As we approach summer in the northern hemisphere, shipping volumes will inevitably increase as they always do at this time of year – building through the second half of the year towards the annual peak, which occurs in the final couple of months of the year.
As with many aspects of business, understanding seasonal peaks and troughs, and planning accordingly, can be vital towards both managing your costs throughout the year, and effective management of your supply chain. Here are some top tips on logistics planning for the summer months, covering everything from seasonal products to the import and export of perishables.
- Identify best-selling seasonal goods – If your company is a manufacturer or retailer of seasonal products for the summer market, forward planning is key. Demand forecasting using market research or past sales data is vital for logistics management, ensuring you receive components or goods in time and, ultimately, that the end product is available when the demand is there. While summer isn’t quite the peak time for shipping, the busy months of the third quarter typically see increased freight prices, limited availability and shipping delays.
- Consider shipping times carefully – Perishable goods can be extremely susceptible to heat in transit and, for shorter-distance road or rail transport, in particular, you can have a degree of control over the ambient temperature of vehicles by choosing your shipping times carefully. Packing and shipping your products in the cooler evening for transporting overnight is a better bet for avoiding damage or spoilage than transporting your goods at the height of the midday sun.
- Think about the day of the week – In terms of temperature control, as well as managing your supply chain more generally, it often makes sense to ship products earlier in the week wherever possible – and this is particularly true of perishables shipping during the summer months. Depending on your logistics provisions, packages shipped on Thursday or Friday are at greater risk of sitting idle over a weekend, with the potential to result in spoilage or damage if temperatures aren’t carefully controlled.
- Pay attention to packaging – Work closely with your logistics providers to ensure you are using the best packaging for the job. In terms of temperature control in summer months, you want to use packaging products that keep internal air space to a minimum and have a reliable, tight seal. Both factors will help your choice of coolant – whether that’s solid blocks of dry ice, ice pellets or frozen gel packs – work more efficiently. The packaging’s insulation also needs to be up to the job.
- Pay for priority shipping – As always, this will come down to a decision based on analysis of cost versus benefits. But, with the past three years being the hottest on record, paying a bit more for expedited shipping may be the only option to protect perishable goods from the scorching summer heat. Depending on your needs, this may mean choosing a priority service from a national or international delivery provider or even switching from ocean to air freight during the height of summer.
- Explore refrigerated container options – Sometimes speed and planning are not enough to ensure the safe delivery of your cargo. Refrigerated containers, also known as reefers, are capable of regulating temperatures from -65 degrees centigrade to 40 degrees centigrade, making them ideal for transporting fresh and perishable goods. With temperatures starting to rise, they are definitely something to consider.
Paying attention to these details can help set you up for a successful summer and avoid some of the potential pitfalls of the warmer summer months.
At Hemisphere, we pride ourselves on our years of experience and professional approach, which mean our clients’ unique needs are fully catered for in the peak summer season. Give us a call today to find out how we can help.