Volume 14 | Issue 3 | Year 2011

Headquartered in Voorhees, N.J., US Cold Storage (USCS) boasts a wide-ranging network of facilities – housed with state-of-the-art equipment – that services the refrigerated and frozen food industry. Indeed, that industry has diverse needs and continually confronts complex logistics that require a service-driven organization such as USCS.
With roots dating back more than a century, the enterprise embraces innovation and new technology, providing customers the most cost-effective storage and distribution coverage. That’s why leading companies turn to USCS.

“We deal with all of the major food companies in the United States,” says Mark Lorion, vice president of business development and marketing. “As we focus on frozen and refrigerated foods, you’re looking at everything from ice cream and yogurt and other dairy products, to seafood, frozen food entrees and prepared foods. It’s a wide gamut that also takes in agriculture, meaning the vegetables and fruits that come out of the field and are frozen for later use.”

For all needs, USCS provides the proper storage and handling environment and a comprehensive menu of value-added services. “As we’re a public refrigerated warehouse [PRW] and logistics company, we store products for manufacturers and work with companies to perform the necessary logistics,” describes Lorion, “and that means services such as inventory monitoring and control and transportation services. Customers present to us their problems with outbound orders, and we help them ship those orders to retailers and food-service distributors throughout the nation.”

Specifically, USCS can offer a client computerized management information systems, PDQ freight consolidation for distribution, USDA inspection facilities, import/export services, customized services and rates, transloading, EDI communications, and eUSCOLD® Internet services that provide 24/7 access to account information.

USCS and its several predecessor companies have provided refrigerated storage services to the food industry since 1889. The company became a wholly owned subsidiary of the United Kingdom and Hong Kong-based Swire in 1982. Swire was founded in the UK in 1816 and now has substantial investments in refrigerated warehousing, shipping, road transport, soft drink manufacturing, aviation, property development and trading in the US, Australia, Asia and the UK.

Today, Swire employs more than 125,000 people worldwide, while USCS employs 1,600 in the United States. “Plus, we currently have 34 locations – which includes 194 million cubic feet of temperature controlled warehouse and distribution space – and we spread across 12 states, from the north, east, south and west,” reports Lorion.

Those states include California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Nebraska, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Virginia. This network serves its customer base with requirements ranging from primary storage to fully-integrated third-party logistics solutions. Further, USCS – whichis ranked as one of the top five largest PRW companies in the US – is an integral part of global food distribution and supply chain: More than 35 percent of goods it handles go toward international use or consumption.

In recent decades, USCS has aggressively invested in the modernization of existing facilities and the construction of new refrigerated centers. Further, it has invested heavily in advanced technology.

“We made investment into information technology and computer systems for inventory and transportation management, as well as overall systems that help customers better manage how to handle their products,” says Lorion.

According to the company, all USCS facilities operate on an integrated nationwide network of IBM AS400 computers with specialized software developed by a combined team of in-house and outsourced IT technicians. The USCS warehouse management system is enhanced with TASKMASTER, an event-driven, computer-directed functionality that features radio frequency (RF) bar code scanning capability. As the company describes, warehouse activity is monitored and tracked on a step-by-step basis. Records provide information for ongoing productivity analyses.

The USCS technology investment doesn’t just help customers but helps the company help itself. “For instance, one of our major pushes is directed at LED lighting,” reports Lorion. “The technology represents a breakthrough and saves us a lot of money. At the same time, we’ve invested in new refrigeration equipment that’s much more efficient than the old.”

As it’s addressing its own needs, USCS is tailoring transportation programs and capabilities toward customer needs, which means reduced costs. “This is one of our major pushes,” says Lorion.

For more than 35 years, USCS has provided a variety of transportation services. However, the company can now provide a comprehensive transportation service program for local, regional and national distribution, thanks to its Transportation Management Group.

The internal grouping involves a proprietary transformation management system (USCS TMS) that effectively plans and monitors the hundreds of shipping activities occurring at its nationwide facilities each day. The USCS TMS system enables the company to provide the most effective outbound freight consolidation service, truckload management programs, freight-rate analysis and distribution network analysis and optimization. In this area, customization is a key word, indicates Lorion – and so is optimization.

“We do something called order optimization, where we take a customer’s orders and run them through an optimizing software to create scenarios that demonstrate which warehouse location might best serve their customer base, as well as to determine how it could be done in the most cost-efficient fashion,” says Lorion. “This means that we conduct some modeling to help customers best perceive how they can better approach their own business to help them grow. And as they grow, we foster the most positive growth-related changes.”

Call it the mother or father of growth and invention, but USCS’ impact on its targeted industry has been enormous. “We do a lot in this area, and it means presenting an emphasis on full customer service, related to their entire logistics picture,” says Lorion.

Essentially, USCS is advancing a supply-chain solution that addresses each customer’s unique challenges. USCS’s mission isto provide the right – and most innovative solution – to enable clients to get their products to the right place and at the right time, and most safely and securely and most cost efficiently. It’s as simple as that.

But not so simple, really – as it entails outbound freight consolidation, LTL ordering, transport shuttle services, and order tracking and visibility, among other elements. USCS’ mission involves a complicated recipe of services, but it doesn’t shy from the challenge. Rather, it strives to be the best at what it does, and its forward path involves complex and innovative functions and approaches, such as:

  • Expanding new and existing facilities to meet customer needs as they grow;
  • Modification of facility designs;
  • Construction of “Greenfield” facilities in new areas to expand national distribution capabilities for new and existing customers;
  • Continued development of IT systems to provide full integration of services;
  • Development of a national RF bar code system for WMS;
  • Implementation of voice recognition technology for warehouse operations;
  • Movement toward paperless systems;
  • Innovative adaptation of Internet-based technology to enhance full implementation of customer-service applications;
  • Expansion of services (e.g., cross docking, trans-loading and short hold storage);
  • Customized just-in-time programs for raw material and ingredient supply to manufacturers;
  • Retrofit of existing facilities and redesign of newly constructed facilities with energy efficient equipment and materials as one thrust of our environmental sustainability programs.

This certainly involves a wide-ranging spectrum of activities, but USCS in on board with all.

“Since the outset, this organization has always focused on moving forward – moving the company into the future and taking our customers with us,” Lorion points out.

With this approach, USCS will freeze out competitors – and its success must be chilling.

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