62 DC VELOCITY DECEMBER 2016 www.dcvelocity.com
A look at how DCs are using equipment and
services to rev up their operations
While most companies maintain tight control over
their outbound shipping costs, they often overlook
the savings that can be gained on their inbound
freight, which often amounts to 40 percent or more
of a company’s total freight spend. But applying the
same rigorous approach they use in managing their
outbound operations to the inbound side can yield
big savings, as food and beverage distributor Ben E.
Keith can attest.
Two years ago, the Fort Worth, Texas-based company, which supplies restaurants and institutional
customers in 12 Southeastern states, decided it was
time for a change in its inbound logistics operations.
For one thing, it was faced with volatile and unpredictable inbound freight rates. For another, many of
the trucks arriving at its docks weren’t filled to capacity. On top of that, routes were not optimized, and it
was difficult to know what was coming so the company could respond quickly to customer demands.
The problem lay not so much with its suppliers,
but with the transportation management system
(TMS) the company was using to manage its inbound
freight. This resulted in delayed shipments and congestion at the docks of its eight food logistics centers.
“We had experienced a fair amount of growth. As a
result, our network was getting so large that we were
not able to react quickly enough to consolidate our
loads,” explained Owen Stull, director of logistics.
“We were flying by the seat of our pants, and it was
not very efficient. We could not sift through the data
fast enough with our old TMS. By the time we got
through it, the information was out of date.”
That’s when Ben E. Keith’s logistics team turned to
ArrowStream, a supplier of transportation manage-
ment software. Early on in the process, the company
provided ArrowStream with about six months’ worth
of data to analyze in an effort to identify opportu-
nities for savings and efficiency improvements. By
all accounts, the exercise was a success. “It turned
out that there was a lot of potential from what
we were doing before, so we moved forward with
ArrowStream,” said Stull.
Managing inbound freight at Ben E. Keith is
now the job of ArrowStream’s Crossbow solution,
a performance management platform for inbound
logistics that is delivered on a software-as-a-service
basis. Among other successes, the software has helped
A food wholesale company finds there are big savings to be gained by using software to
optimize inbound freight.