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3 ways the supply chain protects freezable freight

Shippers, carriers and customers can work together to make sure temperature-sensitive goods arrive on time and undamaged

(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Winter is usually the most challenging season for those involved in freight movement and supply chain management. Timely delivery of undamaged freezable goods is critical to bottom lines, as well as customer satisfaction and loyalty. FreightWaves spoke with John Luciani, chief operating officer of LTL Solutions at A. Duie Pyle, about how shippers and carriers can meet the challenge. A. Duie Pyle is a transportation and logistics provider, offering solutions for truckload, less-than-truckload (LTL), dedicated, as well as warehousing and distribution.

Choosing the right carrier

Luciani couldn’t emphasize enough how important it is for shippers to engage with carriers that invest in infrastructure and preparation regarding protection of freezable freight.

They should select carriers that, like A. Duie Pyle, have their own snow equipment, chains for their trucks, dedicated snow teams, as well as trailer snow scrapers and backup generators at each of their service centers and warehouses.

They should also look for carriers with young fleets that are in good condition, and that have the latest technology to plug into electricity for block heater purposes.

“I know that if I were a water-soluble shipper, for example, if I were a paint manufacturer or pharmaceutical manufacturer, I would not only look in the trade magazines, but I would also do my research [online] because of the potential value of the product and the impact to the supply chain,” Luciani said.

Shippers can also find the right carriers for their needs via word of mouth and shipper co-ops.

Luciani suggested partnering with a carrier, then building a year-round relationship with that carrier. This way, a shipper can gauge the carrier’s performance during critical and noncritical time frames, gaining a clear understanding of the carrier’s credibility.

Leveraging technology

When it comes to protecting freezable freight, reliable weather forecasts are a must. But equally important are optimized routing and shipment visibility throughout the supply chain.

Many carriers like A. Duie Pyle proactively transmit all shipment transit data. End customers should have the ability to communicate directly with the drivers to find out what time shipments will arrive.

“Once we make the pick up we create a skeletal bill, and there’s a flag that is set so that we know the dock worker, the line haul driver or P&D (pickup and delivery) driver who handles that particular shipment … . He/she has a clear understanding that this is a water-soluble shipment and it needs to be protected by heat,” Luciani said.

This up-to-the-minute tracing can be done through a data aggregator or online portal. 

Training and accountability

From a carrier’s perspective, training can be something as simple as making sure drivers know how to chain up in snowy conditions. But Luciani said it goes deeper than that when it comes to protecting freezable freight. He said carriers should train their customer service employees to provide accurate and timely information. In many cases, carriers even train end customers on how to use their portals to track shipments, so they potentially have some self-sufficiency.

From a routing system perspective, there needs to be accountability between the dispatch leader and the delivery driver.

“For Pyle, it’s about building that training and accountability throughout the organization that’s supported by our engaged workforce and company culture,” Luciani added.

It’s a team effort. Accountability and customer confidence can be achieved through the engagement of the pickup driver, the line haul driver, the dock workers at both origin and destination, terminal operations, the dispatch leaders, and ultimately the delivery driver.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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Nick Austin

Nick is a meteorologist with 20 years of forecasting and broadcasting experience. He was nominated for a Midsouth Emmy for his coverage during a 2008 western Tennessee tornado outbreak. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Georgia Tech. Nick is a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in February 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” eight consecutive years.