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Port congestion, transportation capacity challenges, manufacturing disruptions and labor challenges plagued the logistics industry throughout this year’s peak shipping season. ITS Logistics persevered, focusing on collaboration, communication and creative solutions to get packages out the door and in consumers’ hands.

 

“It has been as challenging as everyone thought it was going to be,” said Zak Urrutia, Senior Director of Operations for ITS Logistics.

 

At a high level, the craziest thing about this year’s peak season is that everyone knew it was coming but couldn’t do a lot to prevent some of the macroeconomic pieces from happening. “That forced us to adopt some creative strategies and really maximize the resources, equipment and labor force we have,” Urrutia said.

 

This year, communication meant more than forecasting as there were a myriad of reasons original forecasts didn’t pan out. “Even the best-laid plans didn’t come to fruition. We worked on it as a partnership,” Urrutia said, adding ITS and its clients kept each other apprised on capacity, availability and delays. “The best outcomes we have had for clients during this peak season correlate strongly to relationships where all parties were constantly communicating and working together.”

 

 

 

 

“Even the best-laid plans didn’t come to fruition. We worked on it as a partnership,” Urrutia said, adding ITS and its clients kept each other apprised on capacity, availability and delays. “The best outcomes we have had for clients during this peak season correlate strongly to relationships where all parties were constantly communicating and working together.”

 

 

 

 

Preparing for Peak Season

There was advanced warning of challenges, and for many, the peak season started earlier than usual. “If inventory was available, companies were pushing it ahead of time,” Urrutia said, adding that there was also a lot of media coverage on supply chain issues and because of that, many consumers started shopping early. “There has never been a brighter light shined on the global supply chain than in 2020 and 2021.”

 

Bringing inventory in earlier, however, can compound existing issues, such as port congestion and limited warehouse availability. To help store as much stock as possible within the warehouse, ITS leveraged all of the material storage solutions that were available, challenging practices and encouraging creativity when working with clients. “We’re assessing all of the space that we have available, making sure we optimize shelving, racking and floor-level storage in times of unprecedented demand for warehouse space,” Urrutia said.

 

ITS also worked closely with customers on their peak-season timelines. If one client was going to hit early and another was going to hit later, ITS could tap into the efficiencies of a cross-trained team and flexible overflow space within their different warehouses.

 

For many retailers, inventory was late in arriving, and, in some cases, it wasn’t even possible to get merchandise on the shelves in the time needed to sell it. As a result, there were a lot of last-minute pushes to get products to consumers. For example, ITS filled multiple 53-foot trailers with 2 Day Air shipments—just days before Christmas, and our Dedicated Fleet delivered the trailers directly to the carrier yard immediately.

 

“When we’re in a situation where products are hitting our dock, and they’re already supposed to be on shelves, and we’re collaborating on priorities and coming up with a solution that exceeds what a client could have done themselves—that made me the proudest,” Urrutia said.

 

 

 

 

“When we’re in a situation where products are hitting our dock, and they’re already supposed to be on shelves, and we’re collaborating on priorities and coming up with a solution that exceeds what a client could have done themselves—that made me the proudest,” Urrutia said.

 

 

 

 

Tackling Labor Challenges

Labor challenges have hit nearly every industry within the U.S., and logistics is no different. ITS Logistics cross-trains employees, focuses on recruiting and retaining talent, and draws on long-standing relationships with hiring agencies to ramp up staffing quickly when needed. Learn more about how labor management and scalability can add to supply chain success.

 

ITS Logistics has created several processes to help streamline onboarding for employees as well, which benefitted its customer base. “That was critical in these situations where there was a surge well beyond a customer’s forecast. In a really tight labor market, we were still able to staff up pretty quickly without a big drop off in production or service,” Urrutia said.

 

Addressing Future Needs

As a result of lessons learned this year, ITS Logistics expects to emerge stronger and better prepared for the future.

 

“Did we struggle with communication at times? Unfortunately, yes,” Director of Supply Chain Solutions Kasia Wenker said. “Did we miss a few cut-off times, yes we did—but we persevered, got caught up as quickly as possible and kept the freight moving for our customers. This will definitely push us to further improve our communication processes moving forward.”

 

 

 

 

“Did we struggle with communication at times? Unfortunately, yes,” Director of Supply Chain Solutions Kasia Wenker said. “Did we miss a few cut-off times, yes we did—but we persevered, got caught up as quickly as possible and kept the freight moving for our customers. This will definitely push us to further improve our communication processes moving forward.”

 

 

 

 

“We learned a few things for sure,” added Urrutia. “We’ll be working on forecasts even earlier than before, and really just continuing to build on a more collaborative approach with honest and transparent communication that leads to stronger partnerships and better relationships with our customers.”

 

Learn how ITS can help you today

Contact Kasia Wenker, Director of Supply Chain Solutions, at (775) 353-5160 or email us to learn more about how ITS can help you solve your supply chain problems or to get a quote.

ITS Logistics Sr Director of Distribution Operations Zak Urrutia

Zak Urrutia, Senior Director of Operations, Distribution Services

ITS Logistics Director of Supply Chain Solutions Kasia Wenker

Kasia Wenker, Director of Supply Chain Solutions

Contact us at (775) 353-5160 or fill out a contact form to see how we can help today!

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