Cleveland trucking carriers

Cleveland Trucking Carriers Steeled Operations for Potential Rail Strike

The threat of a potential U.S. freight train rail strike had Cleveland trucking carriers steeling their fleet and operations to help absorb at least some of the would-be mammouth impact. A last-minute tentative agreement struck with the intervention of the U.S. Department of Labor may have offset the immediate threat, but the whole ordeal underscores just how vital trucking services can be when other elements of intermodal transportation are jeopardized.

The New York Times reported tens of thousands of rail workers had threatened to strike in pursuit of better working conditions. Such action would have a catastrophic impact on supply chains across a vast range of industries throughout the U.S.

Rail moves an estimated two-fifths of long-distance U.S. freight and one-third of exports. The stakes of a potential shut down were very high – particularly as there isn’t a ton of slack in the trucking sector. If you are an organization that relies on the timely movement of goods across the country or the globe, this close call underscores the importance of securing a third-party logistics partner with strong connections to reliable Cleveland trucking carriers who can help arrange alternative transport and delivery methods in the face of unexpected hurdles. And let’s face: Unexpected hurdles of all stripes are almost a given with global supply chains.

A rail strike and increased reliance on Cleveland trucking carriers would mean substantial delays and higher costs. But it’s worth noting that truckers are already responsible for carrying nearly three-fourths of the nation’s goods as it is.

If all of America’s 7,000 long-distance daily freight trains were brought to a halt, the American Trucking Associations estimates it would require some 460,000 additional long-haul trucks daily to meet the current demand. Although there is no longer a trucking shortage, there isn’t much of a surplus either.

As our Cleveland trucking carriers can explain, rail is a central component of our complex global supply chains, which rely on the carefully-coordinated movements of cargo ships, freight trains, and trucks. This is known as intermodal transportation, and it helps to effectively eases the movement of goods across air, sea, and land. Compromise one of those links in the supply chain, and there will be a near-immediate domino effect to the system – one that has already been under significant strain since the pandemic.

Still, rail is generally recognized as the weakest of the three intermodal supply chain links. It is less flexible in responding to demand surges and bottlenecks. Over the last five years, as carriers have sought to limit service to lower costs as part of a strategy known as Precision Scheduled Railroading, nearly a quarter of rail worker jobs have been slashed. Rail companies say the reconfiguration has been an effort to become more agile and responsive to supply chain demands and challenges.

There are 12 railroad unions that form the National Freight Rail Bargaining. This coalition uses its combined power to push for employee labor demands. The most recent disputes concerned matters like higher pay, better working conditions, more paid time off, and schedules that are more flexible. (Attendance policies in particular have been a huge point of contention.)

There hasn’t been a U.S. railroad strike 30 years – and the impacts of that one in 1992 were immediate and serious. It took only three days before Congress intervened and a new contract was brokered.

Negotiations for the current rail worker contract have been ongoing for three years. Recognizing the potential harm this might do, the White House and U.S. Labor Secretary stepped in, brokering a tentative agreement. However, it’s still not officially finalized, meaning our Cleveland trucking carriers are still gearing up for the possibility the deal could fall through. The new contract won’t become final until members review the terms and approve it with a ratification vote.

Still, companies might still want to prepare for setbacks just in case. Some retailers are already diverting Asian goods that typically come through West Coast ports to those on the East Coast, at places like Newark, Savannah, and Charleston. Cleveland trucking carriers’ routes frequently take them to-and-fro at these ports. The added demand could mean an uptick in trucking rates, but worth it for many organizations if it means their goods arrive in tact and on time.

If a rail strike were to still happen now or in the coming months, our Cleveland trucking and logistics experts opine it probably wouldn’t last long. Too many industries are too deeply invested, and the pressure to resolve matters quickly would be enormous. The government’s heavy-handed involvement at the final hour is further evidence of that. But even a short-lived strike could have wide ripple effects, so companies would do well to plan for that possibility.

If you are a Northeast Ohio firm that relies heavily on rail transport to move your import/export goods, diversifying your mode of transport and collaborating with a third-party logistics firm with trucking capabilities may improve the overall security of your supply chain.

For information on Trucking, 3PL, and Warehousing Services in Cleveland, Contact On Time Delivery & Warehouse by calling (440) 826-4630 or send us an email.

