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
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Why Companies are Increasingly Turning to Cleveland Dedicated Trucking, Nov. 28, 2022, Ohio Truck Company Blog
The threat of a potential U.S. freight train rail strike had Cleveland trucking carriers steeling their fleet and operations to help absorb at least some of the would-be mammouth impact. A last-minute tentative agreement struck with the intervention of the U.S. Department of Labor may have offset the immediate threat, but the whole ordeal underscores just how vital trucking services can be when other elements of intermodal transportation are jeopardized.
The New York Times reported tens of thousands of rail workers had threatened to strike in pursuit of better working conditions. Such action would have a catastrophic impact on supply chains across a vast range of industries throughout the U.S.
Rail moves an estimated two-fifths of long-distance U.S. freight and one-third of exports. The stakes of a potential shut down were very high – particularly as there isn’t a ton of slack in the trucking sector. If you are an organization that relies on the timely movement of goods across the country or the globe, this close call underscores the importance of securing a third-party logistics partner with strong connections to reliable Cleveland trucking carriers who can help arrange alternative transport and delivery methods in the face of unexpected hurdles. And let’s face: Unexpected hurdles of all stripes are almost a given with global supply chains.
A rail strike and increased reliance on Cleveland trucking carriers would mean substantial delays and higher costs. But it’s worth noting that truckers are already responsible for carrying nearly three-fourths of the nation’s goods as it is.
If all of America’s 7,000 long-distance daily freight trains were brought to a halt, the American Trucking Associations estimates it would require some 460,000 additional long-haul trucks daily to meet the current demand. Although there is no longer a trucking shortage, there isn’t much of a surplus either.
As our Cleveland trucking carriers can explain, rail is a central component of our complex global supply chains, which rely on the carefully-coordinated movements of cargo ships, freight trains, and trucks. This is known as intermodal transportation, and it helps to effectively eases the movement of goods across air, sea, and land. Compromise one of those links in the supply chain, and there will be a near-immediate domino effect to the system – one that has already been under significant strain since the pandemic.
Still, rail is generally recognized as the weakest of the three intermodal supply chain links. It is less flexible in responding to demand surges and bottlenecks. Over the last five years, as carriers have sought to limit service to lower costs as part of a strategy known as Precision Scheduled Railroading, nearly a quarter of rail worker jobs have been slashed. Rail companies say the reconfiguration has been an effort to become more agile and responsive to supply chain demands and challenges.
There are 12 railroad unions that form the National Freight Rail Bargaining. This coalition uses its combined power to push for employee labor demands. The most recent disputes concerned matters like higher pay, better working conditions, more paid time off, and schedules that are more flexible. (Attendance policies in particular have been a huge point of contention.)
There hasn’t been a U.S. railroad strike 30 years – and the impacts of that one in 1992 were immediate and serious. It took only three days before Congress intervened and a new contract was brokered.
Negotiations for the current rail worker contract have been ongoing for three years. Recognizing the potential harm this might do, the White House and U.S. Labor Secretary stepped in, brokering a tentative agreement. However, it’s still not officially finalized, meaning our Cleveland trucking carriers are still gearing up for the possibility the deal could fall through. The new contract won’t become final until members review the terms and approve it with a ratification vote.
Still, companies might still want to prepare for setbacks just in case. Some retailers are already diverting Asian goods that typically come through West Coast ports to those on the East Coast, at places like Newark, Savannah, and Charleston. Cleveland trucking carriers’ routes frequently take them to-and-fro at these ports. The added demand could mean an uptick in trucking rates, but worth it for many organizations if it means their goods arrive in tact and on time.
If a rail strike were to still happen now or in the coming months, our Cleveland trucking and logistics experts opine it probably wouldn’t last long. Too many industries are too deeply invested, and the pressure to resolve matters quickly would be enormous. The government’s heavy-handed involvement at the final hour is further evidence of that. But even a short-lived strike could have wide ripple effects, so companies would do well to plan for that possibility.
If you are a Northeast Ohio firm that relies heavily on rail transport to move your import/export goods, diversifying your mode of transport and collaborating with a third-party logistics firm with trucking capabilities may improve the overall security of your supply chain.
For information on Trucking, 3PL, and Warehousing Services in Cleveland, Contact On Time Delivery & Warehouse by calling (440) 826-4630 or send us an email.
