Fortunately, the global shipping industry has largely recovered from much of the extreme disruption, backlogs, delays and record-breaking price hikes we experienced over the last few years. That may prompt you to wonder: Are capacity constraints still a thing in the household goods moving and storage world?
The short answer is yes. The challenges of balancing the right levels of supply and demand are a reality across all sectors of the transportation industry. Understanding what causes capacity imbalances and what parts of the process can be controlled will help you minimize the impact on your relocation program. Perhaps most importantly, knowing how to best navigate capacity constraints can help you set your relocating employees’ expectations and deliver better experiences when shipping their personal belongings by air, sea and road.
Simply put, when it comes to the transportation industry, capacity is space. It’s the maximum amount of room available for moving goods at any given time via the containers and planes, ships, trains and trucks that transport them – or in the warehouses that store them. It’s the space available within shipping lanes, at ports, via air traffic/airports, and on the rails and roads. It’s determined by the size, type and number of available transport vessels, as well as the size, weight and types of goods that are being moved by them. It is also influenced by regulations that dictate how the process works, such as maximum load weights and operator/safety requirements, including mandated commercial driving and resting hours. For shipments of any kind – domestic and global – vessels should be at full capacity to achieve the maximum levels of time and cost efficiencies, for carriers and end consumers alike.
That sounds like it should be easy enough, right? Well, not always. Even though some conditions or events may seem like they should be detached from the shipment of household goods, especially as they relate to domestic-only moves by road, constraints happening anywhere along the global supply chain impact all transportation companies, with the potential to drive up costs and lead to longer transit times. Several things can contribute to a capacity crunch, including:
As of the beginning of Q4 2023, pricing and capacity levels are largely stable in most U.S. domestic markets and several global regions as well. But many international moves still present challenges – the hostilities in and around Israel, the ongoing war in Ukraine and lingering supply chain disruptions/equipment delays are still disrupting many global routes.
What can we expect in the near term? We’re currently seeing reduced moving volumes, attributed largely to the geopolitical and economic uncertainty, high interest rates and lack of available housing inventory, in both the purchase and rental segments. In addition, historically, election years in the United States tend to prompt a more cautious “wait and see” mindset on the part of many business leaders. Taking all those influences together, we’ll likely see fewer capacity constraints for the rest of 2023 and into the first half of 2024.
In fact, an Inbound Logistics survey found that trucking companies are less worried about the ability to find capacity now (cited by 30% of respondents this year vs. 52% last year), or the ability to efficiently match product supply and demand (20% this year vs. 35% last year).
As we’ve noted, however, supply and demand ebb and flow, so capacity constraints will eventually return. Armed with the right information, you can prepare your team to be ready when they do.
While many of the conditions that cause capacity shortages are largely out of anyone’s control, there are certain things you can do to help mitigate the impact when demand is high and available space is in short supply. Here are some tips for setting up for success:
When choosing a moving company partner:
Even in the most stable of environments, predicting the exact levels of supply and demand in the transportation industry is challenging. The extreme circumstances we’ve witnessed over the last few years only add to the difficulties. While multiple factors can contribute to capacity constraints, there are a few proactive steps you can take to help mitigate the impact to your relocation program and your employees’ moving experiences.
Want to learn more about flexible moving options and managing constraints? Contact us.