Additional Resources:

How a Rail Strike Could Wreak Havoc on the American Supply Chain, Sept. 14, 2022, By Peter S. Goodman, The New York Times

More Blog Entries:

Seasonal Cycles of Ohio Trucking Are Back, Per Cleveland Trucking Experts, July 20, 2022, Cleveland Trucking Blog

Cleveland 3PL

Leveraging Cleveland 3PL Resources to Prep Your Supply Chain for Peak Season

Supply chain instability and challenges – from labor shortages to backlogged ports to pricey spot truck rates – have basically been the status quo ever since the pandemic. Although some aspects may be starting to even out, Cleveland 3PL experts at On Time Delivery & Warehouse recognize that with the height of peak season 2022 on the horizon, manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers are bracing for these challenges to take on greater significance. Those able to effectively leverage the resources of a Cleveland 3PL trucking, warehouse, and logistics firm will ultimately be the ones that carve out a competitive advantage.

In general, peak season typically occurs annually, starting with the back-to-school shopping season in late summer and rounds out sometime in November, just after Black Friday (with a final holiday rush in late December). However, some suppliers say that with unpredictable surge-and-trickle demands, those clear seasonal trends have been tougher to nail down.

Still, logistics industry insiders are predicting tsunamis of demand in certain sectors, with ripple effects spreading far beyond those directly in the center. That could mean we’re likely to see delivery delays, price increases, and further labor shortages. Northeast Ohio companies seeking to minimize their vulnerability to supply chain challenges would be wise to tap into the resources offered by a dedicated Cleveland 3PL.

Primary Peak Season Challenges

To effectively prepare for the challenges of peak season, you must first identify what that time frame is for you – in your industry, your region, and your organization specifically. That alone can be tricky, particularly given the lack of market predictability in recent years.

This is one area where a Cleveland 3PL can help. You know your business, but we know supply chains. We utilize the latest data software to analyze inventory and the movement of goods critical to your operations. Once we pinpoint trends, weaknesses, and bottlenecks in your supply chain, we help create a strategic end-to-end plan to minimize delays and losses.

Some common issues likely to arise:

  • Fluctuation in peak season length. When you know how long your peak season is going to be, you can better prepare by matching the appropriate level of seasonal labor and delivery costs. Even when it’s difficult to nail down, there may still be precautions we can suggest to help you minimize the consequences.
  • Inaccurate volume forecasting. This has been especially challenging in recent years. A third-party logistics firm can help with accurate data analysis to better identify when spikes and lulls can likely be anticipated – and prepare effective responses if outcomes deviate from earlier predictions.
  • Lack of efficiency in labor management. If you’re trying to manage your own operations while also managing your own supply chain, warehousing, and delivery can be next to impossible for some firms – particularly when you’re under additional demand pressures. Transparency, accurate communication, and proper training are imperatives. Errors and oversights can result in wastefulness and depletion of customer confidence.

Peak season predicaments can sometimes be forecasted, but not always. Working with a competent Cleveland 3PL helps ensure you are better prepared for both the known and the unknown.

Cleveland 3PL Predicts Warehouse Bottlenecks Likely to Be a Problem This Peak Season

Although industries vary on the specific challenges they face during peak season, our Cleveland 3PL is fairly certain as we head into the last quarter of 2022 that warehousing bottlenecks will become nearly everyone’s problem.

Recently, The Wall Street Journal noted that the shipping capacity struggles that were apparent at traffic-snarled seaports has been moving inland the last few months. It’s only likely to be exacerbated. As those of us in the logistics field know, trailers needed to transport goods on trucks are already being tied up – sometimes for weeks on end, even as demand for container ships has waned – because so many warehouses are at capacity. Distribution hubs in the Midwest and throughout the U.S. are seeing lengthy delays.

Recognizing these headaches are likely to drag on well into next year, our Cleveland third-party logistics professionals work closely with clients to arrange the most streamlined, cost-efficient modes and methods of shipping, storage, and delivery. We can help you access the most up-to-date, transparent data to help identify optimal rates, diversify carrier relationships, hone in on flexible warehousing partners, and anticipate reasonable timelines.

