Road transport can offer very different sensations to the companies that use it. It can become a silk road in which everything flows easily or become a maze fraught with incidents, problems and lack of control in costs.
To realize the importance of this topic, it is enough to take a look at its volumes. In 2015, the turnover of the 13,841 companies dedicated to road transport in Spain was 23,000 million euros.
In order to try to make your experience with road transport the best possible and everything runs smoothly, we are going to propose a series of sections that it is important to monitor and take into account. If we manage to do it, our experiences with road transport will surely improve.
Five things to keep in mind in your road transport
1.- Search and find the synergies
It is difficult to exaggerate the amount of costs that companies can save when you find the possible synergies in their processes and, in this case, in their routes and shipments. For example, uniting in the same vehicle two loads that go to different destinations but are close (or one on the way to the other), instead of sending them in different shipments and trucks. Or wait until you collect more merchandise to be able to ship with a larger volume (one full load instead of two half loads, one pallet instead of several packages, etc.).
We can also be more ambitious and go beyond these most basic ideas – which, despite this, are very often not executed. Collaborative logistics invites companies even to collaborate with their competitors on paper. Why not unify transits with another company in order to lower the costs of both?
2.- Fine tune the delivery time
Companies that hire transport services play a large part of their relationship with the client in the success of the delivery process. If you want to improve your results, a very productive task is to learn as much as possible about transportation, especially about shipping conditions. It is easy to be tempted to assume that all express delivery will be 24 hours, but it is advisable to take into account several possible exceptions: does this include the islands, Ceuta and Melilla? Are there specific zip codes that go beyond those 24 hours? Up to what time can I request a collection so that the goods can be shipped on the same day?
In the same way, when contracting full loads and groupage, it is convenient to take into account that availability is not infinite. Although it is true that it is possible to manage transport to do it in 24 hours, the more time logistics operators are given, the easier it will be to find the vehicle to make said trip (and perhaps at a better cost). On the contrary, a load requested at the last minute may run the risk of not having a truck to carry it out. Thus, the problem will not be the transit of the delivery as such, but the lack of foresight.
3.- Run away from empty kilometers
Empty kilometers are those traveled by a vehicle without a load (or with less load than it could carry without a justified reason). And they are, as is evident, kilometers of pure cost with which we do not get any return. Empty kilometers are a problem both if it is your own vehicles or if you subcontract your road transport.
Transport companies will often offer you better prices if you book the round trip at the same time. Otherwise, the carrier assumes the risk of having to make the return trip profitable by finding a load. For this reason, the price difference will usually be greater if we send a shipment to an area from which there are not many merchandise departures.
Use the appropriate transport for the amount of merchandise we send
4.- Focus exclusively on the price
Cost is a very important variable and that is why we have just talked about it. However, we will be making a mistake if we reduce our decision to this single variable. Logistics operators are periodically in the situation of “rescuing” companies that have decided to transport them by road solely because of price, without paying attention to more conditions. The reliability of the company, added services, customer service or a solid reputation are other ingredients that you should add to the shaker when making a decision.
5.- The right size for the right shipment
When talking about size in our logistics we can refer to various aspects. First of all, to use the appropriate transport for the amount of merchandise we have. It is very evident that sending a single pallet with a whole trailer is very inefficient, but companies that stop to think about how much they would save if instead of removing something on two medium pallets, they removed it on one full pallet are now less common. And even less those that have calculated the ideal weight and size of their pallets and work to ensure that they all come out according to that ideal.
Another way of considering our size, in the event that we manage our own fleet of vehicles, is to study how many vehicles we need; that is, the optimal size of our fleet. Here comes into play the ability to analyze when it is convenient for us to use and acquire our own resources and when that route, area or client can be better supplied through subcontracting.
From the macro size of the fleets we can also go to the micro. The use of packaging, a great forgotten, can have important consequences on the profitability of our shipments. When designing the packaging of our products, we have to take into account how much size is going to add to our shipments, if the packaging facilitates its placement in the boxes or pallets, how much air remains in the packages or between the packages (and therefore whose transport we will pay), etc. A very elegant or differentiating packaging may be justified in products with a high margin, but in the most basic products -as you can usually see in the supermarket- the simplest solutions are usually the best.
There are many more issues to pay attention to when improving your road transport. However, these five can be a good start to pave the way for your shipments.