, read our Insight paper: Chemical Logistics: 7 Tips for Choosing a Partner for Storage and Distribution.

VIDEO: Integrate B2B and B2C Distribution to Reduce Cost, Complexity

As the volume of online sales rises, many companies continue to struggle with managing the distinct fulfillment differences between B2B and B2C channels.  The trick is adapting processes to handle picking and packing of individual items for eCommerce fulfillment.

How Determining Warehouse Rates Is Like Preparing Your Tax Return

Too often, companies assume they have no power to impact warehouse distribution rates from 3PLs and commercial warehouse providers.

Not true. You have the power to control and reduce your warehousing costs.

An analogy might be preparation of your yearly IRS tax return. If you keep poor records and have no knowledge of allowable deductions for health expenses, business travel, and the like, you may pay more than you should. In contrast, if you keep meticulous records and have a solid understanding of IRS allowances, you’re more likely to get that fat refund.

Check Out This Video on Reducing Retailer Chargebacks

Retailer chargeback fines for non-compliant shipments are a costly reality for many consumer goods manufacturers.

Freight Consolidation Strategy Provides Sweet Savings

Most retail replenishment orders require the use of higher cost, less-than-truckload (LTL) freight for final-mile delivery. As a result, small and mid-sized companies struggle to meet daily retail replenishment requirements, while still keeping a rein on freight costs.

Data is the Key to Accurate Warehouse Pricing

Third party logistics providers use different warehouse pricing models to determine their costs for warehouse storage and services. But the approaches are pretty similar across providers. We all look at a variety of data, including product volume, case size, pallet size and weight.

For a primer on warehouse pricing, download our Commercial Warehouse Pricing Guide.  

To get the pricing right, we need accurate data on the account characteristics to plug into a pricing model. Understandably, shippers often can’t provide all the details requested. Here are some actual shipper responses to pricing worksheet questions:

Retail Compliance to Reduce Chargebacks

Retailer chargeback fines for non-compliant shipments are a profit-draining reality for many consumer goods manufacturers.

Benefits of Pool Distribution for Refrigerated LTL

Companies with temperature-sensitive freight that don’t have the volume to ship direct, full truckloads must rely on a limited number of refrigerated LTL carriers.  Because demand exceeds freight capacity, particularly in the chilled and frozen category, freight costs are high. 

California Trucking Industry Could Be Hit by Hidden Gas Tax Effective January 1st 2015

Weber Logistics hosted a “Tank the Tax” press conference at our San Diego distribution center. Tank the Tax is a campaign that advocates against regulations that would raise the cost of fuel in the state. 

Video: Manage Multi-channel Fulfillment from One Facility and System

With more and more consumers shopping online, companies have had to adapt fulfillment to handle picking and shipping of individual items.  Operationally, multi-channel fulfillment is a big shift. So big, in fact, that many companies have chosen to separately manage fulfillment of bulk retail orders and fulfillment of individual eCommerce orders.

Reduce Costs, Time-to-Market with Phoenix Distribution Center

Arizona is one of the fastest growing regions of the U.S. and many companies are examining whether an Arizona warehousing location can help them better serve this important market.

Why SoCal Ports will Remain Strong Post Panama Canal Expansion

It’s hard to say exactly when the newest section of the expanded Panama Canal will open. Construction delays and labor disputes have laid waste to the original timeline. 

Is Commercial Warehouse Pricing Simple?

Well, yes and no.

Choosing the Right 3PL for Cold Chain Logistics and Food Distribution

You know the perils of cold chain logistics and food distribution. Let your guard down, and a pallet of chocolate turns into a gooey mess, or you get stuck with racks full of canned goods nearing their sell-by date.

Choosing the right location for your West Coast warehouse

Most importers to Southern California want to establish a West Coast warehouse for national, regional or local distribution. The question is where to locate your inventory.

What is the C-TPAT program and why should you care?

C-TPAT is a voluntary government-business initiative designed to guard against illegal smuggling of dangerous cargo by terrorists.

Comparing Price Quotes for Warehousing Services: Apples and Oranges

If you get competing carrier bids, rate comparisons are easier than those for warehousing. Trucking companies have published tariffs for services. As rates are requested, these carriers will ask about the commodity, the originating address, the destination address, and whether the product is palletized or floor loaded. With this information, carriers can reference their tariffs and quickly provide a quote.

Manufacturing and Distribution Align Along the Border

For years China has been the country of choice for companies looking to establish lower-cost manufacturing operations overseas.  Today, the same firms are looking to move their manufacturing out of China. Why? Well, China is experiencing higher labor costs, high fuel prices, and an overall increase in transportation costs to get goods to the final consumer. These factors have led many companies to seek alternate manufacturing sites closer to home. 

The Latest on West Coast Port Labor Negotiations

The contract between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents almost 20,000 longshore workers at 29 West Coast ports, expired on July 1. The union extended its previous six-year contract until this past Friday, July 11 and negotiations are now underway to complete a new deal. 

Panama Canal Expansion Delays – Money or Politics? Or both!

The deadline for completing the $5.25 billion Panama Canal expansion has already been delayed multiple times, with the original target date of October 2014 set back by a total of 16 months to early 2016.  The project has been beset by problems. 