For information on 3PL Warehousing, Inventory Management, and Trucking Services in Cleveland, Contact On Time Delivery & Warehouse by calling (440) 826-4630 or send us an email.

Additional Resources:

Warehouse Bottlenecks Are Snarling U.S. Supply Chains, Aug. 26, 2022, By Paul Berger, The Wall Street Journal

More Blog Entries:

6 Supply Chain Insights From Northeast Ohio Third-Party Logistics Warehouse Pros, Aug. 28, 2022, On Time Delivery & Warehouse Blog

Northeast Ohio third-party logistics 3PL

6 Supply Chain Insights From Northeast Ohio Third-Party Logistics Warehouse Pros

As Northeast Ohio third-party logistics warehouse professionals, we understand the complexities of supply chain management better than anyone. Increasingly, it’s important that our clients have a grasp of them as well.

In recent years, the volatility of local and global supply chains has been on full display not only to manufacturers and distributors but consumers as well. There is a growing expectation that savvy businesses will take measures not just to respond to supply chain hiccups when they arise, but to become better at predicting and preparing for their inevitability.

Working with an Ohio third-party logistics team helps your company to do that. It also provides consumers with broader transparency and more responsive communication when problems occur.

With this in mind, the Ohio 3PL team at On Time Delivery & Warehouse offers the following list of basic supply chain insights.

Modern supply chains are increasingly complex.

Most supply chains can be broken down into two basic segments: Production and distribution. But that’s really where the simplicity ends.

Consider, for instance, a basic laptop computer. It can easily have 3,000 different parts. Your typical Ford truck? It’s likely to have at least 30,000 components. An effective supply chain is going to have numerous layers of varying sophistication, typically involving specialists who can supply certain components. Often, businesses end up with many layers of supply chains – and it can get even murkier when your suppliers don’t want you to know who their suppliers are, for fear you’ll just go around them if possible. This can be especially problematic if a lower-tier supply shuts down – and you aren’t even made aware of it until a certain time period. That can eventually lead to major supply chain snarls – which is precisely what we saw during the pandemic.

On the distribution end of things, issues with congested ports and labor shortages have resulted in bottlenecks. Working with an Ohio third-party logistics company helps ensure you if something falls through, you have alternative routes and means (by road, air, and sea).

Unexpected Demand May Not Mean What You Think.

Customers signal their demand by making purchases. This prompts businesses to ramp up supply. But this sort of demand forecasting can cause problems if spikes are interpreted as fundamental shifts in demand.

We saw this during COVID-19 when it came to things like exercise bikes. There were huge customer demands, retailers flooded their suppliers with orders, suppliers started cranking up production and returned the flow back to retailers – who by then realized they had too much and cut back substantially on future orders. This lead to major supply chain headaches – manufacturers cut production, suppliers were left with an overstock of raw materials and customers were left cooling their heels for extended periods waiting for deliveries.

When it comes to sudden demand spikes, it’s best to proceed with a degree of caution.

Just-In-Time Production Can Be a Practical Solution.

To avoid the whiplash of sudden demand spikes that just as suddenly fall, some companies have found just-in-time production a practical solution. As our Ohio third-party logistics pros can explain, just-in-time production involves making precisely what you need – and only when you need it. The idea is you’re only carrying as much inventory as you need, raw materials get delivered only just in time. If there is an issue with any of those parts/raw materials, the impact is typically minimal because the orders are smaller.

However, this solution really only makes sense when suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors are relatively close and/or when the supply chains are fairly lean. If your network is more global, trying to work out exactly when you’re going to need a delivery – and how much it will be – can be tricky. It can lead to problems when you factor in demand spikes and supply chain bottlenecks (particularly those involving international shipments, which can get held up for weeks on end).

Just-in-time production can work for some companies, but it’s wise to consult with your 3PL to see whether your supply chain has any weak links that can be tightened first.

The Bigger Your Supply Chain, the More Opportunities for Disruption.

Many companies rely on lengthy distribution chains. For example, if you’re shipping furniture from a factory in Sweden to a store in Northeast Ohio, you might need an air leg, an ocean leg, a rail leg, and truck transfers. The more links your supply chain has, the riskier it may be, particularly when each link directly depends on the smooth function of all the others. Keep in mind too – some of those links depend on cogs and sprockets that are on different tracks entirely.

