Many businesses tend to be quieter at night, and unattended deliveries in the overnight hours take advantage of the downtime to minimize delivery disruptions and ensure employees have what they need when they arrive in the morning.

Penske Logistics currently provides unattended deliveries to several industries, including healthcare, automotive, and food and beverage. Within the network, thousands of customers receive unattended nighttime deliveries in 48 states many supported by 14 Penske cross-dock locations nationwide.

Professional drivers deliver goods, stock products and handle any reverse logistics needs. They also ensure the facilities are closed up and locked before they leave.

“A customer is putting a lot of trust not only in the delivery company but also the person accessing their location unattended at night on a regular basis,” said Jeff Jackson, executive vice president of operations, dedicated contract carriage, at Penske Logistics.

To make the deliveries successful, dedicated drivers handle the locations and undergo extensive training, including completing a rigorous safety course, conducting one-on-one train­ing and shadowing experienced drivers on the route. “The driver is well trained on the unique handling characteristics of the product and the unique requirements of a delivery site, such as how to gain entry and what product to bring back,” Jackson said, adding that finding the ideal drivers for unattended deliveries starts with hiring the right people.

Penske Logistics has some of the most stringent hiring requirements in the industry, not only in terms of the amount of experience required but also regarding a potential employee’s character. We want someone who’s trustworthy and customer-service oriented too,” said Jackson.

Different industries can have different requirements for drivers to address. For example:

Health Care: Drivers provide unattended deliveries at hospitals, surgery centers and other healthcare facilities. “There are nuances on how you enter or exit each facility,” said Jackson. “It is highly customized.”

Healthcare deliveries typically use totes, cages and pallets, which are important returnables. “You have to get them back. The hospital doesn’t want them taking up space and the distribution center needs to get them back to clean them, recycle them and get them back into the loop,” Jackson said.

Automotive: Penske delivers automotive parts through its dedicated shared transportation networks which provide all the benefits of dedicated contract carriage, but also offer customized high-touch deliveries, detailed executions based on customers’ delivery requirements and specialized equipment – all at a lower cost. At dealerships, reverse logistics is needed for shipping containers, product returns, buybacks or warranty items.

Penske relies heavily on its scanning system to avoid co-mingling, which will notify employees if the wrong freight is loaded onto the wrong truck. Plus, all deliveries are geofenced and scanned, which minimizes any claims.

Food and Beverage: Penske provides warehousing and delivery of fresh and fresh-baked goods, dairy, frozen and complementary merchandise to company-operated and licensed stores with 24/7/365 coverage. Drivers complete hundreds of thousands of deliveries a year, and 70% are unattended, with drivers stocking shelves and preparing products, so the stores are ready for the day.

Drivers handling food comply with the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act and undergo additional training, which covers proper temperature monitoring and safe handling of food and food storage.

Contact us to learn more about how unattended deliveries could increase efficiency and improve service.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued new requirements for additional traceability records for certain foods, ranging from nut butters to cut veggies to shrimp, under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The requirements, which take effect on Jan. 20, 2026, create new traceability record keeping requirements beyond those in existing regulations for certain foods. All entities in the supply chain will be subject to the Food Traceability Rule.

The FDA said the changes, which require entities to share information with others in the supply chain, will allow for faster identification and rapid removal of potentially contaminated food from the market, resulting in fewer foodborne illnesses and/or deaths.

The list of foods includes some cheeses, eggs, certain vegetables, including cucumbers and leafy greens, some fruits, including melons and tropical tree fruits, fresh-cut fruit and veggies, some fish, nut butters, and ready-to-eat deli salads, such as egg salad, potato salad, pasta salad and seafood salads.

In preparation for the new requirements, which are less than three years away, it’s essential to start evaluating current warehouse management system (WMS) capabilities now to be best prepared for the near future. Since traceability in our food supply chain is essential to providing better service to our customers and end consumers, and a detailed record-keeping system is important for all the foods we handle in our food chain, making updates now will lead to a seamless transition when the new requirements become mandatory.

Key Data Elements and Critical Tracking Events

As part of the rule, those who manufacture, process, pack or hold foods on the Food Traceability List (FTL), must maintain and provide to their supply chain partners specific information — called Key Data Elements (KDEs) — for certain Critical Tracking Events (CTEs), in the food’s supply chain.

