Articles by Year: 2022
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
- Sudden impacts
When your shipment is properly blocked and braced, it’s going to be protected on every leg of the journey.
Some of the factors impacting how we block and brace:
- Container size
- Loading type (cartons, drums, pallets, etc.)
- Number of pallets or units
- Whether the cargo will be loaded onto pallets or floor-loaded
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that last-minute spot loads in the truckload market are once again falling as the shipping demand is becoming more aligned with available truck capacity. This is great news for B2Bs and retailers alike. Still, how can you be assured you’re getting the best Cleveland trucking spot rates? Here, our Cleveland trucking team offers some insight.
Contract Rates vs. Spot Rates
For those who may be unfamiliar, most truckload freight is moved via contract rate. This is when shippers and trucking companies strike a longer-term agreement to regularly move a given volume of goods between Origin A to Destination B at a predetermined, per-mile rate that may/may not be adjustable.
Spot rates are more of a one-off deal, but they still comprise about 20 percent of the truckload freight market. They can include (but are not always) same-day and next-day deliveries. These rates are based on existing supply-and-demand for trucks available to make one-time or inconsistent load volumes slated for specific origins/destinations. Some regions/markets can be much more volatile than others, but the spot trucking market in general tends to be much more capricious, with rates negotiated closer to deadline by the load, the lane, or the time. High load volumes + tight trucking capacity = Higher spot rates.
Companies that tend to rely on Cleveland spot rate trucking usually have lower volumes, inconsistent timing, varied destinations, and special/non-standard load requirements.
It’s worth noting that while news of dropping spot rates is definitely welcome by many shippers, it comes on the heels of rates that have been historically high. Ultimately, you still want to make sure you’re getting the most for your money.
Tips for Scoring Great Cleveland Trucking Spot Rates
Rate negotiation factors are fairly standard, but being prepared and knowledgeable can help ensure you’re getting the best possible deal.
Side note: Best doesn’t always mean cheapest. If you get the lowest price, but it results in a missed pickup, damaged products, or hidden charges, it’s going to cost you much more in the long run. When on-time, intact delivery matters, your trucking partner becomes an extension of your brand. Make sure they have a reputation worthy of the trust you’re placing in them.
Top-performing businesses have always felt big pressure to earn and maintain superior customer satisfaction. These days, however, they’re faced with the herculean task of doing so while grappling with the aftermath of a global pandemic, long-standing labor shortages, and a seemingly unrelenting stream of supply chain disruptions. The good news is: These challenges too shall pass – eventually. However, some recent changes are part of bigger movements that are likely here to stay. Primarily, these include booming e-commerce sales, high demand for direct-to-consumer deliveries, and robust enforcement of warehouse worker rights. One way to gain an edge on the competition is by working with a dedicated Cleveland 3PL warehousing & distribution company – particularly one with a rock solid reputation and the flexibility to shift amid changing times and customer demands.
Recently, the Logistics Managers Index (which measures U.S. supply chain pressures) rose to a record-high. This reflects not only soaring inflation costs impacting inventory and logistics, but also the waning amount of available warehousing space. Bloomberg reports inventory stockpiles many companies purchased during the pandemic may be contributing. Companies are now holding excess inventory at premium rates, something likely to continue for at least another year. Consumer hesitance driven by inflation appears to be further exacerbating the issue. On the flip side, given the global supply chain tumult of late, many manufacturers, suppliers, and retailers have seen the value of having at least some inventory stockpiled so they aren’t caught short.
In any case, one thing is clear: Whereas warehousing was once considered an afterthought for most companies, it’s now recognized as a critical element in the go-to-market strategy for most firms.
“It’s sort of like the shift we saw with the information technology sector in the early aughts,” explained On Time Delivery & Warehouse CEO Anthony Figliano. “What was once basically a background function quickly became a pivotal part of intraorganizational planning – and for good reason. Today, it’s the warehousing and distribution functions that are increasingly acknowledged as mission critical.
