Truck packing 101: Using truck space, routes to make deliveries more efficient

By Bridget McCrea

When John Marsich joined Schwing Electrical Supply Corp., as warehouse manager in 1996, he brought with him a resume that no electrical distributor could resist. Not only did Marsich have 22 years of experience working in the logistics field, but he had spent that time working at what many would consider one of the most complex environments in the world:  John F. Kennedy International Airport.

“I ran the warehouses there for over 20 years,” says Marsich, “and oversaw the dropping, importing, exporting, and other freight movement activities for both domestic and international shipments.” With seven locations throughout New York and New Jersey, Schwing Electrical Supply is a somewhat scaled down version of JFK, according to Marsich, who oversees the movement of all company trucks and the freight that each one carries.

Delivery Lanes

As the largest supply house in both Nassau and Suffolk counties, Schwing Electrical Supply has been servicing the industrial, OEM, Export, Utility, and Contractor markets in its region since 1960. The distributor has grown from a 2,200-square-foot oversized garage to a corporation consisting of seven locations comprising more than 70,000 square feet of warehouse space.

Marsich, who is at work by 5am every morning, works with another employee to load at least 2-3 trucks before the drivers clock in at 6:30am and take over the loading operations. Using a methodic approach that’s been honed over the last 16 years, Marsich and his team start out in the yard and load all pipe orders first. Then they move the vehicles up to the warehouse and begin loading materials – all of which are labeled with the contractor’s name, address, and total number of pieces in the order – by delivery priority.

“We start through the side door of the truck, go into the nose of the truck, and then bring everything forward from there,” Marsich explains. “When we’ve finished loading the truck the driver’s first stop is on the tail of the truck.” Every day five trucks leave the distributorship for regular routes that are organized geographically. Other trucks handle the immediate local area and last-minute, same-day orders.

“We have a cutoff time for same-day orders but there are always emergencies that come up,” says Marsich, whose “emergency” order coordinating stepped up considerably during and after Superstorm Sandy, which impacted much of the distributorship’s service area. “It’s definitely been a challenging few weeks, particularly in terms of out-of-stock materials. We’re literally picking materials up, signing them in, and then sending them out the door in the same day.”

Priority Shipping

At French Gerleman in St. Louis, Mo., Alex McKie, logistics manager, also takes a calculated approach to packing company trucks and scheduling them for delivery. Incoming orders are processed by the end of the night and assigned to a delivery truck. Every driver has a dedicated dock door where the materials are staged and then loaded by that driver the following morning. 

“Drivers load their own trucks because many of the orders are time sensitive; they’re not just driving from Point A to Point B to Point C,” McKie explains. “They load their trucks based on the timing of the orders, with the orders to be delivered last at the back of the truck and the rest of the vehicle packed according to the urgency and/or timing of the delivery.”

McKie says the company’s logistics process not only increases the efficiency of the trucks and the drivers, but it also allows the drivers to develop ongoing relationships with customers. “They’re not just delivering the goods,” says McKie, “but they actually come to know what the customers want and need and help fulfill those requests.”

McCrea is a Florida-based writer who covers business, industrial, and educational topics for a variety of magazines and journals. You can reach her at bridgetmc@earthlink.net or visit her website at www.expertghostwriter.net.

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