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Shipments- The Late Show

Whoever coined the saying “better late than never” couldn’t have been from the logistics industry. The best of us know it’s more “better never than late”, like George Bernard Shaw once said. For every late shipment an incalculable series of butterfly effects – usually costly – is put into motion. And we can go on about punctuality being the “politeness of kings”, but let’s be honest, we all know… (Late) Ship Happens.

As we work to close the gap between ETA and ATA, we’ve rounded up some of the top reasons shipments get delayed – mostly avoidable. Based on data from US Department of Transportation, on average only about 83.6% of the flights are “On-Time”, so the transit times quoted by providers should always be taken with a pinch of salt. 

Shipment delays happen daily, but what are the main reasons for that? We have listed 5 common reasons for shipment delays, and how these can potentially be avoided.

Communication

Communication failures between shipper and logistics service provider (LSP) accounts for more shipment delays than you can imagine. It begins from the quote-request-phase and has to follow-through to order-phase, then detail-phase where every single piece of information has to be accurate. Think wrong pickup or delivery address or instructions, and that one extra or less ‘0’ in the shipment weight, weighing on routes and options.

Weather

Snow, rain, wind, fog, extreme heat or cold… Mother Nature has a way of throwing a spanner in the works. While generally, it’s a “we can’t do anything about it” consensus, the truth is, we can always be prepared. Monitoring the weather at origin, transit, and destination, and securing an “a la carte” spot-buy freight partner, for instance.

Paperwork

Technology is helping us with this one. It is getting better with most of the paperwork going electronic, however we still see shipments being delayed because of the wrong details, wrong paperwork, wrong interpretation of cross-border requirements. If computer says no, and/or customs says no, your cargo is not moving anywhere.

No Space

You thought you booked an express shipment with the “gold-class” urgency and priority status. Yeah, that’s all good until another shipper comes along with “platinum-class” urgency and priority status. If your carrier takes pride in its revenue, practicality, and cost-savings, your irregular or last-minute cargo might have to wait for the next flight. “It will be within 24 hours” they say, but don’t we all know what a difference a day makes.

Holidays

Like did you know that China celebrates Lunar New Year for 3 weeks in Jan/Feb and observes a week-long National Holiday in October? How do we know? Let’s just say early in our logistics careers, we learnt it… the hard way. Point is, if your shipment origin, destination, or even route cross paths with a national holiday, somewhere, brace for impact, or at least fasten your seatbelts. In logistics terms, be two-steps-ahead and allocate some buffer time.

Read our article Ship Happens, get on track or fall back for advancements in tracking shipments

Based on data from US Department of Transportation, on average only about 83.6% of the flights are “On-Time”, so the transit times quoted by providers should always be taken with a pinch of salt.