How Truckload Carriers and Shippers Can Manage Peak Season

Transportation managers, supply chain managers, and truckload carriers all have their work cut out for them with the upcoming fall 2021 peak season.

But what exactly is the fall peak season these days?

While the August-October period is historically prime shipping time with annual back to school and holiday shopping propelling consumer demand, this season may be longer and much more erratic, depending on market conditions.

What the logistics industry anticipates for 2021

A recent Logistics Management readership survey of over 100 freight transportation, logistics, and supply chain stakeholders uncovered a strong sentiment that the 2021 peak season would be more active than a year ago:

  • 79% of respondents anticipated a more active peak season in 2021
  • 16% said it would be similar to 2020
  • 5% expected it to be less active

Respondents cited numerous reasons for a more active 2021 peak season: Higher import levels, new orders growth, increased demand, an improved economic outlook, and the pandemic’s decline are just a few. Meanwhile, they noted that ongoing port congestion issues, container shortages, and labor shortages further complicate tight over-the-road capacity.

How shippers and truckload carriers can get ahead of peak season

So how can truckload carriers, shippers, and supply chain managers get ahead of peak season while dealing with all the above issues so shippers achieve the consistent delivery and transit times they need?

  • Invest heavily in technology. It’s essential to find technology that makes it easier to match shipments with capacity digitally. Better supply chain insights enable better prediction of demand surges and spikes and help with proactive mode optimization and load planning. If you don’t have one already, a great place to start is implementing a transportation management system (TMS). A TMS automates manual processes, makes it easier to find loads for planned shipments, tracks and traces loads, and alerts managers to any problems. A TMS is an excellent tool for keeping far ahead of any supply chain problems.
  • Ramp up hiring. More drivers and additional logistics and technology professionals will support growing needs and higher freight volumes.
  • Remain open to different solutions. In a tight capacity market with canceled sailings and rolled cargo causing delays by ocean during peak season, it may make sense to shift modes, consolidate freight or move to new solutions.
  • Create efficient pickup and delivery processes and check ahead of time. If possible, offer flexible “on” or “by” appointment times. And before dispatching any shipment, check that receiving consignees have storage capacity. Shippers also need to be aware that the demurrage charges can add up quickly when sending a full container, and devanning and warehousing goods add additional costs on top of storage. So it’s doubly crucial to ensure delivery carriers can prepare to receive their goods.
  • Consider pre-booking. When booking a carrier, shippers need to consider the entire transit time–from the moment of pick up from the factory to the moment the shipment is delivered to the customer. Pre-booking helps avoid delays. And remember: There’s another,shorter peak season coming in January – February 2022. So, pre-booking in anticipation of the Chinese New Year when most Chinese factories and manufacturers shut down for a week or more will help you avoid another capacity crunch.
  • Hire a qualified customs broker. Shippers can run into delays in customs clearance once goods have reached their destination country. But hiring a qualified customs broker can help avoid penalties, added charges, hassle, and delays.
  • Ship main gateways and use expedited trucking. This more expensive approach can be an intelligent and quick way for shippers to get a product where it needs to be.

We are facing numerous unknowns as we head into the 2021 peak season planning. So it’s vital to tap into every possible resource.

The Axele TMS can help carriers prepare for peak season by finding the most profitable load. Axele is connected to load boards, ELDs, market rates, accounting systems, and everything else you need to run your trucking business efficiently. Using optimization technology, the Axele TMS uses hours of service, driver preferences, and load profitability to reduce deadheads and fill schedules with the loads that make the most money. Get ready for the 2021 peak season with Axele TMS.

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