With summer right around the corner, farmers, growers and distributors are gearing up to ship out their spring seasonal products. As more produce and landscaping materials are ready for shipment, it should be no surprise that freight rates increase as truck space decreases. Although the weather allows for produce to be shipped on standard vans, rather than being limited to temperature regulated trucks, truck space is limited and carriers are aware of the influx in demand. If you’re shipping fresh materials this spring, keep these tips in mind to cut costs and avoid pitfalls.
Develop processes & implement fully
Develop or revise your current procedures with backup plans and providers. It is important to vet this out prior to the season beginning, but it’s never too late to implement. Once a solid process is on paper, review it with your entire team and highlight possible areas that could lead to problems. Ideally through this process, your team was able to recognize additional complexities that could arise, resulting in the need for backup plans B, C, & D. While it’s impossible to predict all complexities that could arise, it’s important to talk through the ones you can identify and create a few wide-net solutions, so your team is able to critically think through challenges and find solutions in a timely manner.
Book as early as possible
The earlier you book a truck, the better. Schedule shipments in advance to ensure you are shipping the freshest product to your clients. In addition, booking trucks early prevents backlog and traffic at your docks, keeping things moving efficiently and preventing produce or live materials to spoil or wilt. Most importantly, it prevents not finding a cost effective solution.
Maintain full visibility & communication
A key aspect during spring season shipping is to maintain full visibility of your entire supply chain and to over communicate with your vendors. Whether you partner with a 3PL or work directly with your carriers, it’s crucial to your success to communicate your expectations, needs, and requirements. By voicing your goals and needs, the vendor is better equipped to service your freight. Further, they are better able to ensure the driver follows appropriate industry protocols and standards, to help overcome food safety and traceability challenges that many organizations face.
Once the truck arrives at your docks, perform your own inspection of the inside of the trailers to ensure they are clean, dry and odor-free before loading your product. Make sure your carrier and/or vendors are knowledgeable of your standard operating procedures and have your shipping department confirm proper load packaging, loading and temperatures. Likewise, make sure the case counts or shipment quantities match the Bill of Lading before the truck leaves the dock.
Find your perfect match
Once the product leaves your dock, it becomes the carrier’s responsibility to care for the load. As a result, it is important to find the perfect carrier match. To help find the best fit, create a list of rules for the driver outlining appropriate downtimes, how far they can travel in a day or require frequent temperature recordings and updates. These are all aspects that could impact your overall cost and upset your current supply chain if procedure is not followed. Again, communicate this thoroughly with your vendor to eliminate carriers who will not provide the service you desire.