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Strategies for navigating supply chain disruptions

March 1, 2022
While the trucking industry is forced to continue dealing with supply chain disruptions, here are some tips to lessen the impact on operations.

Based on everything I’ve been reading, it looks like we are going to be stuck with supply chain disruptions for a while longer. Both economists and trucking industry experts say the situation could continue into 2023. Since it doesn’t look like we are going to get any relief from this issue soon, we need to develop strategies for dealing with it effectively.

Perform an asset analysis: A good place to begin is by taking an in-depth look at all the assets across all your locations and determine asset utilization rates for every piece of equipment you own or operate. You might be surprised to find that you are underutilizing some assets while at the same time overutilizing others. We all know that as assets age or accumulate more miles, they need more maintenance and repair. If you can smooth out your asset utilization curve you may be able to keep more assets operating in that sweet spot where they function well with regularly scheduled preventive maintenance (PM) and don’t have a lot of on road breakdowns or need service work between PM service intervals.

See also: Vehicle procurement for the long haul

Communicate, communicate, communicate: In times of disruption there is no such things as over communication. Make sure your suppliers and vendors know about your parts needs but be accurate about what you actually want.  Also, make sure they keep you informed about their ability to meet your parts needs. This is one of those times where transparency is vitally important. Let your suppliers know that if they have bad news about the availability of a particular part, they need to let you know immediately. That will allow you to make adjustments, choose a different brand or perhaps source the part from some other outlet.

Leverage relationships: You’ve worked hard to build relationships with key suppliers, now is a good time to leverage those relationships so you are at the top of the list to receive scare parts when they do become available.

See also: Trucking analysts project 'steady' improvements for 2022

PM compliance is key: Be diligent about your PM compliance. You may have to adjust your PM schedules as a result of having to hang onto some assets longer than planned as new truck and trailer builds are depressed. Once schedules are set, make sure trucks come in for their scheduled PM service. Use this time to not only complete the required PMs but also to inspect the vehicles to try to find issues before they turn into problems on the road. Supply chain disruption can mean that it may take longer to get the part needed to repair the downed vehicle. While it is also wise to try to avoid a roadside breakdown, it is even more critical in today’s constrained environment.

While we may be forced to deal with supply chain disruptions for longer than we had hoped, these are a few things we can do to lessen the impact on our operations.

Gino Fontana, CTP, is COO and EVP at Transervice Logistics Inc. Prior to this recent promotion, he was VP of operations at Berkeley Division and Puerto Rico. He has more than 35 years of experience in the transportation and logistics industry with both operational and sales experience.

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