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Calculating the True Value of a WMS: Top Cost Savings for Manufacturing Companies


Calculating the True Value of a WMS: Top Cost Savings for Manufacturing Companies

When manufacturing companies consider the digitization of their supply chain, many opt to delay their project because of the investments required to acquire and implement new technology solutions. In so doing, however, they deprive themselves of their operational and financial benefits.   

SaaS solutions like the SOLOCHAIN WMS have made efficient technology solutions far more affordable than ever before. Nevertheless, a WMS still remains a significant investment to smaller manufacturing companies. However, it’s important to keep in mind that a WMS or ERP’s TOC is not indicative of the system’s actual value – at least, not in and of itself.

Any investment in supply chain infrastructure must be evaluated by relating the TOC to the ROI an operator stands to achieve. It is therefore essential that operators rigorously understand the kinds of savings and gains a given technology solution can yield to make an informed decision regarding its value.

In this paper, we look at five ways manufacturing companies achieve tangible and intangible savings and gains thanks to the SOLOCHAIN WMS.

1. Roasting Coffee to Customers Satisfaction, for Less

A coffee roasting, packaging, and distribution company is putting out a great product and garnering the attention of major players the likes of Walmart, Target, and Menards. To benefit from these new revenue streams, the manufacturer must comply with distinct customer requirements, from packaging to labeling to shipping.

With the SOLOCHAIN WMS integrated with its ERP system, the manufacturer can rely on automated compliance processes and ensure that all shipments meet their customers’ requirements. At all stages of the production and distribution cycle, employees are informed of the customer’s requirements through intuitive interfaces on handheld devices or computer stations.

Thanks to these efficiency gains, the manufacturer is able to achieve a throughput that meets the increased demand instead of having to invest in new real estate, new material handling equipment, and a larger labor force.

2. Manufacturing Cosmetics in an Attractive Work Environment

Some savings generated by the SOLOCHAIN WMS are easily quantified. Others are more intangible, but nevertheless very real.

Most manufacturers these days have trouble attracting and retaining qualified warehouse workers. For a cosmetics manufacturer, this was true before the pandemic hit and it has become a real thorn in their foot today. Labor shortages are now affecting manufacturing and distribution activities to the point where they cannot meet productivity targets. Delays in shipments are having an impact on service levels. Meanwhile, a high turnover rate leads to significant training fees and further operational penalties.

The SOLOCHAIN WMS supports workflows from production processes all the way to shipping. Thanks to clear instructions on intuitive interfaces, activities in the warehouse are more efficient and the cosmetics maker can meet its productivity targets with fewer employees.

Implementing the WMS on handheld devices similar to iPhones and Android platforms, the younger generation of workers find their work environment much more pleasant. This helps the cosmetic maker achieve a higher retention rate, which in turn reduces the training budgets.

By relying on a smaller workforce and retaining more of its employees thanks to an improved work environment, the company can meet its productivity targets and ensure customer satisfaction while saving on labor costs.

3. A Production Flow That Never Drops the Ball

The benefits of traceability might be more obvious in the Food & Beverage industry, but the truth is that all manufacturers stand to make important savings by keeping track of the items that go into making what they produce.

Through SOLOCHAIN’s traceability and automated order cycles capabilities, a baseball equipment manufacturer can keep an eye on quantities produced as well as every item consumed in the process. Management can configure the WMS so that it automatically generates POs to procure items once a certain quantity threshold is reached. In that way, SOLOCHAIN ensures that production is never halted because items are missing on the shelves.

With management in charge of determining thresholds, the system also bypasses the risk of human errors, avoiding that too many, or to few items are ordered. This leads to an optimal use of the warehouse’s storage capacity, which saves the baseball equipment manufacturer from having to make unnecessary investments in their physical infrastructure.

4. Your Counts

Weekly inventory cycle counts force a manufacturer of audio-visual equipment to close areas in the warehouse. This slows down productivity and cuts into the manufacturer’s margins. Thanks to SOLOCHAIN’s inventory management capabilities, the company can save on the costs of long weekly cycle counts.

Once implemented on handheld scanning devices, SOLOCHAIN enables the manufacturer to keep track, in real time, of the quantity and location of every item in the warehouse. While they perform cycle counts, employees are continuously supported in their activities with clear instructions, which drastically cuts down on the time required to complete their tasks.

Today, the manufacturer is attaining inventory accuracy levels of 99.6% and working on eliminating weekly shutdown periods altogether. Thanks to SOLOCHAIN’s support, annual counts can be performed in a single weekend, ensuring that their production of a5. Thinking Ahead: Intelligent Manufacturing  audio-visual equipment never misses a beat.

A food processing facility specialises in the production of organic packaged meals that are delivered daily to various organic grocers in the region. Their products are gaining in popularity and demand is on the rise. The number and complexity of customer orders are quickly overwhelming their pen & paper fulfilment processes. The resulting production and shipping errors are now eating at the manufacturer’s profits and affecting customer satisfaction levels.

The SOLOCHAIN WMS facilitates Just-In-Time Delivery through automated full cycle order management. Thanks to the system’s support, order fulfillment at the food service manufacturer is now virtually errorless. Clients are satisfied and demand is on the rise again. Meanwhile, lesser returns lead to lesser losses, which in turn saves the organic meal maker from welting margins.