Longer logistics threads are more vulnerable to delays than shorter ones. When you work with a third-party logistics partner, you have the benefit not only of transparency and seeing potential issues just before or immediately after they arise, but also alternatives when that happens.

Northeast Ohio third-party logistics warehousing professionals provide supply chain insight and effective solutions

Ordering More Than Necessary May Exacerbate Shortages.

Ideally, companies are only going to order as much of an item as they think they are going to consume or sell until the following cycle. However, if you forecast that a certain product may become particularly in-demand, it may seem smart to order extra.

However, where this is a problem is that some companies might start ordering double or triple what they actually need. This not only leads to shortages in the immediate, but can result in companies having far too much inventory – which inevitably leads to the need for more warehouse space, etc. You may end up with further losses if you’re forced to slash prices to just to offload it.

It can be tough to determine the exact right amount of just-in-case product to keep on hand. It’s a balancing act. Working with a dedicated Ohio third-party logistics team can help ensure both communication and supply chain visibility so that you can accurately forecast just how much you’re going to need.

Ohio Third-Party Logistics Partner Can Help Reduce Bottlenecks By Providing Big Picture Snapshots.

Bottlenecks in the supply chain are commonly the result of a lack of visibility – both for what’s in the pipeline on its way to you and then what comes after.

For example, it’s easy to see hundreds of ships stalled at a port and conclude, “Clearly, lack of efficiency at the port is the problem.” In reality, the actual issue might be that there was poor communication among downstream distribution centers. You could increase the port’s capacity 200 percent by keeping it open 24-7, but it’s not going to make much difference in the backlog if there is no one to pick up those goods or nowhere for it to immediately go.

Working with a team of skilled, experienced 3PL professionals can help provide a big picture lens, allowing you to identify potential issues before they become a major problem – easing the flow of goods downstream all the way to your customers.

If you have questions about how our Northeast Ohio third-party logistics warehousing & trucking team can help improve your supply chain visibility and flow, we’re here to provide further insight.

For information on 3PL Warehousing, Inventory Management, and Trucking Services in Cleveland, Contact On Time Delivery & Warehouse by calling (440) 826-4630 or send us an email.

Additional Resources:

Supply Chain Pressures Ebbed in July, Aug. 15, 2022, Central Banks Research, The Wall Street Journal

More Blog Entries:

Cleveland 3PL Recommends Ample Planning to Cope With Packaging Shortage, June 28, 2022, Northeast Ohio Warehousing News Blog

Cleveland Centralized Examination Station

Cleveland Centralized Examination Station Experts Explain Customs Exams, Holds

As the Cleveland Centralized Examination Station (CES), we understand the goals of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in examining cargo imported by land, air, and sea. The foremost purpose is keeping our country secure and citizens safe. However, we also fully understand the anxiety that can accompany word that your cargo has been flagged for a U.S. Customs exam – particularly as such action can result in major delays and expense for stakeholders.

Bear in mind that in addition to its own regulations, the CBP is tasked with enforcing hundreds of laws on behalf of 40+ other federal agencies, including the USDA, the FDA, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Understanding what triggers an examination may help you avoid one. At the very least, you’ll know better how to aid authorities in a manner that helps expedite the process and get your goods moving as soon as possible.

That said, not all circumstances that result in a U.S. Customs exam or manifest hold are within shippers’ control. In fact, shippers might do everything “right” and still find their goods among the 3-5% selected for closer inspection.

Some of the holds that authorities can place on international shipments include:

  • Manifest hold. This occurs when there is a problem with documentation. Usually, it’s the result of missing paperwork, such as a bill of lading. Typically, the U.S. Customs agent is going to request additional or corrected paperwork and then your goods will be on their way.
  • CET Hold (A-TECT). This is a hold imposed by the Anti-Terrorism Contraband Enforcement Team. This is a special branch of the CBP, which imposes holds on shipments suspected of containing potentially unlawful items (drugs, currency, weapons, or other illicit materials).
  • Commercial enforcement hold. This is sort of a blanket hold that is going to cover a range of potential issues – not only from the CBP but other federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The overarching goal is to ensure that any goods entering the country are compliant with federal laws and regulations.
  • PGA Hold. Similar to a commercial enforcement hold, a Participating Government Agencies Hold means the shipment in question was flagged for compliance issues, rather than customs issues.
  • Statistical Valuation Hold. This occurs when there is a discrepancy between your shipment and the manifest. For instance, if the weight of your shipments is much higher than might be anticipated given the commodity, the shipment might be flagged for a statistical valuation hold.

