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How Customized Shipping Solutions Benefit Your Supply Chain

solutions

How Customized Shipping Solutions Benefit Your Supply Chain

Gone are the days when the one-size-fits-all approach to logistics is good enough to meet the exacting standards of every shipment. In fact, maybe those days were never really here.

Though they may seem like a good bargain, many of the out-of-the-box logistics services of today lack the flexibility to accommodate specialized loads like artwork, delicate medical equipment, and other sensitive or rush items. Seemingly innocuous errors with such shipments can cost thousands of dollars, or possibly more. 

SPECIALISTS IN FREIGHT FORWARD THINKING 

Today’s shippers and shipments demand more from their 3PL provider, but unfortunately, some providers still cannot rise to the challenge. Thankfully, there’s a solution for supply chains looking for individualized services. Nimble, more personalized 3PL’s operate with the specific goal of handling sensitive cargo. The Magnate Worldwide family of companies – comprised of TrumpCard and Masterpiece International – serves supply chains with a variety of customizable solutions for businesses big and small. They offer a boutique approach to logistics not possible with larger, more generic providers. 

Founded in 1995, TrumpCard specializes in domestic air and ground expedited shipments that are handling-sensitive and time-definite in nature – from medical equipment to aerospace parts to entertainment industry equipment. “We focus on domestic shipments routed by air and ground that have special handling requirements or rapid deadlines,” said Chris Zingrebe, President of TrumpCard, “The industries we serve typically have sensitive cargo that may require elevated service levels, such as White Glove or next day delivery.” TrumpCard offers a premier white-glove service for special deliveries into sensitive environments like hospitals or data centers. The company’s expertise in this type of mission-critical shipment has made them masters of proactive communication and efficiency when it comes to handling sensitive shipments and time-definite services. 

Founded in 1989, Masterpiece International specializes in logistics, freight forwarding, and customs brokerage of fine art for museums, galleries, and art fairs as well as offering services to private clients, and the entertainment and events industry. “Masterpiece has a rich history in providing premier logistics services to the fine art industry,” said Thomas Gilgen, President of Masterpiece, “…we’ve taken that and expanded across many other industries with specialized requirements.” Over the years, Masterpiece has developed an International Logistics Solutions Division which focuses on shipments for technology, life sciences, energy, marine, aerospace, retail, trade show, and household goods industries. Due to the highly specialized nature of their shipments, Masterpiece International has developed expertise in handling sensitive shipments and provides that high level of service across all cargo, whether they’re shipping priceless works of art, mission-critical aerospace equipment, concert, and event cargo, or temperature-controlled life sciences materials.

MINIMIZING RISK, MAKING DEADLINES, AND ADDING VALUE 

No matter what the cargo is, shippers are inherently taking a risk when transporting goods. Unfortunately, that risk only increases as the value of the cargo increases. Not only are you risking merchandise becoming lost or damaged, even the risk of delay can throw off an entire supply chain. The key to eliminating risk and guaranteeing a successful delivery is working with a 3PL partner that you trust to get your shipment where it needs to go, when it needs to be there. But nobody has a crystal ball, so how do you know you can trust your 3PL? It pays to do your homework. 

In logistics, time is money, especially when one delay can cost thousands of dollars and set off a domino effect of even more problems. That’s why it pays to select a provider that has the expertise to get your shipment where it needs to go on time, every time. When selecting a 3PL, a provider’s on-time rate is an excellent indicator of what you can expect for your own merchandise deliveries. TrumpCard, for example, boasts an impressive 99% on-time rate, in addition to a 24/7 team managing shipments. TrumpCard’s state-of-the-art tracking software ensures that all shipments are accounted for at all times, so there is no room for delay or loss, and you can always keep tabs on your merchandise no matter where it is in the supply chain. 

One optional service a business may want to consider is additional security measures for the supply chain. Though not necessary for all shipments, when shipping valuable or sensitive material, additional security services can offer peace of mind by minimizing security risks and blind spots. At Masterpiece International, teams specialize in minimizing risks when planning, routing and executing and have access to an in-house security and supervision team for protection of high-value goods. That team, the Masterpiece Security Group, is a licensed security organization with tarmac access at many major U.S. airports, their own dedicated vehicles, and a partner network of highly vetted agents and carriers. 

