During winter, Canada reaches some of the coldest temperatures in the world. That’s why you need to know your stuff when it comes to managing logistics and supply chains in North America. Ensuring freight shipments arrive on time and undamaged is no small feat when faced with -40-degree temperatures, blocked roads, and heavy snowfall. So how do you ensure shipments arrive on time? In this post, we will share top logistics tips to avoid winter difficulties and ensure your projects go to plan.
Know Your Shipment
Rule number one, understand how your freight shipment is affected by the cold. Wooden materials may bend, T.V. screens may need 24 hours to acclimatize before they can be installed if transported or stored in sub-zero temperatures. Thus, when transporting freight for long (and even short) distances, relocating or removing materials, understand that if the shipment encounters freezing temperatures your goods could be damaged. For example, have you considered that plumbing materials or fridges need to be completely drained of water before transporting to avoid damage? Hence, to support your shipment's safe arrival it’s crucial to arrange appropriate packaging and transportation.
Heated trucks transport shipments in a temperature-controlled trailer to protect cargo. This reduces the risk of shipping cargo through sub-zero temperatures as it reduces temperature spikes (keeping the trailer at room temperature). Typically, you see a 10% increase in cost with heated trucking whilst the payload remains the same as a regular vehicle. Generally, if in doubt a good rule of thumb is to use a heated truck. Alternatively, sourcing a specialized logistics partner to advise you regarding non-merchandise shipments can reduce mistakes, damage costs, and claims. If you don’t want a heated service but are wary of damage, our top tip is to arrange for the carrier to load the materials onto the truck last, so that they will be offloaded first upon delivery.
Package Your Shipment
Don’t cut any corners, the number of damaged goods delivered due to insufficient packaging is astounding. Tip: ensure your suppliers know how to package materials appropriately and make sure the right insulation and shipment labeling are used e.g. "Fragile" or “This Way Up”. Also depending on the commodity, blanket wrapping items may ensure safe arrival. However, know that this does not fully protect materials from very cold temperatures.
Seasonal Weight Restrictions
CAUTION! Shipping restrictions concerning transport equipment can differ per country depending on weather conditions. During the spring as snow begins to melt, the defrosting can cause pavements and roads to weaken. Consequently, some American states and Canadian provinces have adopted seasonal weight restrictions, which reduce the permitted load limits during the defrosting period. These restriction periods vary depending on the weather conditions and the type of road. Be aware that for example, in Western Canada, the Rocky Mountains, trucks often need to find alternative routes to the destination which can add on journey days and effect project completion dates.
Schedule your shipment
Delays are very common during the winter season. Trucks have more mechanical issues, breakdowns occur in -40 degrees, drivers cannot get tailgates to work and each can add delays to the project timeline.
The key is to anticipate your supply chain issues! How do you do this? Proactively notify the recipient (e.g. general contractors) about potential delays and work with buffers that ensure the shipments will arrive in advance of their need-by date. This way any installation or project construction will not be delayed. Planning in advance can also save logistics costs by finding the most efficient transport mode and route! With preparation, consolidating shipments to ensure Full-Truck-Loads (FTL) is also possible and can reduce the CO2 emissions per shipment and contribute to a greener supply chain.
Additionally, be conscious of working regulations for carriers and plan accordingly. Note that in Canada a driver can drive a maximum of 13hours per day or per work shift and must have eight hours of rest thereafter. However, this does vary per Canadian province and these times must be allotted for in the schedule. If you don’t have time to wait for the driver, hire a team of drivers (2 persons) to ensure your materials arrive on time.
A final piece of advice is to ensure suppliers, carriers, warehouses, and general contractors log each shipment milestone with a track and trace application. This will grant end-to-end shipment visibility and give the assurance that your shipment will arrive on time and that your project will meet its schedule.
Experience, Experience, Experience
A key factor that will determine the quality of non-merchandise transportation is the selection of reliable and experienced carriers. Having a fourth-party-logistics provider vet a specialized carrier network can ensure the quality of freight forwarders.
Years of experience working with several key North-American carriers and shipping hundreds of specialized non-merchandise shipments allow fourth-party-logistics (4PLs) providers to identify trusted carriers. 4PLs such as Caliber.global have specialized departments dedicated to ensuring orders are placed, picked-up and delivered on-time. They do this whilst maintaining relationships with carriers highly experienced in transporting non-merchandise goods in extreme weather conditions.