In early May, Panamanian construction workers ended a two week strike that severely delayed construction.  Salary increases will be in place over the next four years in response to the work stoppage.  Earlier this year there began an ongoing financial dispute between the Canal Authority and GUPC, the consortium of European contractors responsible for completing the expansion.  In question is a $1.6 billion cost overrun that would bring the total price tag to around $7 billion for the expansion project.  The cost to build the entire canal in the early 1900’s was approximately $360 million, according to pancanal.com 

An arbitration process is now in place to decide who will pay what.  While financial measures have been taken to resume construction, what drama holds next for the remaining 25% of construction? 

According to an article posted on www.npr.org, Jan Kop, GUPC’s Deputy Project Director, says that the cost overruns are due to “surprises that we could not have foreseen such as rare soil conditions and higher than expected earthquake potential along the canal.”  He also states that the Panama Canal Authority “should have known about these things since 1914.”  On the other hand, Jorge Quijano, a US educated engineer and the head of the Panama Canal Authority says, “Even if their claims were fact, the amounts they are claiming are outrageous.”

The two parties agreed to pay an additional $100 million each to keep the project moving forward and the canal authority expects to recoup their funds upon the completion of the expansion. 

Canal Expansion Impact on Southern California Ports

They say that for every action, there is a reaction.  Many people wonder about the impact of the Panama Canal expansion on the ports of LA and Long Beach.

Weber believes that the impact will be less significant than many predict.  Read our Insight Paper: Panama Canal Expansion: Impact on the Volume of Imports to Southern California

Southern California’s already established infrastructure is designed to handle great volumes of import freight, while the Gulf and East Coast ports try to catch up.  Also, the additional costs of fuel and higher tolls on the Canal will more than likely increase costs, which will ultimately be passed on to the consumer.

New Commercial Warehouse Pricing Guide

Ever wonder how third party logistics providers (3PLs) determine the warehousing rates that they quote to you?  
A new Commercial Warehouse Pricing Guide is now available that explains the basics of how rates are determined.  You can then use this knowledge to control your costs.

Buying a Brown Suit is Like Choosing a 3PL Provider

Were brown suits ever in style?  Perhaps, but today they are typically not the first choice for fashionistas.  For those who don’t follow fashion trends, however, a brown suit might seem like a good option when sifting through the rack of 42 regulars at Men’s Wearhouse. 

Logistics Customer Service - The Shift From Paying to End Customer

What is logistics customer service?  Well, traditionally it has meant logistics companies focused on providing great service to their paying customers.  But lately 3PL providers are taking a vested interest in the end customer – for consumer product companies, that would be the retailer  – to make sure all delivery compliance rules are met and to learn how to make the receiving process more efficient.

For instance, in conversation with a 3PL, one retail chain asked if the following improvements could be made:

•    Punch holes in the sides of heavier boxes for easier maneuverability from dock to shelf.
•    Pick and pack orders according to category, with multiple products packed according to each aisle in the retail store.

Are AIB Standards Adequate for Your Food Grade Warehouse?

AIB International works with companies to elevate their food safety and production processing capability.  If you look through the current AIB standards for food distribution centers, they seem quite comprehensive.  If your food-grade warehouse meets all or most of the standards, you will receive a relatively high score.  During inspections, each infraction will result in a 5 point reduction on your score.  So the question is, is it enough just to keep your superior rating with AIB?
The AIB Consolidated Standards for Inspection entail the following:

•    Operational Methods and Personnel Practices
•    Maintenance for Food Safety
•    Cleaning Practices
•    Integrated Pest Management
•    Adequacy of Prerequisite and Food Safety Programs

Routines to meet these standards are set on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis to ensure compliance.  Records are maintained and are made available when the inspection is carried out.  

Get Product Closer to Customers with Phoenix Warehouse

What’s the most populous state capital in the U.S.?  Many are surprised to learn that it’s Phoenix, AZ.  As of 2012, the population was nearly 1.5 million – up from 1 million in 1990.  With an average annual temperature of 72.6 degrees, it certainly attracts many new residents in search of a warmer, low-humidity climate.

As a result of its progressive growth, more and more companies have put their Southwest roots in Phoenix.  Major retailers include Wal-Mart and Costco, who each have established distribution centers in the area.  Population and commercial growth have made a Phoenix warehouse an ideal choice to store and deliver goods to this critical Southwest market.

3PL Choices for Phoenix Warehousing

Phoenix has not traditionally been used as a Southwest distribution hub, but that’s changing.  Here are some reasons to consider a Phoenix warehousing location for product distribution:
  • 34 million consumers within a half-day truck haul
  • Low cost operating environment with minimal regulation
  • Industrial lease rates 40% lower in 2014 than in 2012
  • Two trans-continental railroads and several intra-state railroads 
  • No inventory tax
  • Many 3PLs, such as Weber, operate multi-client distribution centers there, so shippers can very quickly initiate distribution from Phoenix with no capital investment
Weber’s Phoenix Warehouse

Weber Logistics’ Phoenix warehouse is actually located just west of Phoenix in Tolleson, AZ.  Some facility facts:
  • Temperature controlled, food grade warehouse that houses a number of confectionary and food products
  • Superior rated by the American Baking Institute (AIB)
  • Final-mile delivery services to retailers, including temperature controlled deliveries
  • Value added services include postponement activities such as club pack assembly, POP display assembly and kitting
Weber’s Phoenix warehouse for Southwest distribution complements our region-wide warehousing and freight network in the West. To learn more about our Phoenix operation, contact us on the web or call 855-GOWEBER (469-3237).  

