Articles by: Anthony
A new law promises sweeping changes to the ocean shipping industry following more than two years of port delays, congestion, and growing consumer costs. 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.
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.
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
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.”
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.
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.
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.