Remaining Vigilant, Post Pandemic
The supply and demand imbalances wrought during the pandemic magnified deficiencies in public and private infrastructure and investment. And although the pandemic may no longer be throwing logistics operations into upheaval, shippers should remain vigilant.
With these challenges in mind, where should shippers focus their attention and what can they do to mitigate these threats?
Be wary of strict adherence to just-in-time inventory management that cuts excess but can place production lines and other downstream processes in greater peril. Inventory is a buffer; without it, operations are more likely to be pinched in the event of a disruption.
Limit exposure to carriers who are too dependent on a single customer or industry sector. For example, if a carrier is heavily dependent on the automotive industry and plants shut down, that carrier’s trucks won’t be where other customers need them.
Monitor carrier investment in trucks, trailers and real estate to meet your needs. Underinvestment affects a carrier’s ability to provide continuity of service.
The shipper-carrier relationship is a two-way street. What can shippers do to help secure access to capacity when disruption happens?
- Be a shipper of choice. Make it easy for carriers to make deliveries and pickups. Minimize dwell time and make sure your processes are not cumbersome or overwhelming.
- Build out your roster of carriers so you can pivot when necessary. Make sure you have redundancy and optionality built into your supply chain.
- Be able to shift between modes. Remember that when one mode gets pinched, it may take a while to trickle into other modes, creating short-term opportunities for relief. If you have the right technology, you can conduct some rate shopping to take advantage.
— Andy Dyer, President, Transportation Management,
and Kevin Day, President, LTL, AFS Logistics