Success Story » Transportation & Logistics

How Deshler’s logistics partner used creative solutions to keep cargo moving.

GTM’s internal forecasting and innovative approaches helped global customers overcome an international shipping crisis.

Photo by Venti Views on Unsplash

Stuck at Sea

Container-laden ships bobbed at sea, languishing in congested ports up and down the coast, from Long Beach to Seattle. One carrier’s entire fleet piled up off of the West Coast, anchored and unmoving, shutting down its shipping service. Cargo losses and associated costs accelerated as shipping pipelines remained blocked.

Taking Control

Global Transportation Management (GTM), Deshler’s global logistics partner, took control of the situation for our customer, as staggering business losses accumulated and a plant shutdown loomed. Informed by continuous monitoring of market and political forces and decades of logistics experience, the team warned customers of impending trouble and identified alternate ports. The combined Deshler partners’ tightly integrated executive team, contributing expertise in manufacturing, logistics, assembly and supply chain management, sprung into action, implementing an aggressive plan that got the customer’s goods moving again.

A Team Responds

Deshler’s success comes from careful planning and its ability to intelligently, quickly and effectively respond when the truly unexpected does arise. Its partner companies have navigated everything from supplier disruptions and materials shortages to labor issues and international upheaval. They’re well positioned to respond to transportation stoppages and other potentially business-ending challenges.

Massive shipping delays at West Coast ports are of particular concern, as they can result in supply chain disruptions and even product spoilage for most of the North American continent. Ever-shifting mismatches between consumer demand and global supply chains – such as in 2021 during the height of Covid-19 lockdowns – often severely impact business concerns on both sides of the shipping relationship. Over the years, the full Deshler team has successfully navigated significant disruptions through a combination of planning, nimble reaction time, and ingenious solutions. For this particular customer, each of the Deshler companies’ individual expertise was crucial.

GS3 Global, Deshler’s global collaborator, was the lead for the end customer, a major automaker. An award-winning and well-known leader in supply chain solutions, GS3 had experienced phenomenal growth, despite its founding during economic upheaval. This ability to anticipate and thrive during uncertainty was good preparation for the ports crisis. GS3 served as the direct connection to the customer while coordinating an integrated response and professionally managing the entire supply chain.

GTM was Deshler’s crucial logistics partner throughout, handling last-minute modifications to destinations, schedules and modes of transport. Their team swiftly renegotiated shipping documents, monitored port traffic, formed shipment extraction teams, and arranged efficient transportation by rail and truck. Calling upon their global team of logistics partners, GTM staff were also able to make adjustments that other companies were unable to handle.

This targeted intervention, combined with careful diplomacy, often made the difference between goods rotting at sea or getting to their final destination on time, or close to it. Bills of lading had to be changed overseas, before shipments left, in order to alter their discharge at final ports. Releasing a container to a particular trucking company or rail carrier also required advanced planning to a minuscule degree.

Feblo International, Deshler’s forecasting, production planning and warehousing expert, also played a crucial role in contingency planning. Their team offered constant monitoring of the customer’s inventory levels against production shipping schedules. As conditions changed, the Feblo team measured the ways late deliveries would affect the final customer. They would then advise when to choose alternate routes, keeping parts and production lines in motion.

Feblo was also able to reduce the costs of temporary switches to air freight for some customers through advance preparation and early customer notification and constant monitoring. Because of Feblo’s forecasting, some customers shipped extra parts earlier than originally planned, buffering the effects of the shipping slowdown.

Back in Motion

As the team quickly put the solutions into practice, GS3 presented the solutions to the customer. They explained the new steps required to transport ocean freight from Point A to Point B. GTM continued its pinpoint monitoring and re-shuffling of modes of transport as needed. Feblo carefully monitored inventories as conditions shifted.

What worked for Deshler? Constant monitoring. Was a shipment “hot”? Were transport details in hand before port arrival? Were skilled port escorts in strategic positions? What was the status of rail and air transportation? Weather conditions? Labor negotiations?

Simultaneously, the customer continued to increase their shipment volume, choosing to flood the supply chain with enough material to force needed goods through. Deshler had to manage this shipment surge as well.

Intelligent and unhesitating responses were the order of the day. Sometimes rail transport made sense. Sometimes, truck transport helped lessen train bottlenecks. Deshler turned to driver teams who took turns driving to keep freight moving. Even air transport was employed with plant shutdowns were imminent. The Deshler team chartered DC-9 planes, flying customer parts all over the country.

“When major transportation issues arise, our team is always ready. Through intelligent forecasting, innovative thinking and taking ownership, we create solutions for our customers that keep their products moving and plants running.”

Mark Brodie

Founder, Managing Member and Co-Owner, GTM USA

– 0.2% GDP

in the third quarter of 2015 for the U.S. economy

$2 Billion

per day cost to the economy

1 million

container backlog (10% of monthly US containerized imports

Smooth Sailing Ahead

Getting goods where they needed to be, efficiently, safely and as close to on-time as possible, was the goal. The Deshler approach, to offer alternative, rapidly modifiable modes of transport, accompanied by constant monitoring, targeted intervention, and creative management, proved to be a solid solution. While thousands of containers languished at sea, Deshler’s customers’ shipments remained in motion. Assembly lines at thirty automotive plants kept running and doors remained open. Jobs were saved and customers’ needs were met.

During this time, industry-wide container delays grew to a staggering level and congestion became unbearable. Drivers would wait for hours, days even, at ports, sometimes departing without their scheduled loads. For many, the financial damage was catastrophic.

As Deshler helped this customer escape the worst, its innovative team response attracted attention. As word of this success spread in the automotive community, Deshler was soon shipping parts for seven separate automakers. Other companies struggling with their supply chains began reaching out as well, some beginning to emulate the Deshler approach.

Though its response to the port crisis was unique in the industry at the time, it wasn’t unusual for Deshler’s unified team. Working in concert, staff pool resources and ideas and work without barriers to anticipate change and rapidly respond to problems. Crafting effective, team-based solutions for customers remains the leading goal for all Deshler brands.

Overcome the Unexpected

Learn about our logistics team’s expert support for customers’ complex transportation needs.