How Packaging Partners Achieve Supply Chain Resilience
Good news! Some business insiders are predicting we’ll see many of the recent issues plaguing supply chains return to normal by 2024. However, even as conditions normalize it’s worth considering what these past few years have revealed about the vulnerabilities in every business’ logistical processes. Inefficient supply chain management can hamstring any operation, which is likely why demand for 3PL services is trending up.
Fortunately, this renewed focus on logistics has also introduced new innovations, including technologies and logistics models built to withstand each disruption better than the last. Today we take a look at some of the issues and solutions specific to the packaging industry.
Key Supply Chain Challenges for Packaging Partners
- Raised shipping costs. The cost of global shipping has increased dramatically since 2019. According to management consulting firm McKinsey, shipping costs from China to Europe multiplied by six times between 2019 and 2021.
- High cost of materials. The increase in costs wasn’t isolated to shipping – raw materials like polyethylenes and polyurethanes have steadily risen for the past few years.
- Disrupted transportation. The six-day obstruction at the Suez Canal in spring 2021 and the backup of ships waiting at Long Beach ports in California, which lasted a staggering 25 months, each illustrate just how connected and dependent we are on efficient global transport.
- Longer lead times. Disrupted transportation quickly affected lead times, sometimes delaying them for months at time.
- The Great Resignation. In the U.S. alone, 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs in November 2021 – that’s 150,000 per day in just one month. As this unprecedented number of workers resigned, supply chain managers found themselves scrambling to account for fewer drivers, transport workers and employees helping goods move from A to B.
Managing Supply Chain Difficulties
Difficult times force adaptation, as evidenced by many trends impacting today’s logistics. Here’s what we’ve noticed as more packaging partners focus their efforts on efficient supply chain practices:
- Turn local. Localizing your supply chain whenever possible establishes a strong foundation for your packaging operation. While some globalization is likely necessary as your business grows, turning local can reduce the risk of catastrophic disruptions (such as the Suez Canal and Long Beach delays). Choose local suppliers and manufacturers for printing and packaging when available.
- Choose agile manufacturers. Agility is essential to your own business, and you want to find partners who operate similarly. Agile manufacturers are able to quickly adapt to meet your needs through customization, faster turnaround times and quick print runs.
- Find collaborative manufacturers. Collaboration can be a powerful safeguard against supply chain delays. Choose manufacturers who demonstrate frequent, open communication and flexibility. A great manufacturing partner should feel integrated with your business from pre-press and design to finishing and fulfillment.
- Invest in new tech. Advanced tools help enhance your efficiency and avoid disruptions before they occur. Industry tech often includes automation which helps mitigate inefficiencies, track inventory and maintain visibility throughout the fulfillment process.
What’s Next for Packaging Partners?
Principles like agility, collaboration and adaptability aren’t exactly novel concepts to the packaging industry. But as consumer demand for shorter shipping times and more sustainable products grows, the pressures placed on businesses to continuously upgrade their processes can prove too much to handle in-house.
As an asset-based 3PL, First Call Logistics is uniquely positioned to offer logistics solutions to businesses in need of a comprehensive shipping and warehousing partner. Contact our team today to learn more about how your business can achieve supply chain resilience.
Simplify your Next Shipment with First Call Logistics
Building and managing cost-efficient supply chains is a full-time job. First Call’s rare combination of in-house assets, expert problem-solving and track record of stellar customer service makes us the 3PL of choice for business partners with a wide range of shipping needs.
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