Articles by Month: January 2023
Virtually any company that relies on e-commerce can benefit from 3PL fulfillment services. Some of the most popular Cleveland fulfillment center services that we offer at On Time Delivery & Warehouse are bundling, warehousing, picking and packing, kitting, labeling, product coding & repacking, shipping (including same day shipping), inventory management, customs & import guidance, and logistics solutions.
Outsourced fulfillment services make the most sense for companies that:
- Lack internal resources to ensure consistently robust warehousing capabilities.
- Have minimal inventory management potential.
- Don’t have enough time or staff to dedicate to shipping and distribution.
According to analysis by Grand View Research, the market value of global e-commerce fulfillment services is estimated to have a compound annual growth rate of nearly 10 percent between now and 2030. That means it’s likely no matter what your field, a growing number of competitors will begin more fully appreciating the benefits of partnering with a third-party Cleveland fulfillment center to provide key services.
How Do Cleveland Fulfillment Center Partnerships Work?
When it comes to logistics and managing supply chains, even smaller operations may have complexities that can impact how fast orders are delivered to the end customer – and in what condition. There are often many puzzle pieces that need to fit together just right to ensure the desired outcome and timeline.
At the center of that puzzle is often the fulfillment center.
Fulfillment center operators can wear many hats, but they’re typically third parties responsible for processing and shipping products that have been ordered/purchased. These facilities are often large and centrally-located to ensure faster shipping times at lower costs. They can serve both business-to-consumer or business-to-business operations.
While the terms “fulfillment center” and “warehouse” are sometimes used interchangeably, there are some differences. Most fulfillment centers are also warehouses or linked with warehousing services. However, not all warehouses are fulfillment centers. Whereas warehouses are places to store goods, materials, and products, the fulfillment center is responsible for meeting customer demands through efficient processing and shipping.
Half a Dozen Benefits of Quality Fulfillment Services
Outsourcing your distribution and fulfillment services can potentially reduce shipping costs by anywhere between 15 and 35 percent. That’s usually the most compelling draw for most companies. But there are other upsides too – some of which also contribute to the bottom line boost.
At the top of our list:
- Avoiding a brick-and-mortar investment. Although this trend started pre-2020, the pandemic threw into stark relief the fact that many operations are using more physical space than they need. Warehousing, fulfillment, and distribution services often require a lot of space – which can cost a lot of money, particularly if you are renting/paying taxes on/insuring/managing/equipping/staffing your own facility. It usually only makes sense for very large companies or those that consistently move huge volumes to manage their own fulfillment and distribution operations. For others, third-party logistics fulfillment centers are the ideal solution.
- Faster order processing. When you work with a dedicated fulfillment center, orders can typically ship faster than you’d be able to manage on your own. This is not only thanks to the central location and value-added services, but also the superior logistics team, which ensures a more efficient supply chain.
- Better shipping experiences. Of course, your customers want to receive their orders intact and on time – every time. But increasingly, they also want to be able to track their order in real time. They want to know right away if there’s a delay – or if it will be there sooner than expected. Proper packaging is important too, as is a fast turnaround time. A third-party fulfillment operation can provide these things easier than a firm that isn’t dedicated to full time warehousing and distribution.
- Greater scalability options. If you’re going to put the time, energy, and resources into establishing your own fulfillment center, it can be difficult to scale down – or up – as needed without losing money. If you get a sudden lull or surge in orders, a 3PL fulfillment center can accommodate those fluctuations without significant losses.
- Improved logistics. The complexities of inbound and outbound logistics can be overwhelming if that’s not your core operation. When you contract with a 3PL for fulfillment services, you get the benefit of experts with decades of experience in services like order processing, inventory management, picking and packing, warehousing, distribution, and more. When you entrust the logistics leg of your operation to logistics experts, you not only provide your customers with better service, you’re also better able to respond to supply chain volatility.
- Value-added services tailored to your needs. There is no one-size-fits-all business or organization, and there’s no one-size-fits-all package of warehousing and distribution services that are going to work for everyone. A well-managed fulfillment center can often provide customized value-added services so you get exactly what you need – and aren’t paying for things you don’t.
Choosing an Ohio Distribution & Fulfillment Service Provider
When you’re looking to contract with a Cleveland fulfillment center, some important considerations include:
- Which services are provided? Most fulfillment service providers have some basic warehousing and shipping packages. But can the facility and their staff actually handle all the receiving, storing, picking, packing, labeling, kitting and other needs your operations and customers require?
- What are their price points? The financial incentives are what typically draw customers to seek fulfillment center partners. But the key to get the most of your partnership is to carefully assess what you’re getting for what you’re paying. If certain services cost more than their competitors, is there a good reason for that? Ask too about whether they have shipping specialties for certain service areas, volumes, types of goods, etc.
- How central is their location? Ideally, the fulfillment center you choose will be fairly close to your customers. The less distance they need to cover to complete your deliveries, the faster your orders can be fulfilled and the less it will cost you.
- How is their responsiveness? Customer service is key in fulfillment. If something goes sideways or there is any type of disruption in your distribution process, you need to be able to reach someone who can help you remediate the issue right away. Transparency is also an element of this that’s worth inquiring about.
If you have questions about our Northeast Ohio fulfillment and distribution center, contact us for more information and a quote.
For information on Warehousing, Inventory Management, Fulfillment, Distribution, and Trucking Services in Cleveland, Contact On Time Delivery & Warehouse by calling (440) 826-4630 or send us an email.
Warehousing Giants Are Consolidating in a Shifting Real-Estate Market, June 13, 2022, By Liz Young, The Wall Street Journal
More Blog Entries:
Perks of Cleveland Public Warehousing, Nov. 23, 2022, Ohio Warehousing Blog
Ohio companies looking to prioritize supply chain efficiency in 2023 would do well to aim at least part of their focus on reducing Cleveland trucking turnaround times, dock delays, and detention issues.
The U.S. port surge that threw international supply chains out of whack for the better part of three years during the pandemic is finally beginning to subside. However, analysts with the Journal of Commerce say that marine terminals (which effectively became container storage facilities when overwhelmed by cargo surge) aren’t prepared for another wave – and that’s bound to happen again at some point.
As Cleveland trucking experts, we recognize that while improved port procedures are central to fixing problems stemming from cargo surges, it’s also important for logistics, delivery, and warehouse operators to prioritize streamlining their own practices. This is especially true given that last year, companies looking to avoid ongoing supply chain bottlenecks opted to ship tens of thousands of containers via truck rather than rail – despite higher costs – because it was largely deemed more reliable. Rail industry setbacks like shortages in labor, equipment, and warehouse space aren’t going away anytime soon. That means we’ll continue to see a growing demand for trucking capacity – and lower turnaround times will be more pivotal than ever.
What Exactly Is Cleveland Trucking Turnaround?
Trucking turnaround time is one of the main performance indicators used to measure efficiency of port logistics and drayage services (transport of freight from an ocean port to a destination). It’s generally defined as the window of time a trucker spends at a terminal, port, or customer pickup area – from gate entry to gate exit. The pickup/drop-off process involves loading, unloading, inspecting, and completing proper documentation.
All this can be impacted by dock delays (particularly when there’s a cargo surge). But optimal trucking turnaround times aren’t solely the responsibility of port service workers. Trucking companies must prioritize efficiency at all junctures – not only at ocean ports, but on the road, at inland warehouses, while navigating distribution centers, etc. This is why it’s key to work with a Cleveland trucking operator that knows what they’re doing, recognizes their role in meeting your deadlines, and takes its professional relationships and responsibilities seriously.
While it’s true we’re seeing an ebb in cargo surge at the moment, no operation that relies on efficient supply chains can afford to presume it won’t happen again – perhaps sooner than later. What’s more, we’re unlikely anytime soon to see a lull in other factors impacting delays and detention – including rising fuel costs, labor shortages, and a boom in online spending. Demand for trucking capacity is only going to increase.
How Detention Impacts Trucking Turnaround Times – and Bottom Lines
Detention delays occur when a trucker is held up by terms or circumstances outside their control – usually due to inefficiencies at the dock, warehouse, customer facility, or distribution center.
In a recent report by the American Transportation Research Institute, truck detention and delays at customer facilities ranked in the top 5 industry concerns for U.S. truck drivers. Nearly one-third of drivers reported increases in detention time delays of 6 hours or more over the last 5 years. The most significant delays are reported by those in refrigerated trailers, followed by those operating bulk/food trucks, tanker/hazmat vehicles, dry vans, and finally flatbed trucks. Such delays are also more common with full truckload shipments compared to less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments.
These issues can be exacerbated when delays start running up against hours of service regulations – the maximum amount of hours truckers are allowed to work by federal law. Driver compensation for excess detention can range anywhere from $10/hour to $100/hour (most in the $50+ hour range). The longer truckers are unnecessarily detained at a port or customer site, the worse their overall turnaround times are going to be. Perhaps even more concerning: It’s also associated with a heightened risk of truck crashes. The longer hours a trucker works, the more fatigued they are, and the greater their risk of an accident.
The U.S. Department of Transportation reports detention nationally costs somewhere in the ballpark of $1.1 billion to $1.3 billion each year.
As for the root of this problem, it’s varied. Many drivers point to apathetic or untrained dock employees, double-booked docks, lack of adequate dock space, and issues with paperwork. Lack of trucker parking is also a problem (something even the White House has acknowledged is an issue). Truckers who aren’t allowed to park on site must wait outside the customer facility – sometimes miles away, in areas that aren’t exactly equipped for it. This can further exacerbate delays as well as compromise driver safety.
Improved scheduling and planning, longer hours, more employees/space/equipment, and better employee training were all cited as possible solutions to shortening dock delays, excessive detention, and truck turnaround times.
Enhancing inbound and outbound logistics strategies to maintain reasonable trucking turnaround times is going to prove increasingly important to companies hoping to retain their competitive edge.
Companies that partner with a third-party logistics company may see faster – and more tangible – results on this front.
How Trusted Ohio Truck Firms Can Reduce Turnaround Times
Ohio trucking companies generally aren’t in control of things like erratic consumer demand, international cargo surges, or lack of trucker parking. But that doesn’t mean they’re powerless.
Established transportation companies know that when these issues can’t be avoided, there are still ways to prepare and minimize the potential impact for customers.
Such measures include:
- Upgraded and well-maintained equipment. Older trucks and monitoring equipment will be vulnerable to failures, glitches, and breakdowns – which can further exacerbate delays and lengthen Cleveland trucking turnaround times. It’s important that not only is the fleet itself in great shape, but the technology used for transportation GPS and supply chain tracking and forecasting is also up-to-date and keeps pace with ever-evolving logistics insights. Transparency technology can also help set clear expectations and make adjustments as necessary if it seems delays are likely.
- Smart balance of trucks-to-drivers. This isn’t an exact science, but companies tend to have more drivers than trucks. However, that means any shortage of functioning trucks that can’t be promptly addressed will lead to fewer shipments, higher costs, and longer turnaround times. Trucking companies that keep their fleets in good working order as well as maintain a good truck-to-driver ratio will generally see fewer detention issues.
- Streamlined administration communication. Communication is central to supply chain efficiency. When you work with a 3PL trucking company with established relationships with local and regional partners, you get the benefit of those longstanding, well-oiled workflow and communication processes.
- Investment in experienced, well-trained drivers. Truck driving is often a more skilled profession than some people might presume. It’s not just about being safe behind the wheel. It’s about being effective with organization, time management, communication, and preparation. When delays occur, truckers who are prepared, properly trained, polite, and persistent are often rewarded with lower turnaround times.
If you have questions about how working with a dedicated 3PL trucking company in Northeast Ohio can help you reduce your trucking turnaround times and detention costs, we can help.
For information on Ohio Trucking Services in Cleveland and throughout Northeast Ohio, Contact On Time Delivery & Warehouse by calling (440) 826-4630 or send us an email.
Driver Detention Impacts on Safety and Productivity, September 2019, American Transportation Research Institute
Reducing external container trucks’ turnaround time in ports: A data-driven approach under truck appointment systems, December 2022, Computers & Electrical Engineering
More Blog Entries:
Why Companies are Increasingly Turning to Cleveland Dedicated Trucking, Nov. 28, 2022, Ohio Truck Company Blog