Signs of a supply chain slowdown are appearing, and many shippers are scrambling to pivot operations that they were finally starting to normalize after two years of pandemic challenges.
Buddy Sexton, chief commercial officer at OptiX, an international logistics solutions provider with offices in Houston, Texas and Savannah, Georgia, likened the supply chain coming out of the pandemic to a clogged water line.
“The dramatic halt to global trade at the start of COVID-19 backed up an enormous volume of freight, but when it was released, product markets and manufacturing were uneven in reopening. This clogged ‘water line’ of freight created enormous pressure on the ports, then inland rail locations, then trucks and chassis and finally warehouses,” Sexton said. “It created a systematic failure where the product was moving but stuck somewhere within the supply chain.”
Now that the supply chain “water line” has been largely but not entirely cleared, weakened demand and a strained economic environment have created a “recipe for the slowdown,” Sexton said.
One only needs to look at U.S. inbound cargo volumes, which have plummeted to 2019 levels from the high volumes during the first half of 2022.
On the ground, Sexton is seeing other signals of this slowdown, including congestion easing at ports from long queues last year, ocean carriers becoming more willing to negotiate rates with shippers and independent contractor professional drivers seeking to join companies like OptiX to haul contracted freight instead of chasing spot market opportunities.
“We are seeing these market factors vary by port and customer industry, but there are consistent indications the volumes are starting to normalize,” he said.
This means shippers must transition from conditions in which they need to move goods at any cost to an environment where they must do so at the best overall value, according to Sexton.
“Relationships are key in logistics, and one of the most important partnerships for dynamic customers is with a carrier who can bring actionable and creative solutions that maximize earnings in any economic environment,” says Adam Borden, president of OptiX. “We have made the physical and people-related investments so that we can scale and pivot as our customers’ needs evolve through the cycle.”
OptiX, formerly known as LincLogistics, provides full-service logistics solutions that solve complex issues with the customer’s perspective and priorities at the center.
“We have a broad range of customized services including intermodal, dedicated, 3PL solutions and storage & warehousing, but we have to create the right mix that solves the issue in a way that is seamless with the broader operation,” Borden said.
With a focus on integrated and contracted solutions, OptiX continues to invest heavily to ensure their service drives down costs, increases efficiency and mitigates risks.
“From the customer perspective, we feel it is our service duty to integrate ourselves within our customers’ supply chains in order to position them to meet their stated goals and objectives,” Sexton said. “We will expand and further develop our bespoke capital projects that have positioned us well to meet the needs of our customers. By building grounded container storage facilities, developing warehousing and transload solutions, integrating container management programs and creating full service supply chain solutions, we’re adding to our strong track record of providing value-added services that are enabling long-term customer partnerships.”
OptiX continually looks for opportunities to expand our service offerings to meet customers’ needs.
Sexton added: “We strive to develop customer-centric solutions to drive down costs and position our customers for growth, either within our existing service offering or an expansion on our service offerings. Building upon our current services in partnership with a customer is a great example of finding the right mix of service and consultation so that the combined operation is a ‘win’ for both parties. It also positions OptiX to expand our service offering for other area clients.”
The creativity and capability of the company are a reflection of its tremendous employees, said Borden. “We learn the customer’s perspective and goals, set realistic expectations, never overcommit, and let our service and execution earn operators’ trust.”
OptiX is a partner to help weather the ups and downs of ever-changing supply chain conditions with a personalized approach.
To learn more about OptiX, click here.