Transportation and logistics have been a hot topic since February 2016, when the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rule became law. Trucking in the United States experienced a dramatic slowdown because of this law. No longer can one “fudge” the logs to go that extra hour and make it to the destination.
To overcome this challenge, we worked closely with our customers to ensure they allowed an extra couple of days of inventory on their floor for possible transit delays.
Just when we adjusted for the ELD law, Hurricane Harvey hit Texas in August 2017. Once again, transportation was at a standstill. Terminals were at capacity and unable to move shipments because TX, in the heart of the US, was devastated. The LTL (less than truckload) companies were volunteering drivers to make deliveries of life-sustaining products. Once again, Marcus worked with suppliers and customers to ensure we bulked shipments inbound and built-in extra transit days for outbound. This work allowed for better freight allowances by bulking shipments and ensured shipments remained on time.
The logistics industry began to see past challenges resolved in 2018, but the driver shortage became a growing issue in 2019. Over the road (OTR) drivers were retiring, and not enough new drivers were entering the market. Being a truck driver may not be a glamorous job, but it provided a decent income and offered a means to see America.
2020 brought its own flavor to the transportation industry, with Chinese tariffs causing logistic and container issues overseas. The world was also now finding itself in a quandary getting materials in and out of foreign and domestic ports. Covid-19 exacerbated the problem with employee shortages due to quarantine and shutdowns. Marcus Paint began sending out weekly updates to our suppliers, customers, 3PL, and LTL partners on our status. We remained open as several of our customers were essential business. We requested forecasts and updates on customer sales status so we could adjust accordingly and keep our suppliers informed of our needs. Once again, by partnering closely with our LTL and 3PL carriers, we kept our customers supplied with product. We requested customers take larger volumes of product as their space allowed to ensure no shortages.
Winter Storm Uri didn’t make for a warm fuzzy Valentine’s Day in 2021. Who could have known this storm would do as much if not more damage in TX than Hurricane Harvey and spread the damage across the US due to the transportation world being crippled and still recovering today.
We noted a potential for a storm about ten days before it hit. This is something we do. We develop a plan based on our customer release schedule. We contact customers and request they look to see if they could release material as much as a week early to ensure delivery. If this storm produced what they predicted, we wouldn’t be able to ship paint because of sustained freezing temperatures. We sent our last shipment out February 15th and the storm hit February 16th. We called days in advance for the next several weeks to schedule shipments with LTL carriers to get shipments out, and the backup LTL carriers came to the rescue this time. We were thankful to have relationships with carriers that are willing to be a part of the solution.
Planning and logistics are an integral part of transportation. It can be somewhat of a game of chess. Forward-thinking, and close communication with everyone in the chain; internal people, suppliers, customers, and carriers determine whether product gets to the destination on time and in good condition.
We will do whatever it takes to keep our customer’s lines running.
Protecting what’s important!!