It’s no secret, in any business relationship, that the easier the relationship between customer and provider the more smoothly things run. In a shipper/provider relationship this is particularly important. The intricacies of logistics can be very challenging given the nature of all the moving parts; desirability of lanes, pickup and delivery restrictions, equipment availability and all the issues that can happen on the way to a 1000 mile delivery. We have discussed the importance of becoming a preferred shipper in previous blogs. The impact of carrier relations on your supply chain is more important now than ever. Several factors are putting pressure on carrier/shipper relationships and performance. Fluctuating fuel costs, capacity issues, driver shortages, and carriers that abruptly go out of business can all take a toll on a shipper’s ability to get the right products to the right customer within the right time frame. Take the time to make some manageable changes to your supply chain protocols to improve operations, moral and overall supply chain efficiency.
Some Easy Fixes
There needs to be a culture shift in vendor relations, particularly when it comes to carriers. Historically, truckers have been treated as second-class citizens when it comes to, for example, driver accommodation and respect for one’s time. A reasonably comfortable waiting area for the driver is an inexpensive and easily implemented enhancement to the driver experience. Minimizing loading time is also an easy, low cost, improvement to loading and unloading dock protocol.
Time management has never been more critical for the driver, as well as the equipment he is managing. Ever-increasing government regulation is significantly affecting the hours per day that both driver and truck can generate revenue. Detention is not a revenue stream. Every logistics planner should understand that the mayhem caused by loading and unloading delays generates far reaching issues for not only your shipment but others as well. Ask any carrier and they will tell you detention charges are meant to be a deterrent to delays. It is not a profit center by any stretch. Once you earn the reputation for a shipper with regular dock time delays it is difficult to shake it. You are certain to find availability for your pickups dwindling.
Try to be predictable. This will help with any detention issues you may be experiencing. Load planning can sometimes be a real guessing game for carriers. To some degree, being able to anticipate shippers’ daily or weekly needs is very helpful in labor planning and equipment positioning. Shippers who can schedule repeat and repetitive shipments on specific days and at predictable weight breaks will help load planners with both equipment availability and lane balance expectations. The profitability of a trucking company is greatly impacted by empty miles and partially loaded trucks. When equipment was plentiful, they didn't have to plan as much. But, today, it is increasingly more important to maintain a consistent and reliable level of service.
Lastly, and perhaps the most important issue is paying your freight bills according to your terms. The trucking business is cash intensive. The cost to buy or lease equipment and the financial commitment to operate a fleet on a weekly basis is staggering. If you want to stay in good graces with your transportation providers make you freight bill payment a priority.
Make Use Of Technology
While the consumer demands for speed in the supply chain seem to have an insatiable appetite, as logistics providers and load planners we need to find and utilize whatever will provide that edge. That edge which will improve efficiency just that small percentage. Along with all the improvements we covered, technological applications must be implemented. We can only achieve incremental improvements in the supply chain protocols utilizing the suggestions we discussed. Shippers have to become a mean, lean supply chain machine. There’s only one way to get there…technology.
How Do We Get Mean And Lean
There are two clear ways to get mean and lean. Do it yourself or look to professionals. The do it yourself approach is fine for insignificant operational issues. Your supply chain execution is the life blood of your organization. If your not certain that you know what your doing mistakes can be devastating to the bottom line. Why not be sure? Solicit the advice of a professional 3PL like Land Link Traffic Services to review your current supply chain protocols to measure their effectiveness and identify areas of improvement in both supply chain execution and freight payment. Find peace of mind and contact us today.