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