Manufacturers of frozen and refrigerated products pay the price to do business with big retailers. Today, food producers face unprecedented pressure to deliver within narrow timeframes or face steep penalties as well as dings to their scorecard when they fail. To help manufacturers deliver on time and avoid these downsides, RLS Logistics recently took the lead in the industry by unveiling day-specific temperature-controlled less-than-truckload (LTL) service to select grocery warehouses nationwide with no up-charges.

According to RLS Vice President, Business Development, John Gaudet, “RLS is raising the bar for temperature-controlled LTL distribution by offering a service other carriers and transportation providers won’t because they’re not willing to risk it or upset their established schedules. By committing to day-specific service, we’re making a commitment to our partners and putting skin in the game.”

As retail and foodservice chains continue to look for ways to reduce inventory costs at distribution centers, they are applying just-in-time (JIT) inventory strategies beyond dry goods to a host of perishable items. Manufacturers of frozen or refrigerated products who want to do business with big retailers have to play by new rules. Those who can’t deliver are incurring hefty fines—up to 3% of the shipment value in some cases.

But shippers’ options for meeting the new requirements are limited. The traditional full truck-load (FTL) alternative is costly. While “buying the whole truck” provides shippers the ability to achieve specific delivery days, the price is usually unjustified, especially given retailers’ desire to receive smaller shipments more often with JIT.

Accomplishing the feat of picking up perishable products nationwide, moving them safely across the country and delivering them to retailers on a set delivery day is an achievement that has been years in the making.  According to Gaudet, “We’ve been building our model since the early ’90s.  The network built over that time has allowed us the sheer volume to be able to do it. It’s also a product of our cold chain experience and knowledge—and our technological advancement has been a huge factor as well.”

As the retail industry strives for more efficiency, RLS is banking on day-specific delivery. “This is where the industry wants it to go, and there are many other retailers out there that are establishing similar policies,” Gaudet says. “It took some time for the big ship to turn, but you’re going to see more and more retailers and foodservice organizations go that direction—including smaller ones.”

For growth-minded manufacturers, day-specific delivery is becoming the price of entry for landing and maintaining lucrative contracts with large retailers. Rather than just providing a new cost of doing business, RLS’s service provides a value that supports the manufacturer’s bottom line. In addition to reducing the cost of late penalties and fees, RLS’s day-specific service is priced competitively. “It’s not going to cost more than traditional LTL,” Gaudet explains. “So when you couple in the reasonable price with the value, it’s a no-brainer.”

Through the planned expansion of its day-specific service to more foodservice and retail distribution centers throughout the U.S., RLS is on track for raising the bar for temperature-controlled LTL service standards for the entire industry.