CJ Logistics America team collaborates with customers to manage Ida’s impacts

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In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida and its long reaching effects on the transportation market already impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, CJ Logistics America’s team is implementing detailed strategies to address the disruptions related to the storm and collaborating with customers to promote effective management of their business over the coming weeks.

“We are proactively reaching out to our customers to share our knowledge about conditions in the transportation market and communicate our plans for servicing them during this time,” said Chris Barkinge, Senior Director, Transportation Procurement. “We are also recommending best practices for limiting disruption to their business.”

Significant pressure on truckload capacity in the coming days and weeks will result from the constraints in alternative modes (LTL, Intermodal) and emergency supply distribution efforts. Thousands of loads will be picked up out of the FEMA warehouses in the Dallas and Atlanta markets, and supplies from military bases across the South and East Coast. Large and small trucking companies will participate in irregular lanes to haul critical supplies (food, wood, generators, roofing materials, etc.) into and around the New Orleans market. As Barkinge said, “The effect of this is a widespread migration of ever-valuable truckload capacity from home markets causing supply tightening across the United States.”

Truckers are concerned with fuel availability over the next few weeks due to lost refining capacity on the gulf, with many shifting from a focus on cost to a focus on practicality and safety. Barkinge said, “Our partner carriers are advising drivers to fill up prior to entering affected regions or to call ahead to fuel stops to verify fuel stock.”

CJ Logistics America’s Transportation Management Center is in constant dialogue with the company’s warehouse facilities and the carrier pool to provide flexibility during the period of tightened capacity and is communicating proactively with customers about lane or regional challenges.

The transportation management team is coordinating collaboration with LTL carriers within the affected regions, communicating consignee closures, and utilizing Digital Freight Matching technology toolset in cases where spot capacity cannot be avoided.

Because of expected limited capacity in the coming weeks, the transportation team is asking customers to Identify the most critical shipments to help prioritize efforts to tune service and cost controls to meet business needs.

The team is also asking customers to confirm their retail customers have ample capacity to receive orders, reminding them that because carriers will be looking out for the safety of their drivers, long dwells/layovers within affected regions could create larger issues.

Another recommendation to customers is to proactively communicate challenges with capacity coming out of the key Southeastern markets of New Orleans, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas and Memphis that will be hit the hardest in the coming weeks due to recovery efforts.

Customers are being asked to, where possible, increase flexibility – in lead times, hours of operation, and windows for pickups and deliveries – so that carriers are able to work a load into their schedule versus declining outright and limiting exposure to a highly volatile spot market.

Due to railroad service suspensions and/or detours, delays on intermodal shipments destined for or transiting through the Louisiana/Mississippi region are expected. The backlog created by LTL carriers closing terminals in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Jackson, MS, Mobile, AL, and Houston, TX, and placing embargoes on new shipments to the affected terminals is expected to be immense, putting strain on neighboring southeastern terminals.

“We will continue to stay current on conditions in the transportation market and help our customers effectively manage any potential disruptions to their business,” Chief Transportation Officer Ken Heller said. “We focus on customer goals – total system cost reduction, service performance and value creation – and we appreciate the support of our customers and our collaboration with them.”

Although CJ Logistics does not operate warehouse facilities in Louisiana, distribution center locations in neighboring states in the Eastern region of the US were impacted by excessive rain associated with Ida.

“While many of our employees in the Lehigh Valley were personally impacted by the storms and experiencing issues at their homes, they still made it in for our customers, and their teammates” said Phil Stockdale, a CJ Logistics America Vice President of warehouse operations. “We experienced historic flooding across the region, and our employees showed up the next morning to get essential goods delivered out. To our team members, it’s more than a job; we keep the supply chain moving.”

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