Managing Peak-season Logistics for Scholastic

School book company turns to Weber Distribution to improve supply chain, ramp up transloading to handle crunch period

School book company turns to Weber Distribution to improve supply chain, ramp up transloading to handle crunch period

Santa Fe Springs, CA — November 9, 2004 — Scholastic Book Fairs' peak season lasts from June through September, and in that short window the company must ensure that its books and other merchandise reach 35 million children and 40 million parents, not to mention nearly every school in the United States, via the company's community-based distribution channels, including book clubs and fairs.

"This, as you can imagine, presents a tremendous challenge from a logistical standpoint," said Gordy Reimer, director of transportation for Weber Distribution, which handles all of Scholastic Book Fairs' West Coast distribution needs.

Those needs include draying more than 1,000 container-loads from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach during the peak season. Once Scholastics' containers come into Weber's La Mirada-based transloading facility, which opened last November, they are cross-docked and redistributed to 22 regional distribution centers throughout the United States.

To help improve Scholastics' supply chain, Weber recently transitioned Scholastic's shipments from its Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. facility to its transportation headquarters in La Mirada, where the logistics company focuses exclusively on cross-docking and transloading operations.

"It was a natural fit with our other business and we are now able to better meet Scholastic's time sensitive distribution needs with our 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week operation and flexible labor pool," said Reimer. "Switching from a traditional warehouse environment to our transloading facility has allowed us to greatly improve the way we receive, consolidate and ship their product to multiple destinations. It fits their business model better."

"Moving to Weber's transload facility has brought significant value to the Scholastic organization," said Brandon Strange, logistics analyst for Scholastic Book Fairs. "Quicker turn-around time on product and better load utilization has allowed us to move product to market faster and much more efficiently. That is a major win with any cross-dock strategy."

According to Reimer, Scholastic's seasonal shipments take a tremendous team effort by Weber's transportation and warehousing staff, backed by the company's technological backbone. "One of the key reasons Scholastic chose Weber is our ability to adapt to different types of [electronic data interchange (EDI)] transmissions, along with real-time visibility to their orders through our [warehouse management system (WMS)]. And supporting our entire transportation operation is a customized [transportation management system (TMS)] system, at the heart of which is a GPS satellite tracking device linked to all the vehicles in our fleet. This allows Weber's customers to view their shipments, in real-time, as they move through the distribution cycle."

Weber opened the La Mirada facility last November to serve as a dedicated transportation hub with the space, layout and technological support to efficiently handle high volumes of freight. The value-added services provide at the facility include: tallying; sorting and segregating; splitting into multiple destinations; and consolidating with other shipments.

"In this 'cross-docking' environment, the loads do not get stored, but instead move from one kind of trailer to another, so it's very fast paced," said Bob Lilja, Weber's vice president of transportation. Lilja noted that many of the Scholastic shipments are picked up, unloaded, segregated, reloaded and delivered in as little as eight hours.

The La Mirada facility is 180,000 square feet, 42,000 of which acts as Weber's transportation headquarters, providing freight hub space for consolidation, just-in-time (JIT) delivery, deconsolidation, cross docking, transloading and trucking services. The facility handles loads from the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles using its fleet of dry vans, temperature-controlled equipment, flatbeds and lift-gates, which are all housed in La Mirada.

"Weber provides complete control of our customers' entire fulfillment process, including supervising the inbound replenishment of product, along with transportation, warehousing and outbound transportation, supported by all the communication needed to make it work," noted Lilja.

In addition to Scholastic, Weber does transload work for many garment, shoe, furniture, rubber and chemical manufacturers. "In July of this year, Weber's transload traffic accounted for over 400 ocean containers, 350 outbound truckloads and over 11 million pounds of freight," said Lilja. "This is amazing considering we started with no business [at the La Mirada facility] back in September of 2003."

In business more than 80 years, Los Angeles-based Weber offers logistics services for manufacturers and distributors on an outsourced basis, including warehousing, distribution, supply chain management, real estate development, personnel staffing, transportation management, material handling and fulfillment. Weber operates more than 2,000,000 square feet of warehouse facilities.

In addition to Scholastic, Weber's clients include Ocean Spray, Fuji and Mitisubishi. The company also moves product from the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles for a number of mass retailers, including Wal-Mart, Target, Bed Bath and Beyond and Costco, among others. The company projects it will move more than 100 million pounds of freight this year, making it the eighth largest domestic third party logistics provider in the United States.