After posting an extremely high growth rate in 2021, US metals and steel output increased by about 5% in 2022 and is on track to continue expanding this year. Some of the industries with the highest metals and steel needs right now are residential construction, white goods, aerospace, transportation and engineering, among others. This year, high inflation and rising interest rates are impacting metals manufacturers and distributors, both of which are being forced to push some or all of those increases onto their customers. On a positive note, China’s reopening in late-2022 was a good sign for the metals market, which experienced an uptick in demand when the country decided to relax its “Zero Covid” policies.
Subject to considerable volatility, the metals industry has seen its fair share of ups and downs over the last few years. Along the way, the global trade of metals has become increasingly complex, driven in part by changes in trade policies, tariffs and currency exchange rates.
“Organizations are increasingly looking for ways to manage the risk while struggling to maintain dependable inventories, predictable logistics and steady cash flows to support a robust, reliable supply chain,” Supply Chain Brain points out.
Managing metals supply chain risk
Right now, metals shippers are dealing with challenges like:
- High shipping costs. Metals are typically heavy and bulky, which makes them expensive to ship. Plus, the cost of shipping metals has increased in recent years due to factors such as the global shipping crisis and the rising cost of fuel.
- Security risks. As a valuable commodity, metals are often a target for theft and piracy. To prevent theft, vehicles and ships that are carrying metals have to be carefully secured.
- Environmental risks. Ships carrying metals can emit pollutants into the air and water, and the mining of metals can damage ecosystems.
- Regulatory challenges. Metals transportation is subject to a variety of regulations that vary from country to country.
- Driver shortage. “Increased demand for freight, pandemic-related challenges from early retirements, closed driving schools and DMVs, and other pressures are really pushing up demand for drivers and subsequently the shortage,” an ATA spokesperson said.
Metals shippers that want to drive these and other risks out of their transportation networks can turn to an experienced, multimodal logistics provider for help. With over three decades of experience, 740,000 square feet of storage including railcar service and over 600 pieces of truck equipment, the experts at Odyssey Logistics provide a customized door-to-door metals transportation solution.
Odyssey also offers end-to-end supply chain solutions that include a stock-and-release program and pipeline system, the latter of which allows metals companies to ship as little as 5,000 pounds per day to various transload destinations. In return, you get a continual flow of material to your consignees plus reduced inventory carrying costs.
Working with a multimodal partner
Multimodal logistics and transportation providers use a selection of different carriers and modes to move freight. They handle the end-to-end process—from pickup at origin to delivery to final destination—regardless of how many different transportation providers are involved. If any challenges emerge during the process, shippers have a single point of contact for problem resolution.
Odyssey’s Intermodal Metals transport business unit, Metals Intermodal, is the leading intermodal distribution company in the metals industry. Through its strategic network of transload facilities, the organization designs customized metals distribution programs throughout North America. “Our full range of metals services provide a customized, seamless, cost-effective logistic solution for the metals industry,” says Jon Kelly, president Odyssey Transport & Warehouse division.
As the leading multimodal intermodal distribution company in the metals industry, Odyssey maintains a strategic network of transload facilities. The company also designs customized metals distribution programs throughout North America and provides transport, warehouse, managed services and freight forwarding, among other services.