Ultimately, when it comes to selecting a logistics provider, added values like built-in security and customizable solutions only matter if your 3PL has the visibility and customer service skills to back them up. Both TrumpCard and Masterpiece believe that visibility and customer service are key from the moment they take possession of your merchandise to its final delivery at the end-user. Both companies offer online track and trace, shipment imaging, and supervision all designed to keep tabs on your merchandise and give you peace of mind. At Magnate, customer service is more than just a pleasantry, it means that experienced agents are problem solving, customizing solutions, and providing timely and important information to the client with a personalized touch that suits the individual needs of your business. 

In the end, a combination of many factors create value, not just a big name or a low price. Customizable solutions with additional features like an excellent on-time rate, added security, transparency, and expertise in sensitive and high-value shipments are all part of what adds value to a specialized supply chain. TrumpCard and Masterpiece International have been trusted to handle sensitive, mission-critical, and high-value shipments for over 50 years of combined service – continuously getting the job done right for your business. 

european

European Greenhouse: What Climate Change and Green Politics Mean for Business in Europe

France, Germany and the Netherlands broke 40-year temperature records this year. Traditional wine areas, such as Bordeaux, have had to accept new grape types into the area for the first time in 80 years to combat the devastating impact of new weather patterns. In Germany and other central European countries, large swaths of forest died off this summer due to climate conditions. 

This summer of extreme weather follows on the heels of a dramatic gain in Green party popularity during and after the spring European parliament elections. What does this mean for companies that do business in the European Union? How will markets and regulations change in the near future as a result of rising concern over climate change across the Atlantic?  

European voters (and consumers) and highly concerned about climate change, with many of them naming climate change as the greatest threat to world security. Equally important, there are substantially fewer people in European Union member states who doubt the impact that climate change is having on the world compared to countries such as the United States. 

In a recent poll, thirteen percent of U.S. respondents expressed doubt over the existence of climate change or that it was due to human influence. This American response was the highest level of skepticism in the developed world; double that of Germany or France, and much higher than other countries such as Spain, where polls have shown as little as 2% of the population voicing any doubt as to the reality and danger of climate change.

Why Europe having fewer skeptics matters

Extreme weather in the summer is not a new issue in Europe. The heat wave of 2003 was estimated to have killed as many as 30,000 people in Europe due to the lack of air conditioning and infrastructure to care for those vulnerable to heat strokes, such as the elderly. The heat wave that broke records across the EU this summer was even hotter. These weather changes, hand-in-hand with the sudden surge in Green party success in EU and national elections, underscore that there is both pressing concern over climate change and a willingness to prioritize it among voters. 

Without climate deniers across the political aisle to delay or weaken environmentally-oriented legislation, it is likely that the business environment will soon be dramatically changed as the EU and member state governments adjust policies and regulations to combat climate change and protect their populations from future extreme weather.

Why the ‘American solution’ won’t work and building styles won’t change

The U.S. has extreme heat on a constant basis in places like Arizona and Texas, but the classical solution – to air condition every building – will not work in Europe because energy costs are twice the U.S. average and likely to rise quickly as governments are forced to switch to more expensive (in the short-term) renewable sources. The EU’s renewable energy directive was modified in 2018 to establish a 32% renewable energy target for 2030, which will likely keep energy prices high as more investments are needed to help develop renewable sources such as solar, wave and wind energy ‘farms’.  

Logical efforts to change building materials and styles to improve the ambient temperatures for residents are near impossible to implement in established cities in Europe. Traditional building styles that are intended to save on heating costs by trapping air inside often exacerbate heat waves since these buildings cannot effectively cool. New materials and building styles in the suburbs offer energy-efficient solutions to newer areas, but traditional architectural areas in downtown Prague, Rome and Paris are poorly positioned to embrace these options. It is inevitable that air conditioning use will increase (currently only 5% of European buildings are equipped with air conditioning, compared to 90% in the U.S.) but based on electricity costs and emission reduction goals in the EU, it is only a partial answer to the extreme weather problem.  Europe must find its own solution, and this search for alternatives will open up new opportunities for innovative companies.

