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Navigating the Supply Chain in 2024: Trends and Adaptations

By Len Batcha

President & CFO of TechTrans

As 2024 continues to unfold, the echoes of a strong 2023 finish still reverberate in some sectors of the supply chain, shaping trends for the year ahead. In this blog, we’ll discuss some of those trends and what will impact the industry in 2024.

Healthy Healthcare Sector

The healthcare and medical field showed resilience as it marked phenomenal growth during the last quarter of 2023. This momentum is expected to carry forward into 2024, propelled by the strengthening of hospital groups and the emergence of new healthcare facilities.

Mergers within the medical sector will further strengthen key players, while investments in smart technology drive the replacement of obsolete equipment in life sciences, promising greater efficiency and reliability.

Building Quality Assurance

Quality Assurance (QA) remains a key focus in logistics, with companies placing a premium on stringent processes. During the past couple of years, TechTrans has underscored a commitment to excellence, and we continue to grow a dedicated QA organization with our own internal talent.

This commitment to QA, combined with enhanced data analytics, helps us better track and trace trends that provide invaluable insights for informed decision-making and improved client services. We believe this commitment to QA will continue to enhance our growth in 2024 to be considered ”Best in Class” among supply chain providers.

Life Sciences Growing Organically

In the realm of life sciences specifically, advancements in automation are reshaping processes, from inventory management to prescription dispensing. The integration of self-enclosed, self-dispensing machines brings forth a new era of efficiency and accuracy, reducing reliance on human intervention and mitigating potential errors.

This trend towards automation presents opportunities for logistics companies to establish a larger presence in the market, capitalizing on the demand for streamlined supply chain solutions.

Geopolitical and Economic Mess Ahead?

Despite global uncertainties, including geopolitical tensions and fluctuating oil prices, the supply chain remains resilient. Tariffs have yet to significantly disrupt operations, while developments in chip manufacturing plants, particularly in regions like Texas, offer new avenues for growth. In addition, unemployment remains low, however, the specter of inflation looms large and poses challenges for cost management and pricing strategies in the months ahead.

Automotive Crossroads

The automotive industry finds itself at a crossroads as it grapples with the transition to electric vehicles (EVs) amidst infrastructure challenges. While the EV market continues to expand, consumer adoption remains tempered by concerns over technology readiness and charging infrastructure. Meanwhile, geopolitical tensions in regions such as Ukraine and Gaza exert pressure on oil prices, influencing consumer behavior and spending patterns.

Consumer Caution Signs

In the face of economic uncertainty, consumers are exercising caution, prioritizing essential purchases and reevaluating spending habits. The rising costs of utilities and fuel are prompting individuals to adopt more conservative approaches, with travel and ancillary spending experiencing a downturn.

Concurrently, demographic shifts are reshaping the workforce landscape, with advancements in healthcare enabling individuals to work longer, fostering a more sustainable and inclusive workforce.

As we navigate the complexities of the supply chain in 2024, adaptability and innovation will be important. From embracing automation to leveraging data analytics, logistics organizations must remain agile in the face of evolving market dynamics. By staying attuned to emerging trends and harnessing technological advancements, businesses can position themselves for success in this ever-changing landscape.

The Benefits of 3PL vs. Supply Chain Vertical Integration for Manufacturers

By John Cox, VP National Accounts

Technical Transportation, Inc

In the ever-evolving world of manufacturing and logistics, businesses must constantly assess their operational strategies to stay competitive and efficient. One of the key decisions manufacturers often face is whether to rely on a third-party logistics provider (3PL) or manage supply chains internally through vertical integration – which essentially brings all logistics operations in-house. Both approaches have their merits, but understanding the benefits of 3PL versus supply chain vertical integration is crucial for manufacturers to make informed decisions.

1. Cost Efficiency

Manufacturers looking to optimize their costs often turn to 3PL providers. By outsourcing their logistics needs, they can leverage the 3PL’s expertise, infrastructure, and economies of scale, thereby reducing overhead expenses. A 3PL can be a single-source provider, negotiating better shipping rates, warehouse costs and transportation fees due to their extensive network and established relationships. In contrast, supply chain vertical integration may involve substantial capital investments in building and maintaining infrastructure, which can be cost-prohibitive for smaller manufacturers.

