The Official Blog of Penske Transportation Solutions

Penske is thankful for our hardworking warehouse associates who keep our supply chains moving.

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Penske Logistics’ warehouse associates play an important role to help keep our supply chains – and world – moving.

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More than 5,500 Special Olympics athletes and coaches will gather at venues across Orlando this week to participate in the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games.

Penske Truck Rental is proud to partner with the Games by donating trucks to assist with the logistics of facilitating and operating the events and to cheer on the athletes as they live out their Olympic dreams.

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Penske Logistics will take part later this month in a brand-new event being hosted by the National Retail Federation, the Supply Chain 360 conference and expo, taking place June 20-21 in Cleveland. Penske will be an exhibitor and speak on a panel.

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Before getting behind the wheel of your rental truck, use these tips from Penske Truck Rental to help get you from point A to point B without the worry.

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Commercial motor vehicle inspectors will be out in force May 17-19 across North America as part of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) International Roadcheck. This year’s focus is on wheel ends.

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Military spouses navigate the intersection of keeping their families strong and supporting active duty loved ones whose military service helps to keep the country safe.

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When it rains, it pours – but it doesn’t have to disrupt your commute. If you are wary of wet weather conditions, you are not alone, and Penske Truck Rental can help.

Read on for tips to ease your wet weather woes, courtesy of our friends at AAA.

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Penske Truck Leasing today announced it has ordered 750 all-electric Ford E-Transit cargo vans. The company is taking delivery of its first several vehicles in the next several weeks. The move follows successfully piloting the vehicles late last year.

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A first-time mover? Penske Truck Rental has you covered – from truck selection, destination arrival and everything in between.

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Construction and maintenance projects are the keys to maintaining the health of the nation’s highways. Yet, these work zones can provide challenges to drivers and road workers alike.

New speed limits, traffic patterns and rights of way, as well as worker and vehicle movement, can all impact work zone safety, putting drivers and workers at risk.

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After a busy year packed with papers, projects and final exams, plus all the other stressors that come with being a college student, it’s high time for a well-deserved break. That’s why the experts at Penske Truck Leasing are here to help take the stress out of college move-out day.

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Tennessee’s tree population – weakened by a series of challenges both natural and man-made – will receive a much-needed boost thanks in part to Penske Truck Rental.

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“Black History Month is important to me because it celebrates and recognizes the huge contributions that Black women and men have made and how we continue to shape society today,” Nita Rodney, Branch Rental Manager, GA – Penske Truck Leasing.

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On Thursday, Team Penske and long-time partner Freightliner, part of Daimler Truck North America (DTNA), made history by using the pre-production, fully-electric Freightliner eCascadia semi-truck to pull a full-sized Team Penske racecar hauler to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum ahead of this weekend’s Clash event.

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Among the constants in Adrianne Hawthorne’s life has been her desire to bring her artistic vision to life in a splash of vibrant colors.

While the graphic designer for Google dreamed of showcasing her art for others to enjoy, it wasn’t until she turned a Penske rental truck into a pop-up shop that her dream came true.

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As a grocer, food purveyor or foodservice provider, you know that if you don't deliver the freshest food in the safest manner and shortest time possible – with built-in cost efficiencies to boot – you're going to have some pretty unhappy customers. And customer expectations are increasing all the time.

There's a call for longer product shelf life, a consumer demand for the freshest offerings and a growing desire to know exactly where food came from. There's also a need, driven by multiple sources – including the Food Safety Modernization Act – to provide transparency and monitoring of every product from the moment it's harvested until it reaches the consumer's plate.

These are some tall orders, and the pressure is only increasing. But there is good news, and it comes in the form of a refined combination of human expertise and advanced cold chain technologies.

How Do You Ensure Fresh Foods Arrive as Planned?

It's all about process, procedure and reliability. Leveraging the right level of technology is key to creating efficiencies.

When you have reliable equipment, a checks-and-balances procedure, and a firm cold chain process in place, your goal of getting your product where it needs to go – safely, on time and in the least costly manner possible – is definitely within reach.

Technological Innovations

  • Real-time tracking using GPS technology provides accurate temperature monitoring
  • Active monitoring adjusts temperature if there is a fluctuation
  • Passive monitoring provides a report at the end of the trip
  • Bar code inventory tracking systems – down to the item level
  • RFID devices that can be embedded into pallets or individual items

Technology in the Trailer

  • Properly- insulated containers
  • The right reefer unit for the job
  • Proper use of bulkheads, chutes and venting
  • Quality equipment: emissions-compliant trailers for optimum fuel- and cost-efficiency

Human Capital

  • Committed training of personnel and drivers
  • Firm grasp of proper loading techniques
  • Ability to use the available cold chain technology to its fullest capacity

Looking for help? Here are some questions to ask a prospective leasing, transportation or logistics provider:

  • How do I ensure my reefers are properly maintained?
  • What innovations can I employ to extend product shelf life?
  • How can I ensure my products do not carry food-borne illness?
  • How do I handle reverse logistics?
  • How do I configure my supply chain to maintain the visibility required for recalls?
  • What measures can I take to ensure I am FSMA-compliant?
  • How can I make the most efficient use of product transportation?
  • How can I incorporate warehousing into my transportation solution?
  • What tools can I use to determine product conditions during transit?
  • How do I avoid temperature fluctuations or other temperature-related events?
  • What precautions do I need to take in order to avoid product spoilage?
  • What tools are available to identify waste in time and costs through the delivery process?