If your shipment is flagged, there can be one of three types of customs exams: Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System (non-intrusive inspection), a Tail Gate Exam (examiner breaks the seal of your container and reviews some of the contents), or an Intensive Customs Exam.

That last type is where a CES comes in. For this kind of exam, your goods must be transported to a CES, unloaded, held, inspected, and then reloaded before heading to its next destination. The shipper must pay for drayage and detention costs, as well as the labor to load and unload and reload. An Intensive Customs Exam may cause up to 30 days in delays and cost up to a few thousand dollars.

Having an efficient Cleveland Centralized Examination Station can help to speed up the Customs inspection process and reduce the amount of time your goods are tied up.

What, Exactly, is a Cleveland Centralized Examination Station?

A CES is a place where Customs officials can come to physically inspect and examine import and export freight and cargo. These are privately-owned and operated facilities (like On Time Delivery & Warehouse) that allow for physical examination of internationally imported or exported goods.

Cleveland warehousing

Cleveland Warehousing Helps Businesses Optimize Resources, Maximize Profits

Cleveland warehousing is an element of operations that many small businesses in Northeast Ohio cannot afford to overlook if they manufacture, export, or transport goods in any capacity.

Although many companies will try to manage their own warehouse duties in-house, doing so efficiently can quickly become all-consuming – and close to impossible. That’s why many businesses ultimately end up outsourcing Cleveland warehousing functions to a third-party logistics provider.

What makes some firms reticent to take the first step on the initial investment is the cost. But in the end, outsourcing Cleveland warehousing functions has proven time and again to boost productivity, improve on-time-deliveries and customer satisfaction, and save money.

The customer’s journey isn’t over once the order is placed. Working with a dedicated 3PL warehouse provides you with greater transparency and control to ensure customers receive their products intact and on-time – and to promptly notify them of any issues if that isn’t going to be the case.

Cleveland warehousing 3PL

Benefits of Partnering with a 3PL for Cleveland Warehousing

If you’re considering a warehouse partnership with a third-party logistics firm, it’s important to go into it knowing what you hope to gain. Some of the top benefits that our Cleveland warehousing customers have identified as holding the most value:

  • Improved inventory management. It’s estimated that 8 percent of small businesses fail to track their inventory. Stunningly, nearly a quarter don’t maintain inventory at all. In effect, order processing and shipments may be delayed, resulting in poor customer experience. When you have a centrally-located warehouse that is dialed in with freight logistics capabilities, it becomes easier to track, manage, and ship your inventory. You’ll have the advantage of low-stock alerts well in advance of when you’re potentially risking running out. This will also allow you to give customers potential alternatives, as opposed to simply keeping them waiting in the dark.
  • Efficient packing and processing. A solid warehousing partner goes beyond simply storing your goods. It has the supplies, the equipment, and the staff to move, package, and process your orders. Pallet racks, packing materials, loading docks – these are just a few examples of what a third-party warehouse may be able to offer.
  • First-rate customer service. According to RetailDive.com, nearly 65 percent of online shoppers expect their free shipping order to arrive within three business days. At the very least, there is an expectation that customers know – and be kept updated about – the estimated or guaranteed delivery time. Nearly 90 percent are willing to pay more to ensure faster delivery. The speed of delivery is sometimes the No. 1 thing buyers consider when deciding their shipping method. So as a business owner, this is something you must take seriously. If you fail to deliver orders on time, your reputation can tank and you may hemorrhage customers. When you’re working with an experienced warehousing partner, you can arrange for optimized distribution and timely delivery. This reduces errors and potential product damage during the order fulfillment process. Warehouses can also help keep your goods safe and secure, reducing the odds items will get lost or stolen during handling.
  • Price stabilization. There are lots of factors that can influence the price of a product from month to month or year after year. Warehousing does provide some opportunity for price stability, though, because it allows businesses to store goods for a later date, when demand may be higher. Consistent stock levels can help ensure you can offer consistent prices to your clientele.
  • Better risk management. In addition to serving as a buffer from wild pricing swings, warehousing can offer risk management services that will minimize your losses due to improper storage, packing, and deliveries. Goods that are properly packed, stored, sorted, and picked will have a longer shelf life, which means you aren’t losing product unnecessarily.

