DESPITE the downturn in the current economy, foodgrade suppliers appear determined to expand their Internet services. While the use of the Web may still be simmering on the stove, as it is related to income producing status, it only needs to finish the cooking before it becomes a tasty dish for the future.
Food transport suppliers are serving up a tasty menu as they upgrade their sites to include specialized services that include trading, logistics, and online product ordering. Like any new medium, insight and success must be gained before the Internet becomes a viable part of any business venture.
Following is a variety of companies that have found recipes to tempt their visitors with specific services through the Web. Expect more to follow in the future.
Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), Kansas City, Missouri, has joined the league of businesses that are establishing a Web presence to not only enhance market visibility, but to offer trading services. DFA is a dairy cooperative with 19,500 members in 45 states, and is a major transporter of dairy products. The company oversees transportation, marketing, and processing of almost 37 billion pounds of milk annually.
The DFA site links to Dairy.com (www.dairy.com), the trading site established through an alliance between DFA and other dairy industry companies. Dairy.com allows trading of cream, milk, and condensed skim milk, and will be adding a variety of other commodities in the next several months, according to Hill Pratt, business development vice-president for dairy.com.
In addition to DFA, the site alliance includes Dannon, Dreyer's, Kraft, Land o' Lakes, Leprino, Schreiber, and Suiza. It was created as a neutral site serving producers and processors equally, says Pratt.
The site allows companies enrolled in the program to see large numbers of dairy product loads across the United States. “This provides more market insight and more trading options, and a chance to get a better price,” says Pratt.
The site was established as a pilot in January, and launched to the dairy industry in late March. Today, more than 50 companies, including the founders, are involved in the transactions. By mid-July, 2,000 trades valued at more than $75 million had been executed, he says.
Plans are to add transportation, settlement, and reconciliation services over the next several months, Pratt adds.
Viking Pump, Cedar Falls, Iowa, offers information designed for engineers and technicians in the foodgrade industry. Topics include pumping principles and general fluid handling data.
Online is the company's Pump School, an introduction to positive-displacement (PD) pumps, and in particular, rotary pumps. The subjects include rotary pumping principles, tough applications, and typical liquids. Questions can be forwarded to the company via e-mail.
The pumps are used for pumping liquid and with clean-in-place systems. An in-depth list of specifications is available for the products.
Pumps and parts can be ordered online. Online sales are currently limited to the United States, but international support is coming soon, according to information on the site.
Roper Pumps, Commerce, Georgia, has an interesting way of handling its Web site. All the information appears on the home page through a moving window. Very little clicking is required to view the site content.
Pump products, including photographs, series list, and applications scroll through the window. Moving the cursor off the window brings the information to a halt. Move the cursor back to the window and more information appears.
Subjects displayed include product benefits and features. Information also is available for pump speed, pressure, temperature range, viscosity, and flow rate.
A wide assortment of security seals and locking devices, including those for foodgrade products, are presented on the E J Brooks Company site. Based in Livingston, New Jersey, the company offers products from simple, plastic indicative seals to electronic digital tracking systems.
The Secure-Grip Seal is designed for foodgrade use, as is the Multi-Lok Cable Seal Group. These products, and others, can be found by searching the industry section or by clicking on the product button at the left of the page. Industries listed include utility, transportation, money handlers, food processing, pharmaceutical, chemical, manufacturing, and retail. Product categories include electronic, plastic, metal, cable, and bolt seals, plus vehicle protection systems for trucks, protection systems for railcars, toold and accessories, and meter protection.
Photographs and diagrams of the products are pictured. At the bottom of each product page is a form to solicit a price quote that can be submitted via e-mail.
Company representatives throughout the world can be contacted via e-mail from the site. The company operates worldwide and includes 13 operating units in six countries, the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Spain, Brazil, and Singapore.
TydenBrammall of Angola, Indiana, introduced its new site in October of last year, and has continued to update it with information about the company's product line. TydenBrammall is a supplier of cargo security products, including plastic, electronic, bolt, and cable seals.
Any seal from the product line, including customized products, can be purchased online. “Since this is a product that has a relatively predictable usage rate, we've added the option to prompt customers when their current supply is likely to run out,” says Jeff Cosman, president.
The system remembers each customer's ordering history, making future orders fast, simple, and accurate. Orders are confirmed via e-mail.
Qualified online users ordering products that are part of the company's 24 & Out ready-to-ship program can expect shipment within one business day, according to company information.
To select the appropriate seal, customers can search by product, application, or strength. For example, the section covering applications for tank truck use includes descriptions of electronic seals, cable seals, and plastic seals. Descriptions, technical data, options, price, and application buttons lead to more information. Installation information includes photographs demonstrating the procedures.
Cargo Guy, a question and answer page, puts the customer in contact with the company via e-mail. The page also includes a safety tip of the month.
Milk haulers now have a Web site tailored to keep them informed about issues affecting the dairy industry. The International Milk Haulers Association, Middleton, Wisconsin, has posted names of people who can be sources of information and included a newsletter with association updates.
As part of its association member privileges, the site presents Globalcom Inc (www.global-com.com), an integrated communications provider, that supplies telephone services to members for a special rate.
For prospective members, there is an application form that can be filled out and printed.