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Seasonal Cycles of Ohio Trucking Are Back, Per Cleveland Trucking Experts, July 20, 2022, Cleveland Trucking Blog
Cleveland warehousing is an element of operations that many small businesses in Northeast Ohio cannot afford to overlook if they manufacture, export, or transport goods in any capacity.
Although many companies will try to manage their own warehouse duties in-house, doing so efficiently can quickly become all-consuming – and close to impossible. That’s why many businesses ultimately end up outsourcing Cleveland warehousing functions to a third-party logistics provider.
What makes some firms reticent to take the first step on the initial investment is the cost. But in the end, outsourcing Cleveland warehousing functions has proven time and again to boost productivity, improve on-time-deliveries and customer satisfaction, and save money.
The customer’s journey isn’t over once the order is placed. Working with a dedicated 3PL warehouse provides you with greater transparency and control to ensure customers receive their products intact and on-time – and to promptly notify them of any issues if that isn’t going to be the case.
Benefits of Partnering with a 3PL for Cleveland Warehousing
If you’re considering a warehouse partnership with a third-party logistics firm, it’s important to go into it knowing what you hope to gain. Some of the top benefits that our Cleveland warehousing customers have identified as holding the most value:
- Improved inventory management. It’s estimated that 8 percent of small businesses fail to track their inventory. Stunningly, nearly a quarter don’t maintain inventory at all. In effect, order processing and shipments may be delayed, resulting in poor customer experience. When you have a centrally-located warehouse that is dialed in with freight logistics capabilities, it becomes easier to track, manage, and ship your inventory. You’ll have the advantage of low-stock alerts well in advance of when you’re potentially risking running out. This will also allow you to give customers potential alternatives, as opposed to simply keeping them waiting in the dark.
- Efficient packing and processing. A solid warehousing partner goes beyond simply storing your goods. It has the supplies, the equipment, and the staff to move, package, and process your orders. Pallet racks, packing materials, loading docks – these are just a few examples of what a third-party warehouse may be able to offer.
- First-rate customer service. According to RetailDive.com, nearly 65 percent of online shoppers expect their free shipping order to arrive within three business days. At the very least, there is an expectation that customers know – and be kept updated about – the estimated or guaranteed delivery time. Nearly 90 percent are willing to pay more to ensure faster delivery. The speed of delivery is sometimes the No. 1 thing buyers consider when deciding their shipping method. So as a business owner, this is something you must take seriously. If you fail to deliver orders on time, your reputation can tank and you may hemorrhage customers. When you’re working with an experienced warehousing partner, you can arrange for optimized distribution and timely delivery. This reduces errors and potential product damage during the order fulfillment process. Warehouses can also help keep your goods safe and secure, reducing the odds items will get lost or stolen during handling.
- Price stabilization. There are lots of factors that can influence the price of a product from month to month or year after year. Warehousing does provide some opportunity for price stability, though, because it allows businesses to store goods for a later date, when demand may be higher. Consistent stock levels can help ensure you can offer consistent prices to your clientele.
- Better risk management. In addition to serving as a buffer from wild pricing swings, warehousing can offer risk management services that will minimize your losses due to improper storage, packing, and deliveries. Goods that are properly packed, stored, sorted, and picked will have a longer shelf life, which means you aren’t losing product unnecessarily.
If you are looking for a warehousing and logistics partner in Northeast Ohio, On Time Delivery & Warehouse has a reputation as a leader in the field. Our customers trust us to provide quality warehousing services, inventory tracking, and distribution – so that your goods make it to their destination intact, on time, every time.
For information on 3PL Warehousing and Inventory Management Services in Cleveland, Contact On Time Delivery & Warehouse by calling (440) 826-4630 or send us an email.
Peak shipping season ahead of the holidays is about to begin for a volatile supply chain, July 29, 2022, By Lori Ann LaRocco, CNBC
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Federal Shipping Reform Impact to Cleveland Warehousing, Trucking, June 20, 2022, Ohio Warehousing Blog
A new law promises sweeping changes to the ocean shipping industry following more than two years of port delays, congestion, and growing consumer costs – all of which may have an impact on Cleveland warehousing and trucking. 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.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that last-minute spot loads in the truckload market are once again falling as the shipping demand is becoming more aligned with available truck capacity. This is great news for B2Bs and retailers alike. Still, how can you be assured you’re getting the best Cleveland trucking spot rates? Here, our Cleveland trucking team offers some insight.
