dcc article

Change can be hard, especially in complex operations with multiple moving parts. In transportation and logistics, the stakes can be even higher — ensuring business continuity, maintaining legacy knowledge and business data, and retaining staff are all top priorities when a transition occurs. Penske Logistics has transitioned hundreds of companies to its dedicated contract carriage services and has developed critical best practices to minimize disruptions and maintain continuity.

“One of the most critical things we do is ensure we have a good communications plan,” said Jeff Jackson, president of Penske Logistics. “We have a dedicated project management team that runs the implementations, and we put together robust customer-specific plans that provide full visibility so they can see where we are with the launch and have full transparency.”

One of Penske’s more significant transitions involved 35 sites and 400 drivers and was done in one day. “We sent teams to 35 sites to make the announcements and train and onboard drivers. We had over a 90% stick rate, meaning we kept nine out of 10 drivers,” Jackson said.

Retaining Talent

Employees are critical to a smooth transition. “In most cases, our objective is to retain all the customer’s existing drivers, provided they meet our hiring requirements. Our driver hiring center is engaged early on and provides a white-glove treatment to new drivers. We have a centralized team that does nothing but engage with drivers, which helps with continuity concerns.”

Additionally, Penske has over 11,000 drivers on staff and offers a breadth and depth of talent for any additional needs. “We also have an elite driver program with 100 drivers in various parts of the country and dispatch them for three to four weeks at a time. We can leverage that program to bring drivers in early to fill any gaps,” Jackson said.

As a best practice, Penske errs on the side of caution and tends to over-resource initially, pulling in extra drivers and equipment from its internal resources to reduce the risk of disruptions. “We have a dedicated person with Penske Truck Leasing who works with logistics and will handle the transition. It takes a huge burden off to know we have equipment available, and we’ll have priority when the fleet utilization is high,” Jackson said.

Penske also has a full suite of training videos covering various topics, from leadership to core functionalities. “It is easy for our team to train new staff quickly, which leads to a clean transition early,” Jackson said.

Maintaining Knowledge

It is essential to maintain critical data and information, which include electronic data and employee knowledge, and successful integrations are key. “We like to connect IT to IT, and HR to HR, and have those teams work together directly. They speak the same language and can run testing before the implementation starts,” Jackson said.

Penske Logistics has made extensive investments in technology and has expertise in IT integrations to ensure nothing is lost. “We have integrated with all kinds of TMS and ERP systems,” Jackson said.

On the labor front, Penske wants to understand the current compensation and benefits packages. “We have our own, but we want to know if ours is superior or inferior. We want to keep drivers whole,” Jackson said, adding that Penske’s strategy is not to move wages backward and this makes the compensation process as easy as possible. Plus, some customers fund retention bonuses to incentivize employees to stay.

Emphasizing Communication

A large part of a project’s overall success comes down to communication, starting with the request for proposal. “When companies put an RFP out, they need to have confidence that it represents the real solution. That is a common pitfall,” Jackson said, adding that the best start-ups happen when the customer looks at their processes and data before they come in so they can communicate them clearly. “The more transparent they can be with us, the better we can be. It takes both of us to partner to get the transition done.”

External communication is also important, so the customer’s sales department must understand the reason for the change and the value it will provide. Then they can articulate it to their customers. “Sales cannot be out of the loop. Customer communication is key,” Jackson said. “You have to build trust, and you need to build it quickly.”

With a robust communications plan, access to a wide range of internal and external resources, and extensive experience transitioning companies to dedicated contract services, Penske Logistics possesses the tools and experience to ensure a smooth transition with minimal disruption.

Transporting goods is a complex process, and the trucking industry faces a wide range of operating challenges. Shifts in capacity, fluctuating rates, rising insurance and fuel costs, and the ongoing driver shortage create uncertainty for shippers. At the same time, customer service demands and regulatory requirements continue to increase, leaving many shippers looking for a solution that will provide secure capacity, steady rates, and high levels of service, all while mitigating the risks of operating a private fleet.

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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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Just as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), remote sensing, and predictive analytics are transforming supply chain operations, they are also bringing huge changes to safety programs.

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At Penske Logistics safety is not characterized solely as a priority, safety is also one of the company's core values. This philosophy reflects the importance of safety, a small word for a vast area of responsibility that has become more challenging in line with the growing complexity of the logistics business.

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The "take-make-dispose" approach to economic growth is becoming less tenable as more consumers demand sustainable products, and companies face increasing pressure to conserve the planet's finite resources.

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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.