2. Expertise and Focus

3PL providers are logistics specialists. They bring deep industry knowledge and experience to the table, ensuring that manufacturers can concentrate on their core competencies. This specialized focus allows manufacturers to enhance product quality, innovation and market responsiveness, as they are not distracted by the complexities of supply chain management. On the other hand, vertical integration necessitates diverting resources and attention away from core manufacturing functions, potentially leading to a dilution of expertise.

3. Scalability

Manufacturers often experience fluctuations in demand. A 3PL’s flexibility and scalability can accommodate such changes effectively. When demand is high, they can quickly scale up their logistics operations, and when it slows down, they can scale down accordingly. In contrast, supply chain vertical integration can be less flexible, as manufacturers have already invested in fixed infrastructure, making it challenging to adapt to market dynamics.

4. Risk Mitigation

3PL providers often offer risk mitigation services, including inventory management, supply chain visibility and disaster recovery planning. They are equipped to handle unexpected disruptions, such as natural disasters, labor strikes or supply chain disruptions. Manufacturers that vertically integrate their supply chains may find it challenging to implement robust risk mitigation strategies without significant investments and expertise.

5. Global Reach

For manufacturers with international ambitions, 3PL providers are well-positioned to provide global logistics solutions. They have established relationships and networks across borders, which can significantly reduce the complexity of international supply chains. Manufacturers would have to replicate these capabilities themselves, involving substantial investments and a steep learning curve in the case of vertical integration.

6. Reduced Administrative Burden

Outsourcing logistics to a 3PL can significantly reduce the administrative burden on manufacturers. 3PL providers manage paperwork, compliance, customs and regulatory requirements, saving manufacturers valuable time and resources. In contrast, vertical integration requires manufacturers to handle all these tasks in-house, which can be overwhelming and costly.

7. Focus on Core Competencies

Manufacturers can channel their resources and efforts into what they do best: manufacturing high-quality products. By partnering with a 3PL, they free up time and energy to invest in research, development, and production, rather than logistics and supply chain management. Vertical integration may distract manufacturers from their core competencies, potentially affecting product quality and innovation.

8. Technology and Innovation

3PL providers often invest heavily in state-of-the-art technology and innovation to optimize supply chain operations. Manufacturers who partner with 3PLs gain access to these tools and technologies without the need for large capital investments. In contrast, vertical integration can require substantial investments in technology and R&D to keep pace with industry advancements.

9. Reduced Lead Times

3PL providers are skilled at optimizing supply chain processes, which can lead to shorter lead times for manufacturers. Reduced lead times can result in faster order fulfillment, improved customer satisfaction, and a competitive edge in the market. Vertical integration may not provide the same level of supply chain efficiency, as it may lack the expertise and resources of specialized 3PLs.

10. Flexibility and Adaptability

In a rapidly changing business environment, adaptability is crucial. 3PL providers can quickly adapt to new market trends and technologies, allowing manufacturers to stay competitive. Vertical integration may limit adaptability, as it can be more challenging and time-consuming to change internal processes and systems.

The decision to use a 3PL or pursue supply chain vertical integration should be made with careful consideration of the specific needs and goals of the manufacturing business. While vertical integration may offer more control over the entire supply chain, 3PL providers bring numerous benefits, including cost efficiency, expertise, scalability, risk mitigation and a reduced administrative burden. Moreover, they enable manufacturers to focus on their core competencies, stay competitive in the global market, and access the latest technology and innovation.

If you have questions about which approach is right for your organization, contact us today.

Driving Sustainability Through SmartWay Partnership

By Virginia Goss, Operations Specialist

Technical Transportation, Inc

In a world that’s become increasingly environmentally conscious, sustainability has become a top priority for businesses across various industries. In this video, we take a closer look at how TechTrans is committed to sustainability through our long-standing partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) SmartWay program, as well as through other internal initiatives.

A Decade of Sustainability

At TechTrans, sustainability isn’t just a buzzword—it’s a core commitment that has spanned over a decade. We recently celebrated our 10th year as an EPA SmartWay partner, a testament to our dedication to reducing our environmental impact. This partnership, established in 2014, is an essential part of TechTrans’ sustainability efforts.