Contract Rates vs. Spot Rates
For those who may be unfamiliar, most truckload freight is moved via contract rate. This is when shippers and trucking companies strike a longer-term agreement to regularly move a given volume of goods between Origin A to Destination B at a predetermined, per-mile rate that may/may not be adjustable.
Spot rates are more of a one-off deal, but they still comprise about 20 percent of the truckload freight market. They can include (but are not always) same-day and next-day deliveries. These rates are based on existing supply-and-demand for trucks available to make one-time or inconsistent load volumes slated for specific origins/destinations. Some regions/markets can be much more volatile than others, but the spot trucking market in general tends to be much more capricious, with rates negotiated closer to deadline by the load, the lane, or the time. High load volumes + tight trucking capacity = Higher spot rates.
Companies that tend to rely on Cleveland spot rate trucking usually have lower volumes, inconsistent timing, varied destinations, and special/non-standard load requirements.
It’s worth noting that while news of dropping spot rates is definitely welcome by many shippers, it comes on the heels of rates that have been historically high. Ultimately, you still want to make sure you’re getting the most for your money.
Tips for Scoring Great Cleveland Trucking Spot Rates
Rate negotiation factors are fairly standard, but being prepared and knowledgeable can help ensure you’re getting the best possible deal.
Side note: Best doesn’t always mean cheapest. If you get the lowest price, but it results in a missed pickup, damaged products, or hidden charges, it’s going to cost you much more in the long run. When on-time, intact delivery matters, your trucking partner becomes an extension of your brand. Make sure they have a reputation worthy of the trust you’re placing in them.
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.
In any business decision, a cost-benefit analysis is critical. One of those decisions for many companies involves private vs. outsourced fleet operation. Getting your goods from where they are to where they need to be is a time-consuming and often complicated task. Hiring drivers and managing routes, payroll, vehicle maintenance, safety compliance, insurance, taxes – the demands can very quickly start encroaching on your primary business operations. If that’s the situation you’re facing, an Ohio dedicated fleet service might be your best transportation solution.
To be fair, having your own private fleet has some advantages, mainly full control. But that means the cost, liability and responsibility is all on the shoulders of your firm too. For many businesses, that’s too significant a burden. As a long-time third-party logistics firm, we offer Ohio dedicated fleet service to companies of all sizes.
A dedicated service gives customers optimized transportation that can be tailored to their organizational structures. A group of drivers, tractors, trailers and other resources are assigned exclusively to their business operations, facilities or lanes in a transport network. It runs much like a private fleet, but the management and maintenance are outsourced.
Among the potential advantages many On Time Delivery & Warehouse customers glean from dedicated transportation services:
- Improved on-time delivery performance
- Guaranteed capacity (whether you need just-in-time delivery or hot-shot service, dedicated services can assure the fleet is always available)
- Supply chain control
- Reduced freight transportation costs
- Operation visibility and transparency
If you’re shipping freight in or through Ohio, you have several shipping options from which to choose. Each has its own benefits, but much depends on your unique business objectives, dimensions, type of freight and other factors. Our Cleveland trucking services professionals can help you determine the best choice for your company. You may opt for different modes depending on the season or for different products or destinations.
The two primary modes we’re spotlighting here are those most frequently confused: full truckload (FTL) and less-than-truckload (LTL). Learning the difference between the two will help you choose the one that is right for your needs.
Storage demand fluctuations are nothing new to the Ohio warehousing industry, though this year has certainly tested the limits. Demand for nonessential goods and same-day deliveries swung wildly throughout 2020, in part reflecting a sharp rise in e-commerce, something Northeast Ohio warehousing operations felt acutely.
Our hats are off to our various supply chain partners and warehouse workers who quickly adapted to the strict requirements and regulations of numerous new industry priorities driven by consumer needs. With distribution bottlenecked at several points during various times, our warehouse employees adroitly rose to the challenge, – particularly when it came to compressed sales cycles of goods that had to be swiftly and carefully offloaded from ports and trucks and properly consolidated, sorted, packaged, stored and transloaded.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports e-commerce activity spiked dramatically in the second quarter of this year as many consumers shifted their shopping practices away from physical stores and over to digital platforms. Demand for dipped, while the home improvement and technology sectors boomed. U.S. retail e-commerce increased 44.5 percent year-over-year, ultimately resulting in 2.4 million additional square feet of warehousing space, many of those dedicated to business-to-business (B2B) operations.