Contact  Weber Logistics

The Logistics of Cold Chain Management

In two words: control and organization.  Cold chain management in the supply chain typically focuses on groceries, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, as well as some high tech products.  Each of the products under these umbrellas requires a constant temperature control to ensure the safe production and delivery to their final destination.

Assuming that production and warehousing at your own facility are closely monitored for the correct temperature, how do you know that the precise temperature range is in place when you hand your goods over to your carrier?  Keeping in mind that any fluctuation outside of the normal range can be critical, you also have a mandate to abide by laws and regulations that are in place to avoid damage to the product and worse, a recall.

For more information, read our paper on “Choosing a 3PL for Food Distribution.”

How do I know that my products are being handled at the required temperature range?

The problem is, you don’t.  Unless you choose a cold chain logistics provider who knows its business and uses the latest temperature monitoring equipment.  This applies to both warehousing and transportation.  Programming the cooling system to account for both temperature and humidity levels is paramount during the warehouse stay and subsequent journey.  If the ranges fall or rise outside of the customer’s requirements, automatic alerts are sent to an appointed manager.  In addition, historical data is available by downloading a minute-by-minute status report from the cooling unit while the product is in the care of the 3PL provider.

Choosing a cold chain logistics expert takes some effort on your part.  A visit to their facility should display monitors that are visible no matter what location you happen to be in.  Do the truck cabs have digital thermostats that the driver can see easily?  Ask what happens in the event that the cooling system falters and how they maintain the proper temperature until the repair work is complete. 

Cold chain management history.

Shipping and storing temperature controlled products always involves some risk.  Before you take the final step in choosing a 3PL provider, make sure that they have a solid reputation as a refrigerated transportation company.  Ask for customer referrals and what types of different products that they have handled. 

Weber Logistics has been offering 3PL services for nearly a century.  Cold chain management has been a major part of our operation for decades and our expertise in handling food grade products as well as other regulated products has made us an industry leader in California and the entire west coast.  Contact us to learn more about our services or call 855-GO WEBER (469-3237).

Contact Weber Logistics to learn more about their cold chain management solutions:

Organic Food Storage: Key Considerations

 The definition of “organic:” of, relating to, or derived from living matter. "Organic soils"

Sounds healthy, doesn’t it?  Millions of people have adopted organic foods for many of their main diet staples.  Consuming naturally grown products can be good for one’s health and these products continue to grow in popularity.  It may not seem like anything could go wrong between the farmer’s field and the retailer’s shelf, but beware: organic foods can be tainted by outside forces if not handled and stored properly and according to FDA regulations.

Choosing the right organic food warehouse partner and 3PL is a good start.  Read our paper: “Choosing a 3PL for food distribution.”

Organic Certification
It all starts with the farmer being properly certified and adhering to regulations and standards set down by the FDA.  These rules carry over to cover the transportation and safe organic food storage while they make their journey to the ultimate consumer.  A few things to consider when choosing an organic food warehouse:

Chemical Storage - Are you compliant with CFATS?

Do you operate a high risk chemical facility or do you sub-contract to a 3PL who does?  The Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) identifies and secures chemical facilities that constitute the greatest security risk.  In this day and age, if you outsource chemical storage and distribution, it’s critical that you partner with an experienced provider.  Read our guide: Chemical Logistics: 7 Tips for Choosing a 3PL Partner.

The three criteria that comprise a high-level security risk are:

Controlling Costs for Refrigerated Trucking

Why, with so many manufacturers of food and temperature-sensitive products, are there so few temperature-controlled carriers?  And it’s not just food manufacturers that require refrigerated trucking services, other industries like pharmaceuticals face an equally challenging task to get their product to market and still sustain a reasonable profit margin.

In California, many trucking companies promote that they are refrigerated carriers, but are only brokers who hand off the cargo to an asset based refrigerated trucking company. So, not only are the choices limited in using a temp-controlled carrier, but costs could be high due to simple supply and demand.

For more information on strategies, like pool distribution, to control costs for temperature-controlled trucking, read our Insight paper:   Jump in the Pool – Shippers of Temperature-Controlled Freight Collaborate to Save.

How do the prices get so high?

Well, along with the supply and demand issue there are other components that drive up the price of refrigerated trucking equipment.  In the US, the annual cost of fuel to operate just the diesel reefer unit is nearly $4000.00.  Add annual maintenance costs of over $1500.00 to that and you have a sizable overhead that general truckers do not have.  Electric reefer units have less fuel and maintenance costs. But remember that that does not cover the cost of the reefer unit system or additional insurance coverage that the carriers must cover.

Am I overpaying for temp-controlled services?

Possibly.  Larger manufacturers have the benefit of using FTL refrigerated services, which controls their cost per unit sold.  Small to medium-sized manufacturers are forced to ship via LTL.  Based on the weight and density of the cargo you will pay for the space used in the trailer.  So the cost per unit is higher and can make it difficult to compete with bigger companies.

Also, when you are restricted to shipping LTL consignments for your refrigerated trucking needs, the transit time is usually longer. The carrier will collect various shipments over a set period to build a FTL to a particular destination.  Longer transit times also mean a longer “days sales outstanding” for receivables, which does not help the cash flow.

How do I control my costs?

There are a few ways that you can keep those costs from cutting into your profit margin.  

