With several years of valuable cold storage and meat industry experience under his belt, Tim Jackes helped execute Omaha based Millard Refrigerated Services’ expansion from only a couple of locations to over 30 sites. Jackes worked part-time at a cold storage company while attending college. He worked full-time for another six years before joining Iowa Beef Processors (IBP), the largest beef packer in the world, and pioneer of the “boxed-beef” concept that ultimately displaced most shipping.
Quality Refrigerated Services currently operates three facilities, with some 80 percent of its stored inventory represented by beef and pork. Its single-room, 1,325,000 cubic foot freezer in Worthington, Minnesota routinely inventories millions of pounds of fresh pork for its largest customer, JBS Swift. A multi-room, 810,000 cubic foot warehouse in Spencer, Iowa supports both blast freezing and processing of fresh meat, also primarily pork. The smallest location is a 474,000 cubic foot, multi-room facility in Omaha, Nebraska that ships millions of pounds of beef per week for local packers.
Given Quality Refrigerated Services’ relatively small size, the diversity of its facilities, and its commitment to customized services; Quality Refrigerated has experienced its share of operations management technology challenges. Most of these challenges became much more manageable with the implementation of HighJump Enterprise 3PL software in 2007. Not inclined to establish an in-house computer center and maintain an I.T. staff, management had opted for HighJump’ hosted software solution. In early 2013, it upgraded further to HighJump’ new managed services solution, which runs in the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud.
Efficient, Flexible, Robust
“HighJump appeared to offer the best solution,” Amundson says. “It required very little from us in terms of systems and manpower. It provided a powerful software platform that could accommodate virtually any identifiable need. It also offered an opportunity to establish a much more flexible and efficient billing process: identifying and capturing charges is critical in the public warehousing business and HighJump excelled in that area.”
Clarity in the Amazon Cloud
When online retail giant Amazon introduced its Cloud service, HighJump explored the opportunity to transition its hosted clientele to the Amazon Cloud environment. Satisfied that the Cloud could provide a vigorous and secure operating environment for its hosted clientele, the company began offering its 3PL management software as a Cloud-based system to new and existing customers in early 2012.
According to Amundson, many of Quality Refrigerated’s customers are not always able to provide paperwork with their inbound shipments. Largely because there is often a lack of consistency in the records that accompany inbound loads, all three plants employ blind receiving. Warehouse personnel record everything that comes off the trucks and check the shipment paperwork against their actual counts.
Picking, processing, shipping
“The size and relative simplicity of the Spencer and Omaha locations makes paper processes feasible, if somewhat less streamlined,” Amundson says. “Nevertheless, the software has allowed us to improve operations appreciably.”
When Quality Refrigerated Services transitioned to the HighJump hosted solution the company immediately realized several advantages,” Amundson says.
“Probably the biggest advantage was that we had no extra software to deal with,” he says. “On the management side, everything was good – anything we tried to do we were able to do. We had excellent customer product visibility, there were no accuracy or integrity issues, and we could accommodate just about any requirement our customers might request.”
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