Case Study: California Cartage Company

Since its first delivery in 1944, California Cartage Company has become an industry leader in trucking, warehousing, and deconsolidation, owning and operating highly specialized logistics divisions nationwide. As a third-party logistics company, or 3PL, Cal Cartage provides customers a multitude of services. Their facility in Suffolk, Virginia, houses a cross-docking operation servicing a well-known major retailer. “We make it easier for large companies to break down their freight and ship out to their distribution centers. We condense the actual supply chain. We make that process very easy for potential customers,” said Jammie Faltz, assistant general manager.

Hytrol and the integration partner worked diligently with Cal Cartage to implement an automated material handling system capable of processing the customer’s large volume of product. The conveyor system gives Cal Cartage the capacity to deconsolidate up to 20 containers at the same time, with 4 additional doors for future growth.

“We were able to achieve some really unexpected goals, and we were able to make our customer happy and meet their demands.” — Gary Taylor, engineering and maintenance manager

“Some of the containers would normally take 8 to 9 hours to process. Now, we can process them in 3 hours.” — Jammie Faltz, assistant general manager

Because Cal Cartage wanted to reserve half of the facility for potential new customers, the entire operation had to be accomplished using only one side of the building. When designing the system to fit this unique footprint, Hytrol and the integration partner leveraged material handling solutions that would deliver the amount of throughput needed to make the operation profitable. “We found a way to keep the volume consistent and continuous through only 20 inbound doors. If I had a traditional cross-dock, I would need 35 inbound doors to bring in the same amount of volume. The automated system helped us reduce our inbound doors, while keeping the same volume throughput,” according to Jammie.

The system uses a specialized method of induction to feed two of the most advanced sliding shoe sorters in the industry. Each ProSort 400 is over 700 feet long; that’s more than 2 footballs fields!

“Hytrol’s Gap and Store option gives us the ability to pack a large amount of freight in our merge area and still maintain control with it,” according to Gary Taylor, “so that we can get it at a high rate of speed through the sorters.”

The ability to control the product while maintaining high levels of throughput is critical to the success of a 3PL. Hytrol’s advanced sortation system works with the custom controls solution to determine the destination for each product, which affords Cal Cartage the ability to maximize trailer fill. “We were able to increase our average trailer fill from 85 CBMs to 89 CBMs. That’s the actual cubic metrics per trailer, and the goal is 88 so we were able to exceed the goal,” said Jammie.

Hytrol’s goal was to design, manufacture and implement an advanced material handling system capable of producing immediate results for the customer. With the project starting up less than a month from Cal Cartage’s peak season, there was no time to do a lot of testing prior to peak demand. It had to work, and work well from the start.

“The system was easy to learn; it’s user-friendly, and with Hytrol’s training program that they offer, it’s really been beneficial to us,” said Gary.

“I would consider Hytrol our family. It’s not just Cal Cartage and the customer; it’s one team working towards a common goal.”

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