“But of course, that’s been at the core of our wheelhouse from the start, so we’ve always recognized its inherent value. As 3PL partners, we’re as committed as ever to continuing to meet fluctuating demands with both top speed and accuracy.”
If you’re managing a products company, you know that more often than not, clients need their orders as soon as possible. No matter what your industry, speedy delivery is a universally high-value service. Box truck deliveries – particularly those with same-day and next-day capabilities – can help you achieve that.
Box trucks are ideal for companies that make frequent deliveries and drop-offs and have fast turnaround times. It’s a means of reliable transportation without the trailer, allowing for easier deliveries – particularly in tighter urban and suburban terrain. Working with a 3PL for box truck delivery services can help you enhance customer service, reduce liability risk, and even save money.
What Exactly is a Box Truck?
According to the American Trucking Associations, trucks move roughly 73 percent of the nation’s freight by weight. A good number of those local deliveries involve some type of box truck.
Box trucks fairly obviously get their name from their shape: They look like giant boxes. Sometimes referred to as a “cube truck,” “box van,” “cube van” or even “rolling toaster,” a box truck is typically much smaller than a full-size cargo truck, though with many of the same positive features. It doesn’t have a trailer, which can reduce the amount of time spent loading, hauling, and unloading. They tend to be smaller than dry vans, and they’re often more affordable than larger rigs. They’re also pretty secure – and fairly safe, when driven by an experienced, careful driver.
Some businesses invest in their own box truck purchases for local deliveries. Anyone considering buying a box truck right now should know the current market is quite volatile. According to truckpaper.com, a popular site for large truck sales, a used, tandem axle, 24′ box truck is probably going to cost somewhere north of $50,000, depending on the condition and mileage. A brand new 24′ tandem-axle box truck is probably going to be around $75,000, at least – and that’s if you can find it. Most medium-sized chassis trucks are backordered until at least 2023. On top of that, you need someone trained, reliable, and insured to load and drive it. Then there are maintenance outlays, gas expenses, and more. The costs can quickly add up.
Arranging 3PL box truck deliveries is often a smarter, more cost-effective option for many companies. At On Time Delivery & Warehouse, we have the box truck fleet AND the disciplined workforce to get goods where they need to go.
The safety and well-being of our valued Ohio warehouse & logistics workers have always been an imperative at On Time Delivery & Warehouse.
Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that given the heightened demands being placed on warehousing and logistics employees, it would be launching a new initiative to vigorously enforce these workers’ wage and hour rights and safety protections.
“The increased demand and constraints on the global supply chain have combined to place enormous strain on the nation’s warehouse and logistics industries,” the DOL said in a news release.
Regulators are ramping up federal enforcement to ensure employees are safe from harassment, paid their legally-owed wages, and are afforded proper family and medical leave in accordance with applicable employment laws. They’ll also be watching for potential misclassification of employees as independent contractors, a practice that tends to result in underpaid wages and benefits, as well as an unfair competitive advantage for companies in the free market.
Of course, the agency has had its eye on the industry for some time now. But the pandemic underscored the critical economic function of warehouse workers, truckers, delivery drivers, and other Ohio warehouse & logistics professionals. Ongoing supply chain exigencies have left more than few logistics firms scrambling to keep pace. Still, the DOL doesn’t see that as an excuse to make concessions on worker pay and safety measures. The recent announcement involves news that the agency is hiring more than 100 new wage and hour investigators – with more likely on the way.
Our Ohio Warehouse & Logistics Team is Committed to Worker Safety and Customer Satisfaction
We recognize that Northeast Ohio warehouse & logistics costs and challenges have risen in recent months, but investment in dedicated employees and their well-being is a core tenet on which our team has never compromised. We’ve had this commitment dialed in for decades, so the DOL’s announcement has no real impact on our day-to-day activities.
Meanwhile, companies that are just launching and/or struggling may want to reconsider any internal warehousing and logistics operations – especially knowing that there will be additional federal oversight and zero room to cut corners without significant penalties.