For example, if a distribution center (DC) receives the repacked fresh cucumbers from a produce processor, it must keep records on the receiving KDEs of the fresh cucumbers. Since the DC will be shipping the cucumbers to a retail store, it must maintain KDEs related to the shipping of the cucumbers to the next point in the supply chain, the retailer. The DC must also send the KDEs to the retailer.

Records must be kept regarding where the shipping event began and where it ended, meaning where the food was received. Still, the FDA said it is unnecessary to have records of the food's route, including any instances where it may have been moved from one carrier to another. Also, for cross-docking situations where food is arranged for transport from point A to point B but is briefly placed on a loading dock at point X at the DC to be transferred from one truck to another, records don’t need to be kept for point X.

Key Data Elements for those receiving food include:

  • Traceability lot code for the food
  • Quantity and unit of measure of the food
  • Product description for the food
  • Location description for the immediate previous source (other than a transporter) for the food
  • Location description for where the food was received
  • Date the food was received
  • Location description for the traceability lot code source or the traceability lot code source reference
  • Reference document type and reference document number

Key Data Elements (to maintain and provide) for those shipping food include:
  • Traceability lot code for the food
  • Quantity and unit of measure of the food
  • Product description for the food
  • Location description for the immediate subsequent recipient (other than a transporter) for the food
  • Location description for the location from which the food was shipped
  • Date the food was shipped
  • Location description for the traceability lot code source or the traceability lot code source reference
  • Reference document type and reference document number (maintain only)

Traceability Plan

All parties covered by the rule must create a traceability plan, and several are specific to those holding the food, such as a DC. The plan must include a description of the procedures used to maintain the required records, including the format and location of the records. It also needs to have a description of the procedures used to identify foods on the FTL and a statement identifying a point of contact for questions regarding the traceability plan and records. Traceability plans must be updated as needed to ensure the information reflects current practices and previous traceability plans must be maintained for two years after an update.

The Importance of Equipment, Technology and Training

There are several layers to the FSMA, which was signed into law in early 2011, and several requirements apply to the transportation and storing of food. All parties in the supply chain need to ensure they’re complying with current requirements and prepared to meet upcoming compliance dates.

FSMA includes requirements surrounding vehicles and transportation equipment, which must be “adequately cleanable” to allow the sanitary transport of food and “must be stored in a manner that prevents harborage of pests or becoming contaminated in any other manner that could result in food becoming adulterated.”

The ability to track and trace products is at the heart of several requirements, making the right WMS a vital resource. Tier 1 systems provide information on where products are stored and have embedded algorithms that can find ways to maximize productivity and the movement of product in and out of the warehouse.

It is also important for those transporting and storing food to be current on the latest requirements and best practices. Penske Logistics has earned Cold Carrier Certification, adding to its strategic approach to safety. The certification, which is the first of its kind, recognizes cold trucking carrier companies that comply with the Refrigerated Transportation Best Practices Guide from the Global Cold Chain Alliance, a trade association representing all major industries engaged in temperature-controlled logistics. Additionally, Penske associates undergo regular training to ensure food safety.

Foods on the Traceability List

Foods that will be subject to greater requirements in 2026 include:

  • Cheeses, other than hard cheeses
  • Shell eggs
  • Nut butters
  • Cucumbers
  • Herbs (fresh)
  • Leafy greens (fresh and fresh cut)
  • Melons
  • Peppers
  • Sprouts
  • Tomatoes
  • Tropical tree fruits
  • Fruits (fresh cut)
  • Vegetables (fresh cut)
  • Finfish
  • Smoked finfish
  • Crustaceans
  • Molluscan shellfish, bivalves
  • Ready-to-eat salads

Learn more at:

Effective supply chains require agility, and freight brokerage offers the flexibility shippers need as they respond to market changes, surges in demand, and planned or unplanned growth. Supplementing existing transportation modes or lanes is common for shippers, especially with the supply chain challenges we face today, and brokers can help find additional capacity when it’s needed.

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The supply chain continues to deal with ongoing disruptions, which have become increasingly numerous, larger in scale and more simultaneous. While technology plays a critical role in keeping products moving, 3PLs and shippers can’t overlook the value of getting back to basics and focusing on core supply chain principles that have proven successful time and time again.

