At Lineage Logistics‘ 160–plus locations worldwide, you’ll find bustling warehouses with trucks, railroad cars, and cargo ships coming and going. While most people may not know what happens inside, employees will happily tell you Lineage’s purpose: “To transform the food supply chain to eliminate waste and feed the world.”
Since its founding in 2008, Lineage has become one of the world’s largest temperature-controlled warehousing and logistics companies, says Greg Lehmkuhl, president and CEO. Merging Silicon Valley innovation with the old-world business of temperature-controlled logistics, Lineage stores and moves food around the world. The company was ranked No. 23 on Fast Company’s Top 50 Most Innovative Companies, and No. 1 in the Data Science category.
Lineage’s growth is fueled by acquiring companies whose locations and capabilities help meet customer’s demands. Through those assets, Lineage draws on more than 100 years of experience in handling every commodity. Lehmkuhl’s goal is to reduce the staggering amount of food wasted worldwide—the U.S. alone wastes 40% of food each year. In response, Lineage’s team of technologists and San Francisco–based physicists, engineers, mathematicians, and biologists develop new technologies and approaches to keep food safe throughout all stages of the supply chain. For example, a typical warehouse might have four temperature sensors, but a Lineage warehouse might have 1,000 sensors to ensure food is stored at optimal temperatures before it’s delivered to market.
Lineage’s purpose-driven culture and appetite for innovation attract talented employees who received offers from top technology companies but chose Lineage instead. “We give these hyper-intelligent, highly effective people the opportunity to make an impact on a tangible business rather than just on a website or computer screen,” Lehmkuhl says.
Lineage’s innovation was on display when a customer crop yielded an unprecedented volume of fruit—too much to freeze within the required timeframe. To solve the problem, Lineage’s team borrowed algorithms from the aerospace and automotive industries to redesign the facility’s blast cell air flow to optimize its freezing capacity, saving the fruit from spoiling, which allowed the customer to use them in future products and reap the profits.
SERVING CUSTOMERS LARGE AND SMALL
As part of its purpose to transform the food supply chain to eliminate waste and feed the world, Lineage partners with customers large and small, from leading brands like Walmart and Tyson, to small farms and mom-and-pop food and retail businesses.
And new options are on the immediate horizon. Lehmkuhl points to the impending introduction of Lineage Link. For the first time, as a result of the data Lineage gathers from its warehouses, combined with extensive analytical capabilities, Lineage Link will allow customers to have “farm-to-fork” visibility. Customers will be able to track and book shipments whether they’re in the warehouse or in transit, allowing better inventory control across the entire supply chain.
Lineage Link will also partner with customers to optimize their truck usage (and maximize profits) by running fewer and fewer empty trucks, somewhat like “an Uber for temperature-controlled food.” Using artificial intelligence and machine learning, the new system can recommend that customer shipments be combined and transported together to reduce transportation costs and increase efficiency. “Customers will be able to hit a button, streamline costs, and reduce a ton of wasted miles on the road,” he says. “There’s nothing like it in the industry today.”
Through a new partnership with Feeding America, Lineage further turns its mission into reality. Lineage donates money, transportation assistance, warehouse space, and industry expertise to help the hunger-fighting nonprofit. As employees see the impact their work and the company’s partnership have on their communities, their motivation skyrockets.
“Our local teams are charged up to further contribute to the communities in which they work and live and use that as the catalyst,” he says. “Every day, employees connect with the impact of their work and how it helps feed the world.”