One thing will always be certain: the logistics industry keeps on moving. Truckers will always move shipments, orders will always be fulfilled, and supply chains will always continue to run, but freight isn’t the only thing that will always stay in motion. The logistics industry is a dynamic business. Best practices evolve, key performance indicators change, regulations come and go, and supply chain entities are left to adapt to an ever-changing industry.
In 2020, the concept of adapting to a changing industry and environment is more important than ever. The global impact of COVID-19 has shifted the goal posts for nearly every industry, and while the logistics industry has not been shut down due to the pandemic, it certainly has felt its effects across every facet of the supply chain. Supply chain entities, from manufacturers to carriers and everything in between, are adjusting their tactics and best practices to what is being referred to as the “new normal.”
As we push forward into the second half of 2020, here’s how supply chain entities are adjusting to the changing logistics industry landscape.
How warehousing and fulfillment are changing
Changes are in full force in the warehousing industry after feeling the full impact of COVID-19. It’s in these locations where supply chain workers come into contact with one another the most (along with a multitude of products), making preparations for clean environments a vital interest to those who manage these types facilities. Some businesses are now choosing to outsource their warehousing and fulfillment services completely, while others are adapting to new best practices in their facilities. OSHA’s guidelines on preventing the spread of COVID-19 are in full effect, and warehousing and fulfillment centers are also taking additional precautions that include:
- Limiting access to facilities: meeting drivers and other visitors outdoors for receiving.
- Following all guidelines for sanitation of products, surfaces, etc.
- Enforcing social distancing rules for all employees and visitors.
- Providing personal protective equipment to all employees.
- Embracing automation technology for the movement and packaging of freight.
How trucking is changing
While truck drivers remain mostly isolated, they still have contact with people at manufacturing facilities, warehouses and every delivery drop point. They also remain potential carriers of COVID-19 who maintain the potential to spread the virus as they move about the country. It’s important for carriers to take every precaution to prevent themselves and others from contracting the disease.
Carriers have also been affected heavily by the closure of retail business, the decreases in shipments coming from abroad, and the overall decrease in manufactured goods from businesses in the US. At the same time, online orders are at an all-time high, meaning shippers are in great need of carriers to take orders from warehouses and into residential neighborhoods.
The American Truckers Association has pieced together and continues to update some COVID-19 resources for truckers, which include:
- Updates on changing hours of service regulations
- Expansion of the paycheck protection program for out of work carriers
- Closures of borders
- Information about sick and family leave laws
- CDC guidance for long-haul truckers
In the future, we can expect to see a large increase in demand as manufacturing jobs return, production increases, and the borders reopen. This may create a large capacity crunch towards the end of the year, especially if the holidays bring about large increases in retail shopping (whether online or in brick-and-mortar locations).
How 3PL relationships are helping businesses move forward
Now more than ever, businesses and supply chain entities are looking to third-party logistics providers for guidance on ever-changing regulations, best practices and related to warehousing, shipping, fulfillment. When the industry shifts, and new information is coming in on a day-to-day basis, it’s important to take quick action based on what is known at the time. That’s how 3PLs like King Solutions are helping their partners navigate these trying times.
King is helping its clients navigate this changing landscape in many ways:
- Staying fully up to date with all changes in laws, regulations, and applicable guidelines for the industry.
- Maintaining an up-to-date, reliable network of carriers who are ready to haul freight to locations across the country.
- Providing warehousing, kitting and assembly, and fulfillment services at both our Minneapolis and Chicago locations, including cold storage solutions at our Minneapolis location.
- Fully communicating with clients as changes are made apparent and offering guidance on how to best continue operations across the entire supply chain.
- Helping clients prepare for emergency situations and creating contingency plans in the event that emergencies occur.
How can you prepare your business for incoming changes? If you work with a 3PL, there are many things you can do:
- Maintain open lines of communication: the best thing you can do to increase efficiency is to be open and honest with 3PLs in regard to products and shipments. When your 3PL is armed with all the necessary and up-to-date information, they can help you prepare for any scenario.
- Avoid rush orders, when possible: many warehouses, carriers and other supply chain entities are working overtime to keep up with demand. It’s in every company’s best interest to leave ample time for shipments to be delivered. If a last-minute rush order needs to go out, communicate with your 3PL to see how to best go about shipping it.
- Keep an eye on inventory levels: as manufacturers try to keep up with demand, you can help prepare your business by making sure you have ample levels of inventory to fulfill customer demand. Do not fall behind on ordering, as manufacturers may not be able to get products to you in time, resulting in backordered products.
How can we help?
Are you confused or struggling to keep up with the changes in the industry? Let King be your guide. We are working with customers across the country to keep their freight moving and their customers happy. Ready to start preparing for an uncertain future? Get in touch with me today and let’s create a solution that is right for your business.