What business opportunities appear as Europe combats climate change?

How will consumer habits change in the face of public concern over emissions and fears over ever-worsening extreme weather? What new business opportunities can we expect to see in Europe as Green-leaning governments and climate-conscious voters bring wholesale changes to the regulatory structure of the European Union in an attempt to combat climate change? Three areas of interest jump out: new government and venture capital funding for innovation, sharply increased transportation costs which will change logistics patterns and purchasing habits, and dramatic shifts to the land use and building traditions which should open up opportunities to U.S. companies.

Innovation will be valued and funded as never before

According to the Global Innovation Index for this year, seven of the top ten most innovative nations are located in Europe, and yet the U.S. (number three on the Index) outspent Europe on research and development by 20%. That is not to say that Europe is not investing in climate change innovation. On the contrary, in 2018, the European Investment Bank committed over 16 billion Euros to combating climate change, a number which has increased each year for a decade. Over $23 billion (US) was invested in innovative new European companies through venture capitalism last year alone.  These numbers will shoot up in the years to come as governments scramble to support new solutions to extreme weather challenges and climate change. 

The EU has already announced plans to focus on battery innovation and production, and will legislate an increasing use of renewables; supporting wind, wave and solar power projects to reduce oil, gas and coal use. Cleantech and Greentech projects are surging in clusters such as Cambridge, Copenhagen and Rotterdam. But there is a need for even more venture capital, and a growing recognition that governments will have to step in and add to research and start-up funding, as well as help scale up successful companies to compete regionally and globally.

A dramatic increase in transportation costs will shift production and consumer habits

Much like in the U.S., many European companies have a tendency to source materials and production overseas to lower costs. Unlike the U.S., they have generally been able to avoid the impact of the U.S.-China trade war. However, this breather is short-lived, as the EU seems to recognize the cost of transportation to society in the way of pollution and congestion and is likely going to be forced to ramp up emissions taxes in the near future, which will impact both the external and internal movement of goods. This, in turn, will force companies to recalibrate their logistics and likely move production closer to the point of sale. 

Companies will find that supporting local production becomes more reasonable as transportation costs go up, and EU member states with lower labor costs (under 10 euros an hour) such as Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, and Bulgaria should begin to see production facilities become more competitive compared to Asia as shipping costs increase in the face of emission taxes. Companies that were previously exporting goods into Europe will find that shifting production to Europe in support of EU clients is going to become substantially more cost-friendly (with the added advantage of avoiding import tariffs, should the global trade war broaden).

Land use and building codes are going to shift dramatically

A recent international climate change report supported what European farmers already have experienced: drought and extreme heat are forcing a rethink as to what is produced in Europe and how.  Climate change activists and consumer groups are also dragging EU trade agreements into the spotlight as countries like Brazil are accused of dramatically harming the global environment through wasteful agricultural practices – in part to increase beef sales to Europe. Increasing focus on how land is used and food produced in Europe will open up opportunities for innovative producers and new products (such as meat alternatives) in the European market. At the same time, European builders of new developments are being forced by regulations and consumer sentiment to use more environmentally-friendly materials and styles. 

The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification has become a benchmark in Europe as well, and U.S. companies with know-how in this area of construction and building design can find robust new markets and development and construction partners throughout the EU who will be challenged by new regulations and public scrutiny to ‘green’ up their building projects.

Environmental challenges mean new opportunities for savvy companies

Changes in consumer demands and regulations imposed from the EU to the local level will open doors for companies that can bring in new, efficient and effective products. Governments attempting to be responsive to extreme weather challenges without taxing their voting population too directly (which is what sparked the ‘Yellow Vest’ protests in France) will demand more energy-efficient products and processes from businesses. Innovative companies, ready to expand and take on new challenges, will find it relatively quick and painless to register in the European market to take advantage of the possibilities that are manifesting due to environmental and consumer changes.   