Cleveland warehouse devanning is a critical component of the logistics process that involves removing cargo from sealed containers. This sounds fairly straightforward, but our warehousing and logistics management experts know it’s one of the more demanding aspects of the job. Devanning incorrectly can lead to serious safety risks as well as damaged goods. Proper devanning keeps workers safe, minimizes unnecessary product loss, and keeps supply chains rolling smoothly.
Container devanning is sometimes called unpacking, stripping, deconsolidation, or unstuffing. It typically (but not always) involves goods from international shipping. Containers are received and then carefully unloaded by highly-skilled handlers, often with cranes and forklifts.
It requires not only having an adequate workforce with the right training and equipment needed to physically move the goods, but also professionals with the technical skill required to effectively manage the digital technology to ensure each item in the container is prepped and ready for the next phase. Well-practiced devanning teams spend years developing the most effective approaches to unloading different types, shapes, and sizes of containers, while ensuring maximum efficiency. If you’re looking for Cleveland warehouse devanning, make sure your third-party logistics partner has the ability to receive containers, de-van them, palletize your goods, properly store each item, and then carefully pick, load, and deliver them on demand.
The type of shipment can impact where goods are going to be devanned. In most cases, full container load (FCL) shipments are going to be devanned at the destination warehouse. On the other hand, less-than-container load (LCL) are usually devanned at the Container Freight Station (CFS). On Time Delivery & Warehouse can serve as both.
The Cleveland Warehouse Devanning Process
When containers arrive at our Cleveland warehousing facility, it’s our top priority to ensure full care and attention is paid to getting the goods safely unloaded and stored and then prepped for the next leg of the journey.
Shipping companies are increasingly favoring Cleveland trucking services over rail to avoid supply chain bottlenecks and ensure on-time deliveries.
As reported recently by The Wall Street Journal, U.S. intermodal transports (which involve railroads carrying containers and truck trailers) have fallen by 12 percent in the first six weeks of 2022 compared to last year. Even as manufacturers and retailers were scrambling to import and transport goods in the last six months of 2021, reliance on rail was slipping. Even though both Cleveland trucking and railroad companies recognize the rising demand of long-distance freight transport (500+ miles), shippers are increasingly leaning on highways over railroads. This is largely thanks to shortfalls of equipment, warehousing space, and labor in rail yards – and that’s across all supply chains. This inevitably results in erratic and vexing delays for modes of transport that rely in whole or in part on rail.
Intermodal transportation does rely on trucking, but typically only for the final leg of the delivery. Under normal circumstances, intermodal transport is an effective way to move key goods. It tends to be cheaper, too. However, it’s also slower and more complicated. In an era of supply chain uncertainties, long-haul trucking has proven to be the more reliable option.
Toward the tail end of 2020 and through the first part of last year, railroads were still making considerable gains, chugging along to keep the supply chain moving. But then last summer, rail yards in the Midwest (namely, Chicago) started to see major bottlenecks. Both railroads and warehouses struggled with lack of space and too few workers. Shippers east of the Mississippi River were reporting up to 30 percent delays in container unloading and deliveries. To help resolve the issue, Chicago railroad companies imposed substantial restrictions on incoming cargo for several days. This cleared the backlog, but there were still ongoing bottlenecks at other ports across the country. Shippers, looking to make up for lost time, sought more dependable supply chain solutions to get their products out of ports and into warehouses. They turned to long-haul trucking, and they’ve stuck with it as the months have worn on.
Experts opine that since the start of the pandemic, intermodal transport has ceded roughly 1 percent of its market share to long-distance trucking. That may not sound like much, but it breaks down to about 30,000 additional truck moves a week. Truckload volumes from L.A. to Chicago are up more than 130 percent over the last year. That has increased trucking rates, but Cleveland trucking companies like On Time Delivery & Warehouse still have additional capacity. That’s a good thing considering the way that consumer spending habits have shifted the last two years from services to goods, resulting in skyrocketing imports.
