Recovering from Peak Season

Problems during Peak Season? Here’s How to Make Next Year Better

Peak season can always hit companies hard, but we’ve entered a new era since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Now more than ever it’s important to take inventory of what issues you faced during peak season, what worked, what didn’t work, and what can be done to improve your processes going forward.

The challenges many companies faced during peak season

The primary challenges that most companies faced during the last peak season were long lead times, scarce product availability, and high prices. What we’re hearing from manufacturers and distributors in our network is that these challenges are likely to continue. The factors that are causing or exacerbating these peak season challenges are:

  • Continued bottlenecks – From backed up parcel carriers that can’t manage the volumes to historic delays at major ports, bottlenecks and product shortages are everywhere and especially visible during peak season.
  • Rising costs – With inflation becoming worse, price increases are occurring throughout the entire economy in almost every industry, for raw materials to finished products.
  • Labor shortages – Many manufacturers and distributors are finding it difficult to have enough labor to meet demand for their products. A lack of workers is forcing many companies to search for ways to improve efficiencies, including adding more automation.
What’s the solution to peak season challenges?

There are two effective solutions for improving your processes during peak season in a post COVID-19 world. First, careful planning is important to complete throughout the entire year, and packaging materials must be acquired earlier than what used to be customary. Second, by increasing efficiencies in your operation, you can reduce wasted material and the need for labor.

Many companies are hesitant to order packaging products earlier than they have in the past, because they worry about paying too much. For example, if they lock in the materials they need six months in advance instead of three months like they have in the past, what if the prices drop? Although it’s a valid concern, you need to ask yourself what the biggest risk to your business is. Is it potentially paying a higher price for materials or not being able to ship your product and meet orders during peak season?

Ensuring you have what you need to ship your products is critical. To accomplish that goal, you need to start estimating what and how much material is required and to lock in commitments for purchasing it earlier than in previous peak seasons.

Don’t forget about packaging machine maintenance

Once you have part of your operation automated, and you are using packaging machines to boost efficiency, you need to maintain them regularly, so they are ready for peak season. Preventive maintenance pays for itself through increased machine lifespan and decreased downtime when you need the equipment most. We recommend contacting the machine manufacturer a few months before peak season to discuss your maintenance options.

Increase the efficiency of your operation

In addition to planning and determining what your business needs sooner, you also need to search for ways to boost efficiency. In some cases that will mean adding more automation or replacing old machines. In other cases it means sticking to a preventive maintenance plan, so that your machines don’t go down when you need them most.

Although they are large investments, replacing or adding new machines can often pay for themselves. For example, new shrink wrap machines are highly automated and use less shrink wrap, so you can package goods faster and cut down on the amount of material you need to buy.

In the end, whether you can add more automation or whether it makes sense to replace an old machine comes down to your specific operation and requirements.

That’s where Pioneer comes in.

How Pioneer can help improve peak season performance

It is definitely easier said than done when it comes to planning further ahead of time and improving the efficiency of your operation. But that’s where our team can help. We complete thorough packaging evaluations where we look at your products, your packaging materials, your machines, your level of automation, and your overall process. Our team analyzes everything, then identifies things that can be optimized, replaced, automated, or substituted to reduce your costs and ensure you have what you need. We will also inform you how early you should lock in materials for peak season.

We offer blanket order agreements

A blanket order is a purchase order the end user makes with Pioneer that contains multiple delivery dates over a period of time, negotiated to take advantage of predetermined pricing, and availability of raw materials. The benefits of a blanket order are that it assures supply of the materials you need, you don’t have to hold large amounts of inventory, and it streamlines the ordering process by using a single PO. We’ll provide your packaging supplies at regular intervals, so you’re ready for peak season.

Make next peak season your strongest one yet

There are many opportunities to enhance efficiency and find the materials you need. If you faced issues during peak season this year, then we will help you find solutions and put you on a better footing for next year.

Call Pioneer to Discuss Your Needs Today!