Unreliable freight transport worsens the delivery reliability of suppliers and customers, against which only one measure can help acutely.
Besides product functionality and quality as well as price, also logistical performance is an intrinsic product characteristic. From the customer’s subjective perspective, the supplier’s logistical performance ends at his own incoming department and not at the supplier’s shipping department. Having one’s own goods in the shipping department on time is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for logistical performance. The reliability of transport to the customer also contributes to the overall logistical performance of a supplier.
If goods are not in the receiving department on time, the opportunity costs of the missing turnover quickly exceed the cost savings of a low-priced procurement. It is not only the automotive industry that is currently experiencing this painfully. Practically all companies, at least as far as they procure in the Far East, are currently suffering from this.
Global freight performance is still severely restricted. At the end of November 21, 8% of global sea freight capacity alone was jammed outside the major international container ports of Ningbo-Zhou, Pearl River Delta, Los Angeles and Savannah1. On the Asia-Europe freight route, the average delay of container ships to Europe is currently 16 days and only about 1/5 of the ships arrive on time. Increased blank sailings to make up for the delays cause further imponderabilities2.
Many indications suggest that the bottlenecks will continue for some time, at least in China, where they will be exacerbated by production losses due to lockdowns.
It is not necessary to look at sea freight to realise how sensitive transport services are to the availability of goods. In the UK, supermarket shelves remain empty because of a shortage of truck drivers. Germany also reportedly has a shortfall of 80,000 truck drivers and is expected to add around 15,000 more each year3.
As long as the Corona pandemic has not subsided internationally, we will have to expect further bottlenecks on international freight routes. Capacity bottlenecks in overland transport could also increase further in the next few years if technology does not make significant leaps or if the wages of truck drivers will not be significantly improved. From a fuel-saving perspective, platooning has not yet shown the successes hoped for4 , but it may help to compensate for some of the shortage of truck drivers; we are probably still years away from autonomous truck driving; we are probably still years away from autonomous truck driving.
From the perspective of the recipient of the goods, the only solution in such a situation is to plan for safety times in the case of free to the door deliveries and to reserve freight capacities in good time in the case of ex-works deliveries. The same applies to shippers with regard to free to the door deliveries.
The prerequisite for all these measures are the best possible demand forecasts, accurate calculations of safety stocks and procurement safety times. Those who have upgraded their planning processes in time and implemented them consistently now have a clear advantage!