New Articles

How to Best Prepare for Current (and upcoming) Supply Chain Disruptions

supply chain

How to Best Prepare for Current (and upcoming) Supply Chain Disruptions

Weekly meal planning is a recurring event in our household. Although this activity is not particularly exciting, every Saturday my wife and I sit down to plan out our family meals. This process helps us avoid the mid-week supermarket scramble, as well as sidestep overspending on items we don’t actually need. Sound familiar? Supply chain planning is no different when it comes to yielding efficient results, especially this year.

It’s no secret the way companies ship their freight has shifted due to COVID-19. C.H. Robinson is great at helping customers secure capacity and optimize their global freight across our suite of service offerings as their needs evolve. Due to COVID-19 market changes, our global team of supply chain experts has spent extra time securing expedited less than container load (LCL) capacity for companies that can work with extra lead time. Another big change is how many ghost or charter flights are used to make up for lost capacity from the mass decline in global passenger travel.

However, COVID-19 is not the only event putting pressure on the freight market now. And with passenger travel not expected to recover until 2024, proactive solutions are needed to avoid current and upcoming disruptions.

Prepping for peak shipping season and new tech launches

When it comes to maximizing your global freight, it’s important to take seasonality into consideration. Peak shipping season for global air freight historically begins in October, and we’re already anticipating a busy peak season due to the unbalanced relationship between supply and demand. Even if air freight volumes were consistent or less than previous years, there is a lot less capacity to work with. Additionally, ocean shipping is experiencing a busy peak season now as companies prepare for the holiday shopping surge.

Consumers are also eagerly awaiting new technology releases—including the iPhone 12, Sony PS5, Xbox, and more. High priced commodities, like consumer electronics, primarily ship via air. And while consumer tech launches are not uncommon during the holiday season, the lack of passenger planes aren’t helping the situation this year. This, combined with the volume surge in other commodities related to peak shipping season and continued demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) creates a tighter market.

What can global shippers do to combat tight capacity?

The key is to remain flexible and remember it’s never too late to start planning. Although some items, such as technology, tend to move by air, global shippers can consider shifting other commodities to expedited LCL or expedited full container load (FCL) service to mitigate disruption and stay agile in a tight global freight market.

However, for those shippers that truly depend on air capacity, shifting modes isn’t always an option. So, while ghost flights were a reactive solution for many this past spring, C.H. Robinson took our own planning advice and proactively chartered weekly 747 cargo flights from China to the U.S. from October to November, as well as Europe to the U.S. until the end of the year. Capacity on a 747 cargo aircraft can hold up to five times more freight than an average ghost flight. And our global network of experts knew proactively purchasing that space was necessary as global shippers face peak season, PPE from Asia, and a recovering economy out of Europe. We’re already seeing this approach drive solutions for our customers.

Looking forward to COVID-19 vaccines

COVID-19 vaccines are on the horizon. Once one or more is available for global circulation, it will likely create a significant ripple effect throughout supply chains. Even if your company is not directly connected to distributing or manufacturing a vaccine, the time to start planning alternative modes or routes is now.

Like technology, vaccines primarily ship via air to monitor the temperature and deliver them to market quickly. According to IATA, 8,000 747 flights would be needed to distribute a single dose of the vaccine to 7.8 billion people around the world. Although a vaccine with this large of a global magnitude is new, we can get a sense of the supply chain reaction by looking back at the height of global demand for PPE. Throughout the spring we saw airlines, 3PLs, carriers, companies, and government agencies go above and beyond, working extra hours and expediting products in order to create and deliver PPE around the globe quickly. It’s likely we’ll see the same comradery with the vaccine—pulling manpower and capacity away from other shipping needs.

Although we know air freight will play a vital role in distributing vaccines, last -mile is also an important area companies and logistic professionals are planning for. Last-mile planning will be especially important in countries where road or manufacturing infrastructure may be underdeveloped. However, keep in mind whether your company is involved in vaccine distribution or not, it’s still likely your supply chain will be impacted by higher transportation rates or additional capacity constraints across modes.

Final thoughts

As the pandemic spread across the globe, we saw air cargo rates rise to unprecedented levels. Airlines and cargo operators continue to adapt quickly to this dynamic market. Now it’s time for companies to evolve, too. Never before has a balance between proactive planning and flexibility been so important.

Planning ahead and using forecast data can be the difference needed to turn a dysfunctional supply chain into a strong, agile one that is ready to face this volatile market. We know logistics can’t exist in a world of absolutes. This makes it difficult to prepare for today’s (and tomorrow’s) disruptions—or even to know where to begin. That’s where C.H. Robinson comes in. Utilizing our information advantage, you can rely on our people to bring you smarter solutions across your global supply chain. Reach out to one of our experts today to start the conversation.

holiday

UPS: “This Holiday Season, We’ve Prepared Like Never Before.”

