Transportation is a critical component in the business of beverage alcohol wholesalers. Quite literally, there’s a lot of moving pieces. And cargo must be handled in a manner that’s fast, efficient, and safe for the driver and product.
How can companies meet these logistical demands while simultaneously maintaining up-to-date infrastructure? For answers, we recently spoke with Lawrence Catanzaro, senior director of transportation for Kane Is Able.
Founded in 1930, Kane today manages a truckload fleet of 150 power units and 500 trailers, and operates 8 million square-feet of 3PL warehousing space across 25 U.S. distribution center locations. The company meets the logistics needs of consumer goods manufacturers selling through retailers and grocery chains, as well as e-commerce channels.
Beverage Wholesaler: What are the biggest logistical challenges facing beverage alcohol trucking and transportation providers?
Lawrence Catanzaro: One of the biggest challenges for transportation providers is, without question, hiring and retaining drivers who are willing and able to hand unload freight.
In addition, suppliers have worked to reduce their costs by utilizing thinner packaging. That’s had a positive impact on their bottom line, while simultaneously it’s given us a new challenge to overcome. Thinner packaging means greater risk of product damage, and providers like Kane must constantly come up with innovative ways to problem solve.
Lastly, with an increasing focus on omnichannel fulfillment, the logistics industry as a whole is growing rapidly. Infrastructure needs must keep up with this growth in order for providers to meet customers’ needs.
BW: How do you currently solve those problems?
LC: Hiring and Retention: We increase focus on functional capabilities and testing to ensure candidates can physically perform the jobs we’re asking them to perform. We also extend the time period for paid training for new hires, giving them more time to shadow experienced drivers on actual runs. Additionally, we have frequent one-on-one meetings with new hires to obtain feedback and address any issues and concerns before they become problems.
Packaging Challenges: We’ve introduced airbags to reduce likelihood of pallet shifts, thus increasing the likelihood product will arrive safely.
Infrastructure: We work with customers to change delivery appointment times in order to avoid driver delays in high-traffic, very-congested areas.
BW: What are the current strategies and technologies do you leverage?
LC: Today, all of our equipment is fully furnished with GPS tracking and trailers include side doors to better accommodate curbside deliveries. Kane has also implemented the usage of customized electric pallet jacks.
Finally, we utilize BluJay Route optimization software, a leading global platform for shippers and logistic service providers like Kane.
BW: What are some of the key efficiencies that allow for better transportation?
LC: Setting minimum case orders. Setting delivery days. Utilization of late model equipment minimizes breakdowns
BW: What are some key things to look for in effective staff?
LC: Dependable. Customer-oriented. Logistics-minded. Ability to work independently while still being an effective team player. Project management skills. And being a forward-thinking idea generator.
BW: What emerging technologies will allow you to better solve your logistical problems in the future?
LC: Manned autopilot trucks could potentially reduce the likelihood of accidents and create a new pool of talent to pull from.