Delivering on our products and promise

Ask the Experts - Logistics

Five questions with Michelle Oetjens, senior global logistics analyst, Ball FloraPlant.

April 19, 2022

Greenhouse Management: How has logistics changed over the past several years? What has remained the same?

Michelle Oetjens: The communication of delivery schedules and delays are crucial for our customers’ labor and production planning. What has exploded in the last several years are the complexities of product delivery methods and the means in which to track them. From our farms to the U.S. and Canadian borders, onto delivery trucks and small package delivery services, Ball FloraPlant has identified and invested in new tracking and tracing technologies in order to provide the most accurate updates on deliveries to our customers.

GM: When the busy season hits, delivery control seems out of growers’ hands. How does Ball FloraPlant help?

MO: There’s so much more to logistics than just monitoring trucks. We’ve built strong relationships throughout the supply chain to get ahead of any potential delays or delivery challenges. Starting with our farms, we receive the best product data that allows us to make adjustments to box forecasts for flights, schedule USDA inspectors, reschedule trucking services and more. Most of this happens seamlessly and the customer reaps the benefits of this white-glove service. We update our customers and sales reps on delays via direct communication. These details are then updated in WebTrack®.

GM: What keeps you up at night?

MO: Time in the box! When you’re dealing with live plant cuttings, say a sensitive crop like lantana, time and temperature control are certainly of the essence. The Ball FloraPlant logistics team keeps watchful tabs on products shipping through ports and deliveries moving by climate-controlled trucks. We use temperature recorders to monitor shipment temperature (cold chain) and request adjustments as needed. We track shipments by the hour (even by the minute!) in order to ensure the best cutting quality, all while communicating with the customer and sales teams.

GM: What processes and communication strategies serve you well?

MO: There are a multitude of systems at play — from mapping dashboards to possible re-booking tools. Each of them gives us full visibility into each order for the most efficient and effective outcome. Communication through our sales force and onto the customer is integral as well. Whether through WebTrack account alerts, email notifications or a call on the phone, we work to minimize surprises and recover quickly from any possible delays.

The other part of our strategy is on-going planning in the “off-season.” That’s when we evaluate what went well — and what was a challenge — during shipping season. We develop harvest capacity reports with our farms, build relationships with new carriers to expand our trucking service and forecast the next season’s plants all to be ready for the next peak.

GM: So, do you ever sleep?

MO: Sure! But we definitely take our responsibilities very seriously on your behalf. You can be confident that our passionate Ball FloraPlant logistics team does what it takes to get the job done. We sleep much more soundly once the deliveries are in your hands.