Supply Chain Disruption – How does domestic transport factor in…

Pre covid it’s likely that less than 1% of the NZ’s population had ever used the words ‘Supply Chain Disruption’ in a casual day to day conversation… fast forward 18 months and the news cycle can’t go a week without alluding to what has become a global topic of conversation that is going to have ripple effects for years to come….

The majority of the disruption has focused on shipping, container shortages and impacted manufacturing (mostly Asia focused), but the disruption has also significantly interrupted domestic transport. Whether it’s containerised milk powder heading to the port for export, or a direct-to-consumer home appliance being delivered to your door, NZ’s transport networks are about to enter the trickiest peak season they have ever encountered.

Peak normally starts for the majority of transport companies in September / October and continues well into the new year. Throughout this peak, which is more of a peak within a peak due to enormous consumer demand under alert levels 2,3 & 4, spare a thought for the employees in the following roles who try their best to organise your freight to get from point A to point B, delivered in full & on time….

  • Drivers & Mechanics – Paid between minimum wage and $40 an hour to transport freight or look after vehicles that keep this industry moving.
  • Bookings / Customer Service – working across all freight service offerings (parcels; B2B courier; general freight; linehaul; metro; LCL – less than container load; FCL – full container load; home delivery – to name a few) who accurately book your freight with the operations team to be picked, packed, loaded and transported. Salary between $45,000 – $65,000 depending on experience and complexity of the role.
  • Schedulers / Planners / Allocators  – The unsung heroes the clients / consumer should be thankful for. In charge of proactively managing the efficient coordination of transport across their network by ensuring every consignment is picked up and delivered within agreed delivery windows. In this role you are on the phone all day to drivers navigating the unpredictable world of transport, which can be best described as – constantly putting a jigsaw back together without all the pieces… yet you are responsible to still make it work… Base salary between $65,000 – $100,000.
  • Sales / Account Management – Sales speaks for itself, often the very successful salespeople come from a transport operations background. Once accounts grow to a certain size and there is more commercial detail involved, an Account Manager will step in to provide operations with some support. Base salaries range from $80,000 – $150,000 base salary depending on scale and complexity.
  • Network Optimisation / Analysts / Transport related IT – As transport company’s networks have grown, the focus shifted to optimisation. Using transport management systems, GPS trackers, fuel efficiency monitors, driver health wearables etc, the need for talented analysts increased dramatically. Their focus is to make sense of this real time or historical data by analysing shipments, rates and constraints / variables to produce realistic load plans that reduce overall freight spend / gain efficiencies. Base salaries can range from $65,000 – $180,000 depending on scale and complexity.
  • Transport Manager / Fleet manager – Tasked with the overall supervision of the entire transport operation including equipment & drivers (if you own your vehicles). If you run a non-asset-based model i.e., you don’t have your own vehicles, then the sub-contractors used are now vendors, and it’s the Transport Manager / Fleet manager’s  responsibility to also manage those relationships. The goal is to procure quality equipment / drivers or sub-contractors to optimise the delivery network, so the company makes a profit in a low margin, yet unpredictable environment. Base salary between $100,000 – $200,000 depending on the size and complexity of the operation / network / fleet.
  • General Manager / Regional Manager / National Operations Manager – Transport – Overarching responsibility for the transport business (local) or the entire transport division within a larger logistics business (regional or national). As networks expand due to volume, most transport companies run a ‘Hub and Spoke’ or branch network model. If you are non-asset based, you are obviously leveraging someone else’s ‘branch’ or several sub-contractors ‘branches’. Due to the fact that transport and other logistics functions like warehousing & distribution are closely linked, normally this person will have a varied background in multiple disciplines to understand all facets of transport. Base salary can range from $120,000 in a smaller outfit to $250,000 – $300,000 looking after a very large network of moving parts.

It’s important to note that over the last decade non-asset-based transport companies have gained in popularity. This will seem a strange concept to people outside of transport, as they are essentially running a transport business with no mode of transport on their balance sheet. This is called 4PL transport. Clients have gravitated towards this model as they tend to like having one main contact in the unpredictable transport sector…These companies also tend to have a greater degree of flexibility on price as they spend their time finding clients who can be utilised efficiently within the network they create. They essentially create this network by being a transport brokerage of sorts. They broker the rates / routes with the asset-based transport companies and then start to sell space / take bookings and then plan / allocate / despatch / optimise their ‘network’… There are even instances when 4PL providers will poach customers off an asset-based transport company and sell the routes back to the transport company that looked after the deliveries in the first place….but that’s a story for another day….

Transport companies are about to face a raft of problems – warehousing capacity (due to holding stock over lockdown) and more import volume arriving; driver / equipment shortages; massive increases in volume to their already stretched networks; and road accidents – to name a few. So next time your new shoes arrive a day late, hopefully  this gives a sense as to what is happening in the background as it’s an industry that does deserve more credit!

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