How to avoid costs and other messes with your freight shipment when there's bad weather

Time to reroute

Everybody is in a panic over tax rates from Mexico and China with everything that’s going on with the new President. In fact, we’re getting an overwhelming amount of calls over the situation, but it’s not as dire as you may think. Regulation takes a LONG time to pass and enact, so we can breathe easily for the time being.

There’s something much worse going on right now, or at least, more impactful to your current situation as an importer or exporter here in the US. 

This is about the weather we are getting HAMMERED by right now – causing shipping delays everywhere. Are you prepared to reroute?

Based in Los Angeles, I’m used to sunny days and balmy evenings. But even WE are getting nailed with relentless storms, which, on the positive side, have taken a signficant bite out of our severe drought of the last 5 years. But our “rivers” are flooding, cars are floating away, and kids are jet-skiing in the street. I swear – saw a video on Facebook…

I’ll give you an example of how this is impacting one of our clients.

Moving your entire life overseas?

The scenario

This is a 20′ ocean container coming in from Sweden to Seattle, Washington via Norfolk, bringing household goods, a car, & a motorcycle. As a side note, the shipment could be anything else, commercial or industrial goods, the issue would be the same.

This cargo arrives in Norfolk on the 9th of February, and will then be dispatched dispatched to Seattle for the customs clearance to take place, which would bring an estimated date of 2/22/17. The final door delivery destination is in Spokane Valley, WA.

Once in Seattle & after the shipment clears customs, the forwarders (us) will coordinate the trucking from the terminal in Seattle to Spokane.

Moving your business overseas?

The challenge

Problem #1: the importer was quoted prior to the winter settling, & as we are getting closer to the arrival date, truckers are seeing serious weather conditions afflicting timely deliveries, & along with it demurrage, per diem & security fees (storage) – for containers sitting either at the port or at the truckers’ sites.

Such fees are not foreseeable, and just like a random customs inspection, the costs become the importers’ final responsibility. I’m sure you can can see the frustration it can create, but this is when it becomes increasingly imperative that you’re working with people who have enough foresight to help you minimize the casualties as you go.

Nobody can control the weather, but we CAN control how we react to it.

The heads up

Our network is great about letting us know what the situations are in real-time, not just what we see on the news or For the Pacific NorthWest near Washington and Oregon, this is what we are currently dealing with (from somebody in our network):

  1. 1/31/17 Road I90 is closed, US2 and US12 are open but very dangerous for trucks. They don’t expect to reopen until tomorrow night, Maybe.
  1. There are trucks delivering to Spokane, they are going down to Portland, then over to I-84 up to I-82 and then to I-90 but the cost involved is why most customers are having their containers unloaded and stored for later delivery. Seattle to Portland $1050 – Portland to Spokane – $1800 or more. If the passes would stop having rock slides and avalanches or the snow would slow down a bit they might open them back up.

These pricing changes are significant enough for many to delay or reroute, and the more foresight you have, the better. I’ve heard more than a few horror stories of inexperienced forwarders not taking the time to look into route conditions during the winter, and an avalanche of expenses and other burdens that could have been avoided.

Like I said, we can’t change the weather, but we can do our best to minimize the damages.

Forsight is key 

In conclusion, Importers need to account for winter conditions & forwarders should always ask their truckers what route they plan to take.

Many truckers have seen quite a few of the newer companies accept work East of the pass without checking on the status of the pass, they will then send a driver to the pass and will charge the broker detention time for the driver being stuck. This exact issue last Tuesday, the trucking company charged a customer for 44 hours of standby for the time their driver was waiting for the pass to open.

If this can be avoided, importers will be satisfied. Stay tuned… Get a custom freight quote today, and learn about what might impact your shipment!

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