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How to Avoid Supply Chain Disruptions and Mitigate Container Risks - Proactiveness of Visibility

April 6, 2022

Like all modes of transportation, air, ocean, and truckload alike, container risks represent an ever-present threat to bottom-line profits. Imports to the United States continue to drive demands for reliable transportation and shipping services. Poor visibility and a lack of clear communication and connectivity only compound the issues of supply chain disruptions and increased shipping risks. 

Avoiding these disruptions and mitigating risks as much as possible will ensure profits stay high, growth continues, and container shipments remain on track. Experts at Supply Chain 24/7 noted, “the supply chain is one area of a company where executives are faced with balancing operational efficiencies, all without having direct control over many of the moving parts, thus making risk mitigation strategies almost essential to operations. Any business that does not have some basic form of risk mitigation plans in place is simply gambling with its existence.”

As the market continues to change and adapt to a new normal, the need for innovative data, software, and technology-backed processes is more critical than ever. The number of supply chain container risks identified today is far-reaching. 

Today, most supply chain management teams are not prepared to deal with many standard supply chain disruptions. Let’s look at some examples of disruptions and how freight management parties can apply visibility technology to drive them into retreat. 

Examples of Common Supply Chain Disruptions 

Container risks related to disruptions in the supply chain can include any of the following:

  • Trouble With Carrier Reliability – Partnering with less than stellar carriers can cause significant issues for management and team members.
  • Packaging Material Concerns – Poor packaging use and design can make it difficult to load and maximize available ocean containers and trailers.
  • Loss and Theft of Cargo – Failure to guard against accidental losses and intentional theft significantly increase cargo shipping risks.
  • Warehousing Capacity Issues – Certain areas have tighter capacity and availability in terms of warehouse storage and hub access.
  • Handling Risks and Problems – Poorly trained personnel and sub-par equipment can lead to damaged goods during handling and loading.
  • Shipping and Disruptions – Lack of transparent scheduling and distribution processes often results in significant delays. 
  • Poor Logistics and Scheduling – Not utilizing innovative tools and technology can lead to conflicts with delivery statuses and shipping logistics. 
  • Volatile Goods and Products – Using carriers unfamiliar with specific load requirements and regulations usually ends poorly. 
  • Poor Network Communications – Reliance on outdated communication methods significantly adds to delays and disruption for shippers.
  • Slow Response to Disruptions – Overall risk levels increase when responses to issues and concerns are slow and cumbersome at best.

Overcoming these and other common issues regarding supply chain disruptions can help reduce risks and make it easier for shippers to handle the ebb and flow of the supply chain market.

Visibility Within the Supply Chain Allows For Easier Mitigation and Response to Disruptions

Understanding visibility and its role in today’s supply chain can separate thriving shipping companies from struggling ones. With enhanced visibility, shippers and management teams can improve overall functions and services in the face of common container risks related to supply chain disruptions. Visibility is critical when dealing with everyday issues associated with ocean freight management, as the following examples demonstrate: 

  • Driver shortages are more easily dealt with through cloud-based platforms.
  • Route congestion decreases with real-time route adjustment and injections.
  • Container shortages are easier to work around with end-to-end visibility and insight.
  • Weather impacts can be closely monitored for real-time responses as needed.
  • Rolled cargo and related fees become less of a problem with up-to-date reporting.
  • Scheduling delays and conflicts remain flexible with network-wide communications.
  • Domestic port bottlenecks lose some of their impacts when live routing is possible.
  • Custom delays might never happen with digital sharing and filing dashboards.
  • Equipment failures or breakdowns are less threatening with routine inspections.

By improving ocean freight visibility throughout the supply chain, ensuring all team members and third parties can access data, and everyone stays on the same page with real-time data and insights, common disruptions become less of a threat. 

Minimize Container Risks and Cargo Loss With Innovative Tech

Innovative supply chain technology, including automation, digitization, Machine Learning, cloud-based platforms, and user portals, can significantly improve visibility and support a robust transportation network. As highlighted by Logistics Management, “risk management software helps companies identify, assess, and mitigate risk within their supply chains, but that’s where the similarities across the platforms end. Some focus on events or supplier assessments. Others emphasize a supplier’s financial health or their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) track records.” Mitigating container risks and reducing disruptions throughout the supply chain network makes it easier for shoppers to avoid cargo loss and expenses overall.