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Freight Management FAQs

What is freight management?

A: Freight management is the process of efficiently and strategically moving freight across a network from its point of origin to its desired destination using various modes of transportation, intermediaries, and technologies. The process employs logistics and supply chain expertise, physical assets such as trucks, distribution centers and warehouses, and technology to move freight efficiently and cost-effectively.

Why has freight management become such an important component of business?

A: The ability to deliver freight on time to the right destination, in the right quantity, damage-free, and at the lowest possible cost, has always been critically important to businesses. In today’s competitive environment, this ability is more important than ever due to factors such as leaner shipper inventories, just-in-time manufacturing, rising warehousing and labor costs, tighter delivery windows, and consumer fulfillment expectations driven by ecommerce.

What modes of transportation do freight managers use?

A: Freight mangers ship cargo by air, rail, road, and water. Combinations of these modes, often referred to as intermodal transportation, are also used to provide optimal logistics and delivery solutions. Within the United States, roughly 70% of freight is transported by commercial trucks.

What are the different road transportation options?

A: Ground transportation comes in many varieties but common choices for shippers are full truckload (TL or sometimes FL), less-than-truckload (LTL), and parcel. In TL transportation a shipment fills an entire semi-truck trailer, whereas LTL shipments only partially fill a semi-trailer and can be comingled with other various other appropriate freight to make up a full load. Parcel refers to the transportation of small and mid-size package units. Each option requires a different freight management approach.

What are the different freight management options via truck?

A: The three primary freight management options by truck are: private carriage, common carriage, and dedicated contract carriage. Shippers that choose private carriage elect to manage their own trucks and drivers. In common carriage, freight is moved by multiple third-party trucking carriers on an as-needed and transactional basis. Dedicated contract carriage (DCC) — an increasingly popular method — provides the same fixed capacity and control as private carriage but shippers fully outsource the operation and management of their fleet to a third-party logistics provider (3PL) or lead logistics providers (LLP). In the instance of DCC, the 3PL operates and maintains the truck fleet, hires and manages the drivers, and ensures the safe, on-time delivery per the shipper’s requirements.

Visibility is a common supply chain term. What is it?

A: Supply chain visibility is essentially the ability to track the status and location of parts, components, and products as they move from origin to destination. It’s difficult to overstate the importance of supply chain visibility. It underpins excellent customer service and enables companies to drive cost out of supply chains by, for example, anticipating and avoiding operational disruptions.

Transparency is another widely used supply chain term. What is it, and how does it differ from visibility?

A: While visibility covers the monitoring of units flowing through supply chains, transparency refers to how companies share their freight information with other trading partners in the supply chain. This may include manufacturers, distributors, trucking carriers, 3PLs, upstream and downstream suppliers, freight brokers, freight forwarders, regulators, or even customers themselves. The concept of transparency within the supply chain ensures the smooth, efficient hand-offs and shared knowledge of everyone working within a logistics network. Transparency has become especially important in consumer-facing industries such as retail, CPG or food where shipping has become ever more complex, and customers are demanding more information into the products they buy. The evolution of trends like blockchain are clear evidence of a greater desire for transparency.

How can a shipper maintain high levels of visibility and transparency?

A: Technology is a critical piece of the visibility and transparency puzzle. 3PLs and LLPs use tools such as transportation management systems to track and trace the movement of freight and disseminate this information to authorized parties as quickly as possible. Leading 3PLs and LLPs also use advanced tools such as artificial intelligence to spot anomalies in freight networks and notify shippers of potential disruptions or delays.

What is a transportation management system (TMS)?

A: A transportation management system (TMS) is a platform for managing freight and freight flows. One of the most important tools in the logistics toolbox, TMS technology has evolved rapidly over the last decade. Modern systems support day-to-day freight operations as well as strategic decision-making through advanced analytics.

How is Internet of Things technology applied in freight management?

A: Internet of Things (IoT) is the term used to describe technology that connects everyday objects to the internet via sensing devices. Products and components moving through supply chains as well as assets such as trucks can be tracked using IoT-based sensing systems. These systems provide companies with real-time or near real-time location data and status updates such as the temperature of loads.

What is a routing guide?

A: A routing guide is a guide to which carrier or carriers a company chooses to move its freight. Routing guides come in many forms, but generally include preferred carriers that align with the shipper’s logistics needs.

