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How the Right Shipping Partner Can Sweeten Your Supply Chain

Forklift loading sugarA leading sugar provider in the United States began reevaluating its existing transportation network around 2016. They were looking for partners that could reliably manage consistent lanes throughout the year and accommodate peak season capacity following harvest.

ATS Logistics provided solutions when the sugar provider needed them, delivering dependable finished-product transportation following an early autumn sugar beet harvest. Over the span of just a few years, reliable capacity and unmatched flexibility made ATS Logistics one of the provider’s primary transportation partners.

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The Challenge

The leading sugar provider was having trouble with their transportation providers, particularly within the Red River Valley. They were working with a lot of regional carriers in the Fargo, North Dakota, area that couldn’t manage the longer lanes into Texas and Florida, leaving customers with inventory gaps.

Even more challenging was finding enough capacity to manage peak season needs, which involved clearing warehouses of old product and replenishing them with finished product from the recent harvest. This required food-grade trailers that could handle high amounts of weight — nearly 45,000 pounds per load — and a transportation partner that could deliver within a tight time frame.

Even more challenging was finding enough capacity to manage peak season needs

Reliability When It Was Needed the Most

The relationship with the sugar provider began when capacity was needed to manage the influx of freight during the 2016 peak season — ATS Logistics was hired to manage 17 loads during the final months of the calendar year. One year later, ATS Logistics was there again to manage 99 loads during peak season.

In the months that followed, the sugar provider was still finding coverage challenges with their longer lanes in and out of Texas and Florida — even outside of peak season — so they once again turned to ATS Logistics. That evolved the relationship into a sustained, year-round partnership resulting in a 310 percent increase in freight moved — equaling more than 3,200 loads.

ATS Logistics used qualitative measures to score carrier performance based on a number of critical factors

Using a proprietary carrier management protocol, ATS Logistics used qualitative measures to score carrier performance based on a number of critical factors. This allowed ATS Logistics the flexibility to adjust to the leading sugar provider’s changing freight needs throughout the year and understand each partner carrier’s specialty.

A Model That Ensured Flexible Capacity From Quality Carriers

When the sugar provider needed inventories moved, they reached out to their single point-of-contact at ATS Logistics, who contacted parent company Anderson Trucking Service’s (ATS) asset division — located under the same roof. If there wasn’t available capacity, the sales representative took the requests to the sugar provider’s dedicated operations team within ATS Logistics. The operations team then referenced their carrier management protocol to decide which carrier or carriers were best suited to manage the sugar provider’s freight.

Customer Need Model

“We document things like which carriers have hauled freight for the sugar supplier in the past and how many loads they’ve moved for them,” said ATS Logistics Regional Carrier Representative Logan A. “We also make sure to note if they were on time and if the freight was delivered damage-free. This helps ensure we pick the best carriers for each job.”

Flexibility Exponentially Grows the Partnership

ATS Logistics’ flexibility had a significant impact on their relationship with the sugar provider. Of the 3,200 loads moved in 2018, nearly 700 were moved in October of that year alone. While many of these loads had lead times of a week or more, nearly every day ATS Logistics managed last-minute loads other carriers couldn’t accommodate. That flexibility led to another increase in freight moved in 2019 — totaling hundreds of millions of pounds of sugar.

Sugar Scale Graphic

But what meant the most to the sugar provider was the just-in-time (JIT) delivery service ATS Logistics can provide. Because they work with many leading retailers, the sugar provider had many tight deadlines they couldn’t miss. ATS Logistics’ proprietary carrier management system proved critical in their ability to quickly match capacity with the sugar provider’s JIT delivery needs.

One example was on Christmas Day 2019, when ATS Logistics helped deliver 10 loads of super sacks — equaling roughly 450,000 pounds of sugar — to two distribution centers in Texas. While many of the loads were offered a week in advance, ATS Logistics was able to accept a couple the day before Christmas by referencing their detailed carrier management notes to see which carriers could run on Christmas Day. The list included ATS’ van fleet — which gave ATS Logistics more visibility and control over where the assets were and when they could pick up and drop off shipments.

These critical shipments not only needed to arrive on time, the leading sugar provider needed to be kept in the loop 24/7. ATS Logistics remained in contact using FourKites — a supply chain management software used by many industry-leading brands.

What Made ATS Logistics a Different Transportation Partner

Sugar in WarehouseATS Logistics’ relationship with the leading sugar provider continued to grow. By the end of 2019, ATS Logistics was managing roughly 30–35 percent of their overall freight — which included providing as-needed open-deck capacity to help move project-based freight like new processing equipment.

ATS Logistics stood out as the transportation partner that can best handle the leading sugar provider’s unique challenges for four key reasons:

An ability to manage all high-capacity demands: In October 2018 alone, ATS Logistics moved 681 loads for the sugar provider using one point of contact. This allowed the sugar provider to move a high volume of freight without needing to call hundreds of transportation companies.

Flexibility delivered by an extensive network: ATS Logistics’ relationships with trusted partner carriers — including parent company ATS’ van and specialized divisions located under the same roof — created seamless communication. This allowed the leading sugar provider to present ATS Logistics a list of dozens of loads that needed to be moved the following week. In almost every instance, ATS Logistics was able to accept all of them.

Detailed, technology-driven carrier management: Whether it was a week lead time or a few hours, the leading sugar provider could rely on ATS Logistics to find the right carrier at the right time for their freight.

A team of dedicated transportation experts: Unique internal structuring allowed ATS Logistics to flex resources and provide a dedicated team of key account representatives, account managers and special load boards to the account. This gave the sugar provider access to a team of people who are experts in their respective fields — reducing the chance of miscommunication.

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About ATS Logistics

ATS Logistics, Inc. is a full-service transportation brokerage headquartered in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Managing more than 250,000 loads per year, they are the 28th largest brokerage firm in the United States. Having acquired brokerage authority over 30 years ago, stability and experience in the industry paired with a streamlined carrier management program have earned ATS Logistics a position as a preferred partner amongst the nation’s top echelon of carriers. These relationships provide shippers unique access to a private network of premier carriers. ATS Logistics, Inc., is a subsidiary of Anderson Trucking Service, Inc.