Trucking woes threaten to derail manufacturing – how to stay ahead of the curve
Manufacturers aren’t the only ones trying to keep pace with booming sales while addressing a severe labor shortage.
The trucking industry closely mirrors manufacturing.
Companies in both industries are healthy – performing at a sustained clip – but also face the same massive problems of an aging workforce and not enough new talent in the pipeline. Additionally, trucking companies are also locked in a continuous battle over restrictive government regulations.
So why should we be concerned?
It’s most likely that truckers brought raw materials to your company and then took your finished product to the customer. Their long-term issues could eventually strike a blow to your business plans.
Trucks move more than 70 percent of the nation’s freight by weight, according to the American Trucking Associations. In 2016, that amounted to 10.5 billion tons of product. However, by some estimates, the trucking industry faces a shortage of more than 200,000 workers over the next decade.
In the near future, the shortage will likely translate to longer lead times, difficulty in getting service and/or higher costs. Having a plan to adapt could be a differentiator between you and the competition.
There are several ways for manufacturers to stay ahead of the curve:
– Keep your ear to the ground. Build strong relationships with carriers to better understand the issues they face and what may be coming down the road. Getting that information in advance could provide a small edge over the competition that turns out to be a big deal;
– Do your homework. Take logistics as seriously as your material supply chain. Research alternative suppliers and methods. Create a variety of contingency plans; and
– Stay plugged in to clients. Quick turnaround work requests will never be eliminated, but you can minimize urgent job tickets by encouraging planning and offering to assist in the process.
Even if your company owns its trucks, drivers may be tempted to go elsewhere for bigger paychecks. Stay tuned in – and make the necessary adjustments – to ensure your drivers aren’t planning to leap to long-haul trucking jobs.
The trucking problem isn’t going away any time soon, but being prepared can help you minimize the disruptions.