Tracking Emissions and Reducing Carbon Footprint

The EPA SmartWay program assesses the environmental and energy efficiency of goods movement through the supply chain. TechTrans actively participates by using the program’s tools to track emissions and reduce our carbon footprint.

Each year, we input data from our previous year’s shipments, including weight and mileage, allowing the EPA to calculate our emissions. This annual assessment helps us stay within manageable levels and aligns with our commitment to sustainability. By tracking emissions and working to reduce them, TechTrans ensures that we remain environmentally responsible and compliant with industry standards.

Digital Transformation for a Greener Future

Beyond its partnership with the EPA SmartWay program, TechTrans is taking sustainability to the next level. We are steadily moving toward digitizing our operations. This transition includes reducing the use of paper by encouraging customers and partners to use digital platforms for documentation and communication.

At TechTrans, we understand that digitization is key to reducing the need for paper waybills and other documents. This shift not only streamlines operations but also significantly reduces the consumption of paper. It’s a small yet impactful step in the direction of a more sustainable future.

Recycled Materials for Crate Rebuilding

In our warehouse operations, TechTrans employs another sustainability practice: the use of recycled materials. When crates or containers need rebuilding or repair for customer units, we utilize recycled materials whenever possible. This approach prevents unnecessary waste and aligns with our commitment to environmentally responsible practices.

Supporting Partners in Sustainability

We also actively encourage our partners involved in deliveries and pickups to embrace digitization and reduce our carbon footprint as well. By providing digital platforms for document uploads and communication, we help our partners transition away from paper-based processes.

Demonstrating Environmental Leadership

TechTrans’s dedication to sustainability, as demonstrated through our long-term partnership with the EPA SmartWay program, sets a remarkable example of environmental leadership and corporate responsibility.

By embracing technology, reducing waste and actively participating in initiatives like SmartWay, we are setting a high standard for environmentally responsible logistics that we believe will have a positive impact for years to come.

Optimize Your Demo Equipment Logistics to Close Sales

By Phil Burnette, Vice President-National Account Sales

Technical Transportation, Inc

Equipment demos and evaluations are the most effective and important sales tools for many manufacturers. So when a demo fails due to untimely equipment delivery or improper setup, it can be disastrous and potentially mean the loss of a sale or contract.

To create a successful demo program, manufacturers should align themselves with a demo logistics partner who can manage the demo move process by:

  • Scheduling the pickup, delivery and equipment install before a demo
  • Making sure demo units are delivered on time
  • Clearing packaging or crates before the demo
  • Ensuring they’re set up to working condition before each demo
  • Returning with the demo crate and packing up the equipment after the demo
  • Transporting it back to the demo hub
  • Cleaning and maintaining the equipment, keeping it in pristine condition
  • Preparing units for the next demo

At TechTrans, one of the first things we do is help a new demo partner evaluate their current demo inventory, look at their historic demo or event data, and then determine how to optimize their process.

This process helps manufacturers right-size their demo inventory by making efficient use of our demo hub network to place equipment in markets where it’s needed and optimizing the use of each piece of equipment. By creating these efficiencies, manufacturers can reduce the amount of capital expenditure on equipment needed for their demo program.

We also ensure our delivery and install teams are trained on a manufacturer’s specific equipment. This means the manufacturer’s salespeople no longer have to worry about the technical details of the demo, such as loading/unloading, unpacking crates, moving equipment to the demo location, or getting the equipment online. This frees them up to do the job they are hired to do: sell to the customer.

Also having a demo partner that has software solutions specific to the needs of a demo program is critical. TechTrans’ real-time dashboard shows GPS location data of all crates and instruments and tracks how long they’ve been at a particular site. Such software can also be used to help track utilization such as how long each unit has been used in the field, the number of demos/events a unit has been assigned to, and even the effectiveness of each salesperson in the number of demos held and closing sales.

It all works together to ensure an efficient and effective demo move program so your sales team, and your products, can shine.

If you’d like to learn more about demo move programs, we invite you to watch the video above or contact us today.

Ensuring Quality in Your Supply Chain

By Len Batcha, CFO/President

Technical Transportation, Inc

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the supply chain industry has seen a lot of changes, and many of them are challenging for business and consumers alike. Headlined by the port backlogs and trucker crises, we’ve seen inconsistent availability of materials and items across numerous categories for several years now.