Getting cold foods where they need to go in a timely, cost-effective and safe manner requires creating a supply chain where every link is secure and efficient. The more you establish a system of reliable checks and balances, the better your outcomes will be – and the more satisfied and confident your customers will become.

How Penske Transportation Solutions Can Help

We have a team of experts ready to help you find the best solutions for your food and beverage needs, including commercial rental trucks and reefers, vehicle leases, logistics services and used trucks.

Today's busy customers demand fresher, more appealing offerings from their grocers and convenience stores. To meet these needs, shippers must guarantee that deliveries will be on time, with built-in flexibility to respond when volumes spike.

To improve operations, shippers can utilize a mix of technology, equipment and expertise to leverage the supply chain, which works to reduce spoilage, offer a wider range of items than they may have had in the past and provide the freshest food products possible, and as a result, focus on their core competencies and better compete within the marketplace.

Maximize Your Food Supply Chain

1. Develop a Separate Cold Supply Chain

Freshness drives the food business. To accelerate that freshness, some companies create separate supply chains for the different segments and profit centers within a store. Here's how this separation works:

  • Pull highly perishable items out of traditional distribution channels and put them in more rapid-replenishment distribution channels, often called fresh or cold chains
  • Use smaller, more agile trucks to make more frequent, speedy deliveries
  • Give the grocer the fuel efficiency benefits of smaller trucks for the rapid-refill items
  • Build smaller warehouses, closer together for quick, easy access

Ultimately, grocers and shippers may create more geographically accessible warehouses to respond to this accelerated perishables track — a shift that would help solve the truck driver shortage, as many more drivers would be able to return home the same day.

2. Route Optimization

Many food shippers require multi-stop, properly sequenced deliveries, adjusting for minimum miles, specific delivery windows and curfews. These efficient delivery routes emphasize the commitment to freshness by serving stores as often as possible.

Here's how carriers optimize routing:

  • Geo-fencing technology, where a truck's onboard computer sends an alert to a store when a driver is within a certain range, can be utilized
  • Alerts allow the store personnel to get organized and be ready for the delivery, adding efficiencies all around

Grocers need to schedule labor, so on-time deliveries are critical in order to have the staffing necessary to load and unload items from the truck and onto the store shelves.

3. Involve Drivers

Deliveries to grocery stores include more driver involvement than deliveries within other industries, so hiring the right type of individual is key.

The driver/grocer relationship can be beneficial to both parties. Here's how you can make it work:

  • Explain to the driver up front the demands of the job, ensuring driver buy-in
  • Provide proper training, especially considering today's rapidly evolving material handling equipment
  • Grocers will appreciate driver expertise and will collaborate for a seamless transfer of goods
  • Drivers will feel empowered and want to deliver their very best

4. Scale Rapidly

Within the grocery segment, volumes often spike during certain times of the year. The ability to scale up quickly enables grocers to keep their shelves stocked, generating consumer loyalty. Volume spike periods include:

  • Seasonal promotions and holiday demand
  • Winter weather forecasts in some parts of the country

To take advantage of the surge in volume, being flexible is a must. Planning extensively in preparation of surges is also an important key to meeting operational needs.

5. Verify Cold-Chain Compliance

The Food and Drug Administration is continuing to craft its final regulations surrounding the Food Safety Modernization Act. Carriers know there will be new restrictions on food haulers, which will add to the complexity of food delivery. These regulations are bound to affect everyone in every segment of the food supply chain. Here are some ways carriers can prepare to be in compliance:

  • Spec newer, late-model equipment and conduct routine maintenance
  • Install on-board, real-time, GPS-enabled temperature tracking devices, designed to monitor and record temperatures within the trailer throughout a route, ensuring food safety from dock to customer
  • Use RFID (Radio frequency identification) technology on pallets or items, for quick, easy traceability in the event of a food safety crisis

By taking these five steps to define and delineate your food and beverage supply chain, you will see greater cost efficiencies and time savings, while creating a more compliant-ready transportation model.

How Penske Transportation Solutions Can Help

We have a team of experts ready to help you find the best solutions for your food and beverage needs, including commercial rental trucks and reefers, vehicle leases and maintenance, and logistics services.

The rise of digital technologies is changing the way food and beverage businesses operate, and advances in everything from artificial intelligence to blockchain have the potential to redefine companies while creating new opportunities. These advances are changing not only what is expected of businesses, but also what is expected of the leaders within the organizations.

The Business Side of Food and Beverage

Tata Consultancy Services calls the transformation Business 4.0. In a survey of 689 responses from senior finance executives in the United States and Europe conducted by CFO Research in collaboration with Tata Consultancy Services, about one-third of respondents ranked their finance functions’ digital capabilities in six categories as "moderate."