If you are looking for a warehousing and logistics partner in Northeast Ohio, On Time Delivery & Warehouse has a reputation as a leader in the field. Our customers trust us to provide quality warehousing services, inventory tracking, and distribution – so that your goods make it to their destination intact, on time, every time.

For information on 3PL Warehousing and Inventory Management Services in Cleveland, Contact On Time Delivery & Warehouse by calling (440) 826-4630 or send us an email.

Additional Resources:

Peak shipping season ahead of the holidays is about to begin for a volatile supply chain, July 29, 2022, By Lori Ann LaRocco, CNBC

More Blog Entries:

Federal Shipping Reform Impact to Cleveland Warehousing, Trucking, June 20, 2022, Ohio Warehousing Blog

Ohio trucking services

Seasonal Cycles of Ohio Trucking Are Back, Per Cleveland Trucking Experts

Ohio trucking services have historically adhered to clear seasonal cycles, generally broken down into four quarters.

We all know that trucking – and the transportation industry as a whole – are heavily influenced by supply-and-demand, which set the bar for rates and capacity. Market conditions can vary year-over-year, but there are also consistent seasonal patterns that emerge as well.

But as our Northeast Ohio trucking service providers can explain, the largely predictable ups-and-downs of the trucking and freight industry were thrown completely for a loop during the pandemic. As noted by the International Finance Corporation, land freight was a somewhat less impacted cog in the supply chain wheel (compared to air and ocean freight) if only because roads across the globe largely remained open (except in countries or places under severe lockdown). Trucking capacity ended up being strained, particularly as there was a booming demand for food and medical supplies.

Ohio trucking services

What we’re seeing now is those supply chain imbalances start to ease. The Journal of Commerce reports the market is beginning to realign (though not quite to the level of pre-COVID levels and pricing). What this means is we’re going to start seeing a shift back to seasonal Ohio trucking trends.

Being Prepared for Seasonal Ohio Trucking Trends

An understanding of trucking seasonality is important for stockholders in a broad range of industries because it can be used to forecast capacity, rates, and delivery times.

Those in the trucking and logistics sector typically identify four key seasons in freight:

Quiet Season (January – March). Volume tends to be down during this quarter. Weather across much of the U.S. (including Northeast Ohio) is not ideal for shipping. It may be possible during this quarter to find somewhat reduced shipping rates because demand has slid.

Produce Season (April – July). Ohio trucking volumes start to kick into high gear. The market tightens, demand increases, and finding a truck becomes more challenging. As a result, this season is associated with rate increases.

Peak Season (August-October). The produce season is starting to ease, but shippers are still very busy. They’re prepping for the back-to-school supply demands, as well as ramping up for upcoming holiday demands. Both volumes and rates are going to be at their peak during this period.

Holiday Season (November-December). Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve put a lot of demand on the freight industry – with pressure to get it all wrapped up before the final week of December. Once we get to that final week, demand for trucking freight begins to slow, and continues that lull until the following spring.

Specifically here in the Midwest, we’re going to see the highest trucking volumes between June and September.

Cleveland 3PL packaging shortage

Cleveland 3PL Recommends Ample Planning to Cope With Packaging Shortage

Packaging supplies continue to be in high demand despite limited availability, with shortages expected to continue through to at least the end of this year. Our Cleveland 3PL providers are advising the best way to avoid major problems on this front is to forecast, plan, and order materials at least six months out.

Basically, if you’re expecting higher demand and product shipping around the holidays, the time to start ordering those packaging materials now and arranging for their storage.

Packaging materials include things like boxes, foam inserts, poly bags, adhesive tape, anti-static sheets, labels – all the items that ensure items are safe, protected, and clean. While packaging tends to be something of an afterthought for consumers, smart businesses recognize that the right packaging is mission critical. Improper packaging can lead to breakage, spoiling, rusting, leaking – or the product never even making it to its destination. All of this not only hurts the company’s bottom line, but also its reputation.

