From Sea to Store: 6 Steps of a Warehouse Freight Process Flow

By Christine Suhadolc Dec 18, 2017

Schneider’s import/export service provides seamless, scalable shipping the customer demands by making sure expectations are set and met. This is accomplished by providing end-to-end service from ocean vessel all the way into the customers’ stores. This Final Mile service is met with services from all Schneider’s different lines of business, including our Port Dray and Transloading solutions, which have access to the largest transportation network in North America.

Steps Within a Warehouse Freight Process Flow:

Warehouse Freight Flow Graphic

Examples of a Sea-to-Store Freight Process Flow:

Step 1: Arrives at Port

Ship at port

The first step of the freight process flow begins at the sea. For the Elwood, Ill. warehouse specifically, a vessel comes from China and spends up to three weeks on the ocean water — 90 percent of our freight arrives at the Port of Los Angeles.

Step 2: Travels by Train

After the freight has arrived at the port it spends 3-5 days traveling by train to our rail yard in Elwood, Ill.

Step 3: Arrives at Rail Yard

Rail Yard

After the container has arrived at our rail yard in Elwood, it is placed under an Intermodal chassis with wheels under it. This is the very first time any container will have a chassis with wheels under it, which makes us the only inland port. These containers are only allowed to sit in the rail yard for 48 hours; anything longer will result in a penalty.

Step 4: Driver Pick -up

The Intermodal drivers pick up the full containers from the rail yard and bring them to the Elwood warehouse yard. They then take the empty, unloaded containers from our yard back to the rail yard.

Step 5: Warehouse


After the full containers have arrived, we have a 10-day window to get them unloaded and back to the rail. Failure to reach the 10-day window will result in a penalty. The Elwood yard drivers bring the containers to the dock doors where its 99 percent hand unloaded by our warehouse associates. Once unloaded and received, it’s then slotted to a location in the building, verified and hauled to the location. Then a put-away driver completes the storage of the freight.

Step 6: Over-the-Road to Distribution Centers

Distributing of the freight is the last and final piece of this freight process flow. Once an order has been received from customer, equipment drivers will go and retrieve the freight from storage. The freight is then placed on the dock to be shipped out. The warehouse associates then hand load the freight into a trailer. Once the loading is complete, our yard driver pulls the loaded trailer to our outbound lanes in the yard.

There are different carriers that provide service to each Regional Distribution Center (RDC) and each carrier has a lane. The carrier picks up the trailer from our yard and takes them to the respective RDC. The carriers have 18 hours, once the trailer is completed, to pick up the trailer from our yard. The RDC then ships the freight to its stores. We distribute to eight RDC’s and service over 800 stores.

With services to cover every aspect of a customer’s business and access to the largest transportation network in North America, Schneider can help businesses ensure their cargo will find smooth sailing well beyond the port.

A process takes people

People in a Warehouse

The freight process flow is fascinating, and it takes associates from across our business to make it happen smoothly:

  • Drivers to haul the freight
  • Warehouse associates to receive and distribute the freight
  • Office associates to support the entire process
  • Diesel technicians to make sure equipment can keep the process moving like a well-oiled machine

Where could you fit in?

The warehouse freight process wouldn’t work without motivated people like you. See how you could help keep freight moving.

Search and Apply

Do you have any questions about the freight process flow or about how you can switch to a career supporting the process, and ultimately the economy?


About the Author

Christine Suhadolc IMG

Christine joined Schneider in March 2014 as a project manager for the Flexible Workforce Initiative in Schneider’s Elwood, Ill., warehouse before transitioning into her current role as a Human Resources Business Partner in Elwood. She was previously in retail management for big box stores. She and her husband have two boys and love traveling anywhere tropical.

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