Today, we are interviewing John Bueno, Traffic Manager at OEC Group’s Chicago office, who discusses new developments in the trucking sector and advises shippers trying to get ahead in that supply chain segment.
1. How has the trucking sector reacted to the slowdown in overall volume?
It has had a mixed impact. On one hand, we’ve seen that truckers are willing to be more flexible, especially with trusted long-term partners. Additionally, the relatively lower volumes have allowed trucking organizations to catch up and greatly improve delivery performance.
On the other hand, some providers are shutting down due to a lack of business. Closures could ultimately impact pricing and performance due to a lack of competition, making it especially critical to align with stable partners. That has always been common practice for OEC, and we have strong relationships with trucking industry cornerstones.
2. Do you feel that the underlying issues that caused historic pandemic-era congestion have been resolved?
The pandemic exposed many problems to the domestic supply chain, specifically the need for infrastructural improvements, including better railroad systems to and from the ports, more berths at each port, deeper waterways to allow for larger vessels, and improved road access to ports.
There also remains the need for a dramatic increase in the logistics industry’s labor force. Unfortunately, while congestion has eased, those underlying issues remain, and it is just a matter of time when the next rush will re-expose all the infrastructure problems affecting the U.S. It is time to finally address these problems while there is still time.
3. How has the market been affected by the increase in trucking demand out of Mexico and the Gulf?
This is a relatively recent development, and it has the potential to make a significant impact by giving shippers more options. These increases are largely the result of global initiatives to look outside of China for manufacturing as well as some North American nearshoring efforts.
Shippers and providers have also begun to realize that sending freight through alternative gateways in Mexico like Tijuana and Manzanillo can diversify their ocean shipping plans while simultaneously giving them more ground transportation options within this active trucking network. The bottom line is, there are now more options for shippers to explore that could become a permanent part of their long-term logistics strategy.
4. What advice would you give to shippers looking to enhance their trucking strategy?
Plan ahead, diversify, and continue to be flexible. These are, by far, the three most important things for shippers looking to enhance their trucking strategy.
Additionally, shippers would be better served by seeking out and working with an expert that understands their immediate and long-term needs, is able to read the market, and can quickly adjust course to ensure their supply chain runs smoothly.