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The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services, in the areas of automotive and industrial technology, consumer goods as well as building technology.
163 Ways to Supercharge Your Supply Chain (part 6)
The best way to maximize ocean freight efficiencies is effective planning. Use these tips to get a clear understanding of your shipments' scope, frequency, and quantity. Then cement relationships with carriers to better plan your containers, and take advantage of the intermodal connections, capacity, and distribution facilities at ports around the country vying to be shippers' first choice.
119. Minimize less-than-containerload (LCL) and 20-foot container use. Costs decrease drastically when you use larger equipment.
120. Consolidate LCL freight to full 40-foot and high-cube containers. When multiple shippers send freight to the same destination, combining the shipments can create savings.
121. Bypass U.S. distribution centers. Ship directly to stores instead. When buying from several vendors in Asia, for example, don't ship the containers to a U.S. distribution center to be stored as inventory until orders are picked and packed. Avoid warehousing and DC costs by consolidating shipments in Asia with other shippers, then delivering directly to retail outlets.
122. Transload operations to inland U.S. destinations. Once shipments arrive in the United States, send them to a transload facility to be repacked and loaded on trucks for delivery to inland destinations. This helps reduce costs and expedite shipments.
123. Forecast to the volumes by lane for your carrier base. Forecasting starts at a high level, usually annually, but should be fine-tuned to a monthly or weekly forecast so carriers can update their allocation models. Providing lane and equipment information helps carriers align on a finite level and builds your credibility and reliability.
124. Make round-trip opportunities available. Balance is key to maximizing efficiency. Providing inbound and outbound flows from a location allows carriers to make optimal use of equipment. If a carrier has to reposition empty equipment back to its destination, it could lose revenue. Providing round-trip opportunities is a strategic way to increase efficiency.
125. Know the market. Assess current market prices, fuel costs, capacity, and demand. Your company will achieve best pricing by setting reasonable targets. Plenty of data is available to help build your knowledge of how the market is moving.
126. Evaluate your transportation needs. How do you ship your product? Do you use rail, road, water, air, or a combination? See if the ports are well-connected to these transportation modes. For instance, consider how far the port is from the airport or railway. Align your needs with the port's location.
127. Consider proximity. You can cut transportation costs by using a port located near your trading partners. Also be sure there are warehouse, distribution, and transload facilities nearby that can accommodate your containers and other cargo loads.
128. Evaluate the port's investment in its infrastructure. The port should be taking steps such as enhancing its navigation channel access, reducing landside congestion, expanding terminal capacity, and working on better intermodal options for improved goods movement. It should also have a plan for handling periodic increased ocean and intermodal volume.
129. Examine workforce availability. The port should have access to an experienced workforce with a reputation for reliability. Don't just shop price—reliability and good service are equally, if not more, important. Make sure port management has a good relationship with its existing labor force.
130. Know the port's restrictions. Weight limits for various cargoes vary by city and region. Overhead obstructions (bridges, tunnels, pedestrian walkways) and dimensional restrictions (vehicle/trailer length, width, and height) can hinder port access, while routes into and out of ports might require trucks to encounter multiple traffic lights or drive through light commercial or residential areas.
131. Check out the financial incentives. Many ports are attracting business through incentives. Find out if the city or port offers attractive lease rates or bonding ability.
132. Look for a stable, predictable regulatory environment. Consider a port that has a strong relationship with, and proven record of, collaborating with industry, regulators, and legislators—including on environmental issues—to benefit shippers. Make sure the port is compliant with federal security initiatives.
133. Note Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) access. If you are involved in zone-to-zone transfers, exporting, international returns, or quality control inspections, select a port that has an approved and active FTZ to take advantage of the cost reductions associated with these activities.
134. Prepare for the unexpected. Consider a port that can easily respond to supply chain disruptions by offering alternative services to container transport, and easy access to other modes. Ask how they will help you ensure your shipments keep moving in the event of a natural disaster.
135. Investigate the port's container and vessel tracking tools. What kind of technology capabilities does it have? Can you also use those tracking tools for Internet access, email, and text messages? Does the port provide a toll-free number?
136. Calculate the port's savings potential. Determine if the port has processes in place to reduce overall transportation costs. For example, is there adequate capacity to eliminate congestion? Are procedures streamlined to reduce loading/unloading times and prevent delays? Ports with facilities for transferring fuel, food, water, waste materials, and supplies all in one place can shave hours off a vessel's time—and costs—at dock.
137. Check the port's operating hours. Does the port have convenient operating hours to access port services? Investigate the dwell times between ship and rail.
138. Examine the companies currently operating at the port. Are they satisfied with the port and its operations? Note which companies could complement your business, and vice versa. Having a location in a port, which is often an industrial maritime development park, could serve as a catalyst for your company.
139. Consider inland ports. Perform a transportation analysis to calculate what you spend now, then project what it would cost to use barge in an inland port system. Moving inland and shipping via barge could save money in the long run. Check out the carrier service offered at the inland port, and determine whether you have contracts with those carriers, and if they can meet your freight handling needs.
to be continued...