Candy companies and other food and beverage companies need to move products to retailers ever faster, while remaining compliant with stringent food industry regulations. You can keep pace with these demands by installing effective logistics providers throughout your supply chain. In this article, we’ll examine one set of those providers – refrigerated truck carriers – and help you identify the right one for your business.
Refrigerated truck carriers: 5 things to look for
1. A history of being able to make RAD dates. One of the greatest sources of pressure your operation faces is retail compliance. And, a big part of your compliance efforts involves getting your products to retailers by the requested RAD dates. It is therefore vital that your chosen carrier has a solid track record of doing just that.
When you’re vetting your prospective carriers, don’t hesitate to ask for historical metrics related to RAD, on-time-to-appointment and other KPIs that matter to your business. The best providers will have an on-time-to-appointment record above 97%, while you’ll want to see RAD – which can be affected by a variety of factors (e.g., the delivery destination doesn’t want the product too early or doesn’t have a delivery slot open) – above 90 in terms of percentage met.
2. The ability to make delivery appointments within 48 hours of order tender. A key part of delivering an order on time is making the delivery appointment on time. Retailer DCs are notoriously busy and scheduling is not something that can be done at the last minute. Because of this, it is not uncommon for shippers to send orders to carriers before the freight even gets there. This gives the carrier ample time to schedule with the retailer and make all necessary preparations. To assess your prospective carrier’s ability to schedule delivery within 48 hours of receiving the order, ask for its KPI reporting in this area.
3. The ability to meet all food industry requirements. Of course, appointments and deliveries don’t matter much if the integrity of your products is not well protected. It is paramount, then, that your chosen refrigerated truck carrier follows all Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) requirements. This key U.S. regulation includes provisions related to temperature-controlled transport and prevention of cross contamination.
Your carrier should have a Food Safety Plan and measures in place to keep temperatures in range during transport. These measures should include warning systems and safeguards should the temperature go out of range during shipping, and the ability to provide temperature readouts of the trailer temperature upon delivery to the consignee. In addition to FDA/FSMA compliance, companies that truly ‘walk the walk’ with food safety will likely also have certification from an independent auditing agency such as AIB International.
4. A TMS that can deliver necessary information. Much like delivery speed requirements, your reporting and invoicing requirements have likely kicked into hyper drive in recent years. As such, your refrigerated truck carrier will need to have a robust transportation management system (TMS) that can sync with your systems – and those of your vendors and/or customers – to deliver information electronically.
For most companies, manual reporting and invoicing simply doesn’t cut it anymore. They need information delivered quickly – sometimes within 24 hours. A typical example looks like this: Company A partners with a carrier to deliver product to retailers. Company A then needs freight management data (e.g., KPI metrics) sent to one vendor, freight payment data (e.g., invoices) sent to another vendor, and additional data (e.g., OS&D information) sent to itself. The carrier must be able to link its TMS system with all of these different systems to seamlessly deliver the necessary information expeditiously.
5. Drivers that are company employees, not owner-operators. In some states, there is an ongoing battle over whether certain “independent” drivers (e.g., drayage drivers) should be treated as independent owner operators or employees of the carriers they work for. Nowhere is this issue more heated than in California, where the state supreme court ruled that – in the event of a lawsuit – drivers will be presumed to be employees of their carrier company and not independent. This opens the door for drivers who were ostensibly hired as independent contractors to later sue for wages and benefits.
Ultimately, BCOs who do business with carriers that appear on a state blacklist could find themselves on the hook for these wages and benefits as well. To avoid these potential headaches, many companies are avoiding non-asset-based truckers that use independent owner operators. Be sure to ask your prospective carriers whether they hire independent owner-operators so you can fully assess your potential risks.
But wait…there’s more
While these 5 characteristics are necessities for the carriers of modern confectionery operations, there are many other capabilities that can make your carrier an even more invaluable asset. These capabilities include services such as drayage and transloading, as well as one of the industry’s cost-saving stalwarts: pool distribution.
If you’re looking for a 3PL that checks all of the above boxes – and more – be sure to check out Weber Logistics. Weber is a West Coast 3PL that delivers an integrated approach to logistics in which drayage and warehousing can be performed in tandem with its transportation services. And, Weber provides time-defined service to five Western States. To learn more about these services, contact us today.