Updated: Mar 30
Lynn Stacy, Managing Director of OEC Group's Liquid Logistics Solutions (LLS), discusses the main issues concerning the food logistics segment.
What are the most severe supply chain difficulties?
One issue has been finding sufficient containers, especially sturdy, structurally sound 20’ containers needed to ship Flexitanks packed with food products. Another very serious issue is rampant rail congestion.
How bad is the rail congestion and how does this affect the industry?
Rail congestion is historically high. As a result, rates are only going up, and delays and backlogs are only increasing. Market projections suggest that our trading environment is going to get even worse before it gets better. Until this market shifts back to normalcy, outside the box solutions from established experts with real knowledge of the industry are going to keep your freight moving.
What advice do you have for shippers trying to move bulk liquid food products in this current environment?
When you work with an established logistical organization like OEC Group, one of the first things we’ll do is look at your routing strategy. The right transportation plan can combat the worldwide lack of equipment and help avoid rolled bookings, per diem detention, and other problems associated with delays in the current market. Our team specializes in developing the most efficient cargo routing plans, and we’ve opened three brand-new transload facilities in the last six months. We have the talent and the infrastructure to expedite cargo movement, expedite change of conveyance, and provide a wide variety of options for every unique client.
After becoming certified, how have the day-to-day shipping operations on the ground changed?
Since becoming certified, we’ve improved our transference process. When transferring food-grade material from a supplier’s facility to our Shark Tank, from our Shark Tank to a receptacle at its final destination, or even from a rail tank to one of our Shark Tanks, proper procedure is very stringent. We have the capability to move liquid food product in refrigerated units, but we also provide specialized services that do not require refrigeration. Especially with certain pasteurized drinks and juices, it can be more effective to use irradiation techniques and nitrogen blankets to keep products at their highest quality. So, no matter what situation may be, our team will adapt and move cargo safely.
What was the most difficult segment of that standardization?
For an average-sized business, I think the hardest part of the process is the initial investment. Purchasing the proper equipment, installing that equipment, and bringing our network of depots up to FDA standards required huge expenditures.
How does food certification adjust your logistical approach?
Regarding transportation, when you’re transferring product into a movable unit – in our case the OEC LLS Shark Tank – everything needs to be correctly monitored. Proper equipment, proper technical procedure, and proper oversight ensures that zero contaminants are introduced to your sanitary goods. That oversight must be consistent across every single product transfer on the shipping route, including live load at manufacturing facilities, off-site transfer from a road tank, and railyard transfer. As for the container itself, our Shark Tanks are FDA certified, food-grade, and certified for halal and kosher products. Our approach to each clients’ supply chain hasn’t changed, but there are a few additional steps in our process.