About Generix Group

Generix Group North America provides a series of solutions within our Supply Chain Hub product suite to create efficiencies across an entire supply chain. Our solutions are in use around the world and our experience is second-to-none. We invite you to contact us to learn more. 



Companies involved in the import of global products into the U.S. and considering the utilization of a foreign trade zone (FTZ) in their business may want to consult with a third-party logistics firm to get an in-depth look at what access to an FTZ may mean for them—and what a 3PL could offer in terms of benefits and efficiencies while operating within an FTZ.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), FTXs are secure areas under the agency’s supervision that are generally considered outside CBP territory upon activation. Located in or near CBP ports of entry, they are the U.S. version of what are known internationally as free-trade zones.

Imported products can be brought into the country through an FTZ and no duty is paid on these products until they are moved to their U.S. destination. Products can sit or be warehoused in FTZs for lengthy periods and if it is determined these products are no longer required, they can be returned without duties being paid.

“Most importantly, the FTZ program is a U.S. government program-driven around compliance and is unique in that it covers the full supply chain,” says Trudy Huguet, senior director of FTZ Product at GEODIS in Americas, in an interview.

An international firm with a strong North American presence and operations, GEODIS is a logistics company that offers services in several lines of business: supply chain optimization, freight forwarding, contract logistics, distribution and express, and road transportation.

Huguet offered that the expertise of the 3PL that offers foreign trade services has many benefits but, most importantly, they usually can serve on compliance and efficiencies. For instance, she noted a 3PL may have better access “to operational systems and data flow that is needed for multiple systems to run an FTZ” or systems integrated with a foreign-trade zone system. She said a 3PL may also be able to serve certain shared costs with the availability of facilities such as warehousing, as an example.

“3PLs are driven by customers’ needs, like customization and square footage, along with services, staff and team members to run that FTZ for them,” she said.

Addressing a company’s needs is extremely important, in or prior to a peak holiday season, said Huguet.

She noted that many years ago companies used to administrate their own zones but that meant the expertise had to be in-house, necessitating the need to cross-train employees. However, by contracting with a 3PL, “those risks with these programs go away,” Huguet said.

GEODIS has molded programs to fit customers’ needs “so we will work with customers to determine how they can get the biggest bang for their buck,” and where they can find the greatest savings within the FTZ, she said.

Because the U.S.a U.S. FTZ is a sister program to the global free-trade zone, “We are unique in regulations and how we operate and very strong in compliance and most industries and manufacturers, producers and distributors,” Huguet said. “If they are importing into the U.S., they have the opportunity to benefit from this program.”

Getting involved in an FTZ is “kind of a three-stage process” that, Huguet says, involves consultation with the FTZ board where designation is obtained. Activation with local customs and security is followed by building the operational side of the FTZ to run parallel with in-house systems.

Paul Killea, senior vice president of Freight Services Compliance & Security in Americas for GEODIS, oversees import and export compliance for the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Colombia, in addition to running an FTZ product. He stressed that “compliance is very big part of the FTZ.”

“Compliance is the process of ensuring that all of our services and our customers’ services are performed in a compliant manner and adhere to all (government) regulations” in and out of the U.S., Killea says. “So, we are responsible to ensure that we have the right processes in place, the right tools for auditing and reporting and in doing so, create visibility to outside parties, specifically the government and our customers, to show them we are compliant.”

GEODIS provides an array of services such as air freight, ocean freight, warehousing and trucking, and the 3PL has a top goal to be compliant itself and to make sure its customers are, too. “First and foremost, GEODIS has to be compliant but obviously we need to make sure our customers are compliant as well. It is a global principle we hold in high regard at GEODIS,” he says.

Strong compliance would definitely be beneficial to a company looking at the benefits of a 3PL with access to FTZ, he noted.

On the security side, GEODIS has a team that manages various aspects of security. The company is a member of Independent Air Carriers and freight forwarder that adheres to the U.S. Transportation Security Administration regulations. The company not only transports air freight, “we are also a certified screening facility in six locations,” Killea notes. “So, my team manages all of that air freight security which is also beneficial to clients.”

Huguet points out that more companies are becoming interested in FTZs “so what we have seen are more companies trying to improve their supply chain dealing with all the various supply chain challenges and bottlenecking with merchandise. Everyone is looking for a better solution and FTZs will help with that.” 

In addition, they can assist with some of the governmental trade issues that have been put into place, such as dealing with China.

Challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic and port congestion have created issues for companies that 3PLs with access to FTZs can assist with, such as creating additional warehousing within the FTZ to store products longer.

“Because of port congestion and because of COVID, merchandise is sometimes being delayed and not moving as quickly as it should,” Huguet concedes. “The FTZ program has certainly helped.”


Hughes Hubbard Releases 2022 FCPA Alert

Hughes Hubbard & Reed today released its 2022 FCPA Alert, a comprehensive review of the global cases, trends and enforcement actions that impacted anti-corruption law, multinational corporations and individuals to date this calendar year. For the 13th consecutive year, the highly respected and anticipated annual FCPA Alert highlights the most important trends and lessons for in-house counsel and compliance professionals.

The FCPA Alert’s contributors, led by Laura N. Perkins and Kevin T. Abikoff, co-chairs of Hughes Hubbard’s Anti-Corruption & Internal Investigations practice group, expect enforcement to surge – due in part to the Biden Administration’s recent memorandum on combatting corruption. Their analysis of recent enforcement actions suggests that going forward:

-The Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission will be cooperating with an expansive number of domestic agencies and divisions to conduct complex bribery investigations, as well as a growing number of non-US enforcement agencies.

