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Common Causes of Logistics Delays and How to Prevent Them

Loading a truck after facing logistics delays

To properly run a business, logistics are essential. This also means that you need to be familiar with common causes of logistics delays and how to prevent them in order to be equipped for emergencies!

Vehicle breakdown

One of the most common sources of logistics delays is simple vehicle breakdown. There is very little you can do if one of your trucks suddenly gets stuck on a road miles away from the nearest city. Such delays are not just annoying. They are also expensive to deal with for two reasons. First, you would be found in breach of contract for not making your delivery on time. Second, you would need to hire services to fetch the truck and then pay to fix it. Thankfully, this problem is easy to prevent.

A truck on an empty road
Drivers also need to know how to do some basic repairs on the road.

All you need to do to overcome these types of logistics delays is insist on regular and proper maintenance of your truck fleet. The more you learn about the world of logistics, the more you will understand that paying attention to such basics is essential. Of course, this means you need well-trained and conscientious employees.

Traffic delays

If your delivery route passes through cities, or there is an accident on the highway, you may very well face severe congestion. This can either slow down your truck fleet or even tie or down for several hours before they can move past the troublesome route. When it comes to this particular problem, the experts from recommend relying on technology. Although it is impossible to avoid congestion if an accident happens right ahead of you, you can at least rely on modern route planning apps to discover problems ahead of time and take roads that bypass them. Diverging from your ideal route may delay your fleet a little, but it’s still possible to make it on time.

Human error

Logistics delays can also happen due to mistakes made by your own employees. Particularly those who need to handle paperwork, such as order and delivery forms. If they make any sort of mistakes, your orders could be scheduled to arrive days after they should have already been shipped off further down your logistics chain. Similarly, wrong items can be sent off if the person in charge messes up filling in delivery forms. Either result not only causes serious logistics delays but also forces you to find ways to compensate for the damage made.

Hostile weather conditions

While weather conditions will very rarely result in logistics delays when it comes to land transportation, they can wreak havoc on maritime and airline transport of goods. A serious storm can cause all flights to be canceled and ships to remain docked. Unfortunately, there is really only one thing you can do to battle this. Pay extra attention to weather forecasts and account for the bad weather when offering your scheduled delivery times. Even if you do not think you will have problems with the weather, it is still best to leave yourself some leeway when setting delivery times anyway. Having an error margin to fall back on can be the difference between making a successful delivery and running late.

Warehouse troubles

There are several scenarios in which your warehouse can be the source of logistics delays. The first and most frustrating is when employees do not do their job right. Messy stacking of merchandise and goods is not a casual mistake made at the moment. It is neglect and reflects a lack of proper training. Considering how hard it is to keep skilled warehouse workers long-term, this can be a real issue.

Warehouse workers in blue uniforms
While good drivers are important, warehouse staff can make or break a business.

Secondly, warehouse congestion can happen if you suddenly have canceled orders to deal with, leaving you with nowhere to store your upcoming deliveries.

Finally, if an accident happens in the warehouse, the loading and unloading of goods screech to a halt. Here, the solution, at least, is simple- train employees to work properly and divert resources to other warehouses you own to avoid further problems.

Delivery mismanagement

Sometimes, if you hire someone to do your deliveries for you, the logistics delays can be their fault. One of the worst and most frustrating of such problems are lost or misplaced shipments. Having a whole chunk of your goods just vanish is not something compensation can fix. Then, there are the cases where sensitive products are transported in an environment that ruins them. For example, the role of cold chain logistics in the pharmaceutical industry is so important because it guarantees the safe delivery of medications and other medical supplies. However, if the go-between neglects the importance of refrigerated transport, the supplies can spoil. The only way to prevent this is by carefully vetting the businesses you choose to cooperate with. If at all possible, try to complete your logistics chain without involving others.

Glass vials and bottles on a surface
Some goods, like pharmaceuticals, simply require a lot more care.

Sourcing troubles

Of course, among the common causes of logistics delays, the hardest are often those related to sourcing goods. You can very easily lose access to a supplier if you do not maintain a proper relationship with them. On the other hand, some suppliers go as far as to specialize in catering to specific businesses, making it obvious why tips to improve supplier relationships are important. Another solution, in addition to just improving your working relationship, is to never work with a single supplier. If they run into issues, you would be all out of luck. On the other hand, working with several opens up the possibility for them to temporarily pick up the slack and allow you to tide through the period.

Major accidents

The final contributors to logistics delays are major accidents. A good example is a pandemic, which had so recently put a wrench in the careful working of the logistics industry. Tsunamis, earthquakes, and similar also fall under this category. Unfortunately, there really isn’t much we can do to deal with those problems if they do pop up. Is evidenced by the fact that the logistics industry is still recovering from the pandemic.


Even though you are now familiar with the common causes of logistics delays and how to prevent them, you should neither drop your vigilance nor obsess over them. You should try to do your best if something does happen. But it is plain impossible to account for everything the future might bring.


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