One analysis by Smithers revealed that in a single recent year, global spending on packaging supplies was more than $917 billion. Demand was expected to increase nearly 3 percent, crossing the $1 trillion threshold, by 2024. But that was before the pandemic, when e-commerce demand exploded.

Cleveland 3Pl warehousing and trucking provider offers packaging, repacking and kitting services. Discusses packaging supply shortage and how to prepare.

Compounding matters is that the packaging materials industry hasn’t been immune to the seismic supply chain disruptions of recent years. Not only the pandemic, but extreme weather and a greater demand for sustainable materials has but a lot of pressure on suppliers.

Senior supply chain analysts with Gartner anticipate packaging supply is going to remind a challenge for companies through the 2022 holiday season. Lead time on packaging supply orders that used to take four to six weeks is now more like six months. Things like labels previously had lead times of somewhere around four to six weeks, but are now closer to three-to-four months.

Cleveland 3PL Can Help by Establishing Supply Chain Resilience

In addition to forecasting the need for packaging materials well in advance of expected demand surges (months instead of weeks in advance), companies might also consider working with a third-party logistics company.

There are numerous benefits to working with our Cleveland 3PL, but one that can make a huge difference on this front is helping to establish supply chain resilience.

Our services include not only warehousing and trucking, but packing, labeling, and kitting. We have close connections with suppliers of all kinds of packaging materials, and can work with customers to find alternative solutions when their original packing plans are jeopardized or uncertain.

Throughout the pandemic, there’s been a rush on paper product packaging – primarily folding boxes, corrugated boxes, and non-corrugated boxes. We may see this start to ease a bit as supply begins to finally catch up with the demand, but that might not be for another six months or so, which means companies need to think outside the box (literally).

We can help customers explore alternative packaging methods. That could mean sacrificing certain aspects that are the ideal (glossy coatings, colorful graphics, etc.), but less complicated and therefore more realistic for vendors to turn around by the deadline. As long as the package keeps the product clean, safe, and protected while it works its way to its final destination, that may need to take priority over certain custom aesthetics.

We work to help our clients formulate supply chain segmentation strategies. These involve optimizing certain processes for different needs/outcomes to serve customer bases that are diverse and/or growing.

For instance, the same product may be sold both in retail stores and online. Customers may be buying the same thing, but they have different needs when buying in the store than purchasing online. You might break up the inventory for those two segments and store – and package – them differently. Items sold in stores may require less packaging than those sold online.

Packaging needs can be segmented by material type, end-use markets, and regional markets. Efficient supply chain segmentation strategies can help reinforce your supply chain resilience, allowing you to be better prepared for challenges – whether that’s the expected (like an ongoing packaging shortage) or other hurdles not yet forecasted.

For information on 3PL Warehousing and Inventory Management Services in Cleveland, Contact On Time Delivery & Warehouse by calling (440) 826-4630 or send us an email.

Additional Resources:

How to find packaging materials in a ‘perfect storm’ of supply chain issues, June 16, 2022, By Jen A. Miller, Supply Chain Dive

More Blog Entries:

Benefits of Outsourcing Cleveland Inventory Management, May 27, 2022, Cleveland 3PL Blog

Cleveland warehousing and trucking

Federal Shipping Reform Impact to Cleveland Warehousing, Trucking

A new law promises sweeping changes to the ocean shipping industry following more than two years of port delays, congestion, and growing consumer costs – all of which may have an impact on Cleveland warehousing and trucking. The bipartisan act has several goals. These include:

  • Promotion of U.S. shipping exports.
  • Limiting ocean carrier market power (thereby reducing shipping costs, which have risen dramatically this past year).
  • Improving supply chain efficiency overall.

As our Cleveland warehousing and trucking professionals can explain, the Ocean Shipping Reform Act is the most significant overhaul of shipping regulations in nearly 25 years. The precise impact it will have on Northeast Ohio supply chains isn’t crystal clear, but there is almost certain to be a ripple effect.

Many shipping companies have lauded the measure as a substantial step in the direction of addressing the growing list of shipping disruptions in recent years, including not only astronomical fees, but a lack of containers fit for agricultural exports.