____________________________________________________________

Kirk Samson is the owner of Samson Atlantic LLC, a Chicago-based international business consulting company which offers market research, political risk assessment, and international negotiations assistance.  Mr. Samson is a former U.S. diplomat and international law advisor who lived and worked in ten different countries.

cargo

Logistics Experts Take to the Skies for Air-Cargo Solutions

A major U.S. air carrier sought to fill the void caused by leading same-day delivery services implementing their own fleets in the sky. A Midwest zoo needed to fly in from the West Coast its newest tenants. And a growing air cargo company required logistical expertise to take itself to the next level.  

Whether it’s managing airborne cargo networks, moving animals across the country or breaking air carriers into the delivery business, seasoned logistics professionals proved they were on it. Witness the following air cargo solutions.

Delta Cargo and Roadie

With UPS, FedEx and Amazon having acquired their own planes in recent years to cut down on costs associated with booking flights on major air carriers, Delta Cargo recently turned the tables by getting into the ground transportation business. Based in Atlanta, Delta partnered with Roadie, a local same-day delivery service, to recently launch DASH Door-to-Door and mark an industry-first for a U.S. passenger airline.

The 24/7 pick-up and delivery service, from your business or home, is available from Atlanta to around 60 U.S. cities with more being added all the time. Pairing TSA-approved drivers with air cargo, Delta Cargo and Roadie boast that DASH is the fastest cross-country door-to-door service in the country—and that it’s competitively priced. 

Matt Weisenburg, Delta’s director of Cargo Strategy and Alliances, referred to DASH Door-to-Door as “a game-changer” for Delta, as Roadie has more than 150,000 verified drivers and the largest local same-day delivery footprint nationwide, reaching 89 percent of all U.S. households. DASH includes handling of time-critical shipments in industries including medical, manufacturing, automotive, industrial parts and more. 

 “Customers want what they want when they want it,” said Marc Gorlin, Roadie’s founder and CEO. “This partnership means we can deliver—whether it’s across town or across the country.”

Brookfield Zoo and FedEx

A female sea lion, about age 2, was found in May 2018 at Westward Beach in Malibu, California, where she was unable to care for herself after being weaned from her mother. When staff from the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro rescued her, the sea lion was severely underweight, extremely malnourished and suffering from multiple puncture wounds and fishhooks in her body and one of her eyes, which led to a ruptured cornea. Vision in her good eye was limited.

Six months later and about 90 miles away in Dana Point, California, a second female sea lion, also about 2, was found dehydrated, malnourished and obviously unable to fend for herself. Rescuers from Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach discovered she had lacerations on one of her flippers and chest from a possible boat propeller or predator bite. X-rays later revealed she had 30 to 40 stones in her stomach and, once those passed, she started eating again and was released back to the wild in January 2019. But a month later she was found again at Dana Point Harbor looking emaciated, and a new exam revealed she had a cataract in her right eye.

Experts agreed neither sea lion could survive in the wild, so the respective mammal care centers began looking for permanent homes for them. The National Marine Fisheries Service reached out to Chicago Zoological Society, which agreed that Brookfield Zoo could take in the sea lions. They were introduced to each other at the Laguna Beach mammal center, and animal care specialists from the Chicago zoo flew to California to meet both sea lions, get familiar with their distinct personalities and make arrangements to take them back to Illinois. 

FedEx generously supplied the plane with the precious cargo aboard that arrived at Chicago O’Hare International Airport on Sept. 18, 2019. The zoo named one sea lion Carolyn after Carolyn Frisch, the FedEx employee who made the travel arrangements. The second sea lion was named Sabiena (pronounced Sa-bean-ah) after Sabiena Foster, FedEx’s Chicago regional communications manager and the company’s No. 1 community volunteer.

