With the peak holiday shipping season right around the corner and no immediate end in sight to the current supply chain woes, shippers should be sharpening their pencils and preparing for more disruption through the end of 2021 and into 2022.
According to Transport Topics, the shipping industry is already in various forms of panic that usually don’t take hold until the weeks before Christmas. “Early in the year, the hope was that the bottlenecks that gummed up the global supply chain in 2020 would be mostly cleared by now,” it says. “They’ve actually only gotten worse — much worse — and evidence is mounting that the holiday season is at risk.”
COVID outbreaks have idled port terminals, cargo containers remain in short supply and transportation prices are spiking. Labor shortages have stalled trucking and pushed U.S. job openings to all-time highs, Transport Topics reports, “and that was before UPS, Walmart and others embarked on hiring hundreds of thousands of seasonal workers to take on the peak of peak.”
Four Pivots to Make Now
You may not be able to completely avoid the current supply chain challenges, but there are steps companies can take to minimize their impacts and keep their critical supply networks running. Here are four pivots to make now:
- Have a Plan B. Contingency planning is important right now as companies and their suppliers and logistics providers work to navigate the current supply chain environment. Inbound Logistics tells organizations to take time to evaluate their current processes and reassess their operations. “When it comes to your supply chain, start by focusing on the current state of your main daily, monthly, and quarterly activities,” it says. This can help you identify areas that are not as efficient, consider possible solutions that save time and money, and develop a viable plan B.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you haven’t already leaned on your logistics provider for help during this difficult time, this is no time to be shy. With their own strong carrier networks, technology solutions and industry experience, companies like Odyssey Logistics are well-equipped to help you through this tough time…and beyond.
- Use technology to your advantage. Let technology handle mundane and transactional issues, Inbound Logistics recommends. For example, cloud-based technology is fast, accurate, and repeats countless tasks for hours. “There are also solutions to help improve consistency and save time by automating classification work,” the publication adds. “Save your people power for value-added activities that require creativity and flexible thinking, and lean on technology to handle the transactional activities.”
- Think outside the box with modes. Working with a complex logistics provider like Odyssey, you can readily determine if that shipment will get there faster and cheaper by rail, or if intermodal is the best choice for transporting your goods. These seemingly-simple pivots can add up to significant savings in an era where both trucks and their drivers may be in short supply.
One final pivot involves opening up those lines of communication across carriers, logistics providers, suppliers and customers, all of which benefit greatly when supply chain data (i.e., lead times, delivery times, potential delays, risks, etc.) are shared with them in advance versus after the fact. This not only enables end-to-end supply chain visibility, but it also helps minimize risk, improve customer service and avoid potential disruptions.