Since our last Roundup article at the beginning of the summer, the bulk shipping landscape has remained largely the same – much to the consternation of shippers across the country. Terms like “tight capacity” and “driver shortage” are as much a part of our daily vocabulary now as they have been for the past 18 months. In this article, we’ll examine the Q3 that just was and share some wisdom about squeaky wheels.
Q3 2021 Bulk Freight at a Glance
As a freight broker that specializes in liquid and dry bulk freight, our load volumes have been very consistent across the last few quarters. We’re moving every load we have capacity for and doing all we can to find capacity when it doesn’t seem to exist.
For liquid and dry bulk shipments, we’ve moved about as much bulk freight in Q3 as we did in Q2, which are exceptionally high volumes. Looking farther back, we’ve shipped 44% more bulk freight in Q3 2021 than we did in Q3 of 2020.
Volumes remain high and are expected to continue into 2022.
To move all this freight, we rely on our bulk carrier network – once of the largest in North America – which consists of bulk trucking companies large and small across the continental U.S. We lean on our carriers to haul everything from chemicals and solvents to plastics and clay.
And, while Bulk Connection prides itself on moving freight for our customers wherever and whenever they need it shipped, such timely service has not always been possible in the past year-plus. We sometimes need to wait for capacity to open up in a specific lane or with a specific carrier. It is through this waiting that we’ve realized the truth of an old adage.
“The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease”
As we, along with the rest of the bulk shipping industry, continue to deal with tight capacity issues caused by the driver shortage and other factors, we understand that things change quickly. Even though securing capacity for a given load may appear hopeless at one moment, the story can change in a day or even an hour.
When a customer needs to move a product in a specific lane, we have a vetted list of carriers we can rely on to get the job done. In this climate, however, it’s not always possible to get it done on the shipper’s schedule. When that’s the case, we will become the “squeaky wheel” in the ears of our carriers – checking in with them at least daily to see if capacity has opened up.
Because when it does open up, we want to be the first to ask for it.
There have been many times where a carrier says, “I’m glad you called. I just had a cancelation and can fit you in.” Of course, there are many calls before that sort of magic happens, but the point is that this type of squeaky-wheel perseverance can and does pay off in this tight capacity climate – if you stick to it.
So, to find capacity in Q4 and beyond, try to be the squeaky wheel in the ears of the carriers you rely on to haul your bulk loads. Or, better yet, let us do it for you. Contact Bulk Connection today to learn more about our bulk freight broker services and our ability to secure capacity for your lanes and products. And, while you’re at it, check out our recent article for more ways to deal with the capacity shortage.