Company innovates with conveyor system
Published 9:55 pm Friday, August 2, 2013
By William Scott
The California Cartage Company, located off Kenyon Road, recently opened its doors to give a closer look at what makes the business thrive.
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The company is a distribution center that opened in 2011 to consolidate Target distribution in the Hampton Roads area. Since then, the company has made a large investment in order to improve the efficiency of its workload.
The location in Suffolk was chosen due to a multitude of reasons, including less trafficked roads, inexpensive warehouses and a close proximity to Portsmouth. Virginia is the deepest port on the East Coast, making it the ideal place for larger ships to import cargo into the country.
“During our first year and a half, we worked entirely with our Target account,” said Alison Winn, process improvement manager at California Cartage Company. “They are our bread and butter. They’re an excellent customer and an excellent company to work with.”
After six months, the company decided to make a $13 million investment to help with the workload and reduce the amount of manual labor needed. A state-of-the-art conveyor system was created and installed over the course of six months.
The new conveyor system scans and sorts boxes that are imported from countries such as China and Pakistan. These boxes are moved along the conveyor at speeds of up to 600 feet a minute. In a typical 10-hour day, around 130,000 cartons are moved. Each week, about 500 containers are unloaded. If packages are too small for the system to scan, the box will be manually scanned.
Without the conveyor system the establishment would need to employ about 150 percent of its current workforce to meet the same results.
The facility normally employs 153 staff members, which can more than double during peak seasons such as fall to meet Christmas demands.
All inbound and outbound trucks — about 400 to 500 each day — are checked for security purposes.
The location has also begun to export materials from Cleveland, Ohio to other countries, including titanium dioxide, a substance used in items such as toothpaste, paint and lipstick. The company hopes to form partnerships with freight forwarders and third party logistic companies in the near future.
Jamie Faltz, general manager at California Cartage Company, is teaching at a Paul D. Camp Community College located near the building. Faltz is giving students hands-on logistics and distribution training at the facility.
California Cartage Company was established in 1944. The company operates branches across North America.