Sysco's Regional Manager on the Keys to a Successful Shipment
Ryan Friedman, Regional Manager of Food Safety and Quality Assurance at Sysco, will be sharing his insights at the Cold Chain Food Logistics Summit in November. In advance of his presentation, he discusses some of the keys to a successful shipment and handling data fluctuations. In his role with Sysco, Ryan has worked on many Cold Chain initiatives, as well as on the implementation of Food Quality and Safety programs in the distribution environment.
How important is the human factor in successfully shipping food commodities?
From a distributor perspective, the human factor is very important. While there is automation for quite a few things these days; receivers, selectors, loaders, and delivery drivers are people in need of training and education around shipping food commodities. Each of these positions in a distribution warehouse plays a part in maintaining the quality and safety of food. As I work in Food Quality and Safety, we are constantly working to create effective training for these people that will help them follow the correct practices around food quality and safety. Of course they need to implement these practices while still maintaining productivity and efficiency in order for our business to be successful.
What are the keys to handling data that fluctuates over different stages?
There is a huge amount of data out there now. Previously, we used data types, such as temperature data during transport, for accept/reject decisions on inbound perishable food loads. A good example is a strip chart recorder. The person utilizing the data was onsite, looking at the very load of perishable food the strip chart recorder came from.
As data became digital, and was shared instantly via email or access to a website, individuals were given the ability to view data immediately. There is a tendency to try and interpret every piece of data they get, and assign a cause. However, they have lost the context of the data; they are no longer standing, looking at that very shipment. In fact, they can be 1000’s of miles away. However, the temptation is still to take an action on the piece of data we have in front of us, being the temperature data, when you have lost access to other types of data that are observational.
One of the keys to handling fluctuating data is to keep the data in the correct context. Another is to view the data in the context of a continuous process. While a shipment may have been warmer or colder than the last, in the context of the process this may have been random variation, which is normal. Track data using statistical process control methodologies and act when there is data that is an exception, and refrain from action when there is routine variation.
You’ve been in the industry for over a decade now, what are the biggest ways technologies have changed food shipments over the years?
From my perspective working in Cold Chain, technologies have had a large impact on the amount of visibility we have into the transportation portions of the cold chain. From strip chart recorders to where we are today with real time monitoring and alarming during shipment, we continue to gain more visibility into what were previously gaps in visibility during transportation.
What goes into the decision of using a reefer truck versus cold chain packaging?
Usually quantity. If you have to deliver 1 case of ground beef on a 53’ trailer, you are likely not going to be in business long. If you have to try and deliver 700 cases of ground beef, all to the same location, using cold chain packaging, you are likely not going to be in business long. You can successfully deliver products at the right temperature in many different ways, quantity will usually determine how you do it.
When it comes to ensuring quality of perishables, do you think there’s a strategy that most in the industry overlook?
Immediately I think of the produce industry. When we arrange loads we often lump most or all produce into one broad category during transportation. Tomatoes may be delivered on a load with lettuce, onions on a load with broccoli florets. Temperature and humidity requirements, and ethylene sensitivities add complexities to the load planning that aren’t usually taken into account, and we certainly compromise quality for lower freight costs. Is the dollar loss in quality higher or lower than the dollar gain in freight? Can we do a better job of incorporating the quality requirements into arranging the freight for produce?
Interview Conducted by Shawn Siegel, Digital Content Manager, Cold Chain IQ
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