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.
Less-than-truckload (LTL) and full truckload (FTL or just TL) are the most common types of freight shipping in most industry supply chains. Unfortunately, Ohio LTL freight shipping prices have risen substantially in recent years.
At On Time Delivery & Warehouse, we pride ourselves on pricing transparency and strive always to provide the most competitive LTL shipping costs in the region. Understanding why costs are higher these days is important to formulating a workable strategy to keep those expenses manageable while still ensuring your shipments are getting where they need to be – intact, on time, every time.
What is Ohio LTL Freight Shipping?
Approximately 54 million tons of freight are moved on trucks daily in this country, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. A considerable share of this is hauled on LTL loads.
Anytime your shipment takes up an entire truck (typically somewhere around 42,500 lbs. or 24 pallets), it’s called a full truckload. When the weight or size of your shipment is less than that, you have the option of shipping items via less-than-truckload. LTL is sort of like a rideshare service with multiple passengers, but for freight.
On a per-mile, per-unit basis, Ohio LTL freight is often more costly. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t the most cost-efficient option for the specific needs of your business.
Some benefits of LTL shipping include:
- Tracking and tracing. Transparency and visibility of shipments is important to our clients as well as their customers. Knowing transit times, the location of shipments, estimated delivery times and more can be invaluable.
- Service options. These can include pick up and delivery, liftgate service, import/export freight handlers, hotshot deliveries and more.
- Earth-friendly. Shipping via LTL allows carriers to use all the room on the truck, meaning each shipment is efficient and eco-friendly.
These should be factored when considering whether LTL makes the most financial sense for your firm.
Spot ocean container rates have tripled in the last year, an unprecedented spike in the history of container shipping. Rates for bulk commodity shipping may be elastic to a certain extent, but it’s imperative that when working with a Cleveland freight station, you’re getting the most for your money. Asking key questions before contracting with any freight station – domestic freight handlers and import/export freight handlers – ensures you’re receiving the best possible value.
The freight industry is a complex one, and you want to make certain the third-party logistics team working for you is a good fit for your business, particularly if you’re trusting them to transport your cargo. One Cleveland freight station may operate differently from another, so before you sign on to any agreement, it’s best to have a full understanding of the provider’s services, locations, experience and network.
To aid in your search, On Time Delivery & Warehouse has outlined several questions you may consider asking prospective Cleveland freight station providers.
Supply chain optimization is all about getting customers what they want, when they want it and spending the least of money possible to do so. However, if your inventory is inaccurate, there will come a time that a warehouse worker will go to pick a SKU for an order, and it won’t be there – or there won’t be enough. Working with a dedicated Cleveland 3PL helps ensure that you aren’t losing time and money to avoidable inventory inaccuracies.
Third party logistics providers (3PLs) like On Time Delivery & Warehouse continually evolve their service offerings, not only to set ourselves apart in the marketplace, but also to meet increasingly rigorous customer demands. 3PL operator customers trust us to manage numerous functions, including warehousing, trucking and overall supply chain optimization and management.
As noted by research published in the International Journal of Recent Research in Commerce Economics and Management, outsourcing inventory management allows a company to:
- Maintain their focus on core competencies.
- Broaden competitive advantages.
- Enhance differentiation in the marketplace.
- Avoid outlying, resource-intensive tasks.
- Reduce logistics and carrying costs.
Working with a Cleveland 3PL provider that can capably manage inventory means entrusting the company’s most valuable assets to a third party. But this also assures peace of mind. They likely recognize that poor inventory management is the root of many operational problems, missed sales, lost time to perform reconciliation and shrinkage. That means it must be given high priority. Doing so, however, is a significant challenge, particularly when the company is responsible for maintaining numerous items of inventory for multiple clients in the same place. A third-party logistics provider already has the resources and experience with best practices.
Some of the factors that result in inventory inaccuracy include:
- Poor store records or documentation.
- Manual documentation and records posting, leading to long processing times and increased odds of misplacing figures or making a recording mistake.
- Keeping inventory in the wrong place.
- Errors in inventory transaction.
- Physical inventory is either stolen, damaged, expired or spoiled.
Following U.S. market trends, Cleveland trucking companies are among those seeking to hire more certified drivers amid sharp increases in consumer demand and tight shipping capacity. Some have been increasing wages since the demand for trucking spiked last summer, when the national economy first began emerging from lockdowns intended to stymie the spread of the coronavirus. That demand continued through the holidays and hasn’t slowed since.
At On Time Delivery & Warehouse, we provide qualified truckers with competitive pay, benefits, bonuses and a safe, positive working environment. Truckers are key to our operation, which includes delivering client goods to locations near and far – intact, on time, every time.
The Wall Street Journal reports shipping volumes are likely to remain strong for the foreseeable future, as the economy kicks into even higher gear with increased government aid and vaccination rates. Shippers will be searching for Cleveland trucking companies with competitive freight pricing, and we strive to deliver on this as well.
A deal with a warehouse club store, such as Costco, BJ’s or Sam’s Club, can mean big things for your business. Getting the packaging right is a top priority. Your company must comply with the wholesale store’s specifications for packaging – or risk losing the partnership. Our Cleveland warehouse club packaging professionals can help.
Having a Cleveland contract packaging team working for you is especially important when you consider that primary wholesale clubs are constantly updating their expectations for supplier packaging. These can include evolving requirements for retail-ready designs, innovation and reduced environmental impact. You need a packaging plan that not only meets the standards, but is adaptable.
Cleveland is a dynamic transportation hub and a vital location for many supply chains. Choosing the right Cleveland container freight station (CFS) for your import and export shipments is crucial to your bottom line and customer satisfaction. Container freight stations are a critical element of any supply chain moving interior point intermodal freight.
The largest users of CFS service companies are typically freight forwarders, though some shippers and other third-party logistics firms rely on us to ensure their customers’ freight gets where it needs to go – intact, on time, every time.