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As is the case with any mode of transportation, demand for dedicated contract carriage (DCC) services can change with the ebbs and flows of freight markets. However, shippers often get the most out of the DCC model when they deploy it as part of a long-term logistics strategy.

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Retailers looking to improve efficiency and reduce labor costs are embracing a direct-store-delivery (DSD) model, with goods traveling directly from the supplier to the retail store. DSD models save time and minimize touchpoints for industries such as food and beverage, automotive and health care, where just-in-time deliveries can reduce inventory levels, freeing up capital and floor space.

“It is a strategy for taking work out of retail,” said Jeff Jackson, president of Penske Logistics. Jackson added that when retailers have a high level of execution, they can stretch inventory. “You can have a much lower order quantity,” he said.

Identifying Added-Value

Penske Logistics works directly with its customers to find additional ways it can streamline operations. “In a DSD model, we truly are dedicated to do whatever customers want us to do,” Jackson said. “We’re going to work with them to achieve their goals. We’re here as their private fleet to figure out how delivery can reduce pain points in the store and the business.”

For example, for one customer, drivers deliver donuts directly into the display case to maximize freshness. For another customer, Penske partially thaws pre-made doughs so the product can be cooked when it arrives. “That gives the customer space, because we have removed a step from the process, and the customer doesn’t have to do the work,” Jackson said.

DSD also may benefit retailers that offer a large number of SKUs but can’t store them all onsite. “We can look at orders and needs, pull product from a distribution center and deliver it into the store in the middle of the night,” Jackson said.

Through DSD, Penske can limit the number of tractors and trailers needed to make a delivery. “In a retail environment, a truck is disruptive in the parking lot,” Jackson said. “With DSD, we can collect from three or four suppliers, consolidate that in cross dock, load it onto one truck and deliver.”

DSDs can give retailers greater quality control, too. “The less people touch it, the less chance there is for a problem to arise,” Jackson said.

Measuring quality effectively becomes more important as customer standards and government regulations increase. “At some point, everyone is going to have to have a full electronic chain of custody from farm to table,” Jackson said. “That’s why visibility in a cold chain is critical.”

Ensuring Performance

Because DSD relies on just-in-time deliveries, Penske uses its technology to help ensure accurate delivery times. Penske closely monitors drivers’ progress, weather and traffic to get ahead of any potential risks. What’s more, Penske can provide status updates and arrival/departure notifications to customers through an app or via email.

Penske also can plan ahead for known surge periods, such as the holidays. “We push the limits the most when there is inclement weather,” Jackson said. “We enhance our emergency response plan in these scenarios.”

If a customer needs additional equipment or if a tractor needs maintenance, Penske Logistics can access rental tractors from Penske Truck Leasing, which minimizes the risk of any downtime.

Training Drivers

DSD requires specific standard operating procedures and auxiliary driver training. At Penske Logistics, drivers undergo additional training in DSD operations. “The investment in training is much longer because it is so white-glove,” Jackson said.

Penske Logistics also seeks a specific driver profile when hiring for DSD operations. “We put more emphasis on finding someone who has the temperament to deal with the general public,” Jackson said. “We aren’t directly charged with engaging customers, but our drivers will engage with them because they’re in the store.”

Penske Logistics has more than 10,000 drivers on staff and hires more than 3,000 drivers a year. “We build in transparency through our very sophisticated recruiting model and robust scope documents that describe each driver’s role,” Jackson said.

Identifying the Keys to Success

For DSD to succeed, both parties must have thorough operating procedures and a high level of trust. “We have a tremendous amount of rigor,” Jackson said. “For one customer, products must be there by 4 a.m. We are 99.9 percent accurate with on-time deliveries.”

He added that both parties must commit to collaboration and disciplined execution. “If we don’t collaborate, we’ll never even get to a solution design, and we can’t get further than that.”

Understanding When DSD Makes Sense

DSD may be an ideal solution for operations that have:

  • Daily fresh deliveries.
  • Just-in-time deliveries to manage high SKU inventory.
  • High-volume products.
  • The desire to maximize space.
  • A need to control the chain of custody.
  • Products that require special handling and driver training.

Penske Logistics works closely with its customers to create a solution tailored to their operation. To discuss DSD opportunities, contact Penske Logistics.

A company’s public image is critical, and Penske Logistics works closely with its customers to ensure its equipment and drivers reflect the company’s brand. That is especially important in direct store deliveries (DSDs), where drivers may interact with the public while providing value-added services and making in-store deliveries.

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