RICHMOND, Va. -- Richfood Holdings here is exploring increased use of advance ship notices by late next year. The wholesaler's current ASN use is limited to one vendor, who sends the ASNs by fax.
Richfood is considering using ASNs across all categories, including dry grocery, dairy, frozen, meat or "wherever it's applicable," said Gary Conrad, executive vice president of distribution and logistics for Richfood.
ASNs can be used in combination with UCC-128, the expanded industry standard serial code that carries detailed information about product shipments.
An ASN provides data about the actual product shipped. That data is transmitted to the receiver prior to the load's arrival. At the time of receiving, there is typically a UCC-128 label, commonly called a license plate, for each pallet. This license plate identifies everything on the pallet.
Once the receiver scans this bar code label and enters the information into its system, the data can be verified against the ASN.
"We have explored the possibility of scanning all inbound freight using the pallet code," Conrad said. "We have the ability to use scanning technology, because we scan and create bar code labels for all our inbound fresh meat, and all our forklifts are equipped with radio frequency technology. But we are not at the point yet where we're ready to do all inbound scanning."
Currently, Richfood receives ASNs via fax from one supplier in health and beauty care. This vendor's products are cross docked to retailers serviced by the wholesaler.
"The vendor faxes us an ASN and we load that into our dynamic routing system," Conrad said. Richfood uses the data from the ASN to achieve better cube use in its outbound trucks.
Conrad noted that accuracy is very important in this application of ASNs.
"We could be putting anywhere from two to five or six additional pallets on a customer load," he said. "If the vendor makes an error in what they transmit to us, then we would misload and in effect miscube the truck, and that's a huge problem for us. So accuracy is very critical."