Ways to Optimize the Fresh Supply Chain

Improve efficiency from supplier to warehouse to store

Grocery cart full of produce

Consumers want more fresh foods. It's a challenge food suppliers, distributors and retailers share as they attempt to maintain a fresh supply chain in the face of mounting economic and regulatory pressures.

To help, two experts from Penske LogisticsAndy Moses and Tom Scollard – offer insight into those challenges.

From Supplier to Warehouse

In its work with regional and national food distributors, grocers, convenience stores and food-and-beverage retailers, Penske puts teamwork first. "Fostering a collaborative relationship between shippers and 3PLs such as Penske allows us to develop a shared vision for success, keep communication channels open and resolve issues efficiently," says Andy Moses, senior vice president of sales and solutions at Penske Logistics.

That collaboration pays dividends for suppliers and warehouses in a few key areas, including visibility throughout the supply chain and safe handling of perishable goods.

Importance of Visibility

To maintain visibility across a supply chain, Moses recommends implementing transportation management systems (TMS) and warehouse management systems (WMS). These tools provide a roadmap for improving warehouse operations and labor planning. "It's important to ensure that front-and back-of-the-house systems connect to provide a seamless data integration," Moses says.

Best Practices for Safe Handling

To keep fresh foods fresh, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) establishes baselines for:

  • Employee training in sanitary practices
  • Equipment cleaning
  • Temperature control
  • Disclosure of prior cargo hauled in vehicles

Penske takes it one step further, working with customers to develop food defense programs that help protect against contamination or tampering. "These programs can include the physical security of facilities, shipment monitoring, communications planning with public health and law enforcement as needed, along with extensive employee training," Moses says.

From Warehouse to Store

Keeping fresh foods fresh on their journey from the warehouse to the stores starts with developing a separate cold chain, says Tom Scollard, vice president of dedicated contract carriage for Penske. The cold chain should include:

  • Pulling perishable items out of traditional distribution channels
  • Adopting a rapid-replenishment approach
  • Using cross-docks and smaller warehouses and trucks for more frequent delivery
  • Serving stores as often as possible

Verifying Cold Chain Compliance

Using newer, regularly maintained equipment helps ensure compliance with cold chain regulations. "Trucks should have on-board, real-time GPS-enabled tracking devices to monitor and record temperatures within a trailer throughout a route," Scollard says. "This ensures food safety from dock to customer." Also, RFID (radiofrequency identification) technology on pallets or items provides quick and easy traceability in the event of a food safety crisis.

Making the Right Deliveries at the Right Time

Stores schedule labor based on delivery schedules, making on-time shipments a necessity. "Stores also need to get products onto shelves as quickly and efficiently as possible to enhance customer loyalty," Scollard says.

For some customers, Penske drivers offer complete, streamlined fulfillment by delivering into the store itself and placing fresh goods on shelves.

A logistics partner also helps grocers and retailers develop strategies to "flex on the fly," allowing them to properly plan for seasonal promotions, holidays and even severe weather forecasts.

Tom Scollard
Tom Scollard is Vice President of Dedicated Contract Carriage for Penske Logistics. He brings more than 30 years of transportation and logistics experience to the business. Scollard joined Penske in 2010 as a Strategic Account Executive servicing DCC accounts before being named to his current position. Prior to joining Penske, he served as Vice President of Sales for Quickway Distribution Services. He also worked at Rollins (prior to its purchase by Penske Truck Leasing) as DCC Director of Logistics Sales and in national account sales. Scollard is also a member of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP).
Andy Moses
Andy Moses is senior vice president of sales and solutions for Penske Logistics. Prior to this role, he was vice president of sales at Penske Truck Leasing. Moses has more than 25 years of experience in the transportation industry, serving in product and sales leadership positions with both Penske Truck Leasing and Rollins Truck Leasing. A Six Sigma Master Black Belt, Moses earned a bachelor's degree in accounting from Brooklyn College and a master's degree from Pennsylvania State University in leadership development.

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