Supply chain instability and challenges – from labor shortages to backlogged ports to pricey spot truck rates – have basically been the status quo ever since the pandemic. Although some aspects may be starting to even out, Cleveland 3PL experts at On Time Delivery & Warehouse recognize that with the height of peak season 2022 on the horizon, manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers are bracing for these challenges to take on greater significance. Those able to effectively leverage the resources of a Cleveland 3PL trucking, warehouse, and logistics firm will ultimately be the ones that carve out a competitive advantage.
In general, peak season typically occurs annually, starting with the back-to-school shopping season in late summer and rounds out sometime in November, just after Black Friday (with a final holiday rush in late December). However, some suppliers say that with unpredictable surge-and-trickle demands, those clear seasonal trends have been tougher to nail down.
Still, logistics industry insiders are predicting tsunamis of demand in certain sectors, with ripple effects spreading far beyond those directly in the center. That could mean we’re likely to see delivery delays, price increases, and further labor shortages. Northeast Ohio companies seeking to minimize their vulnerability to supply chain challenges would be wise to tap into the resources offered by a dedicated Cleveland 3PL.
Primary Peak Season Challenges
To effectively prepare for the challenges of peak season, you must first identify what that time frame is for you – in your industry, your region, and your organization specifically. That alone can be tricky, particularly given the lack of market predictability in recent years.
This is one area where a Cleveland 3PL can help. You know your business, but we know supply chains. We utilize the latest data software to analyze inventory and the movement of goods critical to your operations. Once we pinpoint trends, weaknesses, and bottlenecks in your supply chain, we help create a strategic end-to-end plan to minimize delays and losses.
Some common issues likely to arise:
- Fluctuation in peak season length. When you know how long your peak season is going to be, you can better prepare by matching the appropriate level of seasonal labor and delivery costs. Even when it’s difficult to nail down, there may still be precautions we can suggest to help you minimize the consequences.
- Inaccurate volume forecasting. This has been especially challenging in recent years. A third-party logistics firm can help with accurate data analysis to better identify when spikes and lulls can likely be anticipated – and prepare effective responses if outcomes deviate from earlier predictions.
- Lack of efficiency in labor management. If you’re trying to manage your own operations while also managing your own supply chain, warehousing, and delivery can be next to impossible for some firms – particularly when you’re under additional demand pressures. Transparency, accurate communication, and proper training are imperatives. Errors and oversights can result in wastefulness and depletion of customer confidence.
Peak season predicaments can sometimes be forecasted, but not always. Working with a competent Cleveland 3PL helps ensure you are better prepared for both the known and the unknown.
Cleveland 3PL Predicts Warehouse Bottlenecks Likely to Be a Problem This Peak Season
Although industries vary on the specific challenges they face during peak season, our Cleveland 3PL is fairly certain as we head into the last quarter of 2022 that warehousing bottlenecks will become nearly everyone’s problem.
Recently, The Wall Street Journal noted that the shipping capacity struggles that were apparent at traffic-snarled seaports has been moving inland the last few months. It’s only likely to be exacerbated. As those of us in the logistics field know, trailers needed to transport goods on trucks are already being tied up – sometimes for weeks on end, even as demand for container ships has waned – because so many warehouses are at capacity. Distribution hubs in the Midwest and throughout the U.S. are seeing lengthy delays.
Recognizing these headaches are likely to drag on well into next year, our Cleveland third-party logistics professionals work closely with clients to arrange the most streamlined, cost-efficient modes and methods of shipping, storage, and delivery. We can help you access the most up-to-date, transparent data to help identify optimal rates, diversify carrier relationships, hone in on flexible warehousing partners, and anticipate reasonable timelines.
For information on 3PL Warehousing, Inventory Management, and Trucking Services in Cleveland, Contact On Time Delivery & Warehouse by calling (440) 826-4630 or send us an email.
