VOXX International's Sea-Truck Program
VOXX International Corporation understands that time is money.
In the 1980s, the electronics manufacturer imported its product using a combination of sea and air freight. Cargo arrived on a vessel in Seattle, and after clearing U.S. Customs was flown to the East Coast.
While the sea-air transit times were fast and reliable, air freight was expensive and didn’t always provide the best alternative. In particular, the company needed to find another option to transport a popular brand of speakers from Asia.
“Speakers are very heavy but quite inexpensive,” explained Pat Moffett, vice president of international logistics at VOXX. “When you make that sea-air commitment, it has to be a well thought-out decision as it can have a significant impact on your margins.”
Moffett recognized that by replacing air freight with trucks, VOXX could continue to meet customer needs and save millions of dollars. He developed the innovative Sea-Truck Program—a program that works best at the less-congested Northwest Seaport Alliance ports.
The program combines ocean freight, transloading and team-driving long-haul trucking to provide fourth-morning delivery from the Pacific Northwest to VOXX’s Indianapolis distribution center (DC) and fifth-morning delivery to its DC in Norfolk, Virginia.
This predictability allows importers to accurately plan distribution to meet sales demands. The program works because the arrival and release of cargo can be accurately estimated.
“The biggest benefit with discharging in Seattle-Tacoma is less congestion, which in turn will minimize your cargo delay,” said Denise Oswald, assistant vice president of international logistics at VOXX.
Before a container arrives at the NWSA’s North Harbor, the freight is fully released. The containers receive priority offloading and are whisked to Consolidated Shippers' Sea-Tac warehouse for transload.
Transloading occurs within one to two days of vessel arrival. On average, three 40-foot ocean containers can be consolidated into two 53-foot domestic trailers, and containers can be divided for split shipping if needed.
Once the trailers are loaded, a two-member team of long-haul truck drivers race across the U.S. almost nonstop to meet scheduled delivery times at VOXX’s distribution centers.
About 400 to 500 of the VOXX containers that arrive in the Pacific Northwest each year from Shanghai, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Taiwan and Vietnam take advantage of the Sea-Truck Program.