The safe and efficient transportation of your goods is a critical part of the supply chain, so when you choose a shipping company, you need to consider a wide range of criteria.
It’s not just about choosing the one with the cheapest prices (although cost is obviously a factor). It’s about weighing the pros and cons of every offer or quote you receive and comparing their services to your exact needs. It’s about finding a reliable partner that can support your efforts to get your product to market.
So, if it’s about more than just the cost, what should you look for in a shipping company?
1. An Infrastructure That Can Support Your Supply Chain
Many companies require more than occasional transportation services. Their business model requires a constant flow of regular shipments, intermodal transportation, and safe, reliable warehousing.
If you fall into this category, you need to make sure that your shipping company has the resources to provide that level of work. Do they have the drivers? The trucks? The refrigerated shipping options? Will they be able to keep your products moving to meet demand?
2. Extensive Experience
A freight service that has been in business for some time has likely already seen all kinds of issues on the road, in distribution, behind the scenes, and everywhere else problems can possibly appear.
And, if they’re still in business, that means they figured out how to deal with each of those problems and came out on top.
You need drivers and warehouse managers and other staff members who can make the entire process of loading, shipping, and unloading go as smoothly as possible.
3. A Priority on Safety
At Calex, safety is priority ONE. Whether that means the safety of your products or the safety of our people, we have instituted several policies that protect our people and your inventory.
Fleet managers need to ensure the safety of every shipment by making sure all the trucks are maintained to the highest standards (or replaced with newer models) and that your inventory is always packed and shipped correctly. Drivers should be highly trained and instructed to obey all traffic laws.
4. A Commitment to Professionalism
Everyone who is involved in your freight shipping service should be completely professional in their dealings. Whether they’re interacting with the people at your establishment or at the final delivery location, they need to look and act like professionals who understand the importance of your business.
The driver may just be delivering your goods, but you’re the one that chose your shipping service, so how they act will reflect on your brand. Make sure you work with a company that understands that connection.
5. Highly Trained Support Personnel
Effective shipping is a team effort, and the dispatchers, mechanics, managers, and many more people contribute to the efficiency of your shipment. Your products need to be processed and tracked, and drivers need to be in communication with people who provide the information they need.
Dock workers need to make the loading and unloading process seamless, dispatchers need to assign routes effectively, and mechanics need to keep everything in the best shape possible.
Our drivers depend on the staff behind the scenes to ensure they can deliver your products safely and on time.
6. Regulatory Compliance
Every state has different regulations on how certain products are handled or on the emission levels of large trucks. If your shipping service isn’t in line with all these requirements, it could lead to fines or other problems.
Older trucks may not meet the current regulations in some states, so make sure the company’s fleet is filled with newer vehicles. It’s also important to make sure every truck receives the necessary maintenance before it hits the road.
7. The Flexibility to Change with You
You likely won’t need the same level of transportation services throughout the year. Seasonal shifts or market trends can change your needs overnight.
If you are locked into a specific contract, it could end up costing you more money than necessary. Make sure that the services you use are able to adapt to your needs and scale up or down as your business goes through its natural changes.
Why You Need More Than Low Prices
While you should absolutely look for the most cost-effective freight services, it’s important to remember that if the price seems “too good to be true,” there’s a good chance that some corners are being cut somewhere.
If those corners include the safety measures, or proper driver training, or even vehicle maintenance, then, well, your results may reflect the price.
When you choose a shipping company, it’s important to find the optimal balance between price and reliable services. Keep all of the elements we’ve listed here in mind, and choose wisely.
The market for refrigerated freight transportation just keeps on growing and, according to some estimates, could easily be responsible for moving more than 3 billion tons of product in the next couple of years.
These kinds of numbers just serve to highlight the importance of refrigerated shipping in your supply chain, because any of those products could be damaged or have their shelf-lives significantly reduced if they experience temperature increases of just a couple degrees.
In other words, uncontrolled shipping temperatures could lead to billions of dollars in losses – both for the producers and the transporters – if those goods are damaged in transit. On top of that, there are public health issues at stake, and many agencies are watching to make sure there are no bacterial or fungal contaminations popping up during the shipment.
Supply chain management in markets that deliver perishable items, fresh or frozen, have to make temperature-controlled shipping a priority from start to finish.