What is a spot market rate in trucking?

A: Spot market rates are one-off rates quoted by truck carriers to haul a particular load or loads. Unlike contract freight rates which are fixed according to a pre-negotiated agreement between shipper and carrier, spot market rates fluctuate. Using the spot market to move freight is usually the more expensive option. Maintaining comprehensive routing guides is one way to lessen a shipper’s dependence on the spot market.

What are accessorials?

A: Freight accessorial charges are charges incurred outside of regular load pickup and delivery activities. Examples include fees for packing or unpacking cargo or a charge imposed by a carrier for unplanned delays at a loading dock. These extra fees can significantly inflate logistics costs.

What is a preferred shipper?

A: Trucking companies generally prefer to do business with companies that are efficient, financially sound, and highly collaborative — commonly called preferred shippers. The accolade translates into a competitive advantage. For example, a preferred shipper is more likely to find carriers to haul its freight during periods when carrying capacity is in short supply. There are various ways to become a preferred shipper. One is to keep loading/unloading delays to a minimum (see accessorials above).

How can a freight management partner save time and money for shipper clients?

A: There are numerous ways in which freight management partners deliver significant time and cost savings. For example, leading 3PLs and LLPs help shippers to negotiate the most competitive freight rates to minimize costly supply chain disruptions, and to ensure that freight networks run to maximum efficiency.

What should I look for when choosing a freight management partner?

A: It is vitally important that shippers choose a freight management partner that has the right level of logistics expertise and is compatible both culturally and organizationally. Here are some notable red flags:

  • Does the 3PL / LLP have a long and successful track record of managing different types of freight?
  • How responsive is the 3PL / LLP to market changes and trends as well as supply chain disruptions?
  • What resources does the 3PL / LLP offer in terms of infrastructure, technology, and personnel?
  • Does the 3PL / LLP have a strong presence in multiple industries? Cross-industry expertise is extremely important in today’s highly competitive logistics market.
  • Is the 3PL / LLP an innovator in terms of the logistics solutions it has implemented and the technology it deploys?
  • Can the 3PL / LLP show that it is ahead of the technology curve?
  • Is the 3PL / LLP financially sound and well-insured?
  • Does the 3PL / LLP have a strong reputation and brand in the marketplace?

As one of the top-ranked third-party logistics provider (3PL) and one of the industry’s original lead logistics providers (LLPs), Penske's team draws upon 50 years of experience helping market-leading shippers succeed with safe, on-time and efficient deliveries. Our freight management specialists create customized freight management plans to best meet the specific needs of your business — whether that is improving service levels, driving down costs, enhancing operational performance and driving change, or some combination of these common needs.

Supply chain operations are always complex, and each link in the chain must operate as planned to avoid disruptions. The food and beverage supply chain brings even greater complexities that must be managed to ensure overall success.

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Visibility is critical at the border, and being proactive rather than reactive can keep products moving. Penske has added a border workflow technology tool as part of its ClearChain® technology suite that facilitates collaboration between the many stakeholders involved in a border crossing to mitigate the risk of a delay.

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There are several reasons why a production line may unexpectedly shut down, including a lack of supply, a lack of employees or a cyberattack. During COVID-19, production lines were shuttered worldwide, causing unprecedented supply chain disruptions. Restarting a supply chain, especially when stoppages are widespread, can be complex.

“Plants may have experience starting up after a summer or holiday shutdown, but an unexpected shutdown, such as COVID-19, creates a unique situation,” said Andy Moses, senior vice president of sales and solutions for Penske Logistics. "During the pandemic, some companies experienced a six-to-eight-week cessation of production, and their transportation providers and suppliers have also been experiencing turmoil."

Companies can embrace these five tips for restarting the supply chain after any type of shutdown.

1. Examine Your Carrier Base

When there is an extreme disruption carriers may be affected as well. The lack of cash flow some carriers are experiencing is going to affect the carrier base. Moses recommends companies examine their carrier base and, if possible, do a financial analysis. “If that isn’t in your procurement group’s sweet spot, the right 3PL can help,” he said. “Identify those companies that might be troubled and set up meetings to have frank discussions.”

