The logistics industry has faced unprecedented challenges and obstacles in the past few years, beginning with the pandemic. We’re still feeling the ripple effect on supply chains, even years later, and the ongoing repercussions of elevated prices, continued global developments, and a possible looming recession.
In response, logistics providers have become more innovative to adapt and keep goods moving. One of the key aspects is land transport, which fills the gaps with air and ocean freight and boosts the efficiency of the entire supply chain.
Land transport is not without its own challenges, however, including labor shortages, high fuel costs, and limited capacity. But there are strategies to employ to streamline land transport and boost efficiency.
The Current State of Land Transport
When the world shut down during the pandemic, consumers shifted from in-person shopping to online shopping. The sudden rise in purchases put high demands on the warehouse inventories, both domestic and foreign, and strained transportation networks.
Logistics providers had to pivot, offering courier services, less-than-truckload (LTL) services, and more, all to meet the dramatic shift in demand. Web-based logistics tools and other innovative technological advancements have allowed logistics companies to not only survive but thrive in this volatile market.
Even when the world opened back up, the e-commerce trend didn’t slow down. It’s still moving forward, creating more and more pressure for transportation providers to continuously innovative and improve the speed and quality of their services, while still delivering value to the customer.
There are several strategies you can employ to keep your land transport moving efficiently, including:
Effective route planning and optimisation is important for minimising transportation costs, optimising fuel usage, and maximising delivery speed. Using tailored software solutions, you can determine the most efficient routes based on information like traffic conditions, distance, and delivery time windows. This reduces idle time and unnecessary detours or traffic backups that can threaten rapid delivery.
Real-Time Tracking and Visibility
Real-time visibility is a necessity in modern logistics. You can track and trace the movement of goods from suppliers, manufacturers, warehouses, and hubs to the end customer in real time using GPS-tracking and radio frequency identification (RFID) to plan, schedule, and monitor the logistics process at every point.
With real-time visibility and tracking, you can get the status of a shipment, regulatory information, raw materials, and more to avoid delayed shipments and lost profits.
Partial shipments, or shipments that don’t fill capacity, are a common issue in supply chains. Consolidated shipping, also referred to as less-than-container load (LCL) or less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping, combines multiple shipments from various shippers into one full container or shipment.
Consolidated shipments offers bulk rates that benefit both the business and the end customer. Businesses that have a high frequency or smaller shipments can make the most of an entire truckload, even with goods in multiple locations, to reduce costs without causing delays. Partnering with an experienced logistics provider to help with shipment consolidation and ensure you’re making the best decision for your freight load and business needs.
Last-Mile Delivery Optimisation
The last mile of the delivery is one of the most expensive points in the delivery process. The challenge is to reduce those last-mile delivery costs while showing up on time consistently to keep customers happy. To make matters worse, shipments are getting smaller, and more and more ecommerce companies are under pressure to offer Next Day Delivery or Same Day Delivery to compete with rivals, leading to more individual deliveries.
Routine planning and optimisation can assist with efficient last-mile delivery according to time, distance, and cost, considering possible delays from road restrictions. Route optimization also takes into account delivery windows, load capacity, current traffic, and other factors that can impact the last mile.
Data Analytics and AI
Data analytics and predictive modeling provide insights to optimise road freight operations based on a wealth of real-time and historical data. The model considers patterns and forecasts demand to develop an optimised solution to avoid potential disruptions or minimise their impact.
Ai and IoT can also be used to create more efficient processes, reducing errors that can lead to delays and lost revenue. With automation, you can optimise your supply chain based on evolving market conditions and respond to changes quickly.
Efficient Warehouse Operations
Efficient warehouse operations are an important part of road freight efficiency. Strategies like optimised storage layouts and adopting warehouse management systems can streamline the fulfillment processes, reduce handling time, and minimise inventory holding costs.
Automated material handling systems and barcode scanning systems also help with organisation and operational efficiency. Fulfillment becomes easier, preventing unnecessary delays in the process that disrupt your shipping.
Intermodal logistics is a popular way to transport goods, especially when there are continued bottlenecks and shortages in the global supply chain. This approach combines different transportation modes to ensure on-time delivery – including land transport like trucking and rail – without exorbitant costs.
With a seamless integration of road, rail, air, and sea transport, intermodal logistics offers flexibility to adapt to new challenges and disruptions while minimising environmental footprints through optimised use of resources.
Proactive Maintenance and Repairs
With increased supply chain demands and pandemic-related disruptions, the truck shortage is still persisting into the end of 2023. Maintaining a functional fleet is crucial for efficient land transport, especially with trucks and space at a premium.
Proactive maintenance and repairs can reduce downtime, prevent unexpected breakdowns, and extend the lifespan of vehicles. Instead of dealing with a major repair in the middle of a busy time – or worse, multiple issues with multiple trucks – you can plan your inspections, repairs, and maintenance work to rotate your trucks and improve your fleet reliability.
Support Efficient Land Transport
Maximising your road freight efficiency is critical for logistics companies, especially as the industry experiences ongoing disruptions. Optimising routes, investing in technology, and taking proactive approaches to your fleet can help you streamline your land transport and stay ahead of your competitors.
Joe Jaska is the Head of Land Product for Region Americas at DB Schenker, a role he has held since early 2020. He has full P&L responsibilities for 24 countries in North, Central, and South America, leading land transport to ensure quick and reliable delivery to all major destinations across the continent. Joe ensures full or partial truckloads move across the continent or across borders without delay.