This degradation of quality throughout the industry is one of the lasting effects of the pandemic that we believe will continue in the near-term. In particular, the persistent issues of providing certain parts and equipment on time, as well as a reduction in reliable transportation services.

At TechTrans, our theme as an organization this year is to accentuate the quality aspect of our services and what we provide to our customers, so shipments are delivered on time and set up to our customers’ satisfaction.

To enhance our quality assurance, we’re analyzing and evaluating all of the information that we’ve been providing our customers. In particular, taking data that we have accumulated over the past several years to make better decisions with future projects.

We look at the scheduled delivery day, the scheduled pickup time, the scheduled delivery time, scheduled inventory of the assets, condition of the equipment, appearance of the equipment, and more.

We then input those data points into our quality system, which is called ESP, or Excellent Service Provided, and compare the schedule information against the actual data. Each event that doesn’t meet our standards is then reported as an Event Action Record, or EAR. So we’re listening to what our customers are telling us and learning more about what our performance predicates for the next delivery.

We then drill down to find out the root cause of each adverse event and we implement corrective actions in order to improve those experiences. By doing that, we’re continuously improving our customer experience.

Enhancing the quality of our services not only helps with customer satisfaction, but it also helps us justify how potential or existing customers can apply the same methodologies to their future logistics projects and endeavors.

If you have need for a single resource to handle all your transportation, logistics and field service needs, contact us today to learn more.

Beyond White Glove Delivery: The Need for a Single-Source Logistics Partner

By John Cox, VP National Accounts

Technical Transportation, Inc

Over the past several years there has been an evolution of the required services that capital equipment manufacturers, and the supply chain marketplace in general, want from logistics providers. Several big events such as COVID and the resulting supply chain crises have reshaped expectations and created a new normal across the industry.

However, based on what we can indeed see through these murky times, we can note several trends that companies should consider as they begin the new year.

What was normally considered white glove delivery included:

  • A team of multiple workers
  • A lift gate truck
  • Taking the product out of the package or out of its crate
  • Setting it in place and hauling away debris

That’s what a typical white glove service required previously. Today, since logistics partners are already scheduled to be on-premise, manufacturers are asking for more such as the performance of additional basic assembly functions, including:

  • Connecting and attaching of the accessories
  • Simple verification steps, like testing the range of motion of a table
  • Being able to confirm that once the unit is powered, specific-colored lights turn on
  • And more

These are basic activities that, without the right single-source partner, the manufacturer would have to handle themselves or hire another technical resource. Worse, they might even ask their end customer to perform those tasks, which isn’t ideal.

That’s why today’s manufacturers require a knowledgeable, turnkey partner who not only gets the product where it’s needed, on schedule, but can perform some of those technical value-added services at time of delivery. Such a partner should also have the capacity to coach and train its team of on-the-ground field service resources as needed, to ensure the equipment is operational and ready for use. This kind of enhanced service can be a big win for a manufacturer and its customers.

With such a single-source partner, the manufacturer suddenly has the ability to scale quickly and reduce the amount of administrative involvement and personnel investment they’d otherwise have to perform on their own. It also frees up sales teams from non-revenue building activities.

If you have need for a single resource to handle all your transportation, logistics and field service needs, contact us today to learn more.

Supply Chain and Logistics Trends We Expect in 2023

By Len Batcha, CFO/President

Technical Transportation, Inc

As we end 2022 and head into 2023, it seems like we’re in a fog. It’s difficult to develop a strategic plan based on the current inflation and economy, so it’s equally hard for companies in the supply chain and logistics industries to make concrete predictions and decisions.

However, based on what we can indeed see through these murky times, we can note several trends that companies should consider as they begin the new year.

Uncertainty Will Remain

The current uncertainty and apprehension will likely follow us into 2023, largely due to uncertainty in the economy, which is driven by record inflation and high fuel prices.

In addition, now that the midterm elections are behind us, there are questions about potential policy changes that could affect the overall economy and the supply chain specifically. Those will begin to take shape in the first half of the new year.

Perhaps there’s a bit of good news despite the uncertainty, as consumer spending has grown again this past holiday season, although not at the torrid pace we saw in recent years. In early November, the National Retail Federation forecasted that overall retail sales would grow 6-8% this season, compared to a growth rate of 13.5% last year.

