I interviewed Keymonte Crooms who discussed 3PL Trailer Integration.
It’s nice to speak with you today, Keymonte. This is going to be an interesting topic on 3PL trailer integration. Can you first provide a brief background of yourself?
Okay, I started in supply chain logistics in 1999. I started in the distribution side of the business for Gap, Incorporated in Erlanger, Kentucky, and that distribution campus supplied all Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy stores throughout all 50 states, including Alaska and Puerto Rico.
From there, I went into inbound logistics, scheduling multiple trailer loads into distribution center cross-docks and, from there, went to outbound logistics, supporting their Pacific distribution center in Fresno, California. I did that for two years as well, which was scheduling all outbound loads of merchandise to * (1:01—unclear) distributions, which, from there, went to the actual stores. From there, went into the specialized-transportation group. We supported every Gap, Incorporated store with anything that was in the store that you could not actually purchase; so, a lot of store props, for the holidays, all the props for the holidays, massive distribution of sending out props for five hundred stores at a time. I had a lot of experience with FedEx Custom Critical, LTL carriers, moving companies—United Van Lines—making specialized delivers that require white-glove treatments.
One of the highlights of that was, for Banana Republic, there were five what they call flagship stores—two in San Francisco, one in Chicago, one in New York, and one in Miami. For Christmas, the designers had actual live Christmas trees they wanted delivered, so we had to actually work with multiple carriers and multi transportation to get these live Christmas trees picked up in Pennsylvania and delivered to multiple stores in time and with the integrity to make sure that, because they were live, that they were delivered intact. Those were pretty exciting times there.
From there, I went to work for a brokerage company—Total Quality Logistics. They’re, right now, the second-largest freight-brokerage company in the U.S., behind CH Robinson. There, I did some sales and then mainly stockware for operations. Operationally, we supported the sales floor, carrier procurement, carrier contracts, risk management, a whole plethora of things there.
I worked there for six years and, in 2011, went to Transfreight, which is a third-party logistics company that supports the automotive industry here in the U.S. Pretty much anything from supplier to production-line side. My role there is that I am a Transfreight integrated solutions analyst. I look at all of our customer base, any freight they have that typically could be LTL, put it all on the map, and decide, okay, we have Customer X, we have Customer Y both sipping out of the same facility or same city along the I-75 corridor. What if we sent a truck in, picked up everyone’s freight, delivered it back to our distribution center? What you do is beat the LDL transit time, because most of these runs are same day pickup and delivery; they’re within a five hundred-mile radius of our distribution centers. You eliminate the possibility of damages that you typically get with LTL providers and terminals and add a reduced cost.
It’s insourced equipment, so they’re actually Transfreight drivers. They go out, deliver returns, they pick up live freight, and then they come back to the distribution center to go out to the individual production lines. It’s a constantly evolving task because there are always new suppliers coming in, supplier volumes go up and they go down, and it’s just part geographic, part fitting pieces of puzzles together, so it’s quite interesting.
Can you talk about what integrated routes with 3PLs are?
An integrated route is—for a third-party logistics company, we have multiple customers and essentially service the automotive and sport-vehicle industry—so, ATVs, watercrafts. Most of those customers all source from the same group of suppliers, or those suppliers are all in the same geographic region. For instance, in the state of Ohio, Ohio is heavy in automotive but extremely heavy in automotive suppliers. That could be springs, it could be tires, you name it; anything that can go in a car and/or something for a motorcycle or ATV. A lot of those suppliers are in the Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan area.
What my company and I do is look at all of our customer needs, and, like they currently say, “Okay, we’re LTL suppliers, they all go to Dayton, Ohio, they need to go out,” we provide a cost savings and say, “Well, we already have a truck going to Findlay, Ohio. Do you mind if pick up your freight as well? We can get it back to our distribution center the same day.” And we do a price analysis and say, “If you do an LTL, that freight class, that weight, you’re going to pay”—just throwing out a number—“you will pay seven hundred dollars, and it’s going to take a day and a half, maybe two days to get it delivered. We integrate all of those suppliers on one trailer. We can deliver it same day, and we can probably get you a cost of anywhere between forty to up to sixty percent off what you would pay LTL.” When we say integration, we’re sharing or combining the trailer with multiple suppliers and customers.
Can you talk about how it’s done effectively or any best practices for doing this?
Yes, the best and most effective way to do it is just having accurate packaging information from customers. Some customers have very detailed packaging information, and, by packaging, I mean how that freight is actually shipped.
In the automotive and sport-recreation-vehicle industry, a lot of parts are too heavy and shaped differently to where they can’t go on corrugated cardboard, so they have heavy-duty plastic racks or heavy-duty metal racks. Those racks, they fit in different dimensions in the truck, so it’s getting that footprint to understand what the freight looks like, how much space is needed on the truck, and we find multiple ways to get that freight on the same trucks to where we’re not touching another customer’s freight so nothing’s stacked on top of the other, but it all can take up in a way that, for one, that makes sense for the truck. We don’t want out-of-run miles, so we don’t go north, south, east, west; we try to make continuous loops.
Think of the truck like a bus picking up multiple passengers; we’re picking up multiple suppliers. We’ve found that most suppliers actually prefer this as well because now, instead of having someone on the dock process two or three shipments or multiple LTL carriers, one truck shows up, they can load three different customers of theirs on one truck, which is the same as three customers of ours, and we can take it and deliver it in a timely manner.
And do you have any final recommendations?
The biggest recommendation I find now is for people just to experiment with their supply chains because, currently, we’ve noticed that a lot of people…supply chain logistics is better now, but it’s still kind of that “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” Just take a look at your supply chain. If you notice that you have LTL shipments, you may have a pretty good * (8:35—unclear) rate with your LTL supplier because you have the volume, but just challenge that department to look at it and say, “Can we do this more efficiently? We have a good LTL rate, but what if we can reduce transit by two days? Can that help? What if we can, like I said, reduce spend by forty to sixty percent because now we’re consolidating multiple shipments onto one trailer and moving it straight through?”
The biggest recommendation would be to never be afraid to try something. Always continue to look at your supply chain and look at different ways. Eventually, you’ll get to a point to where you can’t optimize it anymore but there are opportunities. And be willing to maybe share a trailer, because if you’re shipping LTL, you’re sharing a trailer right now, and some customers feel there may be some proprietary issues, but if you ship anything LTL now, your stuff’s being shared, your stuff’s sitting on somebody’s dock between truckloads. Think about potentially integrating and putting it on one full truckload and going to a final destination.
Thanks for sharing today.
About Keymonte Crooms
Logistics Analyst- Integrated Design at Transfreight