By working together, shippers and their transportation partners can find ways to address cash flow issues. “In extraordinary times, extraordinary measures may be needed,” Moses said. “That could be changing the payment terms to seven days from 30 days. It is something to consider as a good partner.”

What’s more, if a carrier declares bankruptcy, a shipper may have to spot-buy a lane until it can resource it, and typically spot rates increase when capacity tightens. “It might be smarter to work with that carrier on cash flow issues rather than not,” he said.

As part of the conversation, shippers should examine the whole book of business they have with a carrier. "It could be that, of the 25 lanes they have with you, five are unprofitable, but they took them as part of the bundle. You could discuss altering those,” Moses said. “Have a collaborative attitude so you can help each other."

2. Assess Your Supply Base

The question of financial health also applies to the supply base. “During COVID-19, many companies hadn’t seen cash flow for two months,” Moses said. “If that situation happens, have open conversations with them to try to collaborate and create an environment where both companies can survive and thrive.”

Ports worldwide continue to see disruptions, and companies need to be aware of any cargo limitations. “When shipments arrive, can you process them, or is there a Plan B? Are you going to incur demurrage fees on containers if you can’t unload them? You may need to secure warehouse space short-term,” Moses said.

Prepare early by identifying the capacity, equipment or facilities that may be needed when shipments resume.

3. Review Your Assumptions

Post-COVID-19, there was a new definition of normal and everyone has learned that situations can change rapidly. "It may not be practical for you to think that everything is going to happen the way it always has,” Moses said. “You need to look at every piece of the supply chain and examine your assumptions and your realities.”

It’s prudent for shippers to have a Plan B and C. “Plan B could be as simple as having a relationship with a brokerage company so you can dial up capacity quickly,” Moses said. “You can get brokerage contracts in place now so you know who to talk to and which lanes or areas may be critical.”

Lanes may shift if freight patterns change. “Your freight might not come into the Ports of LA and Long Beach like it always has,” Moses said. “You have to check all of your assumptions. If you’re running through your checklist and say, ‘I don’t need to worry about this because it has never been a problem,’ that’s the one most likely to trip you up.”

4. Ensure Visibility

The supply chain comprises multiple moving parts that all must come together at precisely the right time. Technology can provide visibility to help shippers monitor the health of each individual movement as well as their entire transportation network. “Once our major disruption hurdles are cleared, shippers are still going to want to know the status of loads and whether there is a risk of a delay due to weather or traffic,” Moses said.

5. Start Early

By working with providers and preparing early, shippers can help ensure a fluid network. It is essential to start soon, as people may be hard to reach during a disruption. “Give yourself enough time to get everything in place,” Moses said.

Several companies stepped up to meet new demands during the COVID-19 global pandemic and pivoted their production lines to make much-needed items. Automakers shifted their manufacturing abilities from vehicles to ventilators, fashion designers started making face masks and distilleries learned to make hand sanitizer.

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An energy-efficient warehouse can cut operational costs while improving sustainability, making green warehousing initiatives a win-win solution within the supply chain industry. A range of eco-friendly solutions can be applied to new construction or existing facilities.

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The supply chain can make or break a retail business. Empty shelves and out-of-stocks result in lost sales, frustrated customers and decreased loyalty. Technology and visibility tools are helping to bring all the functions in the supply chain together with a common, shared view of what is happening to keep the supply chain running smoothly.

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Shippers need a seamless process when moving goods between the United States and Mexico, and the handoff is critical. Historically, a black hole existed at the border, which is especially challenging given the many parties involved in a crossing.

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The holidays can create a surge in demand for trucking capacity, and now is the ideal time to prepare for potential spikes.

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For those of us whose livelihood focuses on supply chain management, it’s clear that disruption is now a normal part of business. Recent examples of front-page news include extreme weather events, the pandemic and international unrest. When managing a supply chain, there are lessons to be learned from each of these events.

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Freight brokerages like those operated by Penske Logistics can serve as strategic partners for shippers and carriers, matching available trucking capacity with freight. Shippers commonly utilize a mix of transportation options to fill capacity gaps and will work with brokers to aggregate capacity and access a larger pool of carriers. Penske Logistics brokerage solutions provide another option for shippers to secure capacity and move goods.