Understanding the Cold Chain
A supply chain that is focused almost exclusively on frozen or other perishable products is normally referred to as the “cold chain,” and has a huge reliance on refrigerated trucking.
More specifically, cold chain logistics is not just about transporting temperature-sensitive goods from one location to another. It is about transporting these products along a supply chain while adhering to very specific instructions for planning, packaging, and shipping the goods in order to maintain their integrity.
Providing consistent temperature control along the way is a critical part of this process and helps to ensure that the products aren’t altered or impacted in a way that could reduce their shelf life, efficacy, or freshness.
The Challenges of Refrigerated Shipping
Moving regular freight straight from point A to point B is, well, pretty straightforward.
Moving cold, perishable products, however, requires a bit more care and concern to make sure everything arrives in an unaltered state, ready to hit the shelves.
To that end, there are a number of challenges that must be considered at every stage of the process. These might include:
- The point of origin and the final destination and whether or not they are within a certain distance from each other.
- The equipment needed to handle cold products (food safety standards cannot be ignored in any way).
- The ability to correctly store and load frozen or perishable goods. This means both the trucks and the warehousing must have the capabilities to load and store these products safely.
- The smooth flow of inventory to ensure products never spend excessive time in an un-refrigerated environment – i.e., waiting to be loaded. When the time comes to move the goods, you must have the capabilities to shift them swiftly and carefully.
- The estimated delivery times must be very accurate and on-time deliveries become crucial because of the time sensitivity of these products.
The Cold Chain in Action
Some of the industries that rely on refrigerated shipping the most include: fresh foods (including all fruits and vegetables as well as meats and seafood), floral, dairy, and pharmaceutical.
Let’s take a closer look at one of these industries in particular – the pharma industry – to see why reliable refrigerated freight shipping is so important.
(Note: further details on how the transportation side and the production side need to work together for the best results in this industry can be found here.)
As the pharma industry continues to grow and develop, more and more drugs are coming out that are sensitive to temperatures or the passing of time. (This has to do with the shift from simple chemical-based formulas to more complex designs that can be impacted by their environment.)
Unfortunately, since many companies weren’t ready for this shift, billions of dollars of pharmaceuticals were stored and shipped (or delayed) at improper temperatures, which means they were either putting less-effective products on shelves or forced to recall them entirely.
In the worst-case scenarios, these products could have posed a real threat to the consumers if subpar or spoiled products were sold to the general population. (And that doesn’t even touch on the possible lawsuits that could result from such actions.)
Any pharmaceutical product with any kind of temperature sensitivity will have some real shelf-life concerns. Yet, with so many more products being shipped around the country than ever before, the risks of human error and other road safety concerns are quite common. Routes must be planned perfectly, the logistics of warehousing and loading and unloading must be flawless, and communication and transparency with the producers and receivers should be clear and constant.
However, as long as the products are properly labeled – indicating the importance of temperature-controlled storage and transportation – these products can make it to the store shelves in great condition. They will maintain their efficacy and give the seller a chance to stock and move their merchandise.
Understanding the Benefits of Refrigerated Shipping
The number and variety of goods that are available every day are higher than ever. And the same can be said for customer expectations.
Of course, a lot of these products can deteriorate and lose their value if they aren’t properly stored, shipped, and handled and the right temperature.
When it’s done right, producers can meet the growing demand for these types of perishable goods. More than that, though, they can meet the regulations on put in place by government agencies like the FDA.
As the demand for better refrigerated shipping in the supply chain continues to grow, the transportation industry has responded with new developments for better flows, better electronic tracking, and more visibility into the process.
As we continue to develop our own processes and find even better ways to maintain the proper temperature in our trucks and warehouses, our clients can continue to expect better services, better deliveries, and better profits.
Warehouse storage services play a significant role in the supply chain, which means there are several elements that you must consider to ensure your products are received and distributed as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Everything from lead times and supply chain velocity to anticipated throughput, receiving, storage, and dispatch volumes could impact the type of warehousing solution you need. Even then, these needs could change on a seasonal basis, so you need to think about both short-term and long-term solutions.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most critical warehousing considerations.