-Companies that have resolved FCPA matters through NPAs, DPAs or plea agreements should expect increased scrutiny and attention to compliance with ongoing obligations under such agreements.

-While commodities traders, in particular, can expect greater scrutiny, enforcement will continue in a diverse array of traditional and non-traditional industries and in high-risk jurisdictions, with special emphasis on the independence and authority of corporate compliance functions and complete and timely cooperation with enforcement agencies.

The 153-page Alert provides detailed descriptions of key matters from 2020 and 2021 that support these and other key takeaways.

“As enforcement leadership has evolved this year under a new administration in Washington, we’ve witnessed renewed vigor in the investigation and prosecution of bribery and corruption in the United States and abroad,” said Abikoff. “As the regulators continue to leverage greater resources and reach into new industries, it is vital that companies and compliance departments remain vigilant in enforcing their compliance programs.”

The Alert also contains a deep dive into anti-bribery enforcement and developments in France, Brazil, United Kingdom, China, Mexico, and by multilateral development banks. For the first time, the Alert includes a discussion of the rapidly developing intersection between transnational corruption issues and international arbitration. This discussion highlights examples of how tribunals and courts have treated corruption claims in arbitration in recent years and provides insight into key questions raised by bringing claims in arbitration proceedings, regarding the burden of proof, the identification and treatment of red flags, and the impact of government investigations.

“An effective compliance program is more than words on paper,” said Perkins, a former supervisor in the DOJ’s FCPA Unit. “Prosecutors will pursue companies that have established but ineffective programs in place. It’s critical that companies adequately staff and empower their compliance departments, conduct due diligence, address red flags and allegations, and follow-though on their obligations.  Every year, our analysis cites example after example of the downsides to a lack of vigilance. Especially given the expected surge in enforcement now is not the time to take your eye off the ball.”

The complete report is available for download here.


About the Anti-Corruption & Investigations Practice Group

Hughes Hubbard’s Anti-Corruption & Internal Investigations Practice Group handles the full range of matters across the anti-corruption and compliance spectrum. It has conducted investigations in more than 90 countries involving the FCPA and other anti-corruption laws, resolved investigations and won landmark decisions for clients before U.S. and international authorities, and has served as compliance monitors approved by the Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the U.K. Serious Fraud Office, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and the United Nations.

Lawyers in the group include former senior government enforcement officials, corporate compliance counsel, foreign-trained attorneys and certified public accountants located in the United States and France. The group has many longstanding relationships with leading local firms in countries across the world with which it works closely on cross-border matters, including a strategic cooperation agreement with leading Brazilian anti-corruption firm Saud Advogados.

About Hughes Hubbard

Hughes Hubbard & Reed is a New York City-based international law firm that offers clients results-focused legal services and a collaborative approach across a broad range of practices. Hughes Hubbard was founded in 1888 by the renowned jurist and statesman Charles Evans Hughes. The firm is a leader in promoting diversity and is recognized for its pro bono achievements. For more information, visit



Shippers across the globe are sure to be confronted with new disruptions when navigating international markets–regardless of the shipping method put into place. Gone are the days when minimal compliance efforts are overlooked or passed off as acceptable. In the modern trade arena, compliance and accuracy are everything.

Tack on the pandemic, an ongoing trade war and what seems like a constantly shifting trade landscape, and compliance efforts can seem downright daunting and costly–especially to and from the U.S., according to Ben Bidwell, director of North America Customs and Compliance at C.H. Robinson.

“Former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty once said, ‘If you think compliance is expensive, you should try non-compliance.’ When shippers make mistakes, it can become costly and not just in terms of freight delays, but it can lead to seizure of goods and even jail time for those who are involved,” explains Bidwell. 

The C.H. Robinson executive shares that not only do shippers have to be more careful now than ever when trading across borders, but simply understanding the evergreen trade landscape and various barriers is a critical part of successful operations.

“Challenges in today’s trade market include Section 301, punitive tariffs, forced labor concerns and more,” Bidwell says. “But shippers cannot afford to forget about basics such as the U.S. Customs List of Trade Priority Issues, for example. Customs has certainly not lost sight of that list, and the importing community can’t afford to lose sight of it either.”

Different challenges require unique, strategic approaches in management. The constant shifting of these challenges depends primarily on the country in question, the products being shipped and local customs regulations. This is where automation, advanced technology and access to critical information can serve as significant game-changers for your customers and operations.

Trade & Tariffs Insights, a page on the C.H. Robinson website, “brings the latest challenges, changes and more wrapped together for importers and exporters to utilize and understand,” Bidwell says. “This resource helps shippers get the information they need–not only to remain compliant but to also keep them updated on the latest changes and potential changes that could impact their business.”

Staying informed with rock solid information is becoming ever more important, Bidwell notes.

“Visibility, access to your data and data analytics are critical in running a compliant and successful supply chain,” he says. “It equals not only results in compliance, but also duty savings, duty mitigation opportunities and overall awareness.”

C.H. Robinson’s Navisphere platform does exactly that. The data analysis tools (Carrier, Insight and Vision) capture key elements in the importing and exporting process while providing a clear path of data-backed insights and next-step actions. Navisphere leaves the guessing out of the process and enables customers to make informed decisions and cost analysis. Additionally, the different Navisphere tools serve as an extension in predictive data allowing shippers to proactively plan their next move.

“Shippers can go in and see where they are paying the most in duties and taxes by country, by specific commodity, by shipper, etc.; they can see all of that data side-by-side,” Bidwell says. “This feature gives them the opportunity to make informed decisions and assist with weighing, should we look at alternative sourcing options, for example.”

Another trending issue within the importing and exporting landscape is forced labor compliance. Bidwell shares that the penalties for such compliance issues–regardless of whether the importer is aware—are costly and can lead to the ultimate seizure or destruction of the goods in addition to severe civil penalties.

“Anytime you are shipping across borders, it is important to have a compliance program in place and that your company has individuals or a team dedicated to reviewing and maintaining that program,” he adds. “C.H. Robinson has worked with thousands of companies related to this. At the end of the day, our role is to act as an extension of their team, to not only get them up to speed on what they need to be doing from a compliance perspective, but in the long-term acting as a reliable partner to ensure their ongoing compliance.”

Shippers must keep in mind that customs has eyes on their shipments and implementing proactive rather than reactive measures will greatly benefit the business in the long-term. Bidwell advises that to ensure compliance measures are met and maintained, costs are inevitable. It really boils down to when these costs are enforced.

“Compliance is an investment. It may cost more on the front-end but skipping out on that investment could cost you tenfold in the long term. As far as other supporting elements with compliance efforts, I recommend going back to the data analytics and visibility of your own data, because that information can be telling, and it allows you to identify anomalies as they occur.”

Investing in a solid compliance strategy is not just for shippers, it is a critical piece to the entire process, throughout the whole supply chain. With the labor shortage being felt in almost every industry, the logistics sector cannot afford to skip out on the creation and adherence to acceptable compliance efforts. When employees are professionally trained and informed on upcoming changes within the market, your business benefits.

“It’s about getting back to basics and not losing sight of all of the baseline compliance that comes with importing and exporting,” Bidwell says. “It is easy to get lost with all the changes that are happening with trade policy and a very volatile market. Companies must ensure that they do not lose sight of traditional basic compliance, because that stuff hasn’t gone away, and customs certainly hasn’t stopped.”

C.H. Robinson provides solutions for their customers at the local level and across the globe. Ensuring all bases are covered through customs and compliance experts enables the customer to rely on these resource experts to advise on how to ensure their supply chain is compliant. 

To learn more about C.H. Robinson’s Navisphere technology platform or other offerings, please visit


Ben Bidwell is the director of North America customs and compliance at C.H. Robinson. Ben joined C.H. Robinson in 2004 and became a Licensed Customs House Broker in 2007. Throughout his career at C.H. Robinson, he has consulted and resolved a wide range of customs disputes for clients involving classification, country of origin, marking violations, seizures and protests for products ranging from hospitality goods, automobile tires, apparel and textiles, toys and other consumer retail goods.


The Art Of Compliance: Doing What’s Right, Not Just What’s Required

The rest of society got a taste of what corporate compliance officers go through when the pandemic forced restrictions and requirements on the entire population.

Suddenly, people were told to wear masks, social distance, and wash their hands more regularly and thoroughly than ever before. Plenty of people didn’t like that, trying to dodge the new rules or openly defying them, even as clerks, store managers, police officers, and health professionals firmly reminded them they needed to comply.

In somewhat the same way, compliance officers for a business may appear to act as the resident scolds, reminding people when their plans or actions come into conflict with state or federal rules and regulations that govern their industries.

It doesn’t always go over well.

“People often resist compliance because they don’t like to be told what to do,” says Steve Vincze, president and CEO of Trestle Compliance ( and author of the upcoming book Winning with Compliance: Strategies to Make Commercial Compliance Your Competitive Advantage.

“But compliance is about doing what’s right, not just what’s required.”

Companies can face hefty fines when they fail to comply with rules that govern their activities, whether the non-compliance was inadvertent or intentional. A couple of examples: In 2020, Capital One was fined $80 million for a data breach that exposed customers’ personal information the previous year. The Cheesecake Factory came under scrutiny and reached a $125,000 settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over the SEC’s allegation that the company misled investors about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its business.

So, whether you are the CEO of the company or a compliance officer, how do you make sure people are doing what they need to do? Vincze offers a few tips:

Listen. If you want people to listen to you and embrace your advice, you need first to listen to them, to understand their fears, their challenges, and their motivations, Vincze says. “You need to be able to answer the ‘why’ behind the what,’ “ he says. “Why do I need to comply? What’s in it for me if I do?  When it comes to compliance, the key message is that you have to listen well, hear what they are saying, and then mirror back to that person that you understood them.”

Inspire and motivate. Logic alone doesn’t always win out, which may be frustrating for some leaders, but that’s when the art and science of compliance and of leadership must come to the fore, Vincze says. “You need to touch both hearts and minds to inspire and motivate people,” he says. “The trick is to get people to want to comply. Depending on who you are speaking to, you may be able to reach them rationally and sensibly. But sometimes you may need to go deeper and find out what motivates them. For example, if you are dealing with young people fresh out of college, you might show them how compliance connects to a broader purpose, that it’s not just about following some rule but about helping people in some way.”

Be tough. Eventually, though, you may need to get tough. “You have to draw limits,” Vincze says. “You have to discipline people if they don’t comply and put themselves and others in jeopardy. You have to know where to draw the line, but you have to do it consistently and fairly, and you must communicate the limits very clearly.”

