Inbound Logistics | March 2022

Fast loading and unloading are especially hard these days, when a tight labor market and COVID-related absences can leave shippers short- handed. Logistics managers should keep that in mind when they book appointments with truckers. “They should be realistic about what they can load in a given day,” Menzel advises. Shippers should also provide leeway when drivers arrive a bit later than planned. “Instead of telling them they need to get a new appointment, and the next available one is in two days, you might say, ‘If you miss your appointment by an hour, we will work you in,’” Menzel says Good relationships with carriers and customers can also help shippers better deal with challenges such as uncertain transit times and shortages of crucial resources. For instance, Stanley Black & Decker relies on strong partnerships with carriers and logistics providers to gain a steady ow of information about the progress of containers on the water. “We can use that information to predict when we will get the product and then make commitments to our customers, to the best extent possible,” says Bandekar. “Customers want speed, but if they can’t have speed, they want predictability.” The company also works with over- the-road providers to manage mutual challenges. “What can they do to get more chassis, or attract more chassis toward our supply needs?” Bandekar asks. “What can they do to attract more drivers?” Stanley Black & Decker and its carriers hold many more conversations on such topics these days. “We are helping them prioritize, and they’re helping us understand the challenges so we can prioritize based on the changing dynamics,” he says. Shippers may also overcome obstacles by sharing information with customers. “Don’t be afraid to discuss

Stanley Black & Decker, a manufacturer of industrial tools and household hardware, is managing supply disruptions through dual-sourcing and multi- sourcing components, as well as maintaining safety stock.

products as close as possible to the markets where they are sold. When local labor rates make this hard, the company controls costs through automation. Although the company has used this strategy since the advent of new tariffs in 2016, localization has grown even more important since the start of the pandemic, Bandekar says. In an era of scarce capacity, shippers that strive to accommodate truckers’ needs have an easier time getting freight on the road. “We advise companies to be as exible as possible with transit times, hours of operation, and trucks they would accept,” says Dave Menzel, president and chief operating ofcer at Echo Global Logistics, a third- party logistics (3PL) company based in Chicago. Say a shipper wants a load picked up at 9 a.m., but the carrier can’t supply a truck until 1 p.m., Menzel says. If the shipper really wants that truck, it might adjust its schedule. Shippers should also strive to get trucks loaded and unloaded quickly, to minimize downtime for truckers. “If a facility has a reputation for long lines and difculty getting loaded or unloaded, then that facility is a lot less attractive, and trucks will choose different options,” Menzel says.

development manager at Westec Plastics Corporation, a contract manufacturer of plastic parts in Livermore, California. “Currently we see transit times of six to eight weeks.” Since the start of the pandemic, Westec has experienced an uptick in inquiries from U.S. companies that might want to move their production from overseas to the United States. While labor costs in the United States are relatively high, in some cases, domestic production cuts shipping costs so much that the math works out in favor of reshoring. Hossaini cites a company whose drug delivery product uses plastic parts made in Europe. “They told us that on the last batch of products they received, the shipping costs were $8,000,” he says. “Our shipping rate to them would literally be $150, because they’re located a half hour away from us.” Companies might also embrace domestic manufacturing to gain convenience and peace of mind, since they can easily visit a contract manufacturer to oversee quality issues and resolve problems, Hossaini says. In addition, reshoring might eliminate language barriers. And many U.S. companies want to promote their products as “Made in America.” Stanley Black & Decker strives to source components and assemble

March 2022 • Inbound Logistics 47

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