Types of Storage
This may seem very obvious on the surface of it, but it’s important to define these terms before we get into everything else. There are several types of warehouse storage solutions available to you, including:
- Ambient storage – A dry storage warehouse for goods that don’t require any particular temperature control. Most products will fall into this category.
- Cold storage – This is specifically for fresh food products and other perishable goods.
- Hazardous storage – This is for anything from flammable liquids and chemicals to other materials that require extra security and safety precautions. (Not currently available at Calex ICIS.)
Accessibility and Flow
Warehouse operators need quick and easy access to every pallet within a warehouse. It must be convenient to identify and obtain items, and the design/organization of the warehouse must support the flow of products into and out of the building.
A warehouse layout needs to always consider the flow of work. Every sequence of actions that must be carried out should be located conveniently to each other, in the order in which they must be accomplished. Inventory must be able to flow smoothly in and out in a logical sequence, so regular flow analyses may be required.
When it all comes together properly, there should be an uninterrupted flow of people and inventory through the building without any bottlenecks or overly high traffic areas.
Something as simple as aisle width can have a huge impact on accessibility, though it’s something many businesses don’t consider in their own warehouses. The width of an aisle will change the way people and machines move through spaces, and it will also influence the size of forklifts or trucks you can buy as your company grows.
It’s all about organizing the warehouse for your current convenience and future needs.
For most companies, this is the first consideration when they begin looking at warehouses. The allotment of space will obviously be one of the most important variables in order to keep your supply chain running efficiently. You don’t want to pay for too much, and you never want to be caught with too little on hand.
A capacity analysis can help you determine how much space you really need for your inventory.
A warehouse that is not located anywhere near your business or your consumers may have a lower cost, but it will add some very real impediments to your supply chain.
It’s important to analyze your needs and determine the most effective geographic location so you can balance warehouse costs with transportation costs.
Is the warehouse located near shipping docks? How long will it take to reach end destinations?
At Calex, we have a 99.7% on-time service history because you can reach nearly 50% of the U.S. population same or next day from our facilities.
The heating, cooling, and lighting of a warehouse are critical for the care and protection of your inventory as well as the warehouse staff. Employee comfort contributes to productivity and accuracy, so this is something that can’t be overlooked.
The warehouse should never skimp on effective lighting, since it likely has the highest impact on productivity. More importantly, it reduces the risk of accidents and injuries on the job.
In areas where perishables will be stored, the proper temperature must be consistently maintained in order to protect the inventory.
Security and Safety
Warehouses need to have the necessary security and safety systems to prevent thefts and accidents and collect the records it needs to dispute any potential liability claims.
With so many moving parts in a warehouse, there are a lot of potential risks – high shelves, heavy machinery, lots of people moving around, electrical and chemical incidents, and much more.
Theses systems need to be made especially for warehouses, because a lot of these huge structures might not be able to support traditional wireless systems. For more reliability, a warehouse needs to use a hard-wired system for their security systems.
On top of that, security cameras need to be strategically located in order to maximize their fields of view and cover every potential area where a theft or accident could happen. The same goes for alarm sensors, whether it’s a door or window break sensor, fire alarm, motion detector, or another similar device.
Warehouse Management System
The technology that keeps our warehouses running at peak efficiency continues to change and evolve. At Calex, our warehouse management system (WMS) provides the tools we need to keep everything moving as smoothly and as quickly as possible.
We use the WMS to eliminate a range of manual processes while optimizing your inventory storage, tracking, workload distribution, and shipping. It’s also what allows us to provide as much transparency as we can so you are always connected to your inventory and know exactly what is in stock and when you’ll need to consider another shipment.
Flexibility in Storage Solutions
Very few companies need the same amount of storage all year long. After all, if your inventory needs remain stagnant, that might say something unfortunate about your sales.
You need warehouse storage services that can grow or change with your needs, whether they fluctuate with the seasons or grow and shrink depending on industry trends.
On top of that, not all products are uniform shapes. Shelf and rack sizes and heights may need to change. Other precautions may need to be taken to keep fragile products safe no matter where they are in the warehouse. Your solution needs to be as flexible as your needs.
Consider Them All
This may seem like a lot of things to consider when you are looking at your warehousing options, but they are a part of your supply chain solutions. By considering all these elements, you can expect improvements in search and retrieval times, picking accuracy, and workflows/processes.
