4 Reasons Your Fuel Doesn’t Get to the Station On Time
Managing the logistics and supply chain for the gasoline industry is no small feat.
Between manufacturers, logistics suppliers, gas stations and ultimately the consumer, there are many variables that can impact how and when fuel is delivered to its final destination.
The tank truck industry is a critical piece to this supply chain, hauling commodities that are necessary to the livelihood of our economy. This specialized group of logistics professionals require additional safety equipment and training to be sure that their loads are moved safely from the supplier to the station in the most efficient, cost-effective way possible.
According to the National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC) in 2013, the tank truck industry hauled 2.48 billion tons of freight, which equaled 25.6% of all truck freight; the largest commodity in that group was petroleum products, representing 49.2% of all tank truck tonnage.
With this large amount of tank trucks on the road, the possibility of deliveries being late to the gas station is virtually inevitable. What are the reasons for delays, and how can logistics professionals effectively manage delays, improving the overall supply chain?
Causes of Delays
Delays are always a possibility, directly affecting the way in which businesses successfully manage their supply chain. There is a myriad of reasons for delays when delivering petroleum products and the following highlights some of the most common.
1. Traffic congestion
We’ve all experienced traffic congestion; it’s frustrating and can lead to a number of negative consequences. This is a common delay for tank truck carriers. With more drivers on the road, there is simply more opportunity for bumper-to-bumper traffic. In addition, tank trucks may contribute to the congestion, having to go slower through a construction site, for example, because of the nature of the product they’re carrying.
Logistics professionals plan and account for less-than-perfect weather conditions on a regular basis, but mother nature is ultimately in charge. Snow, ice, and a hard rain can impede the progress of tank trucks, making it a challenge for drivers to stay on time for delivery.
3. Supply issues
The complex way in which the actual product gets to and is manufactured by the supplier can impact transportation. Refineries rely on barges or pipes to gather product, and depending on how the supply chain is managed, product may not be available when the tank truck is ready for pickup.
In addition, delays happen as a result of miscommunication of what and how much product is to be moved. For example, information about the load could be omitted or left off of the load instructions, resulting in the driver planning to pick up super unleaded gasoline from the supplier, yet regular unleaded gas is what’s available. Supplier delays result in reduced efficiencies and cost increases, not to mention added stress and uncertainty on the driver.
4. Mechanical breakdowns
When you work with highly specialized equipment, mechanical breakdowns are inevitable. Tires can blow out or an inoperable blending arm can cause serious delays in the transportation process.
These delays can reduce the efficiency of operations, resulting in lost productivity and increased costs for both the supplier and logistics professional.
Solutions that prevent delays
To efficiently manage the supply chain process, including the logistics function, it’s critical to partner with a logistics company that can ensure the correct infrastructure is in place to mitigate delays and in turn, appropriately trouble-shoot delays if they do happen, resulting in cost-effective supply chain management.
The following solutions adopted by Dupre’s Energy Services Group can help:
1. Onboard Technology
The communication technology available for drivers is essential in reducing the impact of delays. Tank trucks have onboard computers that can quickly communicate with dispatch regarding supplier delays, traffic concerns or the availability of additional drivers within range that can help in case of a breakdown.
These tools aid the driver to ensure their safety and proper product delivery, and enhance communication with dispatch and the customer.Clear customer communication given in real-time is imperative to an efficient supply chain operation and assists in completing deliveries on-time.
2. 24/7 Dispatch
To effectively reduce delays for your customers, ensure that your logistics partner has a full 24/7 dispatch team available with direct access for drivers. Through this immediate availability, changes in product, routes, delivery or pick-up times and even inventory control can be accessed by the driver and/or customer whenever the need arises.
Special circumstances like winter storms or pipeline switches can be effectively managed with instant accessibility to a logistics professional; updates can be given to drivers each hour or even more quickly if the situation requires.
Through this system, risks to the delivery of product can be appropriately handled, resulting in and enhanced supply chain operation and on-time delivery.
3. Proactive supplier relationship
Ensuring on-time delivery for your customer means knowing your supplier. An effective logistics partner understands, ask questions and provides an enhanced supply chain solution that increases the efficiency of the logistics function, mitigates the chance of delays in delivery and produces a cost-effective result. Does your supplier have the technology needed to effectively communicate changes or delays with product? Do they require additional phone calls to ensure on-time pickup and in turn, on time delivery?
Take a proactive approach in developing supplier relationships; that way if delays arise, you can effectively partner together to maintain efficiencies and keep costs at a minimum.
4. Responsive mechanical backup
When mechanical breakdowns threaten your on-time delivery, it’s critical to have a logistics partner that is responsive and can provide expertise to fix the problem. The availability of on-call services, partnerships with other transportation vendors and/or a mechanical shop on-site are just a few of the services available to reduce the possibility of delays.
Managing the many variables that impact your ability to deliver fuel to the station on time is possible. Assessing the likely causes for delays and working closely with your logistics partner to provide resources and infrastructure that reduces the potential for delay will create an efficient, cost-effective supply chain solution.