Rack ‘em up

Rack ‘em up

Consider racks instead of boxes, as well as consolidation to cut down on shipping costs.

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July 14, 2019

Supply chain waste can drive up prices and cut into profit margins. But by considering some changes to shipping, you could find a way to keep those costs down. “If you’ve got air in a trailer, you’re wasting money,” said AJ Lambert, director of sales and account management at Container Centralen, at Cultivate’19 in Columbus, Ohio.

Some of the biggest problems simply come from the labor associated with shipping. If you’re using corrugated boxes, there’s a lot of handling, from putting boxes together to loading, unloading and breaking down boxes.

But simply making a switch to racks, growers can save on labor, but that conversion isn’t going to give you the same payload.

By considering a central distributor, growers can consolidate materials into one semi-truck. A localized box truck can pick up products at various stops and bring them to a distribution center where they’re packed on a semi-truck and shipped out.

“Then the trailer is fully loaded and on its way, whereas drivers in the previous process are spending two hours at each location,” Lambert said.

Transportation regulations

Gary Cortes, founding partner at Flowvision, said growers are also facing issues with touch loads, especially when using deck or California stacking. “They quality of plant is going down when you do that,” he said.

He said that many growers are moving away from touch loads to rack loads because of new ELD laws, which limit drivers to 11 hours of driving and 14 hours of work. “There’s a lot of rules and regulations on it,” Cortes said.

“Transportation regulations forced carriers to reconsider current operating practices,” Lambert said, noting that multi-stop linehaul runs with two- to four-hour load times at each pickup and four hours of unload times meant increasing costs for customers.

“Many carriers stopped this service offering altogether without a dock-to-dock pickup and delivery,”  he  said. “Having a central spot will save the shipper and the driver a ton of time loading the racks and unloading the racks. Then the driver can turn faster and get that load. That typically equates to lower prices.”

Here are a few solutions the pair offered for shipping:

1. Convert from corrugated to racks. It eliminates multiple touches and the need for boxing

2. Decrease overall transportation spend. Smaller growers can blend their products with other growers’. A full truckload means less cost per plant being shipped for every grower involved

3. Drivers have more drive time due to dock-to-dock moves. “If you can drive the cost of transportation down, your profit margins with skyrocket,” Lambert said.

4. Greater load and rack optimization means less labor. It’s less handling by the shipper, the driver and the receiver of the product.