Talking Shop with… Ralph Arthur

The president of dedicated contract carriage for Ruan Transportation Management Systems says third-party logistics providers can free up grocers to concentrate on issues that are central to their business.

Grocery Headquarters: What are some of the key supply chain and transportation issues facing retailers today?
Ralph Arthur:
Escalating costs to maintain their fleets—such as liability, risk,  recruiting, labor and insurance—cause private fleet owners to outsource their transportation and, in turn, allow them to focus on their core competencies. In addition, capacity continues to tighten and new governmental regulations such as Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) and hours of service pose a challenge.

What are some of the solutions you have available for grocery customers?
We partner with our customers to drive down costs, decrease empty miles, increase backhauls and develop equipment and maintenance strategies to keep the fleet running efficiently.

Although the reasons for outsourcing to Ruan vary for each customer, the main benefits are to:

  • Free up capital that is currently allocated to equipment. Companies are immediately infused with cash and divested of costly assets with Ruan’s fleet assumption or disposal options.
  • Reduce insurance costs;
  • Reduce or eliminate the liability, risk and exposure of operating a private fleet;
  • Eliminate driver labor concerns, driver management, training, turnover, litigation, HR administration and union management;
  • Allow management to focus on core competencies; and
  • Enhance operating efficiencies, route optimization systems and reduce transportation costs

In support of our dedicated fleets and our customers’ unique operations, we provide a wide range of integrated services, including warehousing, cross docks, carrier management, load planning, logistics management, kitting, subassembly and quality oversight.

We have made substantial investments in these services to better serve our customers. We also work closely with them to determine the best geographic locations for their own expansions to reduce costs and shorten delivery times.

What are the advantages of a service such as Ruan’s compared to a grocer running its own fleet of trucks?
Businesses that choose to switch from private fleets to Ruan’s Dedicated Contract Carriage (DCC) solution gain all the benefits of a private fleet without the challenges of managing one. We become responsible for everything from labor negotiations to meeting the tough new reporting requirements of CSA. This frees up manpower to concentrate on their core business.

Some examples of our ability to customize solutions for each customer include:

  • On-site management with 24/7 individualized customer care;
  • Performance guarantees, such as assuring year-round, on-time performance;
  • Effective and unique backhaul programs;
  • Representation of your brand as if it were our own;
  • Drivers that are dedicated to individual accounts, so they become very familiar with your people and your products. They are often able to make suggestions that improve efficiencies or lower costs.
  • Free analysis of their transportation spend. We will go on-site with the client to tour their facility, gather data and get to know their business so we can evaluate areas we can make more efficient and demonstrate how we can reduce costs, decrease overhead, reduce risk and free up capital.

Can you outline some of the processes and technologies that you use to streamline the logistics process?
We strive to continuously examine our processes to ensure that we minimize our impact on the environment while achieving efficiency, responsiveness and cost savings for our customers.

In my experience, customers are seeking value above anything else.  Price factors in, but retailers/wholesalers are looking for efficiencies and regular reporting on key performance indicators such as on-time pickup and delivery, EDI compliance, miles per shipment/miles per gallon, safety performance and backhaul percentage level.

Our customers take advantage of Ruan’s ongoing investment in the latest technology.  We maintain our equipment as new and employ advanced tracking and dispatch technology.

In today’s competitive environment, grocers often have to adjust their supply chain needs based on demand. How do you help retailers meet the needs of an ever-changing business climate?
Ruan serves many large grocers/retailers, as nearly 60% of our business food related. Customers are looking for flexibility in workflow processing, data gathering and reporting, load maximization and carrier payment.

We continually examine and evaluate our customers’ supply chains and eliminate inefficiencies. By optimizing routes, maximizing payload, adjusting delivery schedules and increasing cube utilization, we typically can achieve a 15% to 20% reduction in resource use.

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