Protecting the entire cold chain
Millard invests in warehouses, seaports, value-added services
By Peter Buxbaum, AJOT
Shippers of perishable goods need the same transportation, warehousing, and distribution services that other shippers require. But because of the nature of their products all of these services include an added wrinkle and require expertise of providers who can maintain the integrity of the cold chain.
A company called Millard Refrigerated Services takes an interesting approach to providing logistics services for perishable commodities. Its mission, said Tim Smith, the company's vice president for sales and marketing, is to "help companies improve the way products move from factories to retail stores and restaurants by enhancing inventory management and controlling costs."
Millard does this by offering integrated supply chain capabilities, but it does more than that. the company maintains an in-house construction team to build state-of-the-art facilities for the use of its customers. The company also owns a seaport in Mobile, Ala., and has plans to expand its footprint in maritime transportation. Millard provides value-added services in the form of support for manufacturing activities at its facilities.
"We work with food manufacturers, retailers and food service operators by instituting best practices in logistics, warehousing, and manufacturing execution," said Smith. "We offer customized manufacturing solutions and work with companies that have a wide range of objectives, from market expansion to asset utilization, to optimize their production investment by building world class facilities with our in-house construction team, purchasing production equipment, and improving overall inventory efficiencies."
Millard owns and operates 36 locations with over 275 million cubic feet of space in 18 states and Canada. "These facilities act as load consolidation points to reduce replenishment times, improve retail in-stock positions, and lower supply chain costs," said Smith. "Millard redistribution services simplify a manufacturer's distribution profile by serving as a central distribution point for multiple customers and as a consolidating point for multiple items going to the same consignee, which can eliminate the need for less-than-truckload shipments."
The Millard facilities operate as third-party warehouses, enabling customers to outsource the warehousing and distribution of temperature controlled products. "Outsourcing allows them to focus on their core competencies," said Smith, "and to direct capital toward marketing and research and development. They can use our expertise to get their products from factories to retail stores in a highly cost effective manner."
Among the best practices Millard employs on behalf of customers is a cargo consolidation program that enables the assembling more full truckloads so that there is less reliance on LTL. "LTL is expensive," said Smith, "and full truckloads are more environmentally friendly. Our customers' carbon footprints are much better when they use less LTL."
Millard's full-line construction company "is unique in the industry," said Smith. "We offer a series of leading edge manufacturing and packaging solutions. Our vision is to provide the best value in supply chain services through our people, our innovations and the knowledge base we build with our partners."
Earlier this year, Millard announced the opening of a new plant of its customer, OSI Group, LLC, attached to an existing Millard facility in Geneva, Ill. The new operation is producing branded and private label frozen entrée dishes such as Salisbury steak and chicken parmagiana, as well as a variety of frozen pasta products including lasagna. These items are sold to supermarkets, mass merchandisers, club stores, food service and other customers throughout the United States.
"OSI will also use the facility as a consolidation point for shipments from other production locations to customers across the country," said Smith. The OSI space attached to the Millard facility includes a production area, storage and office space that total approximately 80,000 square feet. OSI is employ 100 workers at the new location.
"We have other similar situations where customers establish factories and take advantage of supply chain efficiencies," said Smith. "We evaluate our customers' supply chains and come up with solutions that reduce redundancies and inefficiencies through our network of warehouses. They are using their employees to manufacture product and they take advantage of Millard, not only to warehouse product, but to remove costs from the supply chain, speed products to market, and better satisfy customer requirements, and to do all of that in an environmentally sustainable way."
As another an example of Millard's value-added services, the company puts High Pressure Processing (HPP) at its customers' disposals. " HPP is a post-packaging, non-thermal pasteurization method of killing potentially harmful microorganisms," said Smith. "HPP drastically reduces overall microbiological contaminant flora and pathogens, such as Listeria, E. coli, Salmonella, lactic acid bacteria, yeast and mold by using elevated hydrostatic pressures of up to 87,000 psi. HPP is a clean, natural, environment-friendly process for packaged foods that reduces the potential for spoilage and improves the quality of the product. It is commonly used in categories like prepared foods, sliced deli meats, sausages, juices, dairy products, dips, seafood, salads and condiments. HPP helps companies protect their brands, preserve product condition and extend shelf."
The company's port near Mobile, Alabama features a large refrigerated and frozen marine terminal, a 1,600 foot wharf, export and import capabilities, bulk, liquid and break-bulk loading and unloading and easy rail, barge, and interstate highway access. "We work with companies trading a wide variety of commodities and finished goods to efficiently transport their products to market here in the U.S. and around the world," said Smith.
Millard is currently considering acquiring another port facility. "We are doing out due diligence right now," said Smith. "The company views this as part of its growth strategy."
Millard is a privately owned company company, a condition which Smith contended provides it with several advantages. "We feel like we are able to respond to customers' needs quicker," he said. "We are able to invest more back in the business for today and for what is emerging in the industry. The company has done a good job reinventing its business. Our decisions are made to serve both a near- term benefit as well as to promote the long-term growth of the business."