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Against the Grain: Langham Overhauls Agribusiness Logistics

Langham replaces large logistics firm through better cost savings and service

One of the largest global agricultural companies worth $17 billion must need a billion-dollar logistics firm to keep up, right? Wrong. For an agribusiness helping feed the world, bold is more important than big. Moving a variety of materials from rural fields to warehouses, manufacturing sites and laboratories across the world takes innovation. It requires flexibility and demands collaboration. This type of shipping called for Langham Logistics.

The agricultural seed and chemical company came to Langham with three goals:

  • New system automations
  • Significant cost improvements
  • Better customer service

They previously worked with one of the world’s largest logistics providers. That 3PL experience left them feeling out of control with their process and lacking in critical data visibility. They were looking for something better. Motivated to meet these goals and outperform the “Goliath” logistics firm, Langham got to work.

System Automation and Technology

The project started with a review of outdated, manual processes which were costing too much in time and resources. Langham developed a pilot program to isolate issues causing transit delays and subpar service. Improvement opportunities ideal for process automation surfaced, but had to overcome two major client challenges:

  • Any new technology must work with the existing SAP system, and
  • Fixes must be immediate and cannot require resources from the already backlogged IT department

To meet these conditions, Langham leveraged its in-house project management and technical teams to integrate its transportation (TMS) and warehouse management systems (WMS) directly with SAP. The team then built a customer-facing shopping portal. The site offered product pictures, order entry, custom reports, and real-time shipment tracking for more than 2,000 users.

Cost Improvements

Langham’s technology improvements generated a reduction of more than 6,200 administrative hours previously needed annually to manage the business. The team then honed in on freight spend. Langham isolated overpriced and underperforming carriers used by the company. Leveraging its large network of high-quality transportation providers, Langham consolidated and replaced bottom tier carriers. The team also reviewed all network lanes and optimized transit times. This analysis helped identify additional cost savings by strategically consolidating warehouses and moving some business operations closer to the company’s headquarters. In total, Langham generated a 20% spend reduction and continues to implement additional cost saving practices today.

Customer Service

Better performing carriers immediately improved customer satisfaction and the newly optimized network reduced transit times. Equally as important, the logistics overhaul created much-needed self-service opportunities for a portion of the company’s clients. The new customer portal allowed clients and sales representatives to place and monitor orders around the clock from anywhere in the world with full data transparency. Langham also became an extension of the company’s internal customer service team able to help field questions and resolve order issues.

The company’s relationship with Langham Logistics now extends beyond five years. They call Langham “one of our most trusted partners.” A logistics and international trade operations leader for the agricultural company said, “In our opinion, it has been the knowledge and the creativity of Langham that resulted in such impressive results.”

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