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West Coast and California Logistics Blog

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

Mar 15, 2018 / by Bob Lilja posted in Food Logistics, Food Supply Chain, 3PL Outsourcing

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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. 

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Location Key for Supply Chain Services

Feb 18, 2016 / by Eden Castaneda posted in West Coast Distribution, Food Supply Chain, Northern California 3PL

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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.

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

Aug 6, 2015 / by Connie Anderson posted in West Coast Distribution, Logistics Technology, Food Supply Chain

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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:

 

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3PL as Alternative to Traditional Food Distribution Companies

Mar 26, 2015 / by Connie Anderson posted in Food Supply Chain

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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.  

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Choosing a Food-Grade Warehouse: 5 Areas to Evaluate

Mar 4, 2015 / by Connie Anderson posted in Food Supply Chain, Food Logistics

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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.

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

Aug 14, 2014 / by Connie Anderson posted in Refrigerated Trucking, Food Supply Chain, Temperature Controlled Warehousing

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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.

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The Logistics of Cold Chain Management

May 14, 2014 / by Connie Anderson posted in Cold Chain Managment, Food Supply Chain, Temperature Controlled Warehousing

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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:

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Organic Food Storage: Key Considerations

May 7, 2014 / by Connie Anderson posted in Food Supply Chain, Food Logistics, Temperature Controlled Warehousing

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 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:

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How to Choose the Right Food Logistics 3PL

Aug 28, 2013 / by Connie Anderson posted in 3PL, Food Supply Chain, Food Logistics

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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

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

Aug 5, 2013 / by James Baker posted in Third Party Logistics, Food Supply Chain

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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.  

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