Shipping costs have been increasing for years throughout the entire country, even affecting industry giants like Amazon, General Mills, and Walmart. Unfortunately (and unsurprisingly) these increases get passed down to the consumer in one way or another, but it is most often experienced as an increase in the prices of everyday goods.
One of the main reasons for increased shipping costs? A nationwide driver shortage that shows no signs of getting better.
The simple fact is that even when the economy is doing well, the trucking industry cannot keep up with the demand. Ask any transportation company why costs are going up and they will tell you the same thing:
Regardless of how much a load pays a driver, there just are not enough drivers available to move the freight customers need as quickly as they need it moved.
Driver shortages in America have been an issue for years, but never to this degree. Now, with low national unemployment rates, the pool of potential drivers is at a low point, and many are not interested in the job.
Why Is This Happening?
Among the young people just entering the job market, most simply aren’t interested in being truckers. This could be because of the long hours, stressful work environment, and isolation that can come with the job.
On top of that, many do not see a future in the industry, as self-driving trucks from Waymo and Uber inch closer and closer to becoming a reality. While these trucks are still years away from being a regular occurrence on the road, inroads are being made, as Waymo just launched a self-driving tractor pilot program in Atlanta.
The Electronic Log Mandate going into effect across the country is also causing existing drivers to drive fewer miles, as they are now federally mandated to be able to be on the road for no more than 11 hours at a time. These electric logging devices also stop less scrupulous drivers from lying about their drive time on the road.
While these devices increase safety, they have cut down on how much freight shipping is possible across the country.
How Does This Impact Consumer Pricing?
The lack of available drivers can be a huge bottleneck in the supply chain, so, with the driver shortage as it is, companies have to hire and retain new drivers by raising driver pay and providing additional benefits.
While this is good for the driver, it is not so great for everyone else. The higher driver pay causes an increase in operating costs for the trucking company, which causes higher shipping rates for trucking company clients, which causes higher prices for the everyday person shopping at the grocery store or local mall.
While no one is a fan of higher store prices, it appears to be unavoidable. Online shopping and the retail industry continue to outpace the rest of the economy, especially the transportation industry.
This is the reality of the world we live in, and higher prices of everyday goods may just be the new norm. Inflation has remained low over the past decade because companies found ways to be more efficient in their daily operations, offsetting the rising costs of shipping services. That is not something that can continue to happen forever, though, and we are now only beginning to understand how that will affect the rest of the economy.
Recruiting and retaining truck drivers can be an uphill battle. If you own, manage, or have a role as a driver recruiter than you already know the struggle and most likely have experienced this! Also, you understand the industry’s unending shortage of truck drivers and the climbing numbers in turnover rates.
American Trucking Association reports that the turnover rate for truckload carriers has grown and drivers are becoming scarce. The prediction is that the low and stable turnover rate could be short-lived and the driver shortage will become more and more of a problem.
Calex is enhancing our company driver health benefits, increasing our driver pay by 10% to stay competitive with the market and ensuring our drivers are being appreciated the way they want to be. We are a family owned business and keep that culture alive in our workplace environment from day to day.
Linked is a good article to read on driver retention!
How often have you called a company only to be told they could not help you? Yet a customer’s need should be their main focus. Sometimes a request is cost prohibitive. Shouldn’t there be options? We too have experienced this exact situation while running our own business.
Calex’s purpose is to help companies of all sizes maximize the efficiency in their supply chain and distribution network. We strive to maintain alignment with the current and changing needs of the marketplace by staying proactive. We have recently introduced a “Cool Ride” program to our current customers and are also rolling it out to new customers as an option to make it easier to choose the right carrier, Calex! The Cool Ride program offers LTL shipments on refrigerated or dry capacity loads out of Northern New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania, shipping to the Southern states. *See attachment for pricing and specifics.
With that being said, Calex is happy to announce that we recently increased our driver pay by 10% and introduced a new health care package for drivers and family. Focusing on these market changes, we look for the opportunity to strengthen our core, and offer training programs to newer drivers while attracting qualified and experienced drivers so that we are capable of leading at every turn.
