06/16/2015

Summer Shipping Trends and Challenges

close up of sand castle

June 21st kicks off summer which is arguably the favorite season among many. As school lets out and people migrate towards beaches, lakes and resorts, it tends to have an effect on more than our sun tans. In fact, the summer may present many challenges for your transportation operations. As the season changes, so does companies’ supply chain operations.

Traffic Patterns

One of the biggest headaches for travelers and shippers a like is the traffic you encounter once summer is in full swing. Gone are the school buses and in its place comes lines of cars waiting to reach their vacation destinations. The weekends turn into nightmares for many as traffic patterns shift and the volume pours in. Shippers should be prepared to adapt to these new traffic patterns and possible outcomes. They can even try to find alternative routes to avoid heavy volume traffic areas. Give your shipments extra time to reach their destination.

Safety

The summer traffic isn’t the only thing to worry about. During this time it’s important to prep your drivers for safety measures. Although a seatbelt should be worn at all times, it’s been recorded that the summer is where most seatbelt violations occur. Studies found that violations were issued when trucks pass through roadside inspections or at weight stations1. Another hazard for drivers is fatigue. Some drivers may feel more fatigued in the summer months due to the heat. Make sure your drivers stay hydrated and that their trucks are equipped to handle the heat. Along with keeping drivers and others on the road safe, it is also important that your trucks are well-maintained. One of the biggest challenges trucks and trailers face is correct tire pressure. There is an above average amount of tire breakdowns disrupting services during the summer months. Correct air pressure is more critical in the summertime to prevent blowouts from the heat. Truck drivers should consciously check their tire pressure during their post/pre trip inspections.

Seasonality

The summer months also change the type of freight that’s being shipped. Seasonal activities shift demand towards outdoor goods, causing companies to adapt their transportation and distribution solutions to ensure they have the inventory readily available. For instance, items like grills, patio furniture, charcoal, and beach supplies are all seasonal items. If the products you ship peak during the summer months, working with 3PLs that are flexible enough to accommodate for surges will be vital to your supply chain.

Temperature Controlled

The summer heat doesn’t spare anyone or anything. This especially applies to items like produce, confections, and paint, which all require temperature control throughout the supply chain. As the summer heat reaps havoc, it can be more difficult to keep temperature-controlled products stable and fresh. In the summer months, consumers buy more produce than any other time in the year. With a high demand for fresh produce, it’s important to go to all measures to keep the fruits and vegetables pristine and maximize shelf life. Below are charts to show the shipment of commodities by season2:

Shipment of commodities by season chart
Shipment of Commodities by Season

With cold chain items moving through the supply chain, it’s important to keep accurate temperature standards. Different items are to be shipped at different temperatures, and abiding by these standards will make for a successful delivery. If you are shipping a longer haul than intermodal transportation would be a good option with temperature controlled containers that can accommodate the required temperatures even through the peak heat months.

Summer fills some folks with joy while it presents challenges for others. Knowing what to expect and being prepared will make summer a smooth and succesful season.

Sources

  1. http://transporttopics.com/articles/basetemplate.aspx?storyid=37615&t=Seat-Belt-Tickets-Peak-in-Summer-Vigillo-Says
  2. http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5067296