Cleveland warehousing and trucking supply chain third-party logistics

However, much of the law’s effectiveness is going to come down to the Federal Maritime Commission, which has the authority to regulate the shipping industry, but with limiting funding, has always been slow to do so. The law does empower the agency with more enforcement power to investigate and penalize unfair practices. However, even the head of the FMC acknowledged to Supply Chain Dive that the law is “no silver bullet” and there may only be so much the feds can do to check shipping port congestion and soaring costs driven by supply and demand.

Supply Chain Delays, Congestion Drive Up Costs

Virtually all supply chains are subject to some degree of volatility, to varying extents. That’s why our 3PL Cleveland warehousing and trucking team is prepared at all times to forecast sudden shifts and changes and quickly adapt.

But federal legislators have been under intense pressure to do something as global supply chains have been disrupted and erratic ever since the start of the pandemic more than two years ago. Unpredictable schedules have thrown off regular business operations, resulting in higher prices for transportation, even amid big delays.

Cleveland inventory management

Benefits of Outsourcing Cleveland Inventory Management

Inventory management is a systematic approach to sourcing, storing, and selling inventory. That includes both raw components and finished products. Your Cleveland inventory management strategy must involve swift and accurate identification of the right stock, at the correct levels, in the right time and place – and at the ideal price point.

Inventory management involves numerous duties, including:

  • Controlling and overseeing purchases
  • Maintaining the storage of stock
  • Controlling the amount of product for sale
  • Order fulfillment

This is a huge responsibility – and tough to consistently nail down without the proper systems and professionals in place. That’s why many companies opt to outsource this component of their supply chain.

Cleveland inventory management

Any company in a goods-based business recognizes the impact of inventory management on operational efficiency. Lack of adequate inventory will mean lost sales and unsatisfied customers. Too much inventory will mean higher costs for storage and management, less cash on hand, and reduced value of your products. The U.S. government recognizes the value of proper inventory management to the extent that publicly-traded companies are actually required to track inventory and document management systems if they want to be compliant with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Exact inventory management systems can vary from business-to-business, depending on their size, the types of products sold, and the channels through which they’re sold. That said, partnering with a third-party logistics company means you have the benefit of a system that’s flexible, processes that have been proven, and professionals who are experienced.

Here, we’re going to run through the benefits of outsourcing Cleveland inventory management one-by-one.

Cleveland CFS freight blocking & bracing

Importance of Blocking & Bracing Cleveland CFS Cargo

Blocking & bracing are essential to ensure maximum protection of your Cleveland CFS cargo.

As our logistics professionals can explain, meticulous planning is critical in container loads to ensure equal weight distribution during transit. It’s especially important for damage prevention when moving larger-sized loads.

Properly securing cargo may take a bit of extra effort, but it ultimately saves you time and money, increases safety, protects business relationships, and is required by state and federal laws.

We work to correctly block & brace every portion of loaded freight containers, ensuring your cargo gets where it needs to be – intact, on time, every time.

What is Blocking & Bracing?

Blocking is the means of preventing loads from moving laterally (side-to-side, front-to-back). Bracing, meanwhile, is the means of preventing vertical movement (up-and-down). Failure to brace properly can result in loads jumping over the blocks. And if the blocks aren’t implemented properly, the braces aren’t going to hold.

Visualize your heavy load resting in a container. Some assume that because it’s heavy, it’s unlikely to budge much. This is a miscalculation – a potentially catastrophic one. As our Cleveland CFS cargo experts can explain, once a container is moving, the internal object’s momentum in any direction is going to be proportionate to its weight.

Whatever the mode – whether it’s rail, truck, or ship – proper blocking, bracing, and loading is critical. It’s also important to understand that these techniques differ from load-to-load.

In the case of CFS shipments prepped for intermodal transport (cross-country or international), expect the potential for all kinds of jostling movements, including:

  • Forward surges
  • Front-to-back pitching
  • Side-to-side rolling
  • Up-and-down heaving
  • Irregular motions
  • Vibrations
  • Sudden impacts

When your shipment is properly blocked and braced, it’s going to be protected on every leg of the journey.

Cleveland CFS freight blocking & bracing

Some of the factors impacting how we block and brace:

  • Container size
  • Loading type (cartons, drums, pallets, etc.)
  • Dimensions
  • Number of pallets or units
  • Weights
  • Whether the cargo will be loaded onto pallets or floor-loaded