With supply chain logjams on U.S. coasts expected to stretch well into 2022, shippers looking to ease the strain on intermodal supply chains are increasingly turning to underutilized sea ports and air terminals – including those in Cleveland, Toledo and Cincinnati. As a longtime provider of Cleveland container freight station (CFS) services, On Time Delivery & Warehouse is prepared to onboard new business-to-business clients for consolidation/de-consolidation of import/export freight, full container loads (FCL’s), less-than-container loads (LCL’s), block & brace services, product segregation, heavy/oversized loading and unloading, stack & wrap services, CFS warehousing and customs bonded warehousing.
What is CFS – And Why Does it Matter?
CFS is short for container freight station. These are facilities located near ports, terminals, inland container depots or major railway hubs that help facilitate import/export shipments from origin and destination. They’re particularly popular with those utilizing LCL (less-than-container) shipments because they can serve as a central hub for importers/exporters looking to ensure their goods are going to be securely stored, carefully handled, and expeditiously sent on the next leg of the journey.
Among the core functions of CFS providers:
- Preparation of container load plan.
- Stuffing and de-stuffing containers (both FCL and LCL).
- Marking and sealing containers for identification.
- Serving as a temporary storage space for cargo, empty, and laden containers.
- Moving empty containers from container yards and laden containers to nearby ports and terminals.
- Stacking, sorting, tracking, and tallying containers pre- and post-shipment.
- Organization of customs clearance procedures (examination, classification, goods assessment, etc.).
- Ensuring safety and security of all goods in the facility.
- Managing break bulk cargo (cargo that’s not in a container).
Cleveland container freight station services are essential because they help decongest air terminals and sea ports – freeing them from numerous customs clearance procedures.
As reported by WKYC Channel 3 in October, the Port of Cleveland can easily handle 100,000 containers annually. Yet in recent years, it’s been topping out well below that – somewhere between 5,000 to 10,000. Pandemic-related congestion on the coasts is spurring a shift to higher local volumes, as cargo owners and third-party logistics (3PL) firms increasingly eye smaller ports to move their goods. Cleveland is the third-largest port on the Great Lakes. Although it can’t handle U.S. Navy or cruise ships, it can accommodate vessels bound for transatlantic shipments. Plus, smaller ports like Cleveland are often more efficient – and cost effective – than the larger hubs in Southern California (Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland) New York, New Jersey, South Carolina, Georgia and Texas (Houston).
Businesses of all sizes have struggled with supply chain instability the last few years. It’s considered the No. 2 concern, just after finding and retaining qualified, reliable workers. Girding themselves for more supply chain volatility on the horizon, many mid-sized companies are strategically stockpiling inventory, allocating more funds to ensure timely deliveries, and onboarding software that allows for greater transparency. These are smart tactics for Northeast Ohio businesses – and can all be successfully implemented by teaming with a dedicated Cleveland 3PL (third-party logistics) warehousing and distribution partner.
According to the recently-released 2022 Business Leaders Outlook Survey, conducted by JPMorgan Chase, the majority of mid-size company leaders appear to be shifting from a small-business mindset to a larger one in an effort to stay competitive in the global economy. To maximize their competitive edge, more than half of respondent companies (with annual revenues ranging between $20 million and $500 million) were adding suppliers from new areas as well as dedicating more capital to higher shipping and delivery costs. One-third were changing materials or manufacturing processes, and some had even stopped working with some suppliers altogether.
More than 80 percent of firms said they had to increase wages in order to recruit and retain workers. This is a particular challenge for companies managing their own warehousing and logistics in-house – further highlighting the benefits of working with an established Cleveland 3PL.
Other top concerns for companies looking ahead this year are difficulties with forecasting, customer demands for lower costs, customer demands for reduced response times, and overall rising expectations for customer service. Well over half of companies queried are actively investing in inventory & network optimization.
As an experienced team of third-party logistics professionals, we recognize that while many businesses stress over supply chain operations, the consumer-driven approach does open the door for innovation opportunities. Running an efficient, cost-effective operation has always been a challenge – and it’s one that Ohio 3PL operators are uniquely equipped to help resolve. Among the top concerns we help clients address with Cleveland 3PL services: