• How a 3PL Can Help You Dodge Food Distribution Challenges

    05/26/2021 — Jen Deming

    Food Distribution Blog Post Image

    Every industry has its own unique shipping challenges, and these issues aren’t always avoidable. We work with many food and beverage manufacturers and retailers, and constantly see a pattern of reoccurring obstacles within the industry. Working with food distribution centers can help gain brand exposure and increase reach of your product, but there are very specific transportation issues associated with these locations. Familiarizing yourself with what you can expect of distribution centers and how a 3PL like PartnerShip can help ease the process can help to lessen headaches and ensure your transportation goes smoothly.

    If you’ve been in business for a while, names like UNFI, KEHE, Sysco, are probably all familiar to you as common food commodity distributors. Working with big name companies like these can help manage your supply chain efficiently, fulfill customer orders, and expand your product to a multitude of retail locations quickly. No matter the type of distribution center, all run a very tight ship that doesn’t allow much room for error. What you need to know is that while these places are convenient for exposure and expansion, they pose serious operational complications if you aren’t aware of challenges beforehand. Let’s take a look at how a 3PL can help with the major challenges in working with food distribution centers.

    3PLs help navigate restricted hours of delivery and pick-up

    Because food distribution centers are working with an innumerable amount of deliveries from various businesses, managing incoming shipments from manufacturers is very complex and requires a lot of communication. Most food distributors require a very small window for deliveries, including early morning or late evening receiving hours. This helps to manage congestion and traffic at receiving docks and expedites the process so trucks can unload and be on their way. If you’ve ever shipped to a tradeshow and experienced strict timelines for arrival, it works much in the same way with distribution centers. If your truck arrives at a distribution center outside the window of delivery, it is likely to be refused and will acquire detention or redelivery/late fees. 

    Because there is so much involved in communicating with the distribution center, knowing appropriate delivery hours, and tracking your shipment, working with a 3PL can help alleviate some of that responsibility. Freight experts at a quality 3PL know what to look out for, and can help verify hours and help coordinate with your carrier.

    A 3PL can help sort out carrier preferences

    Shipping food and beverage commodities is innately more challenging than other products because regulations, certifications, and other considerations are major factors influencing the process. Food-grade carriers undergo a rigorous vetting process with the FDA, and need to meet certain safety and security requirements in order to ship their product. Because of this, some food distribution centers require or prefer specific carriers for inbound and outbound shipments that they know meet these standards.

    Because these carrier preferences can change within a distributor’s network, and aren’t always disclosed prior to arranging a shipment, doing research beforehand is of utmost importance. Making sure the distribution center you are shipping to has a preferred carrier whose services align with your business needs is an important part of the supply chain relationship. Keeping track of this can be challenging, and working with a 3PL who is both familiar with the unique needs of your business and requirements of top distribution centers can help ease the process.

    3PLs will set up any appointment requirements

    Another major caveat to watch out for in working with big-name food distributors and warehouses is appointment requirements for delivery or pick-up. In addition to restricted operating hours, these locations will often require an appointment to be scheduled for the arrival of the freight carrier. This needs to be arranged prior to scheduling the pick-up from your shipper location, and the responsibility falls on the carrier or vendor. 

    Often, these locations manage appointment scheduling via online portals, and require important information like a PO number, delivery location address, carrier name and number, and shipment descriptions like weight, size, and commodity. Having all of this information and documentation on-hand can help make the process much easier. If you’re managing several shipments at once, it can get complicated, and working with a 3PL can help make sure you have all the information you need, and ensure it’s accurate. Working with a final delivery location or customer is important as well, and communicating with all parties during the shipment process is crucial to avoid hang-ups, delays, or other issues. Juggling all these variables can be overwhelming, especially when managing other parts of your business. Collaborating with freight experts is a smart way to delegate some of that responsibility.

    Quality 3PLs will keep an eye out for sort and seg fees 

    In addition to the aforementioned challenges that come with shipping to and from a food distribution center, there’s an important accessorial fee associated with these locations. Sort and segregation fees are charges applied when the consignee, the food distributor, needs the driver to break down the pallets and divide up the product. The shipment is often separated based on SKU, commodity, weight break, delivery destination, or a variety of other factors. Because standard freight services do not include driver assist with loading or unloading deliveries, this extra step will result in higher charges on your invoice because it is labor-intensive and may result in delays for the driver. 

    Consulting with a 3PL on shipments going to and from food distribution centers and warehouses is the best way to gather information on delivery requirements before you ship. Because these fees can accumulate rapidly and end up costly, working with brokers who have strong relationships with their freight carriers may help in reducing costs through discounted accessorials and special freight rates. Knowing if the distribution center has these requirements can help you prepare for higher fees and you can work that into your budget before you get hit with a bill that’s higher than you expected.

    PartnerShip can help

    Shipping to a food distribution center can result in many obstacles an everyday freight shipper has never seen before. Working with a quality 3PL, like PartnerShip, you gain an entire fleet of experts that know what issues to look out for before they become problems for your food and beverage shipments. 

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  • What is the Difference Between Cross-Docking and Transloading?

    01/14/2020 — PartnerShip

    What is the Difference Between Cross-Docking and Transloading?

    They are common questions in logistics and warehousing: What is cross-docking? What is transloading? What is the difference between cross-docking and transloading?

    First, a definition of each of these freight services.

    Cross-docking is unloading inbound freight from one truck, holding it in a warehouse or terminal for a very short period of time, and loading it onto another truck for outbound shipping.

    Transloading is when inbound freight is unloaded, the pallets are broken down, and their contents sorted and re-palletized for outbound shipping.  

    Here is an example of cross-docking: A manufacturer needs to ship 20 pallets of products from the east coast to destinations in Texas, Florida and California. The 20 pallets are first shipped to a third-party warehouse in Cleveland, Ohio. A day later, 5 pallets are sent to Florida, 10 to Texas, and 5 to California on trucks bound for those destinations. Since the pallets were never unpacked and were only in the warehouse long enough to move them from one truck to another truck (and from one dock to another dock), they have been cross-docked.

    Using the same Cleveland, Ohio third-party warehouse, here is an example of transloading: 5 suppliers of a manufacturer ship a year’s supply of components to the warehouse. The components are stored until they are needed, at which time the warehouse picks them, assembles them into a single shipment, and ships it to the manufacturing facility.

    To recap, cross-docking is the movement of an intact pallet (or pallets) from one truck to another, and transloading is the sorting and re-palletizing of items.

    Both cross-docking and transloading services are specific logistics activities that can create benefits for businesses; especially ones that utilize a third-party warehouse.

    Benefits of cross-docking

    • Transportation costs can be reduced by consolidating multiple, smaller LTL shipments into larger, full truckload shipments.
    • Inventory management is simplified because cross-docking decreases the need to keep large amounts of goods in stock.
    • Damage and theft risks are reduced with lower inventory levels.
    • With a decreased need for storage and handling of goods, businesses can focus their resources on what they do best instead of tying them up in building and maintaining a warehouse.

    Benefits of transloading

    • Businesses can store goods and products near customers or production facilities and have them shipped out with other goods and products, decreasing shipping costs.
    • Businesses can ship full truckloads to a third-party warehouse instead of many smaller LTL shipments.
    • With storage and logistics managed by others, the need for building and maintaining a warehouse is eliminated.
    The bottom line is that these benefits translate directly into cost savings. To learn more about the full range of third-party logistics (3PL) services that PartnerShip has provided for three decades, and how cross-docking and transloading in our conveniently located 200,000+ square foot Ohio warehouse can benefit your business, call us at 800-599-2902 or send an email to warehouse@PartnerShip.com.


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  • On-Demand Warehousing: 7 Ways Your Business Could Benefit

    11/14/2019 — PartnerShip

    7 Ways Your Business Could Benefit From On-Demand Warehousing

    A rapidly growing need in the warehouse and logistics industry is for on-demand warehouse space. So, what is on-demand warehousing?

    The simple answer is on-demand warehousing is a logistics strategy that matches businesses with a need for short-term or temporary warehouse space with warehouses that have excess capacity.

    As recently as two years ago, the topic of on-demand warehousing was relatively unknown, but several factors have led to the rapid increase of its awareness and market need. Let’s look at 7 ways your business could benefit from on-demand warehousing.

    1. The Amazon Effect. Basically, the “Amazon Effect” has changed consumer expectations and means that anything and everything is available online with one-day or even same-day shipping. The eCommerce giant has created “get it now” expectations, and if your business can’t offer one- or two-day shipping to your customers, you are at a distinct disadvantage. If you are based on the west coast or east coast, you should seriously consider adding additional warehouse storage and order fulfillment in strategic locations to reduce shipping time to your customers.
    2. Increasing demands of eCommerce fulfillment. If you are a retailer, you’ve seen the headlines about the decline of brick and mortal retail as more and more B2C and B2B commerce shifts online. If the increased demand for eCommerce has stretched your facilities to their limits, you should consider on-demand warehousing and order fulfillment to take the pressure off of your existing infrastructure and help meet your customers’ higher expectations for short shipping times.
    3. It’s less expensive to borrow space than build it. Start-ups and small companies are finding it advantageous to rent warehouse space as they grow rather than build their own distribution centers and warehouses. By utilizing warehouse space on an as-needed basis, your small business can focus on growing sales and market share instead of adding the overhead a dedicated warehouse requires.
    4. When peak season is your only season. If your company relies on a single season for the majority of your revenue, it makes more sense to use an on-demand warehouse for your peak season than to pay for year-round warehouse space.
    5. When its time to outsource to save resources. When your resources are limited, its best to outsource functions that fall outside of your company’s strengths, and warehousing and logistics is usually one of those functions. By working with an on-demand warehouse that can “store it and ship it,” your company can devote its precious resources to product development, R&D, or marketing; whatever it is that you do best.
    6. Inventory overflow. Even if your company has its own distribution network you may find yourself in need of temporary warehouse space. Expansive new product launches, importation of a years’ worth of goods, or stockpiling of raw materials to hedge against increased costs can create the need for extra storage space.
    7. “Micro-warehousing.” If your company sells (and needs to store) goods and products near population centers that use them more than other areas, like Ohio State branded products in Ohio, air conditioners in the southeast, or snowblowers in the northeast, then you could benefit from temporary warehouse space outside of your existing distribution network.

    Of course, there are many other reasons that have helped fuel the growth of on-demand warehouses, such as warehouse consolidation, rising import and export tariffs, international companies expanding in the U.S., large regional construction projects, and many others, and it all means the need for on-demand warehouse space is growing.

    PartnerShip has provided a full range of third-party logistics (3PL) services for three decades and now offers on-demand warehousing in our 200,000+ square foot facility, conveniently located near 5 major interstates in Ohio. If you need help with your warehousing needs and inbound and outbound shipping, call us at 800-599-2902 or send an email to warehouse@PartnerShip.com.


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