There could be a lot of things wrong with your logistics set up, but what is not easy to know. If you feel something is wrong, do an exercise in logistics troubleshooting. Some of the typical problems are:
- Cargo is not arriving on time;
- The logistics service is costing too much;
- The logistics service is costing more than it should;
- Shipping is costing your employees more time than it should.
Taking these issues one at a time, if cargo does not arrive on time then it could be due to your freight company being understaffed. Or it could be due to your logistics company is badly managed. Or it could be due to outside factors. The easiest way to find this when logistics troubleshooting is asking for updates and expected ship dates. If your provider continually misses their own shipping estimates, it is a sign they are the root of the issue, not outside forces.
If freight is costing too much, the most obvious reason is that the provider is charging too much. This is also the easiest to troubleshoot by finding out what the market offers. On the other hand, there could be other factors at play. Your company could be ordering too many times and too much in a rush. The material suppliers may be too far away. Or they may be in hard to reach places. And of course, there are natural disasters that play havoc with shipping.
Less obvious, logistics troubleshooting involves not only identifying a problem. It is just as much as knowing there is a problem. A lot of very big, very well known freight forwarders charge a premium for their name. Paying a big freight company 30% more than good, smaller, yet sturdy freight companies is a waste of time and intelligence. Just because the big company has a big name with a lot of offices all over the world, paying more for their freight is a mistake. Sure, they perform. Yes, they invoice as they quote. But there are a lot of very good freight companies who treasure their customers without taking their customers’ treasures.
And last, one other issue is that logistics is sopping up your company’s time. This issue is related to issue of logistics costing more than it should in that it is not always known that it is an issue. A lot of automated logistics providers (not really freight companies, but more truthfully, data entry sites on the web) and even larger, premium logistics companies demand their customers do the freight companies’ work. If you are filling out a lot of forms and instructions (like Shippers Letters of Instructions), then your logistics provider is using your HR instead of their own. Freight companies should be able to do their own business, just as you don’t make your vendors do yours. Sadly, too many of them get away with this and then blame their customers when things go wrong.