Articles by: Anthony
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:
Many trucking companies are advertising openings for Northeast Ohio trucking jobs – increasingly finding themselves face-to-face with outdated misconceptions about what it means to be a truck driver. Some potential candidates are deterred by pursuing an occupation they erroneously perceive as a low-skill, low-education, low-wage. In fact, as our Cleveland trucking company can firmly attest, these are all myths (albeit persistent ones, unfortunately).
The American Trucking Association reports there is a national truck driver shortage of about 80,000 drivers. This has been a long-simmering issue, but it’s been exacerbated in recent months by the huge spikes in retail sales and e-commerce demands, which have led to massive supply chain bottlenecks.
Ohio trucking jobs – particularly those for heavy and tractor trailer operators – are among the 25 occupations the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services expects to have the most opening through the next seven years. Just within the last month, the Ohio Bureau of Labor Market Information reported there were 72,400 transportation jobs posted. Job ads for big rig operators are No. 2, just after postings seeking registered nurses.
Although it’s true that truckers at some companies have not had the best experiences, that’s far from the universal reality. Just like any industry, trucking and transportation has great employers, and others that fall short. Regrettably, it’s the unfavorable impressions that have been seared into the collective conscience. It’s far past time that changes. As a longtime Cleveland trucking service provider, our low turnover rate and high employee satisfaction soundly belies these assumptions.
The Truth About Northeast Ohio Trucking Jobs
The fact of the matter is that on average, entry-level truck drivers can sometimes earn double the starting salary of many of today’s college graduates. It’s not uncommon for those who pass their commercial driver’s education courses (which typically take 3-6-months) to immediately be approached by multiple job offers. Some new drivers find they’re being offered positions before their training is even complete.
Trucking is an attractive proposition for professionals – one that does require skill. Just as it is with the trades (electricians, plumbers, masons, carpenters, etc.), the commitment and contributions of truckers hasn’t historically been celebrated the way they should have been. We are however seeing a definite shift, particularly as the pandemic has highlighted how vital these professionals are to the function of daily life in this country.
If you’re among the millions of Americans who have recently launched a new business this year, let us be among the first to congratulate you! U.S. Census data indicates that the surge of new enterprises contains a significant number of manufacturing and retail companies. All startups (but those in these areas in particular) should look closely at the benefits of partnering with a trusted Cleveland 3PL (third-party logistics) company. A 3PL can assist with optimizing inventory management, warehousing, scalability, simplification, shipments, transparency, customer satisfaction reviews, and cost savings.
Outsourcing shipping, warehousing, and order fulfillment with a third-party logistics firm is something burgeoning business owners sometimes overlook in the early phases, primarily because many are cash-strapped and looking for any and all opportunities to save capital. However, smart entrepreneurs recognize that certain expenses are well worth the investment. Many new (and veteran) Northeast Ohio business owners see substantial benefits working with a trusted Cleveland 3PL, often right out of the gate. In fact, some operators find they can’t effectively compete in the market without one.
What Does a Cleveland 3PL Partner Do, Exactly?
Third-party logistics companies manage your supply chain operations, including warehousing and shipping. In short, our job is ensuring your products make it to your business partners/customers – intact, on time, every time.
We help facilitate the receiving, picking, warehousing, packing, and shipping. On Time Delivery & Warehouse goes above and beyond the typical storage space operation to provide:
- Heated warehousing.
- FDA registered warehousing.
- Container Freight Station (CFS).
- Centralized Examination Station (CMS).
- Import/export freight handlers.
- Product coding & packing.
- Daily, weekly, monthly, and annual storage rates.
- Bill of lading preparation.
- UPS Standard daily.
- On-site security.
- Domestic freight handlers.
- Hazmat certification.
- Hot shot services.
- Liftgate deliveries.
- Same-day & next-day delivery services.
If we don’t offer the exact services you’re seeking, we’ll point you to another trusted local provider who can.
Why Logistics Are an Important Consideration for Brand New Businesses
Very few startups have experience in logistics. This is problematic because it can impact how quickly the right goods get to the correct destination, unblemished and exactly when they’re supposed to.
Our goal as 3PL providers is to ensure your supply chain is working for you and your customers from Day 1.
Cleveland truckload carriers moving full trailers have been in especially high demand in recent months, thanks to persistent West Coast supply chain bottlenecks. The Wall Street Journal reports indicators from bellwether transport services foreshadow the likelihood these western port backlogs will drag through the holidays and into 2022. Suppliers and shippers looking to keep down costs may want to consider working with a dedicated 3PL trucking logistics service.
Part of the issue with higher costs is the rush by large retailers to restock inventory (with demand in some sectors up as much as 85 percent this year compared to the same time in 2020). Also factoring are the broader supply chain upheavals affecting the whole country – primarily, shortages of truck drivers, rail workers, and warehousing employees.
