Balancing Supply & Demand of Food Shipments During a Pandemic
An Account of the Challenges Facing the Food & Beverage Freight Sector
RWI Logistics is a logistics solution provider based in the Greater Cincinnati area, specializing in refrigerated truckload transportation encompassing freight management and brokerage services with an asset division. Given RWI’s large customer base in food and beverage, produce and retail industry, RWI has experienced quite a surge in business caused by COVID-19 buying influxes.
We had a chance recently to chat with RWI’s Director of Technology and Continuous Improvement, Megan Fortenberry, about the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and the company’s big plans for the future.
Check it out:
RWI Logistics is part of the Castellini Group, one of the largest distributors of fresh fruit and vegetables (and provider of 3pl services). Are you seeing a surge in perishable freight this month?
In short, yes.
We feel like we’re playing a very big role in servicing what is considered critical industry sectors right now because a vast majority of our customers impact food supply. We are seeing healthier than normal overall market volume for this time of year due to a lot of the “panic buying” in food retail and consumer product sectors. Our customers are trying to get food and beverages back on shelves in the stores.
Business is quite busy and challenging right now. Increased volume and carrier rejections have created more strain on capacity, make our jobs more challenging, but also create demand for our services as we manage complexity for our customers.
Are there enough reefer trucks to fill the demand right now?
We’ve seen a dramatic spike in reefer tender rejection across the market. There isn’t a shortage of reefer trucks per se – it’s more of an imbalance. One of the challenges that carriers have been faced with is the imbalance in their networks that are created by not having any product to backhaul in other sectors that are currently shutdown. There aren’t always reefer trucks available in the areas that need it because of the disruption in normal shipping patterns.
We are paying close attention to hot areas in the freight market where there is a lot of freight available, no trucks, and the condition has changed at a breakneck pace. We are relentlessly focused on helping our customers manage through these volatile conditions and providing the necessary support to our carrier base. The truck drivers that we work with every day are so important to keeping supply chains vibrant, and they are dealing with many challenges right now.
Tell me how your asset drivers scan and send paperwork?
Our drivers utilize truck stop scanning, mobile scanning and Transflo Now. Nearly half of our drivers utilize in-cab options which provides a safer option given recent CDC guidelines, and we continue to encourage additional driver adoption.
We get lots of positive feedback on the Transflo Mobile+ app. It is very user friendly and our drivers who use it see it as a great benefit.
How is working with the Transflo team?
We’ve been working a lot with Dwight Miguel and Parker McCrary to assess how Transflo service expansion could fit into our growth and technology strategy. They are both great, and really take a partner approach with us. We had them in for an onsite visit recently, so they could see the business and better understand our needs and strategies.
We are working on improving our carrier development program. There is always opportunity to improve carrier experience, so we are looking for areas where we can offer existing mobile apps with multi-services and grow driver adoption to improve our daily business practices.
We feel Transflo is one of those solutions. The Transflo Velocity+ product (for example) is an amazing solution. Both the trucking and organizational aspects of it are beneficial and that’s a direction we want to go.
Megan’s Transflo Account Executive, Dwight Miguel, said, “I met Megan at FreightWaves Live last year and she’s exactly the kind of person you want to work with. I really appreciate her honesty, collaboration, and communication. Just all around, I’ve had such a positive experience working with her.”
Tell me more about your goals to improve carrier experience?
Carrier development is such an important direction for us. One challenge many carriers face today is that there are so many apps and options out there, and it becomes complex when drivers have to use multiple apps to complete a day’s work.
Plus, there is a stronger demand for visibility and faster payment expectations among carriers these days.
A major reason we use Transflo solutions is because the Transflo name is so well-known in the industry. It’s a brand that is reliable – from truck stop services to mobile app features – and I believe people know they will receive professional service when they hear the Transflo name. That’s very important.
About RWI Logistics
RWI Logistics is a solutions-oriented logistics service provider based in the Greater Cincinnati area, specializing in refrigerated freight. RWI offers quality care and a customized approach to transportation management services, business intelligence to drive customer insights, and relentless improvement opportunities.