From May through October, cruise ships bearing combined passenger/crew populations equaling those of small cities slip away from docks in Seattle and nearby Vancouver, British Columbia for one and two-week journeys through the inland passages, inlets, and fjords of coastal Canada and Alaska. Projections for the 2013 cruise ship season anticipated 852,000 passengers for the Seattle port and 820,000 for Vancouver.
T.C. Trading Company and HighJump Enterprise 3PL software are key partners to the ship operators. A third party logistics company located in the border-abutting community of Blaine, Washington, T.C. Trading provides specialized seasonal services for vendors who supply the 26 vessels plying the ports with the food, beverages and various other items that will be needed underway.
T.C. Trading Company launched the ship provisioning service in 1996 as a specialty within its growing public warehousing business. Staff swells from a permanent complement of about 25 to some 60 workers during cruise season.
Thomas Phillip purchased Phillip Inspection Service from his father in 1996, transforming the business from a USDA meat inspection facility to a diversified company capable of handling temperature control storage, freight forwarding, exports, and warehousing distribution. Tom Phillip changed the firm’s name to T.C. Trading Company and currently, it is one of the fastest growing companies in the U.S. Pacific Northwest.
Honors and Operations
Some 60 percent of the company’s storage volume is comprised of food products moving to and from Canada. Altogether, the company services about 100 nearby delivery points with its own fleet, with points beyond served via common carriers.
T.C.Trading’s most recent phase of expansion took place in mid-2013, when the company moved into its fourth building, bringing the company’s total space available to some 150,000 square feet. Three of the facilities are temperature controlled and all are located near each other, minutes from the border.
Management recognized early on that information technology would be vital to the company’s success, acquiring a locally programmed software solution to manage the business. By 2011, with an evolving customer profile, steadily increasing volume and the associated physical expansion, the need to replace the system was apparent.
The nature of the products T.C. Trading receives, stores, and ships meant that the new HighJump software be able to accommodate variables that the earlier software could not cope with, most notably catch weights, which can create havoc with filling and billing orders.
Some customers notify T.C. Trading to expect shipments and some don’t. With advance notice, it enters the shipment data into the HighJump system, which confirms receipt of the goods through tracking numbers provided. Using their Symbol devices, warehouse personnel confirm receipt and execute putaway as instructed by the HighJump software, which maintains records of available bin locations. All of the product is identified in the system under T.C. Trading’s proprietary pallet I.D.s, or ‘TC Tags’.
“The system is exceeding expectations, generating savings, more accurate inventory records, more precise billing, and more accurate storage reports,” Phillip says. He estimates a 30 percent reduction in costs through reductions in labor and through greater efficiency in administration, billing and in actual warehouse activities. Currently, the company currently is assembling key performance indicators to use with HighJump Pulse KPI tracking tool, which will allow precise measurement of selected warehouse activities and personnel performance.
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