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Unilever USA, a shipper of choice that embraces drivers and the future

Unilever (NYSE:UN) USA had a problem at its distribution center in Newville, Pennsylvania. Drivers would park on nearby roads overnight because there wasn’t a truck stop nearby. 

Working with the Canadian-based carrier Kriska, Unilever piloted a program called Safe Haven to allow drivers to park at the distribution center. Kriska dispatchers assigned spots to the drivers, who had to take safety measures such as wearing reflective vests. 

The 2015 pilot was so successful that Unilever expanded it to all of its North American distribution centers and manufacturing plants – and was recognized by the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT). 

“Unilever was motivated to allow parking onsite in order to become a ‘shipper of choice’ for drivers,” a 2018 report from the DOT Parking Capacity Working Group noted.

Unilever USA placed among 25 companies in FreightWaves Shipper of Choice Awards, conducted in partnership with Convoy. The awards resulted from the votes of carrier members of the Truckload Carriers Association and the Blockchain in Transport Alliance, or BiTA. 

The awards recognize shippers who engage in best practices to keep supply chains moving.

While Unilever USA did not return FreightWaves’ requests for comment, the consumer goods company’s efforts to excel as a shipper are well-documented. 

Adoption of digital freight matching

Unilever utilizes digital freight matching (DFM) and has a multi-year agreement with Convoy. The company’s foray into using apps to ship its products dates back to a 2016 pilot project. 

Unilever embraced digital freight matching as a way to boost efficiency, reduce the number of empty loads and cut carbon emissions. 

“Our partnership with DFM providers allows us to jointly shape the future of on-demand trucking while adding flexibility into our supply chain,” Reginaldo Ecclissato, Senior Vice President of Supply Chain Americas said in a company Medium post

Unilever has expanded digital freight-matching outside of North America. It also wants other companies to embrace it. 

“And we want other suppliers to adopt the DFM model too. We want this approach to become mainstream across the industry,” Ecclissato said.

Nate Tabak

Nate Tabak is a Toronto-based journalist and producer who covers cybersecurity and cross-border trucking and logistics for FreightWaves. He spent seven years reporting stories in the Balkans and Eastern Europe as a reporter, producer and editor based in Kosovo. He previously worked at newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the San Jose Mercury News. He graduated from UC Berkeley, where he studied the history of American policing. Contact Nate at [email protected]