Frisch and Dan Englund, who together manage the FedEx Live Animal Desk, have a combined 60 years+ experience in moving animals around the world. “I’ve gone to the Brookfield Zoo as a child, have visited with my own children and now I have a namesake there!” said an excited Frisch. “In my 30 years of shipping animals, I’ve never been so honored. There could be no greater acknowledgement of the long-standing relationship I’ve had with the Brookfield Zoo.”

Menzies Aviation and Hermes Logistics Technologies

Operating cargo handling facilities in nearly 40 airports across six continents and handling more than 1.6 million tons of cargo in 2018, Menzies Aviation needed a Cargo Management System (CMS) for its global network. The London Heathrow-based company recently selected the flagship CMS from Hermes Logistics Technologies, the UK’s leading consumer delivery specialist. 

Hermes 5 (H5), the latest version of the CMS, was scheduled to be rolled out at Menzies cargo facilities during the current first quarter. The standardization and open connectivity of the H5 platform allows for complete compatibility and data-sharing across all Menzies’ logistics facilities and services, which cater to customers small, medium and large.

“After benchmarking the industry, we selected H5 as our cargo management system because it was clear Hermes offers the most advanced solutions in the market,” said Robert Fordree, EVP Cargo, Menzies Aviation. “Hermes is in our DNA, we have a shared history and working with them means that we are uniquely positioned to take full advantage of the depth of functionality H5 has to offer.”

Fordree adds that “H5 will be integral to our toolset for achieving our growth trajectory.” Yuval Baruch, CEO of Bracknell, UK-based Hermes, agrees with that sentiment, although he notes Menzies Aviation will be building up “from an already strong foundation.”

Hermes 5 has been adopted by airports, airlines and ground handlers across the globe, including Hanoi Airport, RSA National, LuxairCARGO and CHS Trade in Slovakia since its 2018 launch. “Hermes 5,” Baruch says, “represents the future of cargo management solutions, its open architecture allows for full integration into cargo ecosystems, from warehouses to airports.”

Currently, the CEO and his team are gearing up for the Feb. 14 Hermes Tech Hub in Leeds, where the theme will be, “For the Love of Innovation: How Tech is Driving Personalization in the Retail and Logistics Sector.”

ships

Big Ships that are Coming or Already Here Present New Challenges

The year 2020 is almost here and customer demands, import and export trends and trade tensions show no signs of slowing down. The new year presents both opportunities and challenges for players within the supply chain to increase productivity through maximizing resources or get left behind as competitors take over. There are layers of factors for global shippers to consider in determining the best approach in remaining both competitive, efficient, and to be honest, relevant. Major factors in consideration include IMO 2020, traffic increases and vessel sizing.

Looking at some statistics reveals an interesting picture of exactly what’s going on and what shippers can prepare for based on last year’s trends. According to the 2019 North American Ports Outlook report by Cushman & Wakefield, the intermodal traffic rates saw an increase by 5.5 percent, while 90 percent of internationally shipped dry, non-bulk manufactured goods are containerized. Oh yeah, automobile imports are on the rise also.

Data make clear that big ships can not only create competitive advantages but also recreate what modern competition looks like. Cushman & Wakefield’s report shows that 79 percent of the international containership supply is dominated by the 2M Alliance (Maersk and MSC), the Ocean Alliance (CMA CGM, COSCO and Evergreen) and THE Alliance (ONE, Hapag Lloyd and Yang Ming). Not only do these alliances carry a massive amount of clout among competitors globally, but they also boast massive container vessels.

COSCO Shipping Universe, for example, sits right at 21,237 TEU capacity at 400 meters x 58.6 meters. This massive vessel holds the title as the largest cargo ship in China and the fourth largest in the world. Additionally, this vessel comes with an added bonus to further charge its performance through the support of ABB Turbocharges that enable the vessel to travel at 22 nautical miles per hour.

“The ABB turbochargers on COSCO Shipping Universe will support maximum performance and fuel efficiency, in addition to contributing to COSCO Shipping Lines pursuing green shipping practices for long-term success,” stated Oliver Riemenschneider, managing director, ABB Turbocharging in a press release announcing the vessel’s delivery in June of 2018. “We foresee the ABB turbochargers on the forthcoming mