Amid the recent closure of two crucial railroad bridge crossings in Texas by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, shippers and freight brokerages are scrambling to find ways to minimize delivery disruptions. These border closures have raised concerns among businesses and supply chain professionals, prompting them to explore alternative options to keep their operations running smoothly.
One major player in the logistics industry, C.H. Robinson, was quick to respond to the border closures. They immediately began assisting their customers, especially those in the automotive sector with substantial shipments, by redirecting their freight to alternative border crossings. This proactive approach allowed them to keep the product flow uninterrupted, even in the face of such disruptions.
When considering alternatives for freight transportation, several factors come into play. Shifting loads from one mode of transportation to another, such as from rail to trucks or planes, can be a viable solution. However, time is a critical factor in such decisions, as delays at the border can quickly accumulate additional costs for shippers, carriers, and the overall economy.
Jason Mansur, VP of Enterprise Partnerships at Valley Companies, emphasized the importance of having contingency plans in place for shippers who rely on open transit at the border. These plans may involve creating an emergency safety stock, sourcing from alternative suppliers, or reevaluating inventory management strategies. The goal is to ensure that businesses can adapt swiftly to unexpected border closures and continue meeting their operational requirements.
Mansur also highlighted the significance of inventory management during such disruptions. Companies employing just-in-time inventory practices may find themselves in a more challenging situation than those with alternative inventory management methods. Therefore, having a robust procurement and supply chain strategy that includes alternative suppliers and diversified sourcing options can be crucial.
The closures of these vital rail crossings have already led to freight bottlenecks, with long wait times reported at truck lanes. While some rerouting to other facilities can temporarily alleviate congestion, a prolonged closure could exacerbate the situation. As of now, there is no definite timeline for when the rail crossings will reopen, and once they do, it will take time to resume normal operations.
In summary, the recent border closures have underscored the need for businesses to be prepared for unexpected disruptions in their supply chains. Developing contingency plans, diversifying suppliers, and optimizing inventory management can help mitigate the impact of such events and keep goods flowing efficiently.