Throughout the year Lindt & Sprüngli (North America), Inc. (LSNA), as with many other candymakers, experiences fluid demand for its products, particularly during seasonal periods, but not every order can command a full truck trailer. This along with an increasing manufacturing and distribution presence in Northern California moved the company to seek out a third-party logistics (3PL) partner to help handle smaller-size orders and streamline its distribution, according to Diego Ladron, senior manager of strategic sourcing — transportation for the candymaker.
After some searching, the candymaker found Weber Logistics and its pool distribution model, which helps LSNA manage costs for West Coast shipping of smaller sized orders, Ladron tells Candy & Snack TODAY.
Think of pool distribution as a ride share for products heading to the same destination, allowing for reduced costs compared with other less-than-truckload solutions.
“With a pool distribution model, long-haul freight moves in economical truckload shipments to one distribution point in the Western region — typically the warehouse of a 3PL that offers temperature-controlled pool distribution,” says Jerry Critchfield, Weber’s vice-president of transportation operations. “The 3PL breaks down the products and prepares them for final delivery. It also does the same for other companies’ products that have the same temperature needs and are headed to the same destinations. The 3PL then combines the company’s products with those of the other companies into full truckload shipments and performs the final consolidated deliveries.”
There are no minimum load requirements, but rather minimum drop location conditions, he adds. Ideally a manufacturer would distribute to six or more locations to realize the biggest cost savings.
“Weber provides commitment and understanding to delivery timeliness expectations, high quality integrity, and daily capacity flexibility to meet ever changing customer demands,” Ladron says.
However, just finding a West Coast logistics provider with pool distribution networks can be a task in and of itself, as many companies offering these types of services have shuttered in recent years, according to Jerry Critchfield, Weber’s vice-president of transportation operations.
The primary reason many of these services have closed is because of costs associated with consolidation and transportation in candy and snacks markets are leading to more truckload orders going to consignees and additional truckload stop-off loads, he explains, adding: “Unfortunately, multi-stop loads have accelerated chargebacks to the cargo owners, which are only recently coming to light. Reduced chargebacks are one of the primary reasons to use pool distribution. It’s a problem that many confectionery companies have had to deal with as they are left stranded without a pool provider.”
Although Weber handles West Coast distribution, East Coast and Midwest manufacturers can still work with the company, but another carrier will be needed to move freight to a Western pool point.
“For the larger manufacturers that can send truckload volumes to multiple pool points, they’re better off doing so in order to enjoy quicker deliveries within each of those regions,” Critchfield says, adding small manufacturers can unlock better cost efficiencies by shipping all of their products to a single Western pool point.
“LSNA has used this service and it has been a valuable solution,” Ladron says. “LSNA’s outside carriers were able to set delivery appointments and deliver into Weber’s terminals, where unloading of product occurred timely to avoid any type of detention charges. Scheduling into Weber’s terminals received high customer service praise from our outside carriers. Once in Weber’s network, there are many customizable options, procedures, and reporting that can be engineered to meet the shipper’s needs.”
While not utilized by LSNA, Weber also offers a range of warehousing services such as display building, repackaging and relabeling projects, according to Critchfield.
“When a product arrives from another carrier, the product is treated the same as it is under any other circumstance,” Critchfield says. “We receive it, we inspect it, we sort it, and then we do the reverse – we dispatch it, we inspect it, we ship it, and we deliver it. The only difference with pool is that we’re distributing the products within the pool distribution network.”
Most important of all for chocolate makers, all of Weber’s buildings, trucks and docks feature temperature monitors and recorders.
“Weber has automated alerts that will send out communication, at any time, in any part of the warehouse when temperature falls outside of a strict range,” Ladron says. “Due to having multiple temperature requirements from different customers, there are separate temperature chambers to store product in the correct temperature zone.”
Depending on the complexity of products, Weber can onboard a new client in one to three weeks with solutions tailored to each customers’ needs, according to Critchfield.
“And, if something needs to be changed, we change it,” he says. “COVID-19 has been an excellent example of that. We’ve changed delivery protocols to almost every site we deliver to as the safety requirements at these sites have changed.” C&ST