by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

5 Reasons to Use Continuous Improvement in Logistics

Cold chain shippers can gain efficiencies and save money by paying closer attention to the art of continuous improvement.

Whether a shipper wants to save money on transportation, lower employee turnover, develop more competitive products, improve customer service, or operate at a higher level of efficiency—or, all of the above—the path to getting there usually includes at least some type of continuous improvement.

Here are five reasons why:

1. Continuous improvement helps improve employee engagement. Also called operational excellence, lean transformation, Kaizen, or any other number of names, the act of continually honing and perfecting a company’s operations has become an imperative in today’s business environment. For example, it’s a particularly good tool for improving employee engagement. “At its core, continuous improvement is designed to empower employees to solve problems that bug them and gradually improve the efficiency of their work processes. Lean lets employees know that their ideas are important,” Nawras Skhmot points out in 5 Benefits of Continuous Improvement. “When an employee makes a suggestion for improvement, the idea can be carefully tested; and if successfully implemented company-wide. This changes the employee’s role and responsibilities from being a passive actor to being an active participant in the business processes.”

2. It drives waste out of costly processes. Commonly known as Kaizen, continuous improvement is defined as “a method for identifying opportunities for streamlining work and reducing waste.” Formalized by the popularity of lean/agile/Kaizen in manufacturing and business, continuous improvement helps companies identify cost-saving opportunities and work better, smarter, and faster.

3. Your competitors are probably already doing it. Facing steep competition, pricing pressures, a tight labor market, and various other challenges, companies that don’t continually step up their games often find themselves left in the dust and scrambling to catch up to their competitors. “While there are numerous ways in which businesses can compete, logistics ranks high among them. Improving logistics to a point and then taking a passive approach to the system allows competitors to gain advantages in terms of cost savings, improved quality, and production capacity,” Dennis Hartman writes in Why Is Continuous Improvement in Logistics Important? “Even incremental improvements in logistics can translate into significant savings over time and lay the foundation for further improvements in the future.”

4. The benefits of continuous improvement are well documented and immediate. For shippers, improvement opportunities not only within their own operations, but also across their logistics operations, transportation networks, and end-to-end supply chains. In fact, by taking an all-encompassing, supply chain-wide view on continuous improvements, companies can see significant benefits from their efforts, including improved productivity, lower costs, decreased delivery times, and other strategic gains.

5. If you’re not improving, you’re stagnating. Continuous improvement helps cold chain shippers enhance their processes and products in ways that traditional business approaches can’t match. “In the modern workplace, knowledge, and technology quickly becomes obsolete over time. If you are doing business in the same way that you did five or 10 years ago, your company will quickly go out of business,” Skhmot concludes. “Continuous improvement gives organizations a framework for reaching the next level of excellence.”

If you’re looking to gain efficiency and save money, contact us today.

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

Thank You, Mr. Hanson.

Merlin Hanson was recently appointed Chairman Emeritus of Hanson Logistics, following a decades-long successful career in tool and die, logistics and automated equipment systems. Mr. Hanson was Chairman of the Board since he purchased the company in 1989. Hanson Logistics is just one of several thriving companies Mr. Hanson has built during his career. He shares that of all of his successes, he is most proud of the employees he has been able to work with over the years. “We’ve been fortunate to build major companies into fine operations with great people, offering them good wages and benefits,” Merlin said. “That’s overall what I’m as proud of as anything.”

A Tool Man at Heart

After an honorable discharge from the Navy, Merlin began learning the toolmaking industry as an apprentice. He soon worked his way to a supervisory position. During this time, he was able to continue gaining experience building a team of dedicated staff, which he grew from 20 to 100 employees under his watch.

A Logistics Company Bears His Name

 A toolmaker by trade, Mr. Hanson stepped out of the machining arena to purchase Southern Michigan Cold Storage in the late 80’s. Under his leadership, he drove a company rebranding to Hanson Logistics. The company has since grown to nine facilities in Michigan and Indiana, employing 300 Teammates, with a refrigerated transportation fleet and the country’s largest and most successful frozen food consolidation program located in Hobart, Indiana.

A Vision for the Future

 A key consideration for Merlin within his various organizations is the impact that they have on the surrounding community and to the families of current and potential employees. “Our purpose is to create an environment that is comfortable to move into, with good schools. I think that’s part of the responsibility for people who employ others in the area,” he said.

Building for Upcoming Generations

From beginning his career as an apprentice to leading several successful companies, Merlin understands the importance of training future generations. With a passion for growing his companies and also supporting and encouraging his employees and bolstering the surrounding communities, Hanson continues to advocate for individuals and families in the area. Through apprentice programs and with upward growth within the organizational ranks, Merlin has established an ongoing legacy that will benefit many people for years to come.

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

Our Role in Exceptional Customer Experience

As many of you know, March is National Frozen Foods month. Thanks to the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association, Inc. (NFRA) for their recently launched promotional efforts on why frozen food continues to offer an excellent value with minimal waste. Their points are spot on:

  • A wide variety of single serve and small plate options – portion control at its best.
  • Requires little preparation – the picking, cleaning, slicing and dicing are already done.
  • Flash-freezing technology delivers “perfect preservation,” freezing at the peak of freshness, right from the field or sea.
  • Your favorite foods are always in season.
  • Eco-friendly packaging is keeping frozen foods fresher longer and retaining more nutrients.
  • New brands and product lines are aligned with current health trends.
  • No spoilage or food waste – use what you need and put the rest back in the freezer. Money-saving!

This impact is hitting home as well as the Hanson Logistics teammates gathered at the America Frozen Food Institue’s, AFFI Con 2018, where the enthusiasm for the future of the frozen foods industry is optimistic. That said, the vast majority of growth appears to be in developing countries, while the U.S. enjoys a modest uptick in frozen food sales.

Late last year, an Acosta 2017 Insights Report pointed to the fact that 43 percent of Millennials are shopping frozen more frequently. All generational demographics indicated an increase in frozen food purchases, including 43 percent of Millennials; 27 percent of GenXers; 19 percent of Baby Boomers; and 19 percent of Silents.

While we’re not involved in the development or marketing of frozen food products, we can — and do — make a contribution to the consumer’s experience. On time, in full delivery of freezer case ready appetizers, bakery, entrée, and dessert items is our task at hand. Providing our customers with supply chain transparency, Class A warehouse space, accurate picking, and refrigerated truck capacity as needed is a behind-the-scenes scenario unfamiliar to most. The majority of consumers grabbing a quick bite or serving dinner to friends and family don’t give much thought to the growers and processors, warehouse and customer service staff, and drivers who make it all happen.

At that’s OK. Just keep making your selection from the freezer case, and we’ll keep fulfilling our “Yes, We Can” promise. Thanks again to our friends at NFRA and AFFI for their role in making it all happen.

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

The Future of Cold Chain Logistics

The future of cold chain logistics is almost always in transition: from growth to slow-downs, modified trends to shifted needs from customers. After two considerably slow years for the industry in 2014 and 2015, shipping providers are eager to see a new era for logistics.

That new era might be closer than we think: the Council of Supply Chain Logistics released its 27th Annual State of Logistics Report and suggested a shift to a more sound logistics industry. The report documented the positive changes in the logistics market from last year. This showed providers it may be time to accommodate accordingly.

The Findings

In this year’s report, what began as lulls in traffic and a rise in costs for businesses has accelerated into a cost efficient system. This includes having services available in plenty, with agreeable pricing and rationalized demand. The report mentioned an increase in supply chain transparency as it continues to grow. Another highlight was technological changes for 3PLs, helping enable more efficient production of data to drivers and coordinators alike.

Interpretations

What does this mean for providers? An air of excitement looking forward into a stronger industry. This also infers more promising results as the next few months finish out the quarter.

Partner with us in the new era for cold chain logistics. At Hanson, no matter the change in industry, we are always saying “Yes, We Can!” to providing solutions and pursuing excellence.