  • Collaborate with other shippers of temperature-sensitive products and pool your freight volume.  3PLs who serve multiple food shippers can coordinate this collaboration.
  • Contact a 3PL with warehousing and refrigerated trucking assets who specializes in storing and shipping refrigerated cargo.
  • Look for refrigerated LTL partners.  There aren’t many, particularly in California and the Western U.S.  But providers like Weber Logistics can combine your temperature-controlled, final-mile shipments with other companies to reduce your distribution costs.

The limited refrigerated trucking services in California are not likely to grow in the future.  But with some careful collaboration with similar shippers and a reputable temp-controlled carrier, you can control your costs and improve your bottom line.

Weber Logistics has one of the largest temperature-controlled delivery networks in the western US.  We specialize in food-grade warehousing and refrigerated LTL shipments. With our fleet of late model equipment and the latest generation of reefers we will get your product to market in a timely and cost effective manner.  Contact us at 855-GOWEBER (469-3237) to learn more about our 3PL services.

Download our Weber Insight on Pool Distribution for Temperature-Controlled Products:

pool distribution temperature control

California Port Logistics: 5 Ways To Process Containers Faster

Your container is at the port.  Now what?  Receiving your goods in a timely and economical fashion is paramount, whether your goods are for further production or for distribution locally or country wide.  There are many aspects of getting your container to your chosen facility from the Port. The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach present particular challenges since these ports handle nearly 40,000 TEUs per day.  Even on a slow day, the web of roads to retrieve them are congested and complex. 

Food Warehouse and the Food Safety Modernization Act

Is your food warehouse compliant with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)?
The FSMA was signed into law in January 2011 in order to increase the FDA’s role in monitoring and policing food companies.  The gist of the law is to protect the public from real and potential health scares, and it certainly impacts food logistics and food warehouses.

Container Drayage – Time is Money

Turn times at Southern California ports.  Does it ever seem like the time to retrieve your container is as long as the ocean transit time? 

Trouble with Retailer Chargebacks? 5 Tips for CPG Companies to Stay Compliant

Literally trillions of dollars in CPG merchandise is sold and shipped to retailers around the globe annually.  The cost of research and development is enormous and you have successfully brought your quality products to market.  Your brand is a household name and well recognized by consumers at the retail level.  The margins are good but it seems that a percentage of your profit is left on the table.  What can you do about it?

Maximizing the Benefits of Shared Commercial Warehousing

“Consume less, share better.”   -  Herve Kempf

Multi-Channel Fulfillment: Key Considerations

E-Commerce sales continue to exceed expectations and companies are struggling to adapt their existing distribution infrastructure to service multiple channels. Some larger companies are investing big dollars into large, automated warehouses for eFulfillment.  Despite the fact that just 5.5% of current retail sales are online, these companies are investing now to achieve market share gains in the future, as online becomes the dominant channel. 

How Much Are Retailer Chargebacks Costing Your CPG Company?

There is no definitive information on the dollar value of retailer chargeback penalties for non-compliant shipments. But it’s estimated these charges represent about 1% of a supplier’s gross invoice amount.  

4 Tips for Choosing the Right Corrosive Chemical Storage Facility

Handling corrosive chemicals, whether liquid or solid, is a strictly controlled process.  Many risks present themselves if proper specifications and handling methods are absent.  Fire, explosions, leaks and human contact are a few of the unfortunate circumstances that could occur if the warehouse is inadequately constructed and the personnel are not sufficiently trained in corrosive storage and handling. 

Review Your Warehouse Technology to Reduce Chargebacks

It’s a new year, and with it comes a new cycle for chargeback deductions.  Hopefully, if previous errors do not reoccur and the wrongs have been righted, then vendors stand a better chance of warding off chargebacks for 2014. 

If your primary focus in reducing chargebacks has been keeping human errors at bay, you may want to refocus efforts on the errors that can arise from an overlooked system or automated function.

We rely enormously on technology to help streamline warehouse processes and create efficiency gains, but often we take these automated processes for granted.  Sure, you may encounter an occasional system bug or glitch that you can’t prevent.  But what happens if there is an oversight in coding an application?  What happens if a retailer updates or makes revisions to their label, paperwork, or EDI requirements and that information fails to pass on to the parties responsible for making the warehouse system changes?  This kind of oversight can lead to hundreds or thousands of dollars in chargeback deductions.

To ensure that your technology continues to deliver and not present you with that surprise chargeback, conduct a periodic review of your automated and pre-programmed solutions for vendor compliance.  UCC-128 label specifications and paperwork requirements may change over time.  If you have these items designed to auto-map data to generate compliant labels or paperwork, it’s essential to have that mapping done correctly.  A retailer can change something as small as a character length requirement of a Store/Unit number present on a label.  A change this small has large consequences, in terms of chargebacks, due to the high impact of printing numerous labels.

Here are 8 technology-linked requirements for vendor compliance that would benefit from a periodic review:

Logistics Costs: The Boomerang Effect of Price-Based 3PL Selection

Let’s face it, competitive transportation and warehouse rates are critical to earning new 3PL business.  Providers need to be ready to look for any and all efficiencies when pricing a deal, because that’s what shippers expect in their efforts to manage logistics costs.  

Rules for Good Customer Service in Logistics

Good customer service is the lifeblood of a logistics business.  It’s all about retaining your customers and sending them away happy – happy enough to pass positive feedback about your company to others.  The essence of customer service logistics is forming a relationship that customers want to sustain over time.

Back to Basics: An Answer to Improving Warehouse Efficiency

I just finished reading the results of the latest annual Warehouse and Distribution Center Operations Survey (Peerless Research Group).  One of the clear takeaways was that companies need to take cost out of operations, but they are carrying out warehouse efficiency initiatives that don’t involve major investments in systems and equipment.