Warehouse Bottlenecks Are Snarling U.S. Supply Chains, Aug. 26, 2022, By Paul Berger, The Wall Street Journal
More Blog Entries:
6 Supply Chain Insights From Northeast Ohio Third-Party Logistics Warehouse Pros, Aug. 28, 2022, On Time Delivery & Warehouse Blog
Ohio trucking services have historically adhered to clear seasonal cycles, generally broken down into four quarters.
We all know that trucking – and the transportation industry as a whole – are heavily influenced by supply-and-demand, which set the bar for rates and capacity. Market conditions can vary year-over-year, but there are also consistent seasonal patterns that emerge as well.
But as our Northeast Ohio trucking service providers can explain, the largely predictable ups-and-downs of the trucking and freight industry were thrown completely for a loop during the pandemic. As noted by the International Finance Corporation, land freight was a somewhat less impacted cog in the supply chain wheel (compared to air and ocean freight) if only because roads across the globe largely remained open (except in countries or places under severe lockdown). Trucking capacity ended up being strained, particularly as there was a booming demand for food and medical supplies.
What we’re seeing now is those supply chain imbalances start to ease. The Journal of Commerce reports the market is beginning to realign (though not quite to the level of pre-COVID levels and pricing). What this means is we’re going to start seeing a shift back to seasonal Ohio trucking trends.
Being Prepared for Seasonal Ohio Trucking Trends
An understanding of trucking seasonality is important for stockholders in a broad range of industries because it can be used to forecast capacity, rates, and delivery times.
Those in the trucking and logistics sector typically identify four key seasons in freight:
Quiet Season (January – March). Volume tends to be down during this quarter. Weather across much of the U.S. (including Northeast Ohio) is not ideal for shipping. It may be possible during this quarter to find somewhat reduced shipping rates because demand has slid.
Produce Season (April – July). Ohio trucking volumes start to kick into high gear. The market tightens, demand increases, and finding a truck becomes more challenging. As a result, this season is associated with rate increases.
Peak Season (August-October). The produce season is starting to ease, but shippers are still very busy. They’re prepping for the back-to-school supply demands, as well as ramping up for upcoming holiday demands. Both volumes and rates are going to be at their peak during this period.
Holiday Season (November-December). Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve put a lot of demand on the freight industry – with pressure to get it all wrapped up before the final week of December. Once we get to that final week, demand for trucking freight begins to slow, and continues that lull until the following spring.
Specifically here in the Midwest, we’re going to see the highest trucking volumes between June and September.
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.
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.
Our third-party logistics supply chain partners in Cleveland are adept at helping clients navigate all challenges impacting the timely flow of goods to their final destination. Sometimes, the issue is a faraway natural disaster or social unrest. Other times, it’s homegrown regulation or infrastructure challenges.
Right now, there’s swelling concern over recent promises by President Donald Trump to shutdown the U.S.-Mexican border if neither Congress nor the Mexican government takes what he deems decisive action to stem the tide of illicit drugs and illegal immigration into the U.S. Ohio 3PL partners at On Time Delivery & Warehousing are watching the situation closely, and have begun mapping supply chain contingency plans.
The likelihood of an actual border shutdown isn’t clear. While some of the president’s allies in Washington D.C. have stated a total border closure would be “catastrophic” to U.S. supply chains, the president isn’t exactly known for always toeing the party line. He’s said that secure borders take priority over trade. He has floated a potential compromise: A border closure solely permitting the back-and-forth flow of commercial trucks. Whether that would be enough to blunt the biggest supply chain impacts isn’t certain.
Meanwhile, trucks at the Mexican border have reported long delays this month, after U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers were abruptly reassigned from import regulation to immigration processing, according to Bloomberg.
For us, this is not about choosing political sides. Our role as an Ohio 3PL partner is to be prepared for all scenarios with the goal of minimizing the product and financial losses for our clients – and that’s what we intend to do.