Following a more robust than anticipated Black Friday/Cyber Monday, the organization noted that its growth prediction was on target. At the end of the season, Mastercard data confirmed the forecast, saying retail sales grew 7.6%.

Amazon Announcements a Bellwether?

That good news was contrary to Amazon’s announcements in Q4 2022, when the retail giant shared plans to lay off more than 20,000 employees.

In addition, Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos advised consumers to hold off on purchasing big-ticket items such as cars and appliances during the 2022 holiday season amid growing concerns about a potential recession in 2023.

These announcements, coming during the busiest time of the year in retail, tell us that Amazon is concerned about consumer spending and is cutting its own costs to remain profitable.

Could these moves be a potential bellwether for things to come in the supply chain and logistics spaces as well? We think it’s something to keep an eye on in 2023.

Supply Chain Issues Will Still Exist

There are still supply chain shortages with certain products, especially among big-ticket items such as automobiles, trucks and SUV’s. That is a concerning trend for the entire industry, and one that we hope will improve in 2023.

The good news is that supply chains in some vertical industries, particularly the medical and medical device spaces (where TechTrans has a core competency), are expected to remain strong in 2023.

That said, those industries may face supply shortages as well, which could delay the release of products, but not to the point where it would keep manufacturers in those industries from having a potentially strong 2023.

Election Impacts

The U.S. elections in November 2022 yielded a new crop of politicians, with a pretty stable Senate but a turnover in the House of Representatives slated for this January. Overall, we don’t expect big changes nationally.

On the state level, however, we witnessed stronger division and polarization, where “red” states got redder and “blue” states got bluer. That could potentially result in varying legislation from each state and companies having to adjust to policies and economies on a more localized level.

Emphasis on Quality Assurance and Control

Finally, we believe that quality assurance and control will play a bigger role in the supply chain and logistics industry in 2023. Many companies are evaluating their data and processes to find new ways to boost profitability by ensuring quality and efficiency.

That includes recruiting new talent to serve as quality liaisons between sales and operations to ensure that the customer experience is optimal. It also means meeting and exceeding quality standards for specific industries, whether it’s FDA regulations or ISO standards.

Though the crystal ball is not yet clear for the coming year, we do expect some uncertainty in the market, as well as swing toward operational adjustments that will positively impact the bottom line. If you need support optimizing your supply chain, we’re here to help.

Here’s wishing you and your companies a successful and prosperous 2023! Let us know how we can help you today.

Why the Logistics Industry Offers a Great Career Path Today, Despite Current Challenges

By Rena Mundy, Human Resources Manager

Technical Transportation, Inc

The supply chain and logistics industries require in-person, non-virtual people to get the job done. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic almost three years ago, however, finding people to fill needed positions has been very challenging for most logistics companies.

Since the original shutdowns that stopped almost everything, followed by the Great Resignation, the U.S. supply chain has been in a state of constant disrepair that has been driven largely by labor shortages.

Earlier this year the U.S. Labor Department reported that there were 5.5 million more job openings than there were workers available to fill them. A recent Washington Post report also noted that a scarcity of skilled supply chain workers in the U.S. is still a big problem. On the positive side, the Labor Department reported in November that the transportation, warehousing and utilities sector had the third-most new hires compared to other industries for the month.

Despite recent struggles, the supply chain management and logistics industry continues to evolve and is becoming a field that can offer high-growth job opportunities for people of any age, background, education level or skillset.

Data Opening New Doors

One area where logistics is growing is data analysis and quality assurance. Logistics companies are turning more to people holding advanced degrees in supply chain management to fill those positions.

Virginia Goss, an operations specialist at TechTrans and a recent MBA graduate from the University of North Texas, says that as logistics companies are using the data inherent in their businesses to make better decisions and improve customer experiences, they’re also creating new positions to analyze and interpret that data.

“While many supply chain companies need people to fill positions in the warehousing and delivery side of things, there is also a growing need for people to analyze the business – operations, quality assurance, etc.,” says Goss. “Having in-house consultants is a big thing right now. Even manufacturers, who traditionally wouldn’t employ supply chain analysts are looking at adding those positions now.”

