Inventory management is a systematic approach to sourcing, storing, and selling inventory. That includes both raw components and finished products. Your Cleveland inventory management strategy must involve swift and accurate identification of the right stock, at the correct levels, in the right time and place – and at the ideal price point.
Inventory management involves numerous duties, including:
- Controlling and overseeing purchases
- Maintaining the storage of stock
- Controlling the amount of product for sale
- Order fulfillment
This is a huge responsibility – and tough to consistently nail down without the proper systems and professionals in place. That’s why many companies opt to outsource this component of their supply chain.
Any company in a goods-based business recognizes the impact of inventory management on operational efficiency. Lack of adequate inventory will mean lost sales and unsatisfied customers. Too much inventory will mean higher costs for storage and management, less cash on hand, and reduced value of your products. The U.S. government recognizes the value of proper inventory management to the extent that publicly-traded companies are actually required to track inventory and document management systems if they want to be compliant with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Exact inventory management systems can vary from business-to-business, depending on their size, the types of products sold, and the channels through which they’re sold. That said, partnering with a third-party logistics company means you have the benefit of a system that’s flexible, processes that have been proven, and professionals who are experienced.
Here, we’re going to run through the benefits of outsourcing Cleveland inventory management one-by-one.
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.
Cleveland warehouse devanning is a critical component of the logistics process that involves removing cargo from sealed containers. This sounds fairly straightforward, but our warehousing and logistics management experts know it’s one of the more demanding aspects of the job. Devanning incorrectly can lead to serious safety risks as well as damaged goods. Proper devanning keeps workers safe, minimizes unnecessary product loss, and keeps supply chains rolling smoothly.
Container devanning is sometimes called unpacking, stripping, deconsolidation, or unstuffing. It typically (but not always) involves goods from international shipping. Containers are received and then carefully unloaded by highly-skilled handlers, often with cranes and forklifts.
It requires not only having an adequate workforce with the right training and equipment needed to physically move the goods, but also professionals with the technical skill required to effectively manage the digital technology to ensure each item in the container is prepped and ready for the next phase. Well-practiced devanning teams spend years developing the most effective approaches to unloading different types, shapes, and sizes of containers, while ensuring maximum efficiency. If you’re looking for Cleveland warehouse devanning, make sure your third-party logistics partner has the ability to receive containers, de-van them, palletize your goods, properly store each item, and then carefully pick, load, and deliver them on demand.
The type of shipment can impact where goods are going to be devanned. In most cases, full container load (FCL) shipments are going to be devanned at the destination warehouse. On the other hand, less-than-container load (LCL) are usually devanned at the Container Freight Station (CFS). On Time Delivery & Warehouse can serve as both.
The Cleveland Warehouse Devanning Process
When containers arrive at our Cleveland warehousing facility, it’s our top priority to ensure full care and attention is paid to getting the goods safely unloaded and stored and then prepped for the next leg of the journey.
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.
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.