Weber Recognized as Top Temperature Controlled Warehouse 3PL

World’s Trade Magazine’s December 2013 issue on “America’s Top 3PLs” named Weber Logistics to its TOP TEN list of 3PLs focused on temperature controlled warehouses and supply chains.  The magazine’s editors called out Weber’s systematic monitoring of temperatures, in the warehouse and in trucks, to ensure cold chain integrity for food, beverage and confectionery products.  See the write-up on page 60 of the magazine. 

eCommerce Fulfillment Driving Commercial Warehouse Development

According to the Fall 2013 “Big Box Velocity Index” from Jones Lang LaSalle, even though just 5.5% of current retail sales are online, fully 12% of the U.S. requirements for warehouse space are eCommerce related.  The reason?  eCommerce fulfillment is increasingly moving to a one-day and same-day delivery model.  So companies, like Amazon, have to increase the number of distribution centers to get physically closer customers. 

Inland Empire Leads Nation in Warehouse Space Leasing and Development According to Latest Data

Real estate investment firm Jones Lange LaSalle just came out with its Fall 2013 “Big Box Velocity Index.”  It measures both building activity and demand for industrial warehouse space across the U.S.   The report suggests the economy is rebounding, with demand for warehouses strong across the country, especially for buildings over 500,000 square feet.  According to the report, the overall industrial vacancy rate is the lowest since the 2nd quarter of 2008.

Southern California’s Inland Empire region leads the nation in occupancy gains in 2013, with 10.2 million square feet of space leased for

Reduce Warehouse Labor Costs By Paying Workers More!

How can you reduce warehouse labor costs by paying more to warehouse workers?  Simple: Don’t pay everyone more, just the peak performers. 

Logistics Technology Systems: A Primer

In today’s fast-moving logistics marketplace, logistics technology plays a key role in determining how quickly, how accurately, and how correctly product can be delivered to the customer.  But what kind of system, or systems, do you need?  The major components are:

ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) – This is the ‘Main Frame’ of old.  This is the system where anything to do with your product is stored.  Usually purchasing of raw goods through planning and building the finished goods, through handling customer orders and invoicing, flow through this system.  It knows how much of what is where and in what stage of production it is in.

FMS (Finance Management System) – This system manages all your dollars, assets and liabilities.  Sometimes this system is ‘built into’ the ERP system to help manage the costs of each step of your operation.  Other times the ERP is interfaced to supply just the financial information to this system.

WMS (Warehouse Management System) – This system knows exactly how many and where every widget is within your warehouse(s).  It can help drive better productivity by managing building layouts and travel time, and usually will direct your labor force via wireless devices vs. utilizing paper printouts.  It is usually interfaced to your ERP in order to electronically communicate all receipts and shipments from the warehouse(s).  There are MANY varieties of WMS systems, from generalized ‘do it all’ systems to specialized, one-purpose systems.  It can be a daunting task to choose the logistics technology that fits your business, and your warehouse, the best.

TMS (Transportation Management System) – This is an often overlooked system as most businesses see this as a Carrier’s system vs. a system that can help save them money.  All your goods have to get from your manufacturing site to the customer somehow, right?  Having a good TMS that helps route and consolidate your shipments the quickest, most efficient, least expensive way can save you big dollars in the long run.  This system needs to communicate to your ERP, FMS, and WMS systems to be the most efficient.

LMS (Labor Management System) – This is also an overlooked system as it deals primarily with productivity only.  This system’s goal is to inform you of how efficiently your labor force is actually performing and help you plan future work more efficiently.  Without some kind of LMS in place, how do you really know that all your employees are being as efficient as possible?  How do you know how many people you need for the tasks planned to be completed tomorrow?  This system should be tightly integrated with your ERP (for production work) and WMS.

Most companies have some sort of ERP and FMS systems already in place that work well for them.  Some larger ERP systems have modules that try to handle WMS, FMS, or LMS tasks – but most have found these modules to be lacking the true, flexible functionality that specialized systems can provide.  Where companies can save significant dollars is by investing in a true WMS, a TMS, and a LMS. 

In a lot of cases manufacturers want to focus on manufacturing, not warehousing and shipping – hence they outsource these functions to 3PLs (Third Party Logistics providers) who already operate efficient WMS and/or TMS and/or LMS systems.  The best 3PLs run all three systems as a tightly integrated logistics technology suite, increasing their accuracy and efficiency during every step of handling the logistics side of their customer’s business.  Every penny saved by the 3PL not only transfers directly to their bottom line, it also transfers to their customers’ bottom lines with lower transactional rates, higher accuracy, less compliance chargebacks, and the ability to know exactly where every order, receipt, and widget is within the supply chain.

 Contact  Weber Logistics

Is Your Company a “Healthy” Company

The logistics industry is transforming before our eyes.  Yesterday’s approaches won’t satisfy the incessant and urgent demand for faster, better, cheaper.   According to Patrick Lencioni, a keynote speaker at the recent Material Handling and Logistics Conference in Park City, UT, only healthy companies will have the ingredients to succeed in this fast-paced sector.

Borrowing thoughts from his book, “Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” he talked about the five key behaviors that firms must demonstrate to build a “healthy company:” Trust, Conflict, Commitment, Accountability and Results.