Keeping freight and trucking costs down while maintaining efficient logistics operations isn’t a cakewalk, especially when the labor force has been so limited. Meanwhile, consumers are leaning on e-commerce now more than ever, with few sacrificing expectations – including on costs and delivery times.
As longtime Cleveland truckload carriers and warehousing professionals, we understand these challenges and work closely with our customers to help tackle them. Key to our longevity are competitive pricing and low staff turnover, the latter fueled by good pay, attractive benefits packages, and a perpetually positive work environment. Loyal, experienced truck drivers and warehouse workers help us keep customers’ inventory moving as efficiently as possible for the best rates.
In the trucking world, trailer spotting is when a truck trailer is parked in a designated spot in the distribution yard, detached from the tractor, and then prepared to be ready-to-go for when its driver arrives. It’s a strategy that boosts efficiency for our shippers because it reduces the amount of downtime truckers have at the docking area. If your current trucking and warehouse logistics partner doesn’t offer Ohio trailer spotting services, it may be time to explore alternative options.
How Ohio Trailer Spotting Helps Streamline Your Processes
Having a trucking service that also offers trailer spotting can make a big difference in the efficiency of how your goods are moved. Some of the ways include:
- Less down time. If we have a shipper that routinely moves high volume (let’s say once daily), trailer spotting allows us to have a carrier enter the yard, drop off a trailer, and pick up the daily load immediately. Trailer spotting ensures an empty trailer is immediately available for whatever needs to be moved right away. It can significantly reduce the amount of trucker downtime and shipment backlogs. Delays can result in products sitting in your yard, putting strain on the warehouse, increases losses, and increases the amount the driver is paid to wait idly. But with trailer spotting, when a driver drops off one trailer, another is already on standby ready to go. Ohio trailer spotting also ensures the warehouse is going to maximize efficiency on the warehouse side of things as well because empty trailers are parked where they need to be for quick loading and fast turnaround. Shippers and carriers benefit.
- Yard management efficiency. In fact, your entire supply chain is going to run more smoothly. Yard management specifically refers to how trucks are organized and moved within the warehouse yard and loading docks. All those trucks need to be positioned, scheduled, loaded, unloaded – with the movement of all items on and off done with care and tracked in real time. Trailer spotting allows us to more easily manage pick-up loads, which in turn helps streamline the entire process.
- Flexibility in scheduling. When it comes to warehousing, trucking, and supply chain logistics in general, something is always changing. But that creates significant challenging when warehouse and trucking schedules of certain assets are locked in. Trailer spotting services allow us to provide additional flexibility, allowing us ultimately to be better prepared for unexpected issues and provide the best service possible for our customers.
The modern supply chain is capable of impressive feats, delivering goods and materials from across the globe to businesses, suppliers, and customers in days or sometimes even hours. Of course, there are always vulnerabilities. If the last 1.5 years has taught us anything, it’s that even the most tightly-managed supply chains aren’t invincible. Industry analysts now opine that global supply chains are poised for ongoing, high volatility on several fronts. Those partnering with a Cleveland 3PL will find they’re far better prepared to successfully steer through these challenges.
You may recall that during the pandemic, supply chain snags meant certain goods and products were unavailable for days, weeks, and even months. High-demand items were suddenly in short supply, creating logistical calamities that have, in some cases, persisted to this day.
These problems haven’t been limited to a single industry or product, which is why we’ve seen overall hikes in logistics costs. Compounding matters are the record numbers of ships delayed at ports, a highly constrained warehousing space market, and soaring fuel costs. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the cost of fuel was up more than 35 percent this summer year-over-year. In some areas, load-to-truck costs are up more than 70 percent.
As longtime Cleveland 3PL providers in warehousing and shipping, we’re familiar with the many ups and downs (and sideways spins) a supply chain can take. Given that there is a good chance we won’t see a pre-pandemic normal of supply chains anytime soon, businesses need to brace themselves for disruptions and higher costs. Those that are working with a dedicated third-party logistics firm will have a leg-up on the competition.
A bill of lading is a document that serves as proof a company or carrier received goods from a shipper. It’s a critical record that our Cleveland warehouse professionals know is essential to demonstrating the chain of custody from shipper to carrier. Beyond simple proof of cargo transfer, it establishes a contract between the two parties for the delivery of the goods to the purchasing party or next carrier. They’re often required for many types of land freight shipments, but can also be mandated for air and sea cargo as well. Failure to properly fill out these forms can be costly.
If you’re considering partnering with a Northeast Ohio warehousing and distribution to a third-party logistics company, it’s important to have a solid understanding of what bills of lading are and how they’re prepared. Chances are, it will be an aspect of your operations you’ll also want to outsource.
What Exactly is in a Bill of Lading (BOL)?
Bills of lading, sometimes called BOL, are nothing new. In fact, they go all the way back to at least the 16th century, when they were routinely used to track ship cargo movements. Back then, it was pretty basic: An inventory check and the signatures of the shipper and carrier.
