With the rapid growth of E-commerce over the past decade, air freight has become an essential link in the logistics supply chain for a lot of companies and organisations. But this link will only run smoothly and reward you if you are fully informed about events and circumstances that can affect your regular schedule. This means keeping yourself informed of local holidays and celebrations for the regions you ship to and from.
Doing your research is all well and good, but you have to know how to use the information if you are to avoid those extra costs or delays. Luckily, that is easier than it sounds. Once you know the dates of your planned air freight shipments, simply check these against your research and then readjust your schedule to allow for any possible delays.
It’s generally a good idea to book air freight shipments at least two weeks in advance. And, because of the increased demand around certain dates, shipping rates may go up. Bear in mind that you may have to pay extra if you want a guaranteed space on a specific date.
At Greencarrier, we’re constantly analysing market developments so we can help our customers plan their shipping schedule. In my experience, this makes it much easier to prevent bottlenecks and unforeseen expenses.
One of Greencarrier’s main logistics hubs is located in China, and it is the home market for many of our clients. Although we are in contact with China on a daily basis, it is easy to forget exactly when each cultural celebration or peak logistics season begins and ends. Which is why we’ve drawn up a handy list of Chinese holidays and celebrations – located at the end of this article. But it is a good idea to stay on top of this type of information for all of your logistics markets.
Regular communication usually leads to fewer misunderstandings and oversights. This is particularly true when it comes to logistics. Maintaining a close dialogue with your supplier or manufacturer reduces the risk of last minute surprises. It also enables you to provide your freight forwarder with updates to your anticipated air freight volumes and/or dates.
When your logistics provider is kept informed of any potential changes, this enables them to plan your shipments more precisely. Which means a smoother goods flow for everyone involved and, at the end of the day, fewer delays and a much more predictable budget.
Today, caring for our planet simply is a must. From an environmental point of view, rail freight is an excellent transport option compared to both air freight and the combination of sea and air. The major environmental advantage of rail freight is the reduction of exhaust emissions. When comparing the CO2 emissions of the different transport modes, it is clear that rail freight is the superior winner.
Looking at the distance between China and Northern Europe, air freight consumes 139 tons CO2. The combination of sea and air consumes about 77 tons CO2. Rail freight, however, consumes only five tons CO2. In comparison, it is a drop in the ocean, meaning rail is the most eco-friendly choice if sea freight takes too long.
Compared to ocean freight, rail freight is a fast and highly reliable transport mode with shorter lead times. Let us once again have a look at the distance between China and Northern Europe.
One of the biggest challenges for companies with production in China is the long lead times to Europe when shipping by sea. Ocean transports from China to northern Europe usually take about six to seven weeks. With rail freight, it is possible to more or less cut transport times in half, which significantly reduces the lead time. This is especially beneficial to companies operating in the fast-moving consumer goods industry with high demands on short delivery times. Shorter lead times also make it is easier to forecast business operations and costs and they can have a positive impact on capital binding. (I will cover that further down in this blog post.)
Rail freight is also a very punctual mode of transport. Unlike road freight and sea freight that is subjected to congestion and bad weather condition, there is little that can obstruct the path of a rail, which reduces the risk of sudden delays.
Throughout the supply chain, the use of metrics to track and understand processes provides an invaluable resource for ensuring increased production and customer satisfaction. Additionally, the use of metrics fosters positive relationships with coworkers and adherence to rulesets and best practices for the respective third-party logistics provider (3PL). Many of the following distribution center metrics to track closely mirror those found within transportation and manufacturing, but this listing will focus on those involved in distribution centers. Distribution centers have a tendency to become like the lost cousin when compared to other aspects of the supply chain, but they play a valuable, constantly-needed role to ensure the timely delivery of merchandise to retailers, customers, and others.
