What Supply Chain Problems should you be planning for in 2023?

Here’s my list of the top 5, the no-fail 5 for Logistics

  1. Rate increases- you can bet that in 2022 rates will continue rising. These (freight rates) however have already shown tapering in May of 2022. Will it continue or is it just a lull in the action? Base rates have reached a level that is just not sustainable in the long term. My advice is to send out RFP’s and RFQ’s in late third quarter or early fourth quarter to take effect in the first quarter of 2023. Keep a close eye on the drivers for rates, labor cost, equipment cost, fuel costs and borrowing costs. As these stabilize and maybe even start to recede, it will be time to initiate the requests. You should try to avoid the spot market by signing long term contracts that lock in your rates for at least a year. This way you can predictably plan for your logistics cost for the whole year.
  2. Capacity- Trucks have been tight all year. We are starting to see some improvement in the last 30 days. Will it continue? Probably, but do you really want to run your business on a maybe? Capacity will ease in 2023 especially if a recession hits. However, don’t you think that it’s best for you to do something to ensure an adequate supply of trucks or railcars or intermodal containers, to keep the business running? If capacity loosens up, your access to it will improve. But you are still at the mercy of a significant event. A pandemic, a war, a recession. Your best strategy in 2023 should be to partner with someone who can guarantee a steady supply of quality transportation assets. If you are a smaller business, with 100 million dollars or less in revenue, then you should take a hard look at partnering with a third-party logistics company (3PL) to protect your access to capacity.
  3. Service Levels- in addition to higher rates and less trucks, we have seen a serious erosion in service levels over the last 12 months. This is due to several factors. A primary cause in the LTL markets was their inability to attract and maintain labor pools necessary to handle freight at their terminals. On the truckload side, drivers were quitting or retiring in record numbers and that left it hard to find and run trucks. The entire logistics network went out of kilter. This caused severe backups at ports, terminals, warehouses, and manufacturing sites. It can be described as a domino effect. When one piece of the supply chain puzzle defaults, it affects other pieces, which in turn affect others and so forth and so on. If you want or need to improve your service levels, without risking cost inflation, I suggest that you consider partnering with a 3PL who can help find both adequate and reliable transportation for your goods.
  4. Inventories- with all the recent out of stocks (OOS), companies have increased their inventory levels significantly. With inflationary pressures and a possible recession looming, it may make sense for you to anticipate needing a lot less inventory to run your business in 2023. Pay particular attention to the carrying cost of your inventory and the turns associated with it. You need to carefully manage it in 2022 and develop a plan to be able to reduce it in 2023 if a recession hits. Inventory is idle cash. If sales volumes go down, that means more inventory related cash is tied up in inventory and is not helping the business.
  5. Customer expectations- your customers, like you, are weary of the pandemic related supply chain issues. Just like your ability to serve them has degraded, so has their ability to serve their end users. All in all, expectations have come down to earth, hard and fast. Currently, when you explain that a shipment or order won’t be getting to your customer as fast as they would like, its easier now for them to understand. This condition will change, more than likely it will happen faster than you think and require major adjustments to how you go to market. Be prepared to change your service model metrics. By change, in 2023, this will require much more stringent on-time delivery performance, less out of stock situations, and probably lower costs.

Right now, understanding the supply chain in 2023 is a crapshoot. Sitting back and taking a wait and see approach will not help. You must plan for what you think will happen, as well as, at the same time bullet-proofing your logistics network as much as possible. One key facet to this process should be taking a hard look at using a 3PL to enhance your logistics network.

Riverside Logistics is a 3PL with 25+ years of experience in warehousing and logistics. We have both the experience and know-how to help you “bullet-proof” your logistics network. We would love to have an opportunity to discuss this with you. We can be reached at 888-999-0734. One of our Logistics Management Consultants would be happy to help you.