John Bueno, Traffic Manager at OEC Group’s Chicago office, discusses new developments in the trucking sector and provides advice for shippers trying to get ahead in that segment of the supply chain.
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 negotiate, 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, 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.
Do you feel that the underlying issues that caused historic pandemic-era congestion have been resolved?
The pandemic exposed many problems, specifically the need for a better railroad system to and from the ports, more berths at each port, deeper waterways to allow for larger vessels, improved road access to ports, and 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.
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 the strategic impact it has had on the market has been significant because it presented shippers with more options. One thing we learned after the pandemic is that historically unorthodox strategies sometimes turn out to be the best ones, not just the best one at that moment. This means that importers should continue to explore this option to see if it should be a permanent part of their strategy. This critical shift has also opened the door for manufacturers to explore nearshoring options and could soon prove to be a game-changing option for the industry.
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.