WACONIA, Minn. -- Companies shipping temperature-sensitive products identified third-party logistics providers and carriers as the key links in the supply chain, both for ensuring quality assurance and for bearing its costs, according to a nationwide study. Findings from the 1998 Temperature-Controlled Logistics Report dovetails with the trend toward outsourcing of transportation, which has been on the rise in the food industry.
The study is based upon a national telephone survey of companies that distribute temperature-sensitive products and materials.
Supermarket retailers and wholesalers participated in the survey, although it was more heavily weighted toward product manufacturers. Thus, for the purposes of the study, shippers could be retailers, manufacturers and wholesalers of temperature-sensitive products.
An increasing number of shippers, 98% versus 84% last year, are relying on public or private warehouses, as well as third-party logistics providers and carriers, to follow handling instructions about temperature-sensitive product, according to the report.
Approximately 83% of shippers, up from 74% last year, rely on their third party logistics providers or carriers to pre-cool trailers.
Results also showed 59% of shippers, up from 52% last year, require drivers to sign an agreement regarding quality requirements of the product they are transporting.
Shipments rejected by receivers due to a failure to maintain proper temperatures in the supply chain were also on the rise, causing shippers to seek new third-party logistics providers or carriers more quickly than they had in the past, according to the study.
Shippers said an average of 1.6% of their shipments were rejected by receivers due to a failure to maintain proper temperatures in the supply chain, up from 1.18% in the previous year.
Approximately 30% of shippers, up from 23% last year, begin to look for a new third-party logistics provider or carrier when they reached a 1% rejection level.
One new question that was presented this year concerned load and unload times, the timeframe when refrigerated and frozen items are most vulnerable since they are outside of the temperature-controlled environment, according to the study.
Approximately 45% of respondents estimated it takes between 30 and 60 minutes to load or unload a shipment. However, survey respondents noted it can easily take 12 hours or longer between the driver's arrival at the dock door and their exit with an empty truck.
Looking toward the future, 92% of survey respondents, up from 87% last year, strongly agreed or somewhat agreed that third party logistics providers and carriers will need to provide better service.
Approximately 82% of survey respondents, up from 81% last year, believe consistency in handling storage and transportation will be a competitive advantage.
In addition, 76% of survey respondents, up from 71% last year, said demand for temperature-controlled shipping is on the rise. Approximately 74% of respondents, up from 72% last year, said the need for temperature monitoring is increasing.
The survey was conducted by t.k. associates of Minneapolis, an independent marketing research firm, for C.H. Robinson, Minneapolis, a provider of transportation and logistics services.