“At the end of the day, effective compliance boils down to understanding people as human beings, and using that understanding as an effective leader to inspire the desired behavior,” Vincze says. “You have to connect compliance and each individual’s role to a cause greater than any one person, a cause greater than themselves. Connect with their passion and you will inspire their compliance. Fundamentally, most people are good and want to do what is right. Apply that understanding to win them over to start winning with compliance.”


Steve Vincze is president and CEO of TRESTLE Compliance, LLC. (, a consulting firm that provides compliance, risk and regulatory services. He also is author of the upcoming book Winning with Compliance: Strategies to Make Commercial Compliance Your Competitive Advantage. Vincze has more than 25 years of experience in regulatory compliance matters, from government policy and enforcement to private sector business implementation considerations. Prior to forming TRESTLE, Vincze split his private-sector career between service as an in-house or outsourced senior vice president or vice president chief of compliance and privacy officer for several life science and healthcare companies, and as a consultant, as a senior leader with a Big 4 firm, and forming his own firms. He also served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps.


Dubai Customs Confirmed for BAI’s Agile Organization Certification

Competing against four private sector companies from around the world, government organization Dubai Customs achieved the highest agility rating by the American Business Agility Institute in addition to earning the organization’s coveted Agile Organization Certification. This represents a significant milestone for Dubai Customs as they are the first and only government organization to receive the certification.

“Dubai Customs has made great progress in building competencies to achieve the highest level of corporate agility,” said Sultan bin Sulayem, DP World Group Chairman & CEO and Chairman of Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation. “Quick adapting to change and going the extra mile to build products and services that continuously exceed the expectations of their customers is what sets Dubai Customs apart. Businesses develop strategies to manage the future and predicating it, but this works well only in an unpredictable market. We no longer live in such a world. We have to be more agile to adapt to the change.”

BAI reported that Dubai Customs remained in the top 10 percent among the thousands of companies and organizations considered. Senior management in conjunction with corporate agility teams were cited as a significant driver behind Dubai Customs’ success and achieving this recognition.

As part of the process for evaluation, factors including agile mindset and culture, authorization and ownership, diversity, equality and integration, psychological wellbeing, individual development, vision and mission, client-focused services, agile operations, external stakeholders, transparency, and quality are all assessed for final determination.

“We continuously develop our levels of agility within our vision of developing the customs field to achieve the best results in facilitating global trade and protecting the society,” said Ahmed Mahboob Musabih, Director General of Dubai Customs.

“The standards of the Dubai Government Excellence Program and the corporate agility model serve as the roadmap that we follow to achieve corporate agility. This renowned certification is reflective of our persistence and hard work. There are corporate agility teams in the department that manage risks and stimulate innovation. This is the prerequisite for going into comprehensive development in the next 50 years. We have learned a lot from the current covid-19 crisis, this included our quick response to the emergencies and turning challenges into opportunities. We have dealt with it with professionalism and agility and managed to facilitate global trade and provide quality services during what has been a testing time for all.”

IMO 2020


The shipping industry has experienced one heck of year since IMO 2020 took effect. Looking back, it is reasonable to state that ocean shippers were focused solely on ensuring compliance was achieved to meet the new standards in combating the emissions footprint. Outlined in our article from last year, the issue of cleaning bunker fuels for the first time paired with the contractual challenges presented by the regulation posed new sets of challenges to be met–and quickly.

Fast-forward to mid-2020, and shippers found themselves in a completely overturned economic situation due to the pandemic. Capacity restraints, shutdowns and cost fluctuations were beyond what any industry could have predicted for 2020. When the impact of the pandemic was truly felt for shippers in mid-March, IMO 2020 compliance quickly became a backburner concern, due in part to proactive preparations in meeting regulations and identifying how the industry would overcome the new disruption. This “new normal” forced changes in forecasting and management on a new level. 

Global Trade Magazine talked with Carmen Gerace, BDP International’s chief transportation officer, about the state of the ocean shipping sector and how IMO 2020 in conjunction with the pandemic shifted operations. BDP International is one of the world’s leading, privately held freight logistics and transportation management firms.

“Most of our clients, at this stage, have really done a superb job at meeting compliance standards for IMO 2020 and reducing the carbon footprint,” Gerace says. “Interestingly enough, IMO 2020 got pushed back to mid-March at the onset of the pandemic with everything shutting down. Our clients had a year to prepare for IMO 2020 and they prepared well and were ready to go. Places like Freight 4 did not contribute to the current chaos of the ocean situation we have today. Industry players were prepared and ready, then everything else hit, and it went from there. That’s where we sit today.” 

Aside from COVID-19, reducing emissions has been a success for most of the industry, according to Gerace. Despite setbacks and delays, shippers were responsive to the call of IMO 2020, contributing to the overall reduction in emissions output and preparing vessels accordingly. 

“The risk of non-compliance simply could not be afforded by ocean line providers,” Gerace says. “New builds, scrubbers, retrofitting and the undertaking that they had to put forth to achieve this had to be pushed back; however, it has been a success thus far. Additionally, the threat of ships being restricted to berthing into ports pushed compliance efforts even more. Ocean carriers simply could not afford that risk.”

For 2021, the industry will have COVID disruptions to manage. From ensuring the safety of employees to accurate forecasting, it is critical for ocean liners to predict market fluctuations to keep costs and operations at optimal levels. With April just a couple of months away, shippers will have new rates to consider, as the expiration for current rates is on the horizon with the potential spike in air freight to transport the COVID vaccine. How these fluctuations are handled is a matter of timely forecasting and proactive measures now to ensure success for the next year and beyond. 

“COVID recovery remains the largest challenge for shippers currently,” Gerace says. “This, paired with the potential increased concentration of the air freight markets due to the demand in transporting the vaccine, will undoubtedly present problems. As we anticipate an influx in vaccine transportation demand, it is important to remember that air-cargo capacity has its limitations, and this could create an attractive opportunity for ocean shipping. 

“The downside to this is increasing capacity on the ocean side, becoming more backed up than it already is. Once that occurs, costs are at the top of mind. Costs are up roughly 170 percent compared to where things were this time last year. This will not go down within the first four months of 2021 and quite frankly, it will never go back to where it was. It is going to come down again at some point, but the question is, when? Some predict May, some predict June.” 

Gerace notes that the industry relies heavily on the transpacific eastbound market, and all those rates expire by the end of April. 

“It is critical for the industry to get freight ready for 2021 and the beginning of 2022,” he says. “Cargo carriers, BCOs, etc. must work on their budgets and operations anticipating this. The question is, how much have they taken into play that the first four months of 2021 could very well be as bad as all of 2020 from the cost perspective?”

At this point, maintaining compliance efforts and efficiencies are on the backburner for industry players. What is more of a concern comes in the form of accurate predictions, cost management and proactive preparations based on these forecasts–predicting market challenges related to COVID, and how that will trickle down to shippers’ bottom lines. BDP takes these factors into account for their clients, encouraging forecasting to ensure the timely allocation of resources, space and equipment, which Gerace characterizes as critical in these times. The more a customer can forecast out, he says, the better off BDP can align with partners to quickly and effectively reserve resources needed for success. 

“BDP has different options for customers from LCL cargo to sea-air, air freight, chartering and more,” he explains. “We look at anything else our customers’ ask us to do. Operations come at a cost and sometimes sticker shock is a challenge, which we understand. Our goal is to continue to provide weekly options and provide information on port capacity, which ports are running on time, where there is an equipment surplus, and where deficits are a concern, so customers can plan how long of a delay to expect. This all goes back to forecasting. Forecasting is key for everybody, especially in the current market. The further out the shipper can forecast, the better. This is critical because space and rates are at premiums and will remain this way in the future. Everybody is backed up.”

The industry has survived one of the most intense years for disruption. With compliance a non-issue, shippers will be tested on a new level in preparing for the future. As we enter 2021, partner relationships will be critical in maintaining to ensure the best options for continued operations are available. The hope from the COVID vaccine will present its own set of challenges, but with the right partner they can be managed. 


As BDP International’s chief transportation officer, Carmen Gerace oversees all aspects of global transportation, including the implementation of new transport solutions and product offerings while also developing future transport strategy. Throughout his 25-year+ career in the industry, he has held varying managerial and executive positions at BDP. He is based in Philadelphia and can be reached at

air quality

A Healthier Warehouse Starts with Better Indoor Air Quality

While the “new normal” is still evolving, one thing is certain: We need to continue to focus on how we design and maintain indoor environments. Businesses need to keep occupant well-being and productivity top of mind while minimizing potential risks.

Improving indoor air quality (IAQ) has always been a priority for building operators but until recently many occupants were unaware or less concerned about how IAQ impacted their experience. The World Green Building Council notes IAQ is just one of “a range of tools and strategies” that should be employed to make buildings safer, but adds, “It is clear that an effective approach should…encompass an increased focus on the monitoring and management of air quality.” To this end, warehouses and distribution centers across the globe have taken steps to review current systems and implement new in-building technologies that improve ventilation, air quality, humidity, pressure, and safety.

While every building has some level of these functions, they may not be optimized for occupant comfort and wellbeing. With the holiday season, many warehouses and distribution centers schedule a higher-than-normal volume of employees to stay on track during the busiest time of the year. Air quality is essential to a healthy building, and it is especially important when there is an increase in the number of building occupants. IAQ can impact occupant wellbeing and productivity, energy efficiency, and potentially even real estate value.

As building owners and operators look to provide safer and healthier work environments for their employees, a good place to start is with a building audit. An audit will reveal whether installed systems are operating properly and confirm the facility is meeting ASHRAE standards for a healthier environment based on the type of building and its existing systems.

Aligning with ASHRAE Building Readiness recommendations, building operators should consider the following tips to improve IAQ:

-Increase outdoor air ventilation (use caution in highly polluted areas)

-Disable demand-controlled ventilation (DCV)

-Open minimum outdoor air dampers — as much as 100% — to eliminate recirculation

-Consider portable room air cleaners with HEPA filters

-Consider UVGI (ultraviolet germicidal irradiation) to protect occupants from radiation, particularly in high-risk spaces (e.g., break rooms or locker rooms)

-Consider altering equipment operating schedules to flush buildings with fresh air for two hours before and after occupancy

Following the audit, building operators should assess areas throughout the building to implement improvements or adjustments. Some improvement options include:

Electronic air cleaners (EACs): An electronic air cleaner is a device that uses an electric charge to remove impurities — either solid particles or liquid droplets — from the air. The EAC functions by applying energy only to the particulate matter to be collected, without significantly impeding the flow of air. They are installed at the point of air intake in an HVAC system, and maintenance of commercial EACs is often tool-free and relatively simple, due to components like removable grills for prefilter and electronic cell cleaning and replacement.

Ventilation controls: Proper air exchange can help dispel odors, chemicals, and carbon dioxide while balancing energy use and reducing disease transmission Building control products like actuators and economizers can bring in the right amount of fresh air based on environmental conditions, as well as meet building regulations. Newer economizers offer onboard fault detection and diagnostics to reduce service and commissioning time for maintenance professionals.

Humidity sensors: Humidity sensors can help gain real-time measurements and keep humidity at optimized levels. Humidity control is not just about occupant comfort. High humidity can promote bacteria and mold growth as well as conditions for dust mites, while low humidity can cause dry, itchy skin and upper respiratory irritations. ASHRAE research found that keeping relative humidity in the 40% to 60% range is optimal to decreasing occupant exposure to infectious particles and reducing virus transmission.

Pressurization controls: Maintaining proper pressurization in critical spaces, including restrooms, can help reduce pathogens, bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms that can be present in indoor air. Pressurization can also be used to contain air in a quarantined space or isolate and protect clean spaces. Pressure sensors provide low-maintenance measurement and control.

UV systems: UV systems use ultraviolet light to damage the DNA structure of microorganisms at the cellular level and has been shown in laboratory tests to inactivate certain viral, bacterial and fungal organisms, making them less likely to replicate and potentially cause disease. UV systems can be installed at HVAC coils or with an EAC to deactivate biological contaminants growing on cooling coils, preventing pathogens from spreading to building occupants.

According to the World Green Building Council, while buildings themselves cannot solve all of our current challenges, they play a crucial role in employee wellbeing. Warehouse and distribution center owners and operators must make IAQ a priority — now and in the future — to ensure healthier indoor environments for employees and keep business moving.


USTR Requests That ITC Conduct Section 332 Investigation to “Monitor and Investigate” Imports of Strawberries and Bell Peppers

In a November 3, 2020 letter, U.S. Trade Representative (“USTR”) Robert E. Lighthizer requested that the International Trade Commission (“ITC”) “monitor and investigate imports of strawberries and bell peppers” pursuant to section 332(g) of the Tariff Act of 1930. Section 332 is a provision that allows USTR to ask for a fact-finding investigation by the ITC, but does not result directly in any trade relief. USTR’s request follows the September 1, 2020 announcement of an interagency plan to address the threat of increased imports of perishable fruits and vegetables to American producers.

USTR’s request to monitor and investigate imports of strawberries and bell peppers is likely a precursor to further trade actions. Such actions could include a government self-initiated section 201 case initially brought at the ITC, asking for additional quotas or tariffs, or other actions, which must then be ultimately decided by the President. This type of case is now ongoing regarding imports of blueberries.

Whether a new Biden Administration would be interested in taking up a self-initiated case like this one is unknown. However, even if a Biden Administration does not self-initiate a case, the U.S. producers also could bring various types of actions, relying in large part on the information developed by the ITC as part of this section 332 study. According to USTR itself, the ITC’s collection and analysis of information would expedite the initiation of investigations.

The products in question fall under the following categories of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States:

-Fresh or chilled strawberries: 0810.10;

-Fresh or chilled bell peppers:




-and 0709.60.4085


Jeffrey Neeley is a Washington-based partner with the law firm Husch Blackwell LLP. He leads the firm’s International Trade Remedies team.

Julia Banegas is an attorney in Husch Blackwell LLP’s Washington, D.C. office.

Camron Greer is an Assistant Trade Analyst in Husch Blackwell LLP’s Washington D.C. office.


How to Effectively Expand Your Business Globally

These days, businesses that are quickly growing don’t necessarily know the ‘do’s and don’ts’ of expanding into new jurisdictions.  In this post, we will dive into the key issues you should project manage as you plan your expansion beyond borders.

Elon Musk, Jack Ma, Steve Jobs. Each of them started small but shared an outsized goal of making the world a different place. Eventually, they all accomplished this, becoming some of the most influential entrepreneurs the world has ever seen, and scaling their businesses globally.

Almost every business owner I’ve met has similar-sized ambitions. Few are content with staying small. They want to build something that can make a massive impact and become a household name.

But the gulf between aspirations and reality is often vast. You may be standing in your way by not doing something important from the beginning: thinking globally.

Location. Location. Location.

When your company is looking to expand business overseas, pay attention to where and why. Especially the “why.” For instance, many American companies are setting up in various portions of Europe because of the critical talent in those areas. Once you’ve decided on the best location for your business to grow, it’s then time to hire. In your country of choice, you may need to hire a country manager that can help build a team as well as a person or many who can run that facility in areas including administrative, R&D, sales, etc.

Next, you have a few different ways you can expand into your chosen country. The smallest footprint you can have is a rep office, one being established to run market research, but governments have strict limits on how long you can have a rep office. For example, in Singapore, you can only set one up for one-year, but you can get a two-year extension. So, know exactly what you plan to accomplish.  Setting up a subsidiary will be the right choice if you want to send a message that you are there to stay.

If you establish a local subsidiary or other local legal entity, you may need to establish a minimum capital reserve, make your entity subject to legal liability in that jurisdiction, pay taxes, comply with corporate formalities around incorporation, shareholder and board meetings (how frequently and where they are held), local directors and shareholders (nationalities) and more, maintain a local corporate secretarial function, make public disclosures of your accounts, maintain a bank account and comply with local commercial rules that impact how you record revenues and bookings.

