Capacity, Driver Shortages, and the Perfect Order: 3 MORE Hot Topics in Furniture Supply Chain

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To address the current challenges that furniture supply chains are facing, Furniture Today and AHFA hosted the 2017 Logistics Symposium at High Point University in High Point, NC.

LeanCor Logistics' Director of Account Management, Ashley Yentz, spoke on a panel focused on clearing supply chain bottlenecks for furniture retailers and manufacturers.

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We previously shared some hot-button areas with emerging best practices and market-tested strategies - here are three MORE:


1. CAPACITY

FURNITURE TODAY: At the end of the day each of you, in some form or other sell capacity. Many in our audience will need at some point or other to purchase that capacity. In today’s uncertain marketplace how can companies forecast capacity needs and manage “capacity” purchases to maximize speed and profitability?

ASHLEY/LEANCOR: 

  • Consider drop and hook freight. Driver friendly freight; If you have the volume and facilities to support drop and hook freight, making this change will increase the driver pool and decrease loading/unloading time constraints.
  • Provide forward visibility (lead time). The earlier you communicate your freight, the more likely it will get covered without issue.
  • Flatten the week. The majority of shipping activity takes place during week end and month end. Shippers who can flatten the week – pushing pickups to mid week/mid month – can realize cost savings and increased truck capacity.
  • Increase trailer utilization and redesign your network to eliminate redundant trucks. Focusing on increased pick up and milk runs will lead to a decrease in the amount of trucks needed to move the same freight.
  • Create stable and static routes. Pre-secure truck capacity and build long-term partnerships with carriers that are mutually beneficial for shipper and carrier. Without repetitive routes or level volume, these carrier relationships are difficult to build, creating a need to cover loads on the spot market.
  • Consider opening up your pickup times. When shippers can be flexible with pickup times (including weekend shipping), it increases your pool of available drivers.

2. DRIVER SHORTAGES

FURNITURE TODAY: The issue of driver shortages continues to challenge the industry. How are you and the companies you work with addressing this challenge? How will this impact costs over the next 5 years?

ASHLEY/LEANCOR: Along with focusing on the above strategies we need to build strong partnerships with our carrier networks to balance performance and cost. Shippers and 3PL’s should attempt to procure new, asset-based carriers that fit their network year-round. There is never a bad time to add more reliable asset-based partners -- especially if the carriers are able to offer you competitive market rates and are interested in long-term partnerships.  In soft markets, brokers can save shippers money. In tight markets, they will be more expensive but can provide the needed coverage. Maintaining a bid calendar and executing regular bids is an important way to secure your year-round coverage at competitive market rates. By understanding the on-time performance and communication of carriers, shippers can select the right asset-based carriers and brokers to move their freight. Strategic carrier metrics can tell you a comprehensive story about a carrier’s performance.

3. DELIVERING THE RIGHT PRODUCT IN THE RIGHT CONDITION AT THE RIGHT SPEED (THE PERFECT ORDER)

FURNITURE TODAY: Delivering the right product in the right condition is something that is a continuous challenge and one that is only complicated by the need to increase speed. What programs and best practices have you developed to handle this on your end? What needs to be done at within other segments of the pipeline (ie. manufacturer,  supplier, carrier, etc.) to ensure best performance?  

ASHLEY/LEANCOR:

  • Creating multi-party visibility. Using tools that highlight a blend of logistical information and material planning, we can create a platform that connects planners, transportation and suppliers enabling us to “see as a group, know as a group and act as a group.”  For example, if the material planning team knows of a short shipment from the supplier before the freight delivers to their dock, they can respond before it reaches critical mass.  Also, if this visibility is centralized and cleaned up, it greases the wheels of communication and shines light on traditional blind spots within the supply chain. Supplier performance improves as a by-product of breaking down these hidden factories.
  • Establish consistent management systems. Prepare dashboards and metrics that articulate supplier performance for our material planning and purchasing teams, this will make problems so visible that we can’t afford not to solve them.   And in an even better scenario, we can give each supplier their own performance statistics in real-time to help them see what is happening. 
  • Perform cooperative problem solving and build a collaborative supply chain. Using the real-time performance feedback loop we can start to understand our gap between plan and actual.  All parties of the supply chain need to work collaboratively to close those gaps.

Need more strategies for furniture supply chain management?  LEARN MORE

 

Posted by LeanCor Logistics

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