Embracing technological advancements and ensuring proper onboarding and training with all new supply chain tracking and monitoring systems allows management and team members to coordinate and collaborate effectively. The result is fewer supply chain disruptions and lower freight risk ratings. 

Tips for Avoiding Container Risks

Lowering overall container risks for shippers can improve cargo transportation services and overall success rates. The following tips can enhance comprehensive management and control of the network, even when faced with ongoing supply chain disruptions and upheaval. 

1. Coordinate With Team Members Through Collaborative Platforms

Giving team members a place to collaborate and address issues with supply chain disruptions builds on company strengths and reduces overall risks.

2. Implement Real-Time Communication Processes

Freight management parties can overcome container risks by using communication methods focused on shipping in real-time through cloud-based platforms and digital apps, rather than struggling with outdated and time-consuming methods like phone and email messages. 

3. Utilize a Variety of Shipping, Driver, and Carrier Service Providers

Many standard supply chain disruptions arise from not having access to the right shipper or carrier options or getting pigeonholed into only a few available service providers who cannot meet specific load requirements and customer expectations.

4. Keep Track of Schedules and ETAs With Push Notifications

Even when issues arise and delays are inevitable, customers want to stay informed. If a delay does occur, automated and on-demand container tracking notifications can help soften the blow.

5. Embrace Real-Time Tracking and Monitoring of Cargo Loads

Container risks directly correlate in many cases to poor visibility in terms of load location, shipping status, and the condition of the cargo itself, which makes customers fear for the safety and integrity of their orders when they get few updates and notifications.

6. Utilize Multiple Transportation and Shipping Modes 

Another factor that can significantly increase shipping risks for various cargo types is limiting what shipping modes and equipment are available. Not all cargo is safe to haul with a dry van or standard LTL transportation services. For example, live animals or temperature-sensitive cargo may need to go by itself. Other instances might includes transporting volatile chemicals and ensuring they do not interact with other cargo within the same container or trailer. 

7. Allow Member-Controlled Processes With Exception-Only Management

Supply chain disruptions take on many forms. Freight management parties can overcome this with an approach to management that allows individual team members and partners to respond as needed to container lookup requests during shipment. If management must get involved, finding and addressing such problems is easier. 

8. Pay Attention to Dwell Time, Drayage Delays, and Driver Delays

Container risks affect increased costs and fees from drayage and delay expenses. Remember, customers eventually pay these fees and impact final rate and invoice amounts.

9. Monitor Unloading/ Loading Times to Identify Common Pressure Points

Shipping companies that struggle to keep on schedule find that their loading and unloading estimates and times are off and add to dwell times, delays, and disruptions because supply chain managers cannot address them appropriately.

10. Perform Audits of Driver and Carrier Performance and Success Rates

Poor insight into carrier and driver performance and success rates plague many companies and often leads to increased supply chain disruptions, contributing to the overall dilemma of high load transport efficiency. Ultimately, managing shipping container risks and improving the overall response to disturbances is critical to ongoing recovery and continued success throughout the supply chain network. 

As highlighted by Forbes at the end of 2021, “Mitigating supply chain disruption, ensuring business continuity and assurance of price and service are now vital to safeguarding long-term business viability and remaining competitive and profitable.” Overcoming these supply chain disruptions is easier with the right partnership and with the right tools and resources on hand.

Partner With the Right Company to Improve Proacvitity by Improving Visibility

Even as economic and logistical recovery continues across the domestic and global supply chain networks, markets big and small continue to see changes and disruptions on a near-daily basis. The number of supply chain container risks is vast, and most supply chain management teams are not prepared to deal with many of the supply chain disruptions that are common today. Overcoming a lack of visibility in the supply chain today is vital, especially during uncertainty and market volatility.

Consumers, manufacturers, shippers, carriers, and the world are still adapting to a new normal. As these efforts continue, the need for innovative, data-focused, collaborative, and technology-backed assistance is more critical than ever. More visibility and predictive planning lead to better outcomes. Dealing with disruptions and minimizing risks is easier with the right team of experts standing by. Contact OpenTrack today to learn more about how to mitigate shipping container risks while avoiding the worst of the supply chain disruptions.

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