Fleet crosses into mobile warehouse territory

MONTREAL — Frito Lay Canada has replaced its Montreal cross-dock facility with what’s called a Warehouse on Wheels System — — a truck based alternative to cross-docking, widely used for hub and spoke retail distribution.

The system, manufactured by Demountable Concepts of New Jersey, works like this:

Multiple demountable truck bodies, which are long-hauled to a regional market on semi-trailers and demounted at a pre-determined location. The bodies are then mounted by local straight delivery trucks that make the retail deliveries. In the meantime, the semi-trailer is returns to the distribution center with empty bodies from the previous round of deliveries.

Frito Lay Canada has about 160 separate facilities distributing snack food to retail centers from six factories across the country.

Most of the company’s facilities were cross-dock operations being serviced by larger distribution centers. Trucks would arrive at the regional cross-dock and product would be unloaded, sorted and loaded into local delivery trucks that made retail deliveries.

While researching ways to make their cross-docks more efficient, Frito Lay discovered the Warehouse on Wheels System and a
Small-scale test was put into operation to servicing their Montreal facility.

The potato chip company soon realized that cross-docking would no longer be necessary because snack food could be shipped directly from the distribution center to the retailer in the same cargo body, eliminating logistics costs.

Also, product was handled much less, reducing damages, and inventory tracking and loading was more centralized.

Last year, the cross-dock operation was replaced entirely at the Montreal facility and the company is currently monitoring the Warehouse on Wheels’ performance to determine the next market for implementation.

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