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.
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.
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.
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.
What’s the difference between a tire and a tin of tomatoes? Ok, a lot – especially when it comes to inventory storage and shipping requirements. Tomatoes, like all foods, skin products, medicines, vaccines, veterinary supplies and medical devices made or sold in the U.S., are regulated under stringent safety rules and guidelines set by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration for storage and shipping. The FDA is responsible for assuring the safety, efficacy and security of many human and animal products. For companies that sell these goods, FDA registered warehousing is essential to ensuring both regulatory compliance and customer confidence.
Recently, a new report indicates the global refrigerated warehousing and storage market (which includes blast freezing, tempering and modified atmosphere storage services) is expected to grow from $112 billion in 2020 to more than $164 billion in 2025. This growth is driven by several factors, including consumer demand for quality manufacturing and transparent sourcing, as well as companies restructuring their operations in response to the pandemic.
As longtime providers of FDA registered warehousing in Cleveland, we’re familiar with industry-wide efforts over the last decade to improve protections of temperature-controlled consumer products for packaging, processing and storage. Some measures have included onboarding better sensors, data logging and RFID devices. Not only does this help improve supply chain efficiency, it also helps reduce unnecessary losses and the potential for contamination.
Companies that make products requiring strict temperature controls and/or monitoring often outsource these responsibilities to 3PL warehousing companies for the benefit of operational costs, greater flexibility, improved efficiency and logistics expertise.
As a long-time 3PL firm and provider of Cleveland last-mile delivery services, we understand the important role logistics plays in getting products where they need to go – intact and on time. When logistics aren’t effectively coordinated, communication and visibility suffer and bottlenecks and delays become inevitable. This was illustrated recently in early efforts to distribute newly-available COVID-19 vaccines.
We should start by saying this was never going to be a perfect process because of the scale, limited supply, outsized demand and sheer number of stakeholders. But it was largely presumed the rollout wouldn’t be overly-taxing on U.S. transportation capacity. So why the many roadblocks? And what can businesses learn from it?
It’s possible supply chain inefficiencies in some states could be partially addressed with expanded trucking capacity. But complex storage, handling and administration requirements were an undeniable part of the equation. Beyond that though, it does seem the trouble broadly has been less in getting available vaccines from manufacturers to the states and more with logistical struggles in facilitating last-mile deliveries.
This is unsurprising because, as any 3PL service provider knows, last-mile deliveries are often the trickiest. This is true whether we’re talking about airplane parts or toilet paper or medicine. It didn’t help that this was essentially a massive, brand new supply chain with untested routes and logistics coordination.
The takeaway for businesses is that no matter what your industry, it’s imperative that your Cleveland last-mile delivery 3PL service be one with extensive experience, established routes, top-tier technology and trusted supply chain partners.
Dialing in business growth solutions in Northeast Ohio rarely involves a single factor, but the strength of a company’s Cleveland supply chain strategies can’t be overlooked.
Simply put, the supply chain is the flow of goods and services both within and among companies, domestically and internationally. It usually begins with raw materials and manufacturing, then onto production, processing and packaging and then transport and distribution – though your firm may only deal directly with one or two aspects. What is often not so simple – especially when that chain crosses state and international borders – is the logistics.
Ensuring goods get from Point A to Point B intact and on time is the foundation of our entire business model. Logistics management is a $1 trillion dollar industry in the U.S. – and it’s still growing, thanks to e-commerce and advancing technology.
Ohio University analysis shows that in just in the last decade, supply chain management employment has spiked by more than 50 percent – and that’s because business leaders increasingly recognize the upper hand it affords. The Cleveland and Columbus regions are especially active hubs, thanks to their central physical location, population and industry density and access to various transportation modes.
A recent analysis by commercial real estate and investment firm CBRE Group, Inc. revealed retail-to-warehouse conversions are soaring, in large part due to the way people shop. Big box stores are becoming less lucrative while e-commerce is booming. As this trend continues, Cleveland 3PL service providers at On Time Delivery & Warehouse urge companies to recognize there is a big difference between companies that solely provide public warehouse space and the extensive services you get with a third-party logistics firm.
The retail-to-warehouse place-trading involves a broad range of projects, including demolition of old malls and remodeling warehouse retail stores into distribution centers. CBRE also found that while demand for warehouse space overshot supply last year by nearly 30 million square feet. Industrial real estate availability fell to its lowest level since 2000, with only 7 percent up for grabs. Retail space, on the other hand, is much more prevalent. However, just because the space is there doesn’t mean it’s primed and move-in ready. Issues have included trouble with rezoning (which requires local government buy-in) and difficulty convincing other stakeholders like co-tenants to go along.
Companies in Cleveland looking to expand or outsource some of their warehousing services must understand that while public warehouse space-only services do offer some benefits, they’re far less than what you get teaming with Cleveland 3PL service providers.
Cleveland warehousing, distribution and fulfillment centers are grappling with a worsening labor shortage, some struggling to meet rising demands fueled in significant part by e-commerce. Nationally, it’s been a challenge that has businesses looking to launch or expand warehousing operations considering not just large consumer concentrations but an ample supply of qualified workers as well.
CBRE, a commercial real estate and research firm, released recent analysis revealing the need nationally for an additional 226,000 warehouse workers this year and the same in 2019. That’s a 25 percent spike in the five-year annual average. Low unemployment is complicating matters. A smaller labor pool is smaller means higher wages.
Companies shopping Cleveland warehousing options soon learn this is a dynamic but mature market. Often, costs are more manageable when they team with an established Northeast Ohio third-party logistics firm.