The overall goal of the distribution center is to make sure that freight makes into the correct mode of transportation at the appropriate time. This involves monitoring for the late departure of shipping containers as well as premature completion of a specific freight loading time. While finishing a specific shipment load sounds like it would benefit the company, it may actually detract from duties to other shipments, which in turn results in a cascading effect of inaccurate departures.
The second most important distribution center metrics to track involves the accuracy during order picking processes. As workers are given their respective lists of items to pick, it would stand to reason that each employee should be able to complete the retrieval process quickly. However, impatience has a tendency to result in errors in judgment. Furthermore, this could lead to more than the requested number of product being included in shipment, which results in shrink of inventory. However, the alternative to this, not including an item, can anger an end-customer and permanently harm the customer-business relationship.
Throughout the year, warehouses experience changes in capacity due to increases and decreases in consumer spending. For example, shipping during the holiday season tends to increase as more people begin purchasing items online for gifts. However, distribution centers cannot possibly foretell how much of a specific product needs to be available unless the distribution center management has previous accounts of how much product has typically been required during similar time periods. This is where the metric of monitoring warehouse capacity and peak volume comes into play. Appropriate warehouse tracking must include monitoring of peaks in capacity.
It is the last step in the supply chain but likely the most important: last-mile delivery. Delivery from the transport hub to the shipment’s final destination has become one of the major focus points for logistics companies as more and more people head online to buy their goods. In fact, e-commerce is expected to hit $1.35 billion in sales by 2018, an increase of 28.8 percent from 2013. Quick delivery direct to door is no longer something that is “nice to have”, it is a customer expectation from the online shopping. But meeting such expectations has become an expensive operation with last-mile delivery comprising more than 50 percent of total shipping costs. People want their goods and they want them now.
Thankfully, there are many logistics companies worldwide who are working to streamline this process using the latest tech and methodology. Forget about the postman coming to your door, these last-mile delivery startups are rethinking the last step in the supply chain to include drones, electric vehicles, robots, driverless cars and more. Smart solutions are the way forward.
It was only a matter of time: delivery robots. One of the last-mile delivery startups, launched by Skype co-founders in London and headquartered in San Francisco, is one of the better-known delivery robot companies out there hoping to revolutionize last-mile deliveries. The company has custom-built their own delivery robots, and while they might look more like ice-coolers than human-like androids, are changing the way goods come to your door.
The concept is simple: customers order through an app before the little robot makes its way through urban streets. Customers can then live track the six-wheeled droids, with their range of two miles and ability to deliver within 30 minutes, as they make their way for drop-off.
This solution has a potential to introduce a great last-mile delivery option for small areas, removing some of the traffic from the roads at the same time. The startup has already partnered with such companies as Swiss Post, Domino’s and Postmates and claims to have driven 100,000+ km on public sidewalks.
Agriculture equipment maker Deere & Company is producing protective face shields for healthcare workers in Moline, Illinois, in collaboration with the United Auto Workers, Iowa Department of Homeland Security, and the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. Deere expects to produce 25,000 face shields initially, and ordered supplies to provide an additional 200,000.
Food distribution center McFoods partnered with LogistiCare, a nonemergency medical transportation company and transportation vendor for New Jersey Medicaid participants, to create a home delivery program that serves local food pantries, community members, and those who previously relied on public transportation to buy food.
The Port of Seattle plans to reduce its carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 per a contract with U.S. Gain for Renewable Natural Gas, a natural gas alternative that recycles existing carbon. The port can purchase enough fuel to heat 55% of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport terminal and power its entire bus fleet.
FourKites launched new sustainability dashboards to provide customers with visibility into the environmental impact of their supply chain operations. The dashboard identifies specific areas contributing high levels of greenhouse gas emissions so companies can develop effective sustainability strategies.
Domino’s is constructing a 59,000-square-foot supply chain center in Katy, Texas. The building will produce fresh pizza dough for more than 300 Domino’s stores in the region. The space incorporates automated technology, including ingredient batching, mixing and portioning, weight adjustment, and tray stacking.