Moving Forward

Looking ahead, the supply chain and logistics industry will continue to play the vital, if not underappreciated, role of keeping the economy moving, literally.

Over the next five to ten years, we expect that job opportunities in the U.S. logistics industry will continue to grow and perhaps diversify as they bring some capabilities back stateside. This comes in the wake of post-COVID supply chain disruptions and the need for companies to mitigate broad-ranging disruptions in the future.

In addition, new technologies like automation will continue to mature and open new job opportunities as the industry strives to become more efficient and effective in the years to come.

If you’d like to learn more about growing your career in the supply chain and logistics industry, contact us today.

The Railroad Strike of 2022: What it Means if the Temporary Deal Doesn’t Hold

By Len Batcha, CFO/President

Technical Transportation, Inc

Today, the logistics industry is at a crossroads. Expanding e-commerce operations and online marketplaces are driving record volumes of parcels, packages and freight. The rise of on-demand services has transformed how goods move from point A to point B.

In response to these new demands, shippers and carriers alike have invested heavily in technology solutions, such as blockchain networks and artificial intelligence. These investments–which can be carefully planned for and managed–will help companies streamline operations and cut costs over the long term.

Yet, no matter how many advancements we introduce to better manage the supply chain, there will always be one aspect that is more tenuous and more difficult to manage – and that is the workforce. The recent prospects of railroad labor strikes brought this to the forefront and raised concerns about the impact on the supply chain if the temporary deal struck by the current administration doesn’t hold. In this blog post, we’ll explore this impact in greater detail and how those in the supply chain can prepare.

Why Labor Strikes Are Becoming More Common in America’s Supply Chain

The most recent railroad disputes this month involved pay and working conditions. A strike would have affected not only commuters who rely on the railway to get to work but also a portion of the nation’s energy supply, material supplies and parts to manufacturing facilities, drinking water and other commodities destined for end consumers or strategic reserves.

Unfortunately, the possibility of labor strikes is becoming more common in the supply chain industry due to several factors. This includes:

  • Union Membership Declining – Over the past few decades, the union membership rate in America has declined. The portion of employees who are union members fell from 20% in 1983 to 10% in 2021. Union members in transportation and material moving occupations represent only 12% of the total number of workers in the industry.
  • Automation & AI – Rising levels of automation and increasing adoption of AI have also contributed to the recent rise in labor strikes. As more companies look to automate manual tasks and use AI to drive more complex processes, there is a greater chance that workers will feel threatened.
  • Outdated Equipment and Facilities – A lack of investment in the supply chain infrastructure has made working conditions a concern for workers’ health and safety.

The Economic Impact of Strikes

Labor strikes can have significant impact on not only the supply chain, but the economy as a whole. In fact, the Association of American Railroads estimates that a nationwide shutdown of rail operations could cost $2 billion in lost economic output each day.

A strike could also have significant impact on shippers and carriers, including:

  • Increased Costs – One of the biggest impacts is the increased costs for shippers and carriers. Shippers face increased costs due to route delays or the need to find alternative modes of transport. Carriers face increased costs due to the need for higher wages and the likelihood of increase in transport-time costs. Some additional costs could be incurred if temporary workers need to be hired and more vehicles leased to make up for the shortage. This has direct impact on the bottom line for most companies involved.
  • Delayed Deliveries – Another major impact is the potential for delayed deliveries. Shippers and carriers may need to find alternative routes to avoid striking areas. This could result in longer transit times, delays, and potential order cancellations.
  • Product Disruption – Finally, there is a risk that strikes could impact how products are distributed across the supply chain. If a strike occurs at a port where exports are shipped, there could be a disruption in moving goods to their intended markets. Alternatively, if a road or rail strike occurs, there could be a disruption in the flow of imported goods.

Mitigating Risk During a Strike

In order to minimize the impacts of a potential railroad union strike, supply chain companies, 3PLS and other businesses caught in the middle should create a plan of action, with contingencies outlined and in place, should a strike move forward. Having this crisis plan ready will ensure you are minimizing downtime and not reacting to circumstances that may drive prices even higher or cause additional disruptions.

