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:
A customs bonded warehouse is one that allows for storage of duty-payable, imported goods prior to them being processed and sent on to their final destination. Some are government-operated, while others, like On Time Delivery & Warehouse, are privately-owned.
But the primary differentiating feature of customs bonded warehousing versus any other warehousing proprietor is that payment for inspections and duty taxes can be deferred – in some cases up to five full years past when the date of import. Until the duties are paid, the goods must stay at the warehouse. But this allows companies to get their products “in the door,” which can mean major savings, especially when you’re up against constant supply chain instability, as many have been the last two years.
Having a Cleveland warehousing partner that is customs bonded can prove essential. As reported last month by Freight Waves, congestion at ports has meant importers who aren’t proactive in determining what will be needed – or could be needed – in terms of customs documents in preparation for inspections, etc. are running into excessive, painful delays. Utilizing customs bonded warehousing is one strategy that may help some companies better cope with supply chain snags in the future.
“Given that some of these disruptions are likely to continue into next year and beyond, companies may want to consider customs bonded warehousing as a means to just get their goods and materials in the country,” explained On Time Delivery & Warehouse CEO Anthony Figliano. “Once they’re here, we offer safe, secure storage until such time our clients are ready to retrieve them. We also provide kitting and assembly – which can even be done prior to the duties being paid. And then of course once duties are paid, we offer delivery to the next destination.”
The customs bonded warehouse proprietor agrees to be liable for goods that are under a customs bond until they’re exported, withdrawn, or removed for consumption – after the duties are paid.
The demand for Cleveland flatbed trucking and freight has risen substantially in recent years. Typically a service that sees seasonal surges, flatbeds have been a hot ticket item over the last two years, a trend our Ohio trucking experts opine will continue into 2022.
“Flatbed trucks have the capacity to haul a broad range of loads, from raw materials to manufactured goods,” explains On Time Delivery & Warehouse CEO Anthony Figliano. “They’re often relied upon to transport material loads that are bulky and too tricky to lift without heavy machines.”
As for why requests for Cleveland flatbed trucking services are up so sharply, part of it is the uptick in industries like construction and agriculture that often use flatbed trailers.
Who Uses Cleveland Flatbed Trucking Services?
Flatbed trucks are large trucks (between 48-53 feet long with a 48,000-pound weight capacity) that feature a flattened bed with no roof or walls. Some models have drop decks, and are typically made with a wooden platform supported by a sturdy frame of aluminum.
As an open vehicle, flatbeds are versatile and offer a host of logistics options, particularly when heavier, taller cargo is involved.
You’ll most commonly spot flatbeds in use on highways hauling things like:
- Steel coils
- Long, oversized pipes
- Bailed tires
- Highway barriers
- Tow trucks and other vehicles
- Industrial fabric sacks (used for sand, fertilizer, seeds, etc.).
- Scrap metal
Flatbed trucks are very useful also for cargo that is being shipped or received from overseas. They can be used to move shipping containers, carrying them from inland factors or ports to sea ports, warehouses, etc.
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.
Each day, billions of packages are prepared and shipped from production plants, over seas and skies, through warehousing, distribution and processing centers and on to their final destinations. For those that cycle through our Northeast Ohio warehouse and distribution center, businesses and their clientele benefit from our expert Cleveland repacking & coding services.
Repacking is a value-added service that allows the contents of packages to be changed or reconfigured so that the end result meets customer expectations. Some examples of repacking goals:
- To repack a product into your company’s personally-branded packaging, as opposed to sending it in the manufacturer’s packaging.
- To make adjustments based on unique customer requests.
- To make a change to any pre-assembled kits.
According to Packaging Digest, the cost of repacking services globally is expected to reach $50 billion by next year. Wrapped up in these expenses are labor, returns, materials, transport and shipping.
Many 3PL warehousing and distribution centers offer some type of repacking, but not all promise the same quality assurance guarantee as the repacking professionals at On Time Delivery & Warehouse. In addition to repacking, we use specialized electronic coding equipment to place product information directly onto the product/packages. Such labeling can include clear sell-by and expiration dates, which must be both clear and readable.
How Cleveland Repacking & Coding Can Reduce Warehouse Costs & Inventory Losses
Supply chain managers have the ultimate goal of developing, implementing, and monitoring the timely receiving, storage, transport, and distribution of products for shipping. This means we must have effective planning strategies for packing and repacking goods, reducing damage risks and avoiding additional costs.
Specialized internal and external packaging can protect the integrity of a product as it continues to move through the distribution chain.
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.
Tough circumstances can often compel creative action. This was evidenced by the fact that last year, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 4.4 million new small businesses were launched, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Half a million new companies were started in January 2021 alone. Some small business owners in Northeast Ohio may have started out with parcel shipping, but are now smartly considering Cleveland LTL shipping.
Ensuring that goods are delivered in a manner that’s timely but also cost-efficient can be a constant balancing act. If you’re at the point of considering whether to switch from parcel shipping to Cleveland LTL shipping, you’ve hit a marker of success. It’s important to carefully weigh your options.
Let’s be honest: Shipping is expensive. Big parcel shipping firms can have their place, particularly when you’re first starting out. But once you’ve grown to a certain size, they may no longer be as practical, cost-efficient, or responsive as you need. At the same time, you may not be big enough to justify booking entire truckloads to get your goods from Point A to Point B. This is where Cleveland LTL shipping (or less-than-truckload) comes into play.