H-E-B is a Texas-based grocery store chain that is known for its disaster response efforts, so much so that in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in 2017, a meme about them went viral on social media. The meme featured a picture of the chain’s disaster relief trucks with the caption, “I’ll see your FEMA and Red Cross and raise you my Texas grocery store.”
H-E-B has three mobile kitchens, two water tankers, and a disaster relief unit that offers additional services, such as banking and a mobile emergency pharmacy. All of these can – and do – deploy in the event of natural disasters and pandemics, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, blizzards, and, most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic.
Organizing and deploying these resources is a massively complicated endeavor, but H-E-B has a secret weapon: they utilize the Manhattan transportation management system.
What Is a Transportation Management System?
A transportation management system (TMS) is a software system designed to plan, execute, and optimize the movement of goods and resources. A TMS can be used to track shipments, schedule and route vehicles, and monitor compliance with regulatory requirements. A TMS can also be used to manage warehouse inventory and optimize the use of assets such as trucks and trailers.
H-E-B’s TMS is a valuable tool that not only manages logistics for their day-to-day business but also contributes to tackling the logistics of complicated relief operations. During Hurricane Harvey, the software helped the company load, dispatch, and track its fleet of trucks, which were used to deliver food and supplies to hurricane-affected areas.
The TMS also helped H-E-B coordinate its relief efforts with other companies and organizations. With the assistance of the software, the company was able to provide timely and efficient assistance to those in need.
“When Nobody Else Could”
For example, when the town of Beaumont, TX lost all water pressure due to the failure of their tube pumps, all due to massive flooding in the aftermath of Harvey, city officials asked the Texas state government for help. Unfortunately, the state responded with a timeframe that was untenable for the citizens of Beaumont. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) gave them a timeline that was similarly unfeasible for the city’s over 100,000 residents.
That’s when the city contacted H-E-B and asked if there was a way they could get water to Beaumont. As Justen Noakes, Director of Emergency Preparedness for H-E-B, told the Texas Monthly:
“[W]e mobilized tankers, we mobilized tractor-trailers of water, and we got those on the road and we got those into Beaumont on Thursday when nobody else could. […] We had been going through two feet of water in our tractor-trailers with our senior vice president of supply chain in the lead truck, delivering those trailer-loads of water. We had ten tankers of water in Beaumont by the close of business on Thursday.”
Those mobilization efforts were made possible in part by the H-E-B TMS, which also came into play during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unlike other grocery store chains, H-E-B already had pandemic plans in place, which they had first implemented during the H1N1 flu epidemic in the early 2000s. They also regularly spoke to suppliers and other contacts in China and Italy to get an idea of what the specific challenges would be if and when COVID-19 made its way to the United States.
Once it did, H-E-B was ready, and so was their transportation management system. They were able to work with their suppliers and other local businesses to transport the necessary goods to their warehouses in an expedient and timely manner, even while dealing with a diminished workforce. As a result, they were able to provide essential supplies to their customers during a period of stress and uncertainty.
Use a TMS to Help Your Community
One of the benefits of the Manhattan TMS, used by H-E-B, is that it integrates seamlessly with CloudLogix and other tools in order to centralize all of your supply chain data into one convenient dashboard.
Like H-E-B, CloudLogix is proud to be a Texas-based business. Our mission is to simplify the supply chain by helping companies centralize supply chain data and communication, allowing stakeholders to make informed decisions in real-time.
If you need assistance revolutionizing your transportation management and supply chain logistics systems so that you, too, can skillfully respond to help your community when disaster strikes, contact us for a demo today!