Calex has been a family owned company since 1974, and know the supply chain process and warehouse efficiency. We are up top date with today’s latest technology but maintain an old fashioned commitment to customer service. If you should need either or both of these services please consider Calex to provide your company with expert service levels that will help you maintain your highly regarded reputation in the marketplace. For any additional information please contact our office at 570-602-3142.
Calex Cool Ride Program – 2017 – PAE Origin
CBS News recently wrote a piece highlighting the driver shortage epidemic the country is currently experiencing. More than 70 percent of all goods in the continental US are carried by truck, and most companies are having trouble keeping all their seats filled. With Americans buying more goods than ever before the shortage will be exacerbated as time goes on.There is currently a shortage of roughly 50,000 drivers nationwide, and that number is expected to more than triple within 10 years.
Industry experts expect this to cause problems throughout the economy, including product shortages, delivery delays and higher prices as it becomes harder and harder to find willing workers. Demographics are partly to blame, as Millenials are increasingly less and less willing to work the demanding lifestyle of a truck driver. Available drivers are highly sought after, making it a driver’s market. It is easy for an unhappy driver to jump ship to a new company with higher pay, as the shortage has left companies desperate for bodies. Many trucking companies now pay for a CDL and on the job training in order to entice drivers to stay.
The trucking business looks to be staying a driver’s market for the foreseeable future. While self driving trucks are still years away from widespread adoption, there may be no other option for carriers if the driver supply does not change for the better.
Calex Integrated Supply Chain Solutions is announcing the implementation of Lytx’s product, DriveCam, into our fleet.
The DriveCam program addresses safety by combining data and video analytics with real-time driver feedback and coaching. Calex has made the decision to incorporate DriveCam’s solution as part of its operational initiatives to identify and target the top behaviors contributing to fleet risk. DriveCam’s model identifies behavioral improvement opportunities for increased safety through an iterative process of scoring, prioritizing, and tracking the results of driving behaviors. In-cab video captures driving behavior, which is objectively reviewed and scored, and then passed on to our fleet for use in coaching drivers. Calex will manage the DriveCam program through a web-based online portal.
We recognize the importance of investing in technologies like DriveCam that enable us and our professional drivers to make continuous improvements in safe practices and driving behaviors.
With the ELD mandate fast approaching and Congress looking like it is unwilling to delay the law from going into effect again, many trucking companies are scrambling to make sure their fleets are in adherence.
Calex is already prepared for the upcoming change, as we have been running electronic logs since 2009.
We pride ourselves on making sure each and every one of our trucks and drivers are in compliance with the mandate. Overtired drivers are a danger to everyone on the road, and Calex makes sure that every time our trucks are on the road, they are not a threat to those around them.
Calex ISCS is striving to be fully prepared ahead of time so we can ensure that the needs of our trading partners are met and our supply chain solutions experience no interruptions.
What Is the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate, and Who Needs It?
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA):
“The electronic logging device (ELD) rule – congressionally mandated as a part of MAP-21 – is intended to help create a safer work environment for drivers, and make it easier and faster to accurately track, manage, and share records of duty status (RODS) data. An ELD synchronizes with a vehicle engine to automatically record driving time, for easier, more accurate hours of service (HOS) recording.”
In other words, the ELD Rule applies to any drivers or motor carriers who have to maintain their records of duty status (RODS). There are, of course, some exceptions to this rule, but it does cover most shipping services.
Why Were Some Organizations Against It?
As Congress debated the mandate, there were some organizations like the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) that opposed it. The VP of OOIDA suggested that: “The electronic logging device mandate is written so broadly that it has far-reaching implications well beyond the traditional trucking industry.”
Nevertheless, the mandate passed since it was seen as an important step toward increasing road safety.
What Does an ELD Do?
These devices are designed to synch up with a vehicle’s engine and automatically record on- and off-duty time, miles driven, engine power status, engine hours, vehicle motion status, and more.
The driver can also certify his or her RODS is complete and accurate, transfer the data to a safety official, who can then review it and make recommendations.
Focus on Safety
The ELD mandate certainly caused a stir in the trucking industry, but the added safety is of significant importance – and one that matches Calex’s support of its drivers.
This morning we welcomed Charlotte Joyce Potter to our family.
Congratulations to Jason & Kim !!!!!!
Charlotte was born at 1 minute after midnight 5 lbs 10 oz’s. Both Mom & Baby are doing great !!!!