Components to a plan of action should include:

  • Transportation Strategy – It is crucial to have a contingency plan in place to transport goods should a strike occur. In the event of a railway strike, having trucking, airways, and ocean liner accounts setup and ready to go will be critical for maintaining transport flow. Also setting up alternate routes that circumvent any strike areas can help offset potential delays. Be sure to also communicate these plans and pricing to customers, so there are no surprises if your alternative plan/s need to be implemented.
  • Inventory Management Strategy – Inventory management is crucial during a strike, but needs to be planned carefully ahead of time. There are two ways to manage inventory during a strike: Replenishment and Minimum Inventory Strategy.
    • Replenishment – this strategy is used to keep your inventory at just the right level to meet expected demand. It can also include stockpiling inventory to maintain extra inventory and mitigate any potential disruption in the supply chain. This may be advisable in situations where the outcome of the strike is uncertain and there is a high risk of disruption.
    • Minimum Inventory Strategy – This strategy is used to keep your inventory at a consistent level that allows you to meet customer demand under all circumstances. You will have to keep a close watch on inventory levels and be ready to act if there are any signs of a shortage. This strategy is ideal for helping offset costs incurred with surplus inventory but requires more timely and reactionary management.

In the end, a well-prepared supply chain can better minimize any impact to operations, should a strike move forward down the road. Let us know how we can help you today.

How 3PLs Can Assist Manufacturers with Supply Chain Modeling

By Virginia Goss, Operations Specialist

Technical Transportation, Inc

Supply chain modeling is typically defined as the processes needed to better understand a manufacturer’s supply chain – all with the goal of bringing order to the company’s operations while achieving company-specific objectives such as lower costs and higher customer satisfaction.

While there are many steps and processes on the production and inventory side of supply chain modeling, many companies do not have the resources or expertise to incorporate the part of the supply chain that involves your product making its way to the end customer. For most companies, this can involve additional warehousing, distribution, first and final mile delivery processes.

Ideally, a 3rd Party Logistics (3PL) partner can help companies manage and optimize this part of the supply chain for increased efficiency and cost savings. In fact, a 3PL should make a manufacturer’s supply chain modeling and operations simpler and more efficient overall. Some ways they can accomplish this include:

  • Becoming your single – source logistics provider – The ideal 3PL firm will take the lead on your logistics so you don’t have to worry about it. They should manage all the moving parts (the people, the products, the invoices) and you should only have to deal with one person and one bill.
  • Expediting delivery – 3PL partners should have a network of carriers and delivery providers who can tailor expedited delivery options to meet your needs. For example, at TechTrans, we recently added Grand Aire to our network, expanding our client’s delivery options and capabilities. With this new provider, our customers can even arrange emergency hand-carry delivery of essential items.
    Using a 3PL partner with a nationwide network of transport options allows a manufacturer to realize the savings that comes with the 3PL’s preferred status.
  • Creating flexible warehousing – Building in efficiencies into your supply chain can also be achieved through creating temporary or permanent strategic warehousing hubs across the country at 3PL-owned or rented facilities. This approach lets manufacturers use more economical intermodal options like full truckload inventory deliveries to these hubs so they can be continually and efficiently stocked to combat supply chain shortages or delays and reduce the overall transportation expenses.
    The 3PL teams can then ensure same-day or overnight delivery from these facilities to customers to meet on-demand needs. The warehouses can even be used by the 3PL as a local pick-and-pack distribution center.
  • Providing enhanced tracking – Any quality 3PL will have electronic shipment tracking as part of their logistics process, usually in the form of a mobile app or online portal. But the top providers will go a step further and include enhanced features such as waybill visibility, proof of delivery, photos of delivery, on-demand activity reports and more.
    This offers manufacturers a real-time view for where their shipment is and allows them to incorporate all shipping stages into their internal reporting.
  • Managing the final mile (plus) – 3PLs naturally handle the transportation and delivery of products, but how they do so and the value-added services they provide make all the difference.
    The best providers offer in-room white-glove delivery for high-end and sensitive products, but also go a step further by training their staff on how to set up, install and instruct users on those products so they’re ready to use. Having the 3PL manage this function allows the manufacturer’s field service teams to focus on revenue-producing service calls ultimately saving time and resources.

If you’re looking for a logistics partner who can assist with supply chain modeling, then contact us today to learn more.