Shipping companies around the globe are increasingly concluding that outsourcing with a third-party logistics service isn’t simply a means to ease the workload or save costs. Shippers of all sizes are finding such partnerships essential to carving a competitive advantage in modern markets. A solid partnership with a trusted Ohio 3PL can mean the difference between sink-or-swim for some shippers.
Consider recent analysis from supply chain think-tank Armstrong & Associates (published in Supply Chain Management Review) revealing that 9 out of 10 Fortune 500 companies depend on third-party logistics for key supply chain services. We’re guessing most folks reading here aren’t on that list, but the reason we make note this statistic is because these firms have the means financially to construct strong internal logistics operations – yet each concluded if they want to enhance client satisfaction in an era when same-day service is expected, it’s not worth the investment to optimize logistics on their own. Reality is, their resources and energy are better spent on innovation. They decided the smartest thing they can do is team up with an experienced 3PL team with the ability to act as a positive business extension.
Shipping companies especially can’t overlook at least exploring Ohio 3PL partnerships because of high truck driver turn over and soaring rates of trucking shipments and expenditures are higher than ever – and continuing to climb. This ongoing trend is squeezing all shippers, but smaller ones in particular. They need the savings 3PLs can provide, and are actively seeking freight broker services to secure better rates.
The official Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June 1 to Nov. 30. While those of us in Northeast Ohio are safely tucked away from direct impact, local supply chains in this region still need to be hurricane-ready. Those Ohio 3PL providers like On Time Delivery & Warehouse that have national and international reach can’t afford to waste time weighing IF they’re going to be ready for natural disasters – but rather HOW.
For example, our Cleveland supply chain network of local ports includes those in Galveston, TX, Houston, TX, Miami, FL, Charleston, SC and New York-New Jersey – all of which have the potential to be affected by Atlantic hurricanes. We recognize that even if a storm doesn’t hit one of those locations this year, it’s likely than not they will be affected by one in some way over the next few years. We must be ready.
If you work with a third-party logistics company (or you’re searching for one), it’s important to inquire about their disaster mitigation strategy is, especially if a key part of your supply chain is in a coastal area or one prone to other natural disasters. No one can predict with perfect accuracy when and where a storm will strike, but smart supply chains utilize the benefit of historical data to help us form workable contingency plans.
Warehousing is essential in Ohio logistics operations, where the goal is faster, cost-effective facilitation of your supply chain. The best warehouse management systems help companies keep pace with seesawing compliance regulations, increasing order cycle demands and oscillating supply chain requirements.
It’s no shock the global market for warehouse management systems is expected to climb from $1.7 billion this year to $5.72 billion in 2025, according to Grand View Research. Clearly, a growing number of industries recognize the value of third-party warehousing.
At On Time Delivery and Warehouse, we know that when warehouse operations are smooth, you get better results with:
- Proper inventory accounting;
- Order fulfillment accuracy;
- Fewer picking errors;
- Practicable stock replenishment;
- Ease of scalability;
- Real-time tracking and trouble-shooting.
Partnering with a trusted Ohio logistics firm allows for all this, plus shared costs.
Thinking about hiring an Ohio 3PL? Operational complexities inevitably expand when the company does. Higher demand and more stock keeping units put added pressure on pickers and packers. At some point, businesses need to consider whether it’s worth it to keep supply chain management in-house or if they should hire an Ohio 3PL.
3PL, short for third-party logistics, is an outside firm used to handle distribution and fulfillment services to keep the supply chain running smoothly.
Both in-sourcing and out-sourcing arguments have merit, but the right choice is going to be highly case specific. It’s our goal at On Time Delivery & Warehouse to help you determine whether a hiring an Ohio 3PL makes the most sense for your current operations and projected growth. We want our customers to plainly see the benefits of a contract with us, so we encourage all potential clients to ask lots of questions and give existing clients the ability to track it all in real time.
Many business leaders have reached the conclusion that 3PL is the way to go, as evidenced by the facts revealed by a new market research report on 3PL Service Outlook projecting the global 3PL market will reach $925 billion in the next two years.