The six areas included analytics and measurement; agility and efficiency; business architecture; governance, risk management and compliance; shared services/business process outsourcing; and organizational alignment.

At Penske Transportation Solutions, we’ve focused on the digital capabilities that can benefit our food and beverage customers, and we have several solutions to help business owners capture, manage and utilize information so fleets can access data quickly and easily. This approach is particularly useful during planning, quarterly reviews and an audit.

Visibility and Data: Through Fleet Insight™, our proprietary online tool designed to give customers greater visibility and control of their fleet, business owners can access their data, including invoices, fuel planning information, and safety and compliance records, at any time. In addition, Fleet Insight allows customers to view and download information about any truck at any time.

Financial Reporting: Our billing and record keeping provides easy-to-understand information that is accessible online. This information is readily available for annual planning, quarterly reporting or in the event of an audit.

Fixed Costs: As business owners plan for the future, leasing can increase the reliable financial information they use for forecasting because expenses associated with a full-service lease are established in advance. Leasing can also free up capital that businesses can use to invest in new technology or growing the business.

Truck Technology: Equipment is advancing rapidly with manufacturers adding new safety features each year. By utilizing leases, fleets can keep the average age of their fleet low and take advantage of the latest technological advances, such as collision mitigation technology. This can also reduce insurance costs by reducing the risk of a crash, enhancing driver safety and improving driver retention, which can save on driver recruitment costs.

Data and Connectivity Drive Fleet Health and Improve Uptime

A reliable food and beverage fleet runs on data and fleet expertise. From knowing where your shipment is to ensuring that trucks are running at peak performance and temperature, data is a strategic asset, and Penske is using the vast amount of information from our data platform to improve the health of equipment, maximize fleet performance and improve uptime. That means that shippers who lease or rent from us can rest assured that the trucks delivering their products are up to the job.

Enhanced Fleet Performance

Marrying truck data with maintenance data leads to better uptime. Using data off the truck also enables more proactive solutions, including increasingly predictive maintenance, leading to improved fleet performance. This information is then used to identify failure rates and implement preventive maintenance practices allowing the ability to avoid potential failures and breakdowns altogether, ensuring that your refrigerated truck stays at optimal temperature and all your trucks stay on the road.

The data analysis process factors in the equipment's operating environment, geography and mileage to better identify maintenance needs.

Improve Uptime

And because data improves remote diagnostics, technicians can get to the maintenance faster, get equipment fixed faster and back on the road delivering your food and beverage freight faster. If a roadside event occurs, data from the truck is given to our 24/7 coordinators so they can pinpoint where the truck is, identify the right service technician for the job and ensure the right tools are available.

Connectivity also increases visibility, so we can monitor the timeliness of PMs (Preventive Maintenance), how many trucks are in for repair, the number of road calls on a particular day and overall fleet maintenance costs. Having the capability to identify trucks that may be costing more due to breakdowns and failures provides an additional benefit.

The overall goal is to use data to have greater insight into fleet performance, improve the health of the vehicles and keep your trucks running smoothly.

Increase Supply Chain Visibility to Gain Control

A strong supply chain is central to effective food and beverage operations, but anything from rapid growth to external forces can disrupt operations. When a cold chain is out of control, the right people, processes and technology can bring it back in line to improve service, optimize routes and reduce costs.

See the Entire Cold Chain

Having an accurate line of sight into each part of the cold chain helps keep it in check. Near real-time information is critical and knowing where products are and when they will arrive can speed decision making, ensure freshness, inform orders and help mitigate problems before they occur.

Improved visibility also directly affects inventory management. When all parts of the supply chain are connected, systems can combine data on inventory practices and levels with supplier lead times and anticipated demand to inform food and beverage ordering and production. That, in turn, improves fill rates and reduces backorders while also eliminating overstock and spoilage situations, which reduces inventory costs.

Compare Fulfillment Solutions

Data and visibility help shippers determine the cost service benefit of fulfilling through various means, which is becoming more essential in today's omnichannel environment.

Shippers also must factor in intangible benefits, such as customer satisfaction, public perception and, ultimately, customer retention.

Connect Essential Teams

Visibility lays the groundwork to connect teams, such as customer service, sales, procurement and transportation. That connectivity can identify how individual decisions will impact different stakeholders.

With multiple influences in supply chains, it is valuable to opt for the best overall option over something that may only be beneficial to one aspect of the cold chain.

Connectivity also makes it easier to identify exceptions, creating even more control, while greater visibility offers the ability to assess situations and potential solutions, allowing for more informed decisions.

That, in turn, ensures products arrive fresh and exactly when and where they are needed so no sales opportunities are lost. Having the flexibility to shift fulfillment can be even more important when demand surges.

A Reliable Fleet and Innovative Provider

At Penske, we're built on the strength and expertise it takes to own and maintain more than 300,000 vehicles. With that kind of experience, you can rest assured that we offer some of the best-maintained and reliable trucks, reefers and tractors in the industry. Additionally, Penske has decades of experience in all areas of the food and beverage supply chain.