Shipping and Freight Challenges
Freight and Shipping Challenges are happening globally. MJE Livestock Equipment faces many of the same challenges as other retailers when it comes to getting our products into the hands of buyers. This post will briefly look at three major shipping & freight challenges and our solutions to those challenges.
Freight & Shipping Challenge #1 – LTL Freight
LTL (” less than truckload”) freight is also referred to as partial shipping. This type of shipping is used if we are shipping orders out that simply aren’t big enough to fill an entire semi-truck. A significant challenge of LTL shipping is that it can often be cost-prohibitive, as the cost of one truck making multiple stops isn’t efficient as it takes more time, fuel, and manpower.
Shipping with carriers who aren’t “in-house” also means we must trust that the delivery process to our customers will be as good of an experience as their purchasing experience. For example, a customer who receives a damaged product, a product is slow to arrive, or has issues with unloading might be less inclined to purchase from us again, regardless of the quality of our products.
“Shipping is one of the most frustrating parts of my job. I want to get materials our crews need and get products to customers as cost-effectively as I can.” – Joan Heeke-Cooper.
MJE Livestock Equipment combats challenges associated with LTL freight in several ways. First, we maintain relationships with multiple vendors, allowing us to shop around to find the fastest, cheapest, and most reliable rate we can offer to our customers. Second, Joan Heeke-Cooper, our sales and purchasing agent, works diligently with clients to ascertain their highest priority when receiving their purchases.
Maintaining good relationships with freight companies also means that these companies have a proven track record for reliability. With over 25 years in the manufacturing industry, Joan has formed relationships with carriers who can combine competitive rates with dependable service.
Freight & Shipping Challenge #2 – Labor Shortages
Across the United States, companies face labor shortages, and the freight and shipping industry is no different. An evident need facing this industry is a lack of Truck Drivers. In-house and within our carrier network, there has been a significant increase in the number of CDL-certified drivers needed to meet demands. In addition, since the pandemic hit, buyers have adjusted to buying online whenever possible. This has increased the demand for deliveries nationwide.
“Last year, trucking companies in the United States suffered a record deficit of 80,000 drivers, according to the American Trucking Associations, a trade association. Given that trucks move 72 percent of American freight, a lack of drivers spells substantial disruption.” (02/09/2022, Peter S. Goodman, New York Times
Another shipping and freight challenge concerning labor is having qualified staff to load and unload large materials. At a minimum, large shipments often require forklift operators to receive inventory.
While MJE Livestock Equipment cannot predict their carriers’ labor needs, we train operators to load our equipment for shipment carefully. We also have staff qualified to offer forklift operator training to new hires. Our commitment to quality control continues with our shipping procedures.
Another way we ease the burden on outside carriers is to offer delivery ourselves whenever possible. For example, if partial loads need to be delivered within an approximate 100-150 mile radius of our facility, MJE drivers can haul the load. Likewise, when dealers and distributors purchase full semi-loads of equipment, we deliver the product ourselves if it is more cost-effective for the purchaser.
Freight & Shipping Challenge #3 – Fuel Prices
Fuel costs affect the American economy on many levels. For example, as the price of fuel increases, so does the freight cost. In addition, Ag consumers make purchasing decisions based on several factors, including seasonally. Therefore, rising fuel costs are a major challenge when deciding when to buy new equipment that they need when they need it.
MJE Livestock Equipment leans on our vast network and our proficiency as logistics experts to combat rising fuel costs. Loading trucks efficiently to put the most amount of product in the smallest possible space helps. Our parent company, MJE, LLC, builds feedyards and dairies, and we rely on our drivers to occasionally add client purchases to the equipment they may be hauling in the area.
Our finance department observes the markets for fluctuations. As a result, we make bulk fuel buying decisions as best we can to battle rising fuel prices.
All freight and shipping decisions come with pros and cons. MJE Livestock Equipment works hard to offer our customers the best possible freight rates. While we cannot control the fuel market or vendor rates, we work as advocates for our customers to provide the fairest rate options possible.