Trust: The toughest part of Trust is being vulnerable.  Leaders must acknowledge when mistakes are made.  Being vulnerable is to be human. Everyone on the leadership team must have the humility and security to voice their true opinions and feeling without fear.

Conflict:  “Great teams have conflict.”  Conflict becomes “the pursuit of the truth.”  It is not healthy to have a leadership team that is insecure and always agrees with the top dog.  It takes courage to disagree and create conflict.  If the team has trust, conflict will be a true differentiator and decisions will be more thoroughly vetted and correct.

Commitment: If people don’t weigh in, they won’t buy in. It is important to gain active consensus from all company leaders in order for the organization’s strategy to be successful. 

Accountability:  Half the boat doesn’t sink.  Because organizations are inter-dependent, people need to hold one another accountable.  Big challenges may require help from others to achieve the goal, and that’s okay, but the accountable person must seek that help and own the outcome.  Accountability keeps everyone on track and working together.

Results:  Within a healthy organization, communication from the top down about progress and results is critical.  Leaders must over-communicate the company’s strategy, goals and challenges.  Team members want to know where the company is going and where it is on that journey.  

Healthy behavior is required, but Lencioni reminded us that the foundation for a successful company is a strategy that delivers relevant value to the customer in a way that no one else or few others can emulate. 

Mr. Lencioni confessed that none of his ideas were new or groundbreaking.  But he added that these critical behavior traits are routinely ignored in businesses, large and small.

Is your company a “healthy company?"

Contact  Weber Logistics

Vendor Compliance: The 5 Most Common Chargebacks

You are a vendor or a supplier.  You design and manufacture a product.  You take great care to ship your product to the retail marketplace, only to find out later that a financial deduction or chargeback was taken against your invoice.  On top of that, you are consistently being graded and measured by a scorecard from your customer.

In the current retail supply chain, chargebacks come as no surprise and are even so predictable that many vendors factor a percentage of infractions into their annual logistics budget.  For more detail, check out this white paper: How to Reduce Retail Chargebacks.

While the list of potential violations is long and the number of retailers hopping aboard the chargeback train continues to grow, vendors can help reduce their exposure to these violations by taking preventative measures against the five most common chargeback sins.
  • Late/Missing/Invalid ASN. This violation garners a charge of anywhere from a few dollars per carton up to hundreds of dollars per ASN.  When retailers are reliant on their 856 for notification and receiving of products, a late, missing, or invalid ASN is assessed a penalty quickly.  The ASN provides a productivity benefit by keeping the inbound handling and receiving processes moving swiftly throughout the retailer’s DC.  Failure to transmit ASN data accurately and on-time will likely put you on the receiving end of this chargeback.
  • Missing/Inaccurate/Defective/Un-Scannable/Improper Placement of GS1-128 (UCC128) Labels.  So what’s in a UCC128 barcode label?  It’s the DNA of a shipping unit’s characteristics that informs the retailer of what they are about to receive.  They rely on the scan of that unique serialized SSCC18 barcode to match against the data in the accompanying ASN.  There’s a sort of symbiotic relationship between the UCC128 label and its ASN.  When that relationship is broken, due to the label being un-scannable or embedded with incorrect data, a fine can be expected.  Improper placement of that label will also incur a fine, especially if the carton on which that label is traveling moves through a conveyer facility.  Retailers have invested in sophisticated automation to move product through their networks and, if their scanners cannot read the barcodes due to improper placement, this vendor compliance violation will result in receiving delays and often an expensive chargeback to the vendor.
  • Missing/Inaccurate/Defective/Non-Scannable/Bad Ticketing.  Is your product ticketed correctly?  Is the ticket marked with the correct retail price?  Does the ticket contain the correct UPC, item number, description, color, and/or size codes?  Are the ticket barcodes scannable?  If you can answer no to any of these questions, then expect an answer of yes to the question, “Will I receive a chargeback?”
  • Order Fill Rate.  Violations attributed to fill rate shortages or unauthorized item substitutions, can be assessed a penalty of 5%-15% of the merchandise cost.  On the flip side, although shipping an overage against the ordered quantity doesn’t warrant a financial penalty, the vendor has basically given the retailer additional product at their expense.
  • Late/Early Shipment.  Know when to ship.  The old proverb the early bird gets the worm, may not be so wise if applied to moving product ahead of its intended window.  A PO’s ship window will consist of a start ship date and cancel date.  There are strict criteria set by the retailers in understanding and abiding by their routing and shipping requirements.  While some retailers may allow and encourage a vendor to ship early or as close to the beginning of the window as possible, if you ship too early, such as before the start ship date, you may find yourself as the early bird who gets the chargeback.  The same holds true if you find yourself shipping past the cancel date.

Refrigerated Trucking Company Cold Chain Product Integrity? Prove it!

As a provider of refrigerated trucking services, one of the questions we are often asked is: “How can you demonstrate that products are being maintained at the required temperature range?”

This question is addressed in our recent Insight paper: “Choosing a 3PL for Food Product Distribution.”

On the temperature controlled warehousing side, we have precise digital thermostats and can program the cooling system to maintain temperature and humidity within a specified min-max range, including frozen (0°– -10°F), chilled (34° – 38°F) or confectionery (55° – 65°F).  This system is integrated with a monitoring system that captures actual humidity and temperature readings, compares them with customer-required ranges and issues immediate alerts to key managers if readings fall out of range.  Email and text alerts continue until the issue is resolved.  Experienced 3PLs like Weber can output a report at any time showing historical temperature and humidity levels over any required time period. 

