Mastering Load Management and Route Planning

July 9, 2024

From navigating the complexities of refrigerated freight to ensuring efficient multi-stop deliveries, transportation managers face numerous hurdles in their quest to streamline operations. In a recent episode of the Stay In Your Lane Podcast recorded at the 2024 Food Shippers of America Conference, Franklin Foods Transportation manager Doug Jenkins shared valuable insights from his 30-year career in logistics on the priorities that freight managers should emphasize for success.

Jenkins’ career in logistics spans various industries, including retail and manufacturing. Before joining Franklin Foods nearly two years ago, he spent 16 years with DSW, a shoe retailer, and 12 years with Scotts Miracle-Gro. His transition from handling dry freight to managing refrigerated goods at Franklin Foods presented new challenges, particularly in scheduling and multi-stop deliveries.

One significant adjustment Jenkins noted was the necessity for precise scheduling of appointments with customers. Unlike his previous roles, where deliveries were often direct and involved fewer stops, Franklin Foods frequently requires multi-stop routes. This means that any delay can have a domino effect, impacting multiple customers down the line. The potential for this type of chaos remains one of the most significant ongoing challenges in the refrigerated sector, and it’s one that freight managers must work diligently to avoid.

Another challenge Jenkins faced in transitioning to refrigerated freight has been optimizing appointment scheduling. Unlike the straightforward logistics of dry freight, refrigerated transport requires meticulous planning to ensure that each stop is timed perfectly to prevent delays and maintain the cold chain integrity. He emphasizes the importance of communication and pre-planning to minimize disruptions, highlighting how even minor delays can have a ripple effect on the entire supply chain.

What measures can be taken to reduce transportation costs without compromising efficiency? For answers to this question and more, watch the latest episode of the Stay In Your Lane Podcast.

“We try to keep in mind any unloading restrictions so we can minimize potential layovers. Every delay, every stop, adds to the cost. It’s all about making sure our drivers are as efficient as possible,” he explains.

The logistics industry has seen significant changes, especially with advancements in technology that have tightened delivery windows. Gone are the days when a simple phone call to a receiving manager could resolve scheduling issues, a practice that has largely faded with the rise of digital communications. Today, most scheduling is handled through automated systems, leaving little room for the personal touch that once eased logistical challenges.

Jenkins points out that while technology has improved tracking and traceability, it has also reduced the flexibility that was once a hallmark of the industry. “Getting to know your customers and their unloading schedules is crucial. It’s a continual education process, always trying to do a better job,” he adds.

At Franklin Foods, Jenkins and his team have made it a priority to be a shipper of choice for their carriers. This commitment is reflected in their fast turnaround times for drivers, who are often in and out within an hour, and in their prompt payment practices. “We take pride in getting drivers in and out quickly and paying our bills on time. It’s about building trust and maintaining a good relationship with our carriers,” he says.

When it comes to current market conditions, Jenkins acknowledges that while the market is still favorable for shippers, the landscape is constantly evolving. “If you had told me 18 months ago that we’d still be in a shipper’s market in early 2024, I would have laughed. But here we are,” he says. This highlights the importance of long-term partnerships and fair dealings, emphasizing that while cost-saving is essential, it should not come at the expense of sustainability and fairness.

Jenkin’s approach to logistics is grounded in the belief that both shippers and carriers should thrive together. He stresses the importance of building consistency in the carrier network and maintaining fair rates that reflect the true cost of service. “I’m looking for partners who are there for the long haul, who see value in Franklin Foods and are willing to work with us through the ups and downs of the market,” he explains.

He also addresses the pitfalls of focusing solely on low rates and high accessorials, advocating for a holistic view of total delivered cost. “It’s not just about the rate; it’s about understanding the total cost and ensuring that everyone in the supply chain is fairly compensated,” he notes.

As we look to the future, Doug Jenkins’ insights remind us of the importance of maintaining strong, mutually beneficial relationships in the logistics industry. Whether it’s through effective appointment scheduling, timely payments, or building a consistent carrier network, his experience at Franklin Foods underscores a fundamental truth: success in logistics is built on trust, fairness, and collaboration.

At Triple T Transport, we are committed to upholding these values, working hand-in-hand with partners like Franklin Foods to navigate the complexities of the freight industry. Together, we aim to drive efficiency, reduce costs, and enhance the reliability of our supply chains through world-class 3PL services, ensuring that both shippers and carriers can thrive in any market condition.

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