With every new year comes new concerns about capacity and costs, and new opportunities to make good decisions about both. “It’s never too early to start planning for peak season supply chain capacity,” Paul Myerson writes in Inbound Logistics. “To meet customer demand at a reasonable cost, it is best to plan ahead as much as possible with a lean, flexible supply chain.”
As we begin to close out 2018 and look ahead to 2019, some of the key dates that all shippers should be aware of as they plan out their logistics calendars include:
Chinese New Year (CNY)
February 5, 2019
This is the time of year when Chinese workers travel throughout the country to return to their families and celebrate the New Year, with all manufacturing shutting down for the duration, according to MHL News. For U.S. companies importing or exporting goods from/to China this can be a considerable challenge. For example, one to two weeks before CNY, factories will speed up their production causing a surge of freight. Key impacts on shippers include longer production and quotation times; decreased staff; and longer production queues. Prepare in advance by building up sufficient stock, using good forecasting, and working closely with your logistics partners to secure capacity well in advance.
The Produce Season
A period of time when a high volume of fruits and vegetables are harvested and shipped to grocery stores, food manufacturers, and other recipients, produce season starts in February and typically continues through July. Considered one of the busiest times of the year for domestic shippers, produce season usually translates into tighter refrigerated truck (reefer) capacity and higher freight rates for those trucks as temperature-controlled cargo increases. FTR Transportation Intelligence says 154.5 million truck loadings of food and kindred products were shipped in 2018, up 5% from 2017. Truck loadings of food will rise an additional 8% to 166.9 million by 2020.
July 14-20, 2019
This is the week when law enforcement agencies across North America engage in heightened traffic safety enforcement and education aimed at combating unsafe driving behaviors by both commercial motor vehicle and passenger vehicle drivers. Held in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, this week long event focuses on increasing commercial vehicle and non-commercial vehicle traffic enforcement, safety belt enforcement, driver roadside inspections and driver regulatory compliance. Also during this period, law enforcement and transportation safety officials offer educational and awareness safety programs to the motor carrier population and the motoring public. Commercial motor vehicle enforcement officers patrolling the highways issued more than 57,000 citations and nearly 88,000 warnings (in the U.S. and Canada) for unsafe driving behaviors during 2018 Operation Safe Driver Week.
Back to School
August through October, 2019
This “peak” season generally runs from August to October and tends to be the time when retail and e-commerce sales are high. In 2018, the National Retail Federation (NRF) says retailers tallied up more than $82.8 billion from sales relating to K-12 and college during this period, which peaks during late-July and early-August. During this period, orders increase right along with shipping volumes, both of which can impact transportation capacity, availability, and pricing. Because shipping volumes tend to be high during this period, shippers should be proactive about securing capacity, aligning with reputable logistics providers, and utilizing good forecasting to ensure that their freight gets to its final destination on time and in the most affordable manner.
The Holiday Season
The driver shortage, ELD mandate, capacity crunch, and evolving consumer tastes will converge during this time of the year and create interesting challenges for shippers that haven’t prepared in advance. Shippers should look at the spot marketplace as an option, open up lines of communication with their carriers, provide accurate demand forecasts to their third-party logistics providers (3PLs), and use technology (e.g., a transportation management system [TMS]) to keep their logistics running smoothly during this period.
Odyssey will continue to monitor any changes in upcoming 2019 dates of interest and will update you as the changes occur.