As for refrigerated trucking services, we first learn the required temperature range prior to pickup and pre-cool the trailer so it’s ready to go upon arrival.  The temperature range is programmed into the refrigeration unit’s instrument panel, which is located on the refrigeration unit at the front of the trailer.  Once freight is loaded and in transit, the instrument panel displays color-coded signals that indicate whether the temperature inside of the trailer is within range.  This panel is easily visible to the driver in his left-side rear view mirror.  If there is a need to see historical temperature readings, we simply plug a computer into the refrigeration unit and output a report that provides trailer temperature readings up to 60 days prior. 

Recently, a candy company customer received a call from a retailer noting product quality problems possibly linked to temperatures being out of compliance during the delivery cycle.  We pulled our reefer log and were able to quickly demonstrate to the company’s quality team that temperatures were within range during the delivery in question.   They then looked further upstream and identified a cold chain integrity problem in their warehouse process. 

Refrigerated trucking companies must certainly be able to deliver precise temperature control capabilities.  But they must also be able to provide accurate historical reporting to answer questions about cold chain integrity from retail customers or regulating agencies. 

For more detail on how to assess 3PL capabilities for temperature-controlled and food-grade products, download our Insight paper on food product distribution, which provides five essential questions you must ask potential 3PL partners. 

Interested in learning more about refrigerated trucking services? Download the Weber Insight:

food distribution 3pl

How to Choose the Right Food Logistics 3PL

You know the perils of food logistics. Let your guard down, and a truckload of perishables turns into an unsellable mess. Or you get stuck with racks full of canned goods nearing their sell-by date.

The right 3PL can help you avoid those pitfalls in food logistics distribution.  But how do you know which 3PL to trust with your food shipments?   Here are five essential questions every food shipper should ask.   These are covered in more detail in Weber’s new Insight Paper – Choosing a 3PL for Food Product Distribution. 

1. Can the 3PL monitor and maintain temperature integrity throughout the food logistics supply chain?   For temperature-sensitive products, a few degrees might spell the difference between a trip to market and a trip to the landfill.  Suddenly, you’re writing off thousands of dollars worth of product.

2. Can the 3PL meet all your customers’ requirements for code date compliance, FIFO and other picking rules?  While all your customers want to maximize product shelf life, each of them has different ideas about how to achieve that goal. Code date, expiration date, best used by date, FIFO, FEFO, LIFO—any of them might apply to a specific customer. And the rules might be different for different SKUs. Get the details wrong, and you could get stuck with product your customers refuse to take.

3. Can the 3PL help you reduce supply chain costs?  Marketing food products is a low-margin business. To maximize profit, you need to minimize costs, and that means making your food logistics operation as lean and efficient as possible. Your 3PL should demonstrate how it keeps that per-case cost as low as possible with smooth, efficient warehouse and transportation operations. 

4. Can the 3PL meet government requirements for tracing food shipments?  From the FDA to the USDA to the SEC, federal agencies have enacted a mass of regulations that describe how vendors of food for humans and pets must perform during a product recall. Even if nothing ever goes wrong with your product, you must be able to prove that you can track and trace any item by lot number. Companies that don’t meet government mandates can suffer significant penalties.

5. Does the 3PL have plenty of solid experience handling food products? Any 3PL can claim to have experience in food logistics, but how many transactions has the company handled, and for how many years? How many satisfied customers does it serve in the food industry? How many different kinds of food has it managed?

For more detail on these questions and how to tell the experts from the imposters in food logistics, download Weber’s new food logistics white paper

Three Ways to Provide Best Customer Experience in the 3PL Industry

When it comes to customer service in logistics, one common theme I have found in my 25 years in the 3PL industry is that every leader at all levels has a need to focus on providing the best overall customer experience.  Whether you lead a team or are just interacting with internal customers, the need to provide the Best Customer Experience is critical to succeeding in an ever-commoditizing market.

Supply Chain Process: Are You Managing the Chain or the Link?

Managing the supply chain process involves a series of constant changes, but many companies fail to manage these changes well. This is especially true where organizational structures reinforce cost control within segments of the supply chain – individual supply chain links – instead of across the complete cost chain.  In the words of the great golfer, Robert (Bobby) Jones, “It is nothing new or original to say that golf is played one stroke at a time. But it took me many years to realize it.” 

Many companies have yet to realize that a failure to evaluate supply chain changes in the context of the entire supply chain process will sub-optimize both total cost and service.
For instance, we continue to see organizations seeking to optimize their transportation spend without consideration of the impact on forward storage or handling costs.  The reverse is also true; some organizations evaluate storage or distribution alternatives solely on the handling or storage rates attainable.  Both approaches are myopic and will frequently inflate costs. 

A primary cause of a sub-optimized supply chain process is management silos.  When silos exist, either formally or informally, supply chain changes are typically evaluated in terms of individual supply chain links.   For example, when transportation services are procured separately from the product handling or warehousing purchase, there is a disconnect.  This disconnect can be amplified or reinforced by a bonus or incentive program that rewards managers for cost reductions for their fraction of the chain, often at the expense of another supply chain link. 

