Inbound Logistics | July 2022

environmental cost of transporting many smaller shipments. Consolidating orders would require a little more exibility on delivery deadlines, but customers would gain more precise delivery times—all while cutting emissions. In addition, freight damage on truckload shipments tends to be lower than that of less-than-truckload, and shipping fewer trucks helped counter jumps in transportation costs. “It was a win-win-win all the way around,” Lester says. When COVID hit, Plaskolite’s orders increased, as the company is one of the largest producers of the barriers often used to separate cashiers and customers in stores and other businesses. At the same time, both truckload and LTL markets were contracting, shifting some shipments to intermodal. “We would not have been able to navigate that business activity in 2020 without ODW’s support,” Lester says.

resources,” Lester explains. In addition, Plaskolite began consolidating orders—a shift for a company that placed a priority on customer service. “The customer would tell us when they wanted an order and Plaskolite would get it there by then,” Lester says. However, it had become clear that sending multiple smaller shipments was no longer optimal for either Plaskolite or its customers, given tightened transportation capacity, higher costs, and greater awareness of the

supply chain with the Columbus, Ohio- based rm. The company’s leadership team decided to outsource its freight function. That’s when Plaskolite connected with ODW Logistics, also based in Columbus. Among other initiatives, ODW analyzed every facet of Plaskolite’s transportation function. For instance, Plaskolite had been doing well in the LTL market, but adding ODW’s access to the truckload and broker networks, “gave us a leg up because we had more intelligence and

As the volume of e-commerce soared over the past few years, many companies had to take their supply chains to the next level. Often, that required working with logistics partners to consider new solutions to address challenges. For instance, given the difficulty in finding tractor trailers with lift gates, a shipper might try having its logistics partner meet a regular tractor trailer at the dock and provide help in unloading it. “Consider what other solutions are out there,” advises Nicole Glenn, founder of Candor Expedite. For all the improvements logistics providers and shippers have made, more is yet to come. Many logistics providers will continue to integrate machine learning or artificial intelligence to recognize the most efficient solution to a problem, says Alexandra Saleh, senior consultant with Clarkston Consulting. This is key for 3PLs, given the enormous amount of raw data received from warehouses, employees, the market, supply chains, and products, among other sources. As shippers evaluate different logistics providers, they’ll want to consider their technology capabilities and investments, says Matthew Beckett, senior director in Gartner’s logistics and customer fulfillment practice. For instance, a provider should offer the technology needed for visibility and analytics. And given labor challenges, providers need to embrace robotics and automation. At the same time, relationships remain key. “A lot of industry transportation has been commoditized,” says John Brewer, director of distribution and logistics with CKE Restaurants Holdings. “But transportation isn’t a widget. There are humans all along the way. “When your ox is in a ditch,” he says, “it’s the relations and the people that will help you pull it out.” NEW TOPPINGS ON THE WAY

THE MAIN DISH Gebrüder Weiss USA and AT-PAC AT-PAC, or Atlantic Pacic Equipment Company, leases and sells scaffolding for large projects in global markets. Most of its products are sourced from Asia and move by ships in full containers. The biggest challenge over the past few years has been the jump in freight costs. “Freight costs went as high as eight times the normal rate during the pandemic, and at its peak freight accounted for as much as 40 to 50% of our delivered cost,” says Patrick Cann, director of international supply chain for AT-PAC.

134 Inbound Logistics • July 2022

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