Finding Reliable Tanker Capacity can be a Challenge…
It should come as no surprise to the bulk liquid manufacturer that finding reliable tanker capacity is becoming increasingly demanding.
This is to say that they want the right product at the right time at the right time and at the right cost.
What should prove even less surprising to the manufacturer of bulk goods that include everything from biomass and foodstuffs to petrol and adhesives (just to name a few) is the increasingly constrained shipping environment.
Not only are there not enough skilled carriers or third-party contract drivers, but there is far fewer tankers on the road, which means higher costs for producers since demand for certified carriers far outweighs the supply.
So, and is similarly the case in the housing market, when carriers have the market advantage, they can charge exorbitant rates regardless of whether the truck goes LTL or cubed-out.
What’s more, not only can this erode relationships and partnerships between manufacturers and drivers, but it can also result in delayed customer shipments and broken contracts that hurt both parties’ bottom lines.
But what can bulk liquid producers do in order to avoid these less-than ideal outcomes so as to ensure that both carriers and customers are left with nothing but a high-quality, affordable, reliable experience with their tanker capacity?
This brief guide will not only provide the manufacturer with a critical first pass at rebuilding relationships, but help educate carriers and the bulk-shipping industry, writ large, on how best to partner in this increasingly constrained operational environment.
Tip 1: Increase communication and establish a reliable cadre of liquid bulk carriers
Sometimes less is more.
Too often manufacturers and liquid bulk shippers look for the lowest cost carrier for reliable tanker capacity, which can cause more headaches than it solves.
As an analogy, think about flying a budget airline. The idea here is that the customer (you and your end user) usually gets what is paid for, which is to say a less-than reliable experience that may or may not hold quality and safety above all else.
As previously mentioned, the number of carriers out there at the moment is very small and some charging the least may not understand the need to be ISO 9001 compliant as well as the importance of maintaining their wash records, among other critical information.
That said, it’s important to communicate deadlines and schedules as far in advance as possible so as to hold one another accountable.
Both of these aspects will be discussed still further, below, but are important when initially seeking to find a new, or more reliable bulk liquid carrier.
Tip 2: Create contingency plans to account for liquid tank carrier service failures
This is to say that manufacturers should plan for the unexpected. Just one ‘miss’ in the shipping process, be it paperwork or a late arrival, can have shockingly large ripple effects felt most often by end users.
Thus, it is absolutely imperative for both the biomass producer as well as the dairy farmer to think about all the things that might go wrong by performing a comprehensive risk analysis alongside their trusted carriers.
Additionally, and before signing any contracts, liquid bulk producers should look to write their own contracts around standard operating procedures that include, but are not limited to what carriers are responsible for in case of a plant shutdown, equipment failure, product loss or shrinkage, and compliance violations.
In setting clear operating procedures and having carriers sign or initial each line item, it will be far easier to hold the drivers accountable in the event of a missed delivery or pickup.
Tip 3: Safety, Quality, and Accountability
Not only are standard operating procedures critical when building, rebuilding, or crafting partnerships between bulk product suppliers and carriers, but so are other process-related aspects of ensuring a smooth shipping process from start to finish.
It should go without saying, therefore, that liability insurance should be at the fore of any contract as well as who is to be responsible for the safe loading and hookup process during pickup and delivery as well as which party is meant to provide the data-driven and live-tracking updates for the end user.
Additionally, and in terms of safety, emergency procedures should be in place as well as practiced annually, if not more frequently.
Tip 4: Build flexibility into your bulk chemical supply chain!
With couriers maintaining the upper hand in the bulk transportation environment, being honest and flexible makes every step of the brokerage process easier, which means the producer is likely to receive preferential treatment when it comes to last-minute or urgent scheduling changes when securing reliable tanker capacity.
This is not to say that producers should stop building and communicating their 3-, 6-, and 12-month forecasts, but that collaborate with end users as well as couriers in order to ensure that all schedules are met and that no excessive shipping constraints are being added to already overtaxed drivers and manufacturers.
Again, this goes back to effective and transparent communication as well as the removal of all buffering and stockpiling so that all parties know the true cost of doing business (and can act accordingly!).
Tip 5: Build long-term, strategic partnerships with bulk chemical brokers
Knowing who to trust and which carriers can be trusted with hundreds of thousands of dollars in liquid product is a challenging business decision that many production facilities face daily.
Add to that the new brokers and drivers trying to get in on the good times afforded by the current operational environment, and the complexities surrounding the selection of responsible liquid bulk tanker capacity can start to feel overwhelming.
That said, building long-term, or strategic, partnerships should focus on process and not the person.
Making sure that carriers have their ISO certifications in place alongside quality work references only means that everyone is protected should their be a miss in shipper, receiver, carrier, manufacturer, or end-user responsibilities.
While some drivers prefer to nickel and dime carriers to get the cheapest rate, this not only results in a lost channel in which to deliver bulk goods, but also tarnish a company’s image, brand, and reputation. This puts companies in a very weak position to secure the most reliable tanker capacity.
It takes time to find the right bulk freight broker, but taking the time upfront with research will pay dividends in the long-run. Simple consider the following key takeaways:
- Lower rate: Loyalty goes far in the transportation industry and often this will be rewarded with lower rates
- Exclusivity: Brokers and carriers favor familiar customers. Having a strong relationship will typically jump your freight to the front of the line when capacity is tight.
- Lower workloads: As a broker learns your business, you’ll have far fewer business-related and paper-work oriented responsibilities, which means you will see more time spent doing value-added activities such as looking to grow your customer base or scale your product offerings.
If you have a liquid bulk shipment and would like to partner with total connection to find the most reliable tanker capacity, simply give us a call in the office today to discuss your specific needs or fill out the form on this page and we’ll get back to you right away!