Customs Bonded Warehouses: Solutions for Post-Tariffs Rush on Steel and Aluminum

The effects of the 2018 tariffs enacted by the Trump White House have already begun to reshape global commerce. As of this writing, the U.S. steel industry is celebrating a 41-percent benchmark price hike since the start of the year.

Producers, meanwhile, are cutting manufacturing costs and raising prices to offset the new expense on raw materials. Consumer prices have hit a 6-year high, jumping nearly 3 percent in June compared to the previous year.

This is the fallout of a new trade era. Importers can't escape the tariffs. They can, however, mitigate their costs by storing imported steel, aluminum, and other goods in Customs bonded warehouses. Warehousing operations that run bonded facilities are rushing to prepare their locations for a sudden explosion of demand.

But in warehousing, the only way to boost capacity is to find more space. How can bonded warehouses add square footage without expanding the walls of their facilities? The answer is to find underutilized space and divert it to usable warehousing purposes.

The first place to look is in your forklift battery room. Here are a few ways to convert battery-room space into revenue-generating storage at the bonded warehouse:

    1. Shrink the forklift battery room's footprint while expanding your fleet size.

When you can't buy the building next door, all you can do is reallocate space to maximize revenue-generating usage. For operations that run electric forklifts, that means trimming the footprint of the battery room.

This could be the ideal moment to move to a Double, Triple, or Quad Stack Battery Extractor System. System Stands that build up rather than out can shrink a battery-storage footprint to a quarter of the size. Meanwhile, Quad Stack Battery Extractors deftly and safely navigate the cube, retrieving fully charged batteries from every tier to get forklifts back in the aisles in a matter of minutes.

    1. Right-size battery collections to reduce unnecessary stock.

      Before reporting advances in fleet management software, it made sense to have a few more forklift batteries than you needed. Today, that's no longer the case.

A comprehensive battery fleet management system like Fleet Tracker provides detailed reporting on usage, so managers can calculate exactly how many batteries they need. With excess stock out of the way, there's more space for storing imports

    1. Incorporate battery maintenance equipment into the system.

      Operators have to periodically wash forklift batteries and replenish water in the cells ("watering" the batteries). Otherwise, batteries can permanently lose capacity.

Rather than creating an entirely separate space for maintenance equipment, though, Battery Wash Cabinets sit flush with System Stands, allowing easy access via Battery Extractor.
Meanwhile, an Integrated Watering System uses existing rack space to automatically water batteries at the completion of the charge cycle. Combined with an Electrical Distribution system and Cable Management accessories, these technologies eliminate sprawl within the battery room.

The global trade environment is changing rapidly. Today, media reports suggest we might soon see tariffs of 25 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. By the time this piece goes live, the picture could be very different.

All of these conditions impact the demand for Customs bonded warehousing. In order to take advantage of the booms — and stay resilient if demand zigs when we expect it to zag — warehouse owners can always squeeze a few more square feet out of an existing facility by taking advantage of vertical space, right-sizing equipment fleets, and keeping docks flexible.

This age of trade skirmishes could be a boon to operators of bonded warehouses — but only if they take up more space for business, and less for handling forklift batteries.

"China vows retaliation if Trump slaps 25% tariff on $200 billion of Chinese imports." CNBC. CNBC LLC, 1 Aug. 2018. Web. 1 Aug. 2018.

Egan, Matt. "'Happy with tariffs':Steel industry emerges as trade war winner." CNN. Cable News Network, 30 July 2018. Web. 31 July 2018.

McGroarty, Patrick and Bob Tita. "U.S. consumers paying more as effects of tariffs start kicking in." MarketWatch. 29 July 2018. Web. 31 July 2018.