Guest Commentary: Keystone Foods Improves Supply Chain Visibility with SaaS TMS

Keystone Foods is a multi-national, multi-protein processor for the world’s leading brands, providing fresh and frozen protein products to customers worldwide. Keystone processes poultry, beef, fish and pork and is dedicated to food safety as well as quality. The company runs 50 facilities that serve about 6,400 restaurants around the world. The Keystone Food Logistics Services Group is part of the Keystone U.S. distribution business, which has four distribution centers servicing the quick serve restaurant industry. Keystone Food Logistics Services stores and ships every item customers require using a private fleet while handling inbound through contract carriers. Keystone typically handles 500-700 loads per week.

Keystone ran several business case scenarios in search of opportunities to grow business while reducing supply chain costs. The company determined that centralizing its internal freight and launching a new logistics service would be the most profitable route. Historically at Keystone, freight was managed in a decentralized manner, so each individual manufacturing facility managed transportation. The company used both asset-based carriers and brokers to handle freight. Lanes consisted of transfers of raw materials between facilities, fresh and frozen products to customers, cold storage facilities as well as inbound ingredients from suppliers.

Keystone created a wishlist for a revamped transportation management system that included:

  • Visibility into real-time supply chain information
  • Collaboration with everyone involved in the freight network
  • Centralized data on common platform
  • Ability to benchmark and establish KPIs
  • Reduced overall transportation costs

Keystone selected a true software-as-a-service (SaaS) TMS to improve overall supply chain management in a collaborative environment. The collaborative platform enables Keystone to manage the entire freight process, from optimizing mode to routing shipments to managing carrier selection while ensuring capacity commitments are met. Additional benefits include:

  • Real-time monitoring of the entire freight process – everyone is in the loop so plants can continue producing and meeting customer demands.
  • Orders received automatically and loads tendered to carriers directly through the system.
  • Automated processes and reporting, providing access to data that was not available previously.
  • Visibility to all carriers and rates in the system, so Keystone knows it is selecting the best possible rate for a particular lane.
  • Electronic scheduling gives total control of appointments for each facility while being configurable to a specific schedule and dock.
  • Easy to use system for carriers and other users who are not traditionally computer savvy.

By leveraging transportation technology, Keystone is now able to:

Improve Visibility: A central data repository enables visibility for analysis of costs and performance measurement to uncover areas for improvement.

Reduce Costs: Keystone saved 5% of overall freight spend and received quick payback of four months.

Increase Collaboration: With all parties in the transportation process having access to the system, Keystone gained insight into how freight impacts operations.

With such complex distribution processes and requirements for on-time delivery to ensure product freshness, food and beverage companies need real-time visibility into the transportation process. With true SaaS transportation technology, Keystone continues to gain supply chain visibility as well as collaborate with suppliers, cold storage facilities, plants, planners, carriers and customers.

Eric Meister is Vice President of Technology Operations at LeanLogistics. He is responsible for all aspects of customer technology implementation, post-implementation tactical customer support, strategic support services, and client services. Prior to joining LeanLogistics, Eric drove operational excellence through the adoption of technology in supply chain leadership roles in best-in-class manufacturers and a third party logistics provider including the implementation of LeanLogistics’ solutions. His experience as a customer helps drive a practical approach in developing innovative supply chain solutions.

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