It is normally said that there is no ‘after-hours’ in logistics. This case revolves around tackling a problem that presents itself in times that a normal person would deem outside of working hours and how one can go about finding means, as well as solutions to cater shipments that require urgency regardless of what day or time it is.
One of our clients is based in Kansas, Missouri and their shipments usually arrive in New York and are kept in one of the warehouses until they are released from the origin and then we truck them over to Missouri on priority basis. It is almost always a high priority case as their ship out date at destination is usually within a day or two of origin release whilst we also must keep in mind that it is a two-day normal transit to Missouri from New Jersey.
Recently one such case occurred with some key differences:
- Release was received at 1458 hours, just 2 minutes prior to warehouse closing time.
- It was Friday before Labor Day long weekend.
- The ship out date was the Tuesday right after the holiday.
- The buyer was strict about schedules and would cancel the whole order if the Tuesday delivery deadline was not met.
For any Third Party Logistics (3PL) company, it would be a “job and a half” to find drivers willing to take loads on a Friday before long weekend, even during the day let alone just before home time. Almost everyone is trying to move their shipments before the holidays to avoid delays and on top of that, if it is a long haul load then most of the truckers willing to take it over the weekend are already booked way in advance. Another challenge is the warehouse’s working hours. The Warehouse where we had the goods, closed at 1500 hours and they were pretty good about getting out the door by 1530.
It had to be either Friday evening or Saturday or Sunday max to find a willing driver and simultaneously, have the Warehouse opened specially for us exactly in time to have the truck loaded. In other words, the Warehouse Manager, during the after-hours, could not be approached till a willing driver was found, or vice versa – in either case a very minuscule probability.
This is exactly where we say The TEU Advantage Kicks In. Such problems provide us an opportunity to prove to our client, as well as their buyers or suppliers, that we indeed go an extra mile for them. We know that timely and hassle free delivery of goods is the lifeline of our clients.
Our team that was associated with the client right from the start, sprang into action. To handle situations like these, TEU teams maintain good friendly relations with truckers and warehouse managers. This panic situation was business as usual for them, but it would be wrong to say they were smiling.
They started to call the truck drivers they knew might be willing and within 10 minutes, they had a trucker ready on Friday and willing to get this load to MO if they had the goods till 1630 hours on Friday. Unfortunately our team’s best efforts could not find the Warehouse Manager via many emails and phone calls. By 1800 hours, the truck driver was no more available. Our first attempt to have the goods loaded on a truck on Friday evening, had failed. No one at TEU was giving up.
On Saturday, the first day of the long weekend, we kept trying since the morning and the Warehouse manager, God bless him, did get back to us in the afternoon and agreed to open just for us around 1630 hours. Till 2000 hours on Saturday, the Warehouse Manager was waiting for our go-ahead to open the Warehouse, but as fate would have it, we failed to find a trucker. We failed once again on Saturday, and this time it was due to the non-availability of trucker, but our team was ready to have a final crack at it on Sunday, the next day. Failing again was not an option.
Sunday morning, we had the Warehouse Manager on our side, flexible and co-operative enough despite his personal commitments and offered to open at 0900 hours. Our team began speaking to the truckers, and within 30 minutes, they found one willing to take the load to Missouri. We gleefully informed the Warehouse Manager and got this shipment loaded up at 0945 hours on Sunday morning. Everyone involved was updated and this shipment arrived in Kansas at 1000 hours, Tuesday. The customer kept their commitment and the issue that seemed impossible to solve had been resolved.
- Importance of maintaining good friendly relationships cannot be underestimated, especially in the vast field of logistics.
- It is essential to maintain record of trucking companies that work over the weekends, on holidays and after hours.
- Clear, consistent and efficient communication with all the stake holders is mission critical, so everyone is up to speed.
- Warehouses, trucking companies and many other components of the entire logistics chain; work within scheduled timings. It helps a great deal to know their internal procedures to extend their working hours or work on weekends or holidays.