Thursday, 29 November 2018 17:05

How to Build a Mixed Load of North American and Tropical Hardwoods

Written by Jesper Bach

Not to long ago a standard order size of imported tropical lumber was a full tractor trailer load. In the past, the popularity of tropical species and the increased amount of delivery intervals allowed hardwood lumber buyers to be able to keep higher inventory levels and adjust their procurement strategies to be viewed with a more artistic eye, rather than a scientific one. However, today that market has changed.

Plenty of manufactures and hardwood lumber distributors still purchase their tropical hardwoods in tractor-trailer quantities. However, what we are seeing is that more and more customers are looking to order tropical hardwoods in 4,000-8,000 bf quantities and then fill out the rest of the tractor-trailer with some of the popular North American hardwood products. One reason for this is that customers seem to be focusing more on keeping tighter raw material increments and improving inventory turns with custom designed inventory management programs with their suppliers. DSC8107

From our Cove City, NC facility, we often ship a variety of mixed load containers. For example, some containers could contain Sapele, Red Oak and White Oak. Another may be a mixture of African Mahogany, Genuine Mahogany, and White Oak. We even have customers request a combination of specific thicknesses,  width sorts, and even full packs of one particular length which allows them to minimized unusable inventory getting stuck in their warehouses. Mixed loads allow a degree of versatility to for customers.

Here are a few tips we have found useful to keep in mind when ordering and managing a mixed load delivery.

  1. Think North American species first. If you find that you consume traditional North American hardwoods faster than your tropical hardwood stock, consider reversing your thinking by working up an order of domestic hardwoods and supplementing them with 2,000 to 3,000 bf of tropical hardwoods as a different way to manage your inventory.
  2. Plan ahead. Research and document your average lumber consumption rates to develop a plan that can help you lay out how far in advance you will need to place an order with your hardwood lumber supplier of choice.
  3. Rethink deliveries. It is important to determine your hardwood lumber suppliers delivery intervals and then plan a 48-72 hour buffer between scheduled deliveries.
  4. Identify needs, choose the right supplier. When placing your order, identify a few species you can order together. This could be a variety of different tropical species that you are sure you will consume in a short period of time. Then find a supplier that can supply you with all of your combined needs on a regular basis.
  5. Consider a variety of hardwood lumber products. We have found that it has been helpful for customers to consider hardwood lumber products like Sapele squares, SLR2E, S4S moulder blanks or even live sawn slabs. This helps keep freight costs manageable.

Whether you deal primarily with North American or tropical hardwoods, if you are looking for a new way to manage your hardwood lumber inventories we can help. Contact us to see how we can meet all of your hardwood lumber needs.

Jesper Bach
Baillie Lumber Co.
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