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As real estate prices increase, the area within the four walls of the warehouse is at an ever-greater premium. Effective and efficient warehouses can help maximize space, increase productivity and improve performance, making the most of your existing warehouse space. Optimized warehouses also make the most of available labor and ensure timely service. From improving slotting patterns to embracing technology, there are several ways to streamline the movement of goods within your warehouse.

Explore these strategies from the experts at Penske Logistics to optimize your warehosue:

​Improve Slotting Patterns

Optimal slotting patterns place high-velocity pick items as close to the door and as tightly together as possible to drive efficiency. Optimal slotting designs are based on historical sales data, including volumes and A, B, C and D movers, along with forecasted demand and seasonality. That data will provide insight into what to stock and where to position it to get the top movers out of the door faster. It isn’t hard to move slotting patterns as demands change, and adjustments should be completed at least once a year to ensure efficiency. Some industries, such as food and beverage, change slotting patterns seasonally.

​Separate Fulfillment Channels

The growth in e-commerce means more and more warehouses have three fulfillment channels: shipping to their own locations, outside retail locations and business-to-consumer. Depending on the volume or the way warehouses receive orders, there can be a pallet area, case-pick area, and an each-pick area to maximize each category’s efficiency.

​Find the Ideal Racking Solutions

The right storage solutions are often based on the cost of specific geographic locations, which varies. Space is much more expensive in California than in the Midwest, so in California warehouses, it might make sense to invest in vertical racking. Sites can utilize single-deep racking, double-deep racking, push-van racking or other types to get additional spots on the rack.

​Examine Labor Standards

Labor is central to warehouse operations and software can help manage the movement of people and track productivity. That data can be compared to warehouses’ labor management time standards and results should be evaluated every day after every shift to ensure employees are meeting their productivity standards.

​Utilize a Robust Warehouse Management System

A warehouse management system provides inventory visibility and tracking and ensures products don’t get mixed up or misplaced. Improving your warehouse management software can provide several benefits, including the traceability of products, which will become even more important for certain industries, such as food and beverage, that have increased safety standards.

​Invest in Technology

Various technologies can help improve operations within the warehouse. Some warehouses use a voice-pick system to help pick items more efficiently and employees can close out orders as they pick them, using their voice and an index finger scanner. Radio frequency scanners, including forklift mounts, handhelds and wearables, direct employees to the correct picking location. Once employees pick the products, the system automatically updates the picked items in the warehouse management system.

​Augment Labor

Drones and visual guided vehicles can help free up human talent to focus on more important tasks within an operation and improve overall safety. Drones can fly through a distribution center’s aisles and provide updates on inventory or alerts if products are not in their assigned slot. Visual guided vehicles can be used to move pallets or other inventory throughout the warehouse and are trained to run the same pattern.

​Create a Contingency Plan

Supply chain disruptions have highlighted the need for contingency planning, which can range from preplanning for a natural disaster to knowing how to ramp up operations if there is a spike in business. Thinking through and predefining potential scenarios can ensure an efficient shift when necessary.

​Utilize a Multi-Client Warehouse

Companies looking to expand their footprint and move inventory closer to end consumers are turning to multi-client warehouses, which enable them to take advantage of smaller space within a facility. Multi-client solutions make sense for customers needing 75,000 square feet of space or less.

Realize the Benefits of Warehouse Optimization

From efficiency improvements, lowered operating expenses, enhanced worker productivity and reduced turnover to greater inventory management and better customer service, the benefits of a solid warehouse optimization plan are significant. Ensuring you have the right processes and platforms in place can help your business run more efficiently than ever before.

There are many elements to choosing the right logistics partner. Penske places a premium on taking the necessary time to clearly understand how our logistics solutions may impact the entire company. Our goal is to ensure the efficiencies provided by Penske are realized at virtually every level.

For more information on what Penske Logistics can do for your organization, please contact us at 800-529-6531.

Shared dedicated transportation networks provide shippers a unique offering that combines the benefits of dedicated contract carriage with the economic advantages of a less-than-truckload approach. Shared services also offer customized high-touch deliveries, minimal freight handling and consistent delivery times.

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Shared dedicated transportation networks offer a creative and innovative shipping solution, providing all the benefits of dedicated contract carriage, along with high-touch deliveries, customized execution based on customers' delivery requirements and specialized equipment, all at a lower cost. The solution provides high service levels with next-day delivery, minimal freight handling and consistent delivery times.

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