While sometimes your business is simple enough that compliance can be managed by an outsourced service or local law firm, some jurisdictions will require you to have people on the ground.

People in places

As you start your operations, next, you’ll have human capital considerations. When you hire somebody overseas, you need to follow local laws. For instance, in Poland, the contract must be bilingual if you are a foreign employer. Bilingual requirements exist in many countries, including Canada, France, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, and Japan. However, in other countries like Singapore and Australia, you will not need to worry about this.

Additionally, you may have to find a payroll service, but there are limitations in some countries, including China, Serbia, and Russia, to get capital into and out of the country. So, it might be necessary to open up a local bank account to pay your local employees. In some countries, you are even able to wire the money to the employees and the government.

How you pay your people may have currency requirements.

Whether you are bringing in human capital locally or from the home country, you may need to complete pre-hire checks and comply with immigration regulations.

Employment regimes

In certain countries like Poland, employment is a matter of the contract, not at-will, which is different in a country like the U.S. The U.S. is the only country that offers employment-at-will. You can say, “I do not want you to work here anymore.” And then you can leave at that moment. But, in most countries, you have to give notice by contract and get severance.

Most countries have collective bargaining agreements, which sometimes can benefit you, while other times not. For instance, if you are party to a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) in Sweden, it negates the need to deal with each employee as a bargaining unit, negotiate with the union or the CBA, and all the employees fall under it. Depending on the country, you have to comply with local working time regulations – for instance, you can’t work on weekends in France. And, in California, if you work more than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week, you’ll receive overtime pay.

When it comes to expanding your business, the right hiring process is just as necessary as the proper exit process. This protects you from being sued for employment practices. By executing the correct standard, the right contract, and the country’s law, you ensure no breach of your contract for the employee or the employer. Next, you have to think about benefits because even though you have an infrastructure that supports medical care in many socialist countries, most employees are used to having supplemental benefits.

Intellectual property protection

This also relates to intellectual property if you hire contractors to do your development work in a foreign country. The IP they are creating may belong to their contractor and not to the company paying for it, so it’s key to have agreements in place with the contractor, so you own your IP.

If you are conducting R&D or exploiting patents or trademarks created in the home country, local intellectual property regimes will be essential in protecting the IP that you create, export, import and ultimately monetize. Sometimes, that might also mean the capability to enforce your IP rights in a country.

Compliance requirements

Beyond employment law, there are compliance requirements to pay close attention to. For example, you may need to have a registered office or provide an office address to the local government. The office might need to be staffed during business hours if somebody wants to give notice, or the government wants to get in contact with your business. In some countries, like Spain, this is changing to an electronic system where you must have a registered email that the government can use to send communications.

When it comes to data privacy, there seem to be new and overlapping (if not contradictory) national, regional, and local regulations published every day. In Europe, the General Data Privacy Regulation, or GDPR, has strict requirements that apply to companies far beyond the borders of the European Union. The China Data Protection Directive has civil and criminal repercussions to those accessing Chinese consumers through the Internet and otherwise. Recently, the California Consumer Privacy Act, or CCPA, became subject to enforcement.  Going global means threading the needle to ensure that you have compliant solutions everywhere you are doing business.


Depending on your footprint, it could create a “permanent establishment,” which makes some portion of your revenues subject to tax in a particular jurisdiction. If you establish a permanent establishment, you will have to file a tax return at the end of the year. Even if you do not have a permanent establishment, you may need to file another type of tax return and comply with other requirements.

Additionally, there are tax requirements from both an indirect perspective and a direct perspective. For instance, if you are making a lot of money, you might have requirements to pay estimated taxes during the year and file the income tax return at the end of the year.

Summing it up

Technology, life sciences, medical device, and clean energy companies can not be successful when confined to one or more jurisdictions. Indeed, by definition, they know no borders. To disrupt markets and build share, new businesses increasingly need to grow faster, and go global, from the earliest stages of development. Accessing global markets is key to achieving value and liquidity, and ultimately, ubiquity. Good advisors are critical to helping companies define and execute on a mission to expand their business globally.


Louis Lehot is the founder of L2 Counsel, P.C., an elite boutique law firm based in Silicon Valley designed to serve entrepreneurs, innovative companies and investors with sound legal strategies and solutions.  Mr. Lehot is a corporate, securities and M&A lawyer, and he helps his clients, whether they be public or private companies, financial sponsors, venture capitalists, investors or investment banks, in forming, financing, governing, buying and selling companies. He is formerly the co-managing partner of DLA Piper’s Silicon Valley office and co-chair of its leading venture capital and emerging growth company team. 

Kateryna Mamyko-Golomb is a law clerk with L2 Counsel, P.C. She advises corporate clients, startups, and investors. She graduated Cum Laude from Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. Previously, Kate clerked with a major global law firm in Silicon Valley, and prior to her LLM, Kate led an independent corporate law practice in Central and Eastern Europe and served as General Counsel for one of the leading startup accelerators in the region. Kate graduated Summa Cum Laude from Taras Shevchenko National University where she published her thesis: “Government Regulation of Technology Venture Investment” and clerked for the Kyiv District Attorney.

L2 Counsel, P.C. is an elite boutique law firm based in Silicon Valley designed to serve entrepreneurs, innovative companies and investors with sound legal strategies and solutions.