Today marked the first day of the peak holiday season for 2019 and the beginning of increased holiday shipments and deliveries. UPS confirmed a 5 percent increase in package shipments from 2018 record is expected in addition to an estimated 32 million packages and documents per day during peak season, primarily stemming from UPS’s retailer and B2B-focused customers. This anticipated chaos doesn’t seem to be a problem for UPS, however.

“This holiday season, we’ve prepared like never before,” said UPS Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, David Abney. “UPS has invested billions in our facilities, our air fleet and our workforce.  We have the capacity for, and are committed to, serving the unique needs of all our customers. To our customers, I simply say: We’re ready, Let’s go! You can count on us to help you make the holiday season successful.”

UPS has prepared resources in the form of added space (five million square feet of highly automated facilities, to be precise), automated superhubs, 11 newly added aircraft (increasing payload by 2.5 million pounds), optimization technologies, and a robust employee network close to 100,000 seasonal workers.

“More than ever, the 2019 holiday season proves UPS puts customers’ needs first,” said UPS Chief Marketing Officer Kevin Warren. “That starts with eliminating residential peak season surcharges, and extends into a wide range of new services that complement our industry-leading portfolio of offerings.”

Additional service enhancements have also been added to further support the growing demand, including the fastest ground-service offerings to-date, commercial/residential weekend services for pickup and delivery for customers in the top metro areas, late-night pickups via UPS Extended Hours® to qualifying customers, and more.

“We have the right strategies in place to help our customers make the most of the holiday season, with extensive forecasting, expanded ground and air capacity, effective onboarding to bring an army of seasonal employees up to speed, and the products and services that help all our customers meet high expectations this time of year,” Abney said.  “We look forward to another successful peak season.”

rewards

UPS Launches Access Point Rewards Program for Increased Holiday Support

UPS customers gearing up for the upcoming holiday season are being encouraged to keep things simple in terms of shipping through the utilization of the UPS Access Point® network through the UPS My Choice® service.  By doing so, consumers can expect up to $35 in value rewards back from the shipping company from Target eGift cards to upgraded deliveries via a free UPS My Choice Premium membership.

UPS understands that busy consumers increasingly need choice, control and convenience in the delivery process, especially during the holiday season,” said Kevin Warren, UPS’s chief marketing officer. “With the expanded UPS Access Point network, they get that, as well as the added bonus of not having to worry about package security, missed deliveries or hiding presents until the right time.”

The added rewards in conjunction with the Access Point network are direct initiatives supporting the needs of UPS consumers. Customers are currently offered more than 15,000 convenient pick-up destinations through the Access Point network. A survey conducted earlier this year revealed 20 percent of global shoppers expressed alternate delivery location preferences to home delivery. The Access Point network and now rewards program are direct responses to fulfill consumer demands.

To take advantage of the rewards program, consumers are encouraged to enroll (for free) in the  UPS My Choice® service for global delivery options access. An email will be sent to eligible rewards members in January 2020 with information on redeeming their rewards. To learn more about the holiday program, please visit: ups.com

seasonal

UPS Beefs Up Seasonal Employees for Holiday Preparations

With the holidays quickly approaching, UPS begins preparations for the inevitable increase in demand by recruiting an estimated 100,000 full and parttime seasonal workers. The positions available include package handlers, drivers and driver-helpers offering competitive incentives to qualified seasonal workers. Among benefits highlighted include the company’s Earn and Learn program which offers students up to $1,300 towards college expenses, healthcare, and retirement benefits.

“We expect another record Peak season this year, with daily package deliveries nearly doubling compared to our average of 20 million per day,” said Jim Barber, chief operating officer.  “In order to make that happen, once again we’re recruiting about 100,000 people for some of the country’s best seasonal jobs.”

UPS reports that about 35 percent of their seasonal packaging handler employees were eventually recognized and named permanent staff members. Other seasonal employees, such as Mercy Alvarado, benefit from the UPS-employee relationship years following the initial hire.

“I started my UPS career as a seasonal driver helper in part because the company’s tuition reimbursement program offered an opportunity to continue my education,” Alvarado said. “Since then I’ve not only completed my associate’s and bachelor’s degrees, I’ve been promoted twice and am now a full-time supervisor. UPS is the place where I plan to retire someday, and I’ll always be thankful for this amazing job and opportunity.”

Other seasonal employees hired by UPS support operations at temporary facilities designated specifically for demanding shipping waves reported during the holidays and other peak seasons.