Refrigerated & Frozen Foods talks with Paul Kramer, director of logistics for Johnsonville Sausage, LLC, Sheboygan Falls, Wis. Find out how his team helps get product at their facilities in advance of demand.

Refrigerated & Frozen Foods: Summarize Johnsonville Sausage’s approach to supply chain and logistics.

Paul Kramer: A key focus for Johnsonville Sausage is providing “the highest impact on customer success.” In supply chain, we are very customer-service focused. In the 2010 Kantar survey of grocery retailers, Johnsonville was recognized as providing a distinctive level of service in regards to order-fill rates, minimizing stock-outs and on-time delivery. Continuous improvement is also a focus area, as we are constantly looking for ways to improve service, streamline processes and reduce cost.

R&FF: At this year’s Food Logistics Forum, you received the Executive of the Year award from the International Refrigerated Transportation Association. What steps or initiatives took place leading up to winning this award?

Kramer: We don’t attempt to be leading-edge innovators in logistics, but we do employ best-of-breed technologies and business practices. We have updated our systems with SAP as our ERM system and the SAP APO module for all of our production scheduling and demand planning. We employ LeanLogistics TMS. We created a continuous improvement team within supply chain, and we utilize Lean/Six Sigma tools within the supply chain operations, as well as with customers and logistics service providers, through what we call Supply Chain Alignment events. These, along with the efforts of the talented and committed team I work with at Johnsonville, all contribute to our ability to work effectively with our logistics partners—provide them with accurate volume and inventory forecasts, have the product at their facilities in advance of demand and create efficiencies throughout our shared supply chains. I was also told Johnsonville exhibits a high degree of integrity and consistency in dealing with our logistics partners, and that too, contributed to our selection.

R&FF: What steps or advice do you have for other refrigerated and frozen food manufacturers looking to revamp their supply chain and logistics networks?

Kramer: I would recommend those manufacturers re-evaluate their manufacturing and distribution network for opportunities to reduce costs. Work with vendors, customers and logistics service provider partners to identify opportunities to reduce lead time, waste and cost. Keep an eye on software/technology (TMS, WMS, LM, network optimization software, etc.) and employ it wherever possible, as the cost of these products comes down and functionality improves over time.

R&FF: How is Johnsonville Sausage’s retail supply chain function organized, in regards to refrigerated and frozen foods? How is the foodservice supply chain function organized?

Kramer: The supply chain reports into the vice president of operations officer for Johnsonville and includes logistics, customer service, production/demand planning, international compliance and continuous improvement. For our retail grocery business, we utilize regional public warehouse facilities to fulfill most of our customer orders, and we let them manage the customer delivery transportation out of a few of the facilities. Johnsonville transportation manages most of the inbound raw material, all of the plant-to-distribution center moves, as well as all the customer delivery from our largest regional distribution center, which is in Chicago, and we use a combination of dedicated fleet, private fleet and contract carriers to perform these moves. Johnsonville recently entered into an arrangement with AdvancePierre Foods for the distribution of our foodservice products.

R&FF: What are some key warehousing/transportation initiatives that took place over the past year? Any initiatives in place for 2013?

Kramer: It was a busy year for us, as we replaced our private fleet equipment, completed a bid of our dedicated fleet operations that we use to move raw materials and finished goods between our Midwest locations, and we recently expanded the customer service area out of our Northeast distribution center and relocated to a new public warehousing operator there. In 2013, we will be performing another full-scale network optimization study.

Meet Paul Kramer
Paul Kramer is the director of logistics for Johnsonville Sausage, LLC, Sheboygan Falls, Wis. He maintains than 25 years of experience managing supply chain operations in the food industry.