Shipping delays are all too common these days, but fortunately, there are ways to mitigate the fallout. Many shippers continue to blame the pandemic for poor customer service, but sometimes that’s only part of the problem.
Here are some of the most common reasons for cargo delays today:
1. High Traffic
Ground traffic is chaos these days, especially in big city centers. As a result, delays are common! Route optimization software helps mitigate traffic delays, but consideration must also be given during peak shipping times in December and early summer. Some carriers might also be challenged for drivers, which compounds the situation. Planning as far in advance as possible is the best solution.
2. Customs Delays
Proper and accurate documentation is essential to ensure a smooth customs process. To avoid customs delays, partner with a 3PL specializing in import/export documentation, packing and crating, and all related activities.
3. Inefficient Communication
Clear and transparent communication is essential to avoid delays. Sometimes, this can be as elementary as poor handwriting on a document or typos on a shipping label. Logistics software solves many of these issues, as manual processes are often at fault. Software also consolidates communication between stakeholders, ensuring every link in the chain is connected to the most current information.
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4. Poor Use of Technology
Legacy software or on-premise applications are a barrier to efficiency. Today’s logistics tech is fully integrated and fairly standardized, effectively reducing timelines and eliminating errors in just about every area.
5. Lack of Equipment
Container shortages aside, if your logistics partner doesn’t have the right equipment to transfer your loads between transportation modes, you may be subject to longer wait times.
6. Lack of a Trusted Partner
Recent years have weeded out many less reliable 3PLs, but there are still situations where you find yourself at a disadvantage. Working with a company that stands behind a strong reputation and a track record of success is always your best defense against delays.
Actionable Strategies to Help You Prevent Cargo Delays
Experience brings insight, and we have plenty of solutions to help you mitigate cargo delays! Here are our top five tips:
1. Plan as much in advance as possible
Better planning and longer lead times help you get ahead of potential delays. When you’re not rushed, you can ensure all documentation, connections, routing, and other variables are adequately addressed.
2. Use intermodal transport
Intermodal transport can help you avoid port congestion and challenging situations, such as strikes or political unrest.
3. Work with different
Container Carriers, Inland Container Train Operators, and Inland Haulers
Putting all your eggs in one basket is never a good idea. Working with a variety of carriers ensures that you always have options when you need them.
4. Identify Alternate Ports, CFS/ ICDs
Limiting your shipping activities to a single port increases the risk of delay. Build agility into your processes so you can switch ports if needed. The Port of Houston is often an excellent alternative, especially if you are shipping to Central or South America.
5. Implement Shipment Tracking
The right tracking technology will help you gain visibility into your shipments wherever they are in the world and help you avoid damage, get ahead of delays, and ensure happy customers.
If you’re experiencing too many cargo delays, perhaps it’s time to change your logistics provider. Speak to us today about how we can help.