Cost is an important component of supply chain optimization but so are service and reputation.  Narrowly focusing on a portion of the supply chain process can also impact service levels and firm reputation.  In the instance of service, the lowest cost provider can sometimes gain business by under-estimating requirements, which results in a) poor service levels against KPIs, and/or b) added, unbudgeted costs via accessorial charges.  Poor service impacts rolling up from the end customers are hard to quantify but need to be measured as part of the evaluation of providers.  Impacts to reputation are even harder to estimate but can be lasting.  When your warehousing provider is shown to have a poor safety record or has engaged in illegal and abusive labor practices, all parties are tarred with the same brush.

When it comes to your supply chain, are you managing the chain or the link?  If it’s the latter, organizational structures and incentives are often the root of the problem.  

Reduce Logistics Turnover with Better Employee Orientation

(Sheila Jordan is Vice President of Human Resources at Weber Logistics)

3PL Outsourcing: Shifting the Focus from Transaction to Result

(Bill Jozefowicz is Vice President of Client Solutions at Weber Logistics)

It’s Hot Out There! The Importance of Cold Chain Management

With many decades of experience in cold chain management for food industry customers in the Western U.S., Weber Logistics pays a lot of attention to the weather.  And it’s hard not to notice these days – it’s HOT out there!

What are barcodes and how do they work in fulfillment warehouses?

(Mimi Ma is Director of Quality and Compliance at Weber Logistics)

Warehouse Rates: Beware the Low Price Leader

From China to Mexico: Nearsourcing Gains Steam

Intermodal Transportation: Why Companies Are Going from OTR to Rail

Too slow. Unreliable. Risk of damage. These were some of the reasons transportation managers once gave for avoiding rail freight.  But many companies are now making intermodal transportation a key element of their freight strategy.  Should you? 

The Difference Between Crossdock Services and Transload Services

What Is C-TPAT and Is C-TPAT Certification Right for You?

(Connie Anderson is the SVP of Client Solutions)

Savings in Reverse: Reverse Logistics Management is a Path to Profit

(Marc Levin is Senior VP of Business Development at Weber Logistics)

Logistics Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Is Less More?

Bill Jozefowicz is Vice President of Client Solutions at Weber Logistics

Avoid Vendor Chargebacks! New Vendor Compliance Video Shows How

Chargeback penalties from large retailers continue to be a profit-draining problem, particularly for mid-sized companies that don’t have staff dedicated to vendor compliance management.  But you can avoid chargebacks, or at least reduce them, by following some basic, technology-aided disciplines in the distribution warehouse. 

Shared Warehousing: Maximizing the Benefits

Jim Emmerling is the Regional Vice President of Operations at Weber Logistics

Multi Channel Fulfillment From One DC: Check out New Video

eCommerce sales in Q4 2012 broke another record.  For the year, online sales grew 15.8%, while retail trade in general grew only 5%.  When it comes to retail sales, “clicks are definitely gaining on bricks” and making efficient multi channel fulfillment a priority. 

Distribution Centers in the Inland Empire: Space hard to find, but more development is predicted

In a previous blog post, we discussed the Southern California warehouse market.  In this post, we want to focus on the Inland Empire region – the logistics hub of Southern California. Located about 50 miles east of Los Angeles, the region has 1.1 billion square feet of warehouse space. The traditional strength of the Inland Empire has been its access to the nation’s largest port complex in Los Angeles-Long Beach. 

Aspen Alliance Extends Weber’s West Coast Warehouse Network to Inter-mountain Region

Connie Anderson is the SVP of Client Solutions for Weber Logistics

How Pier Pass Rates Almost Undermined the “SNEAK-ONs” Craze

(Ryan Brower is Director of Client Solutions at Weber Logistics)

The Importance of Warehouse and Logistics Audits

Marc Levin is Senior VP of Business Development at Weber Logistics

BIG SHIPS Spur Southern California Ports Growth | 2013 Logistics Outlook

(Dennis McDonough is VP of Client Solutions at Weber Logistics)

Where to Locate a Southern California Distribution Center

So you want to distribute your product from a Southern California warehouse?  Let’s go on a tour of the region’s 1.7 billion square foot industrial real estate market, the biggest industrial real estate market in the world. 

Logistics Tips for Importers to the Port of Los Angeles & Long Beach

(Ryan Brower is Sales Manager, Freight Services for Weber Logistics)

7 Tips for Selecting a Chemical Logistics Company

Chemical Logistics 3PLs in California: Telling the Experts From the Imposters

Outsourcing logistics: The importance of strategic alignment

(Harry Drajpuch is the CEO of Weber Logistics)

Reduce Chargebacks in Your Vendor Compliance Program

Retail chargeback penalties for non-compliant shipments are a profit-draining reality for many CPG companies.  But retail suppliers with the will and the right strategy can avoid hundreds of thousands, even millions, in penalties.   Success requires creating a vendor compliance program, either internally or through a partnership with a third party logistics provider experienced in vendor compliance. 

Panama Canal Expansion: Impact on Southern California ports

Currently, large cargo ships are too wide, deep and tall to maneuver through the Panama Canal.  However, the Panama Canal expansion project currently underway will double capacity by allowing more and larger ships to transit.   

End of Strike Brings Growth Opportunity to Southern California Ports

Employers and striking harbor clerks at the Ports of LA and Long Beach mercifully reached agreement on a contract that brought striking workers and sympathizers back to work on December 5.  The deal allows normal volumes to flow through America’s most important trade gateway after an 8-day labor impasse that cost the National economy $8 billion. 

Do we need another logistics blog?

Another logistics blog site?   Don’t the various logistics publications and supply chain services providers – on their websites and blog sites – do a good enough job of commenting on industry issues and facilitating discussion?

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