Today, the general idea is the same, but with all the various modes of transport, warehousing, and distribution (not to mention evolving technology), the particulars are quite a bit more involved.
The culture of a company is important for any worker, but it matters more than you might expect for truck drivers. Despite the many hours they spend solo on-the-road, we’ve found lots of drivers prioritize a company that truly cares for them. In the course of the long-running truck driver shortage, it’s been reported that many drivers move from one Cleveland trucking company to another in search of higher pay, signing bonuses and more miles. Some just want to be able to spend more time at home.
At On Time Delivery & Warehouse, we have long recognized the importance of competitive pay, benefits, and adequate down time. But as a family-owned company, what we’ve also long understood is that while a good salary will get a qualified truck driver in the door, what keeps the best truckers is a tight-knit culture of truly caring. How we treat people day-in and day-out is what really drives career satisfaction among our Northeast Ohio trucking professionals.
That means knowing more about our drivers than their first name and credentials. We respect their professional opinions, understand when major milestones or troubles are happening with their family and celebrate exceptional employees and achievements. Anyone can launch a Cleveland trucking company. What keeps it running for the long-haul is respect for and relationships with your people.
Culture is what differentiates us from any other Cleveland trucking company. It’s the tone and feel from the moment you walk in each day. It can be tough to define, but our drivers, warehouse workers, supervisors and other staffers recognize it – and it’s what translates to top notch service for our clients.
In recent months, logistics industry watchers have seen demand for warehousing close to major ports surge, driven by the tsunami of e-commerce demand and flood of container imports. That’s made it tougher – and more expensive – to find storage space from New York to Los Angeles. Bloomberg reports these demands are unlikely to abate anytime before next year, at the earliest. The good news is many companies may find solutions in working with Ohio warehousing & distribution firms that are strategically located and connected.
Both logistics service providers and real estate companies were quoted by The Wall Street Journal as saying the fierce competition for warehousing space near port cities has pushed warehouse costs so high that many companies have been compelled to scour neighboring regions (including in the Midwest) to serve shippers’ needs. Northeast Ohio has long been a prime, strategic hub for warehousing and distribution.
The demand for industrial space – inland and around the ports – is likely only to rise in the coming years. Nationally, it’s accelerated the last few years thanks to the rapid rise of e-commerce, which relies more heavily on Ohio warehousing and distribution versus retail space. Storage space rates in some regions have doubled just in the last year. The pandemic exacerbated that trend, and shows no signs of abating.
If your current, in-house Ohio warehousing and distribution practices are already taxing your time and resources, it may be time to take another look at outsourcing with a Cleveland 3PL. “3PL” stands for “third party logistics.” A dedicated 3PL warehousing provider does more than simply give you a place to store your stuff. It offers opportunity for dynamic companies to access a broad range of supply chain & logistics services and expertise.
If you’re seeking affordable Cleveland warehousing space, you might consider teaming with a third-party logistics (3PL) company. Not only will a 3PL be more likely to have a central warehouse location in an increasingly competitive market, it can also handle receiving, storage, inventory control, and reverse logistics with optimal efficiency.
Warehousing is critical for moving goods safely through the supply chain. But warehouse space competition has dramatically impacted industrial rents over the last year. Retailers and logistics firms are routinely paying a premium to lock down the most advantageous spots. CBRE Group Inc. reports industrial rents in 58 U.S. markets were up almost 10 percent in the first five months of 2021 compared to last year. Demand was largely driven by the surge in e-commerce that occurred when pandemic-related lockdowns closed many storefronts, keeping people at home and shopping for goods online.
But even as restrictions have eased, the public and businesses have continued their online ordering habits – along with their expectations for next day or even same-day deliveries. CBRE estimates more than a quarter of all retail sales in the U.S. will be facilitated by e-commerce by 2025. Meanwhile, suppliers stung by the pandemic shortages are trying to guard against a similar scenario by ensuring they have enough on hand to meet a sudden demand spike. That inventory has to be safely stored somewhere – and ready to be moved at a moment’s notice. Select sites in regional hubs near highways and closer to final destinations can dramatically reduce transportation costs.
As the Wall Street Journal reports, this demand for warehousing is likely to create a similar situation to what we’ve seen with the housing market, with limited supply and fierce competition for warehouse properties in strategically key locations. But available spaces – particularly larger buildings with higher ceilings and ample parking lots near urban centers – have become more scarce in recent years.
For many Northeast Ohio companies, the expense of Cleveland warehousing is a considerable one when determining operating budgets. Prices can swing significantly, depending on the type of facility and services one needs. What we can confidently say is lots of businesses don’t require an entire warehouse dedicated solely to their operations. That’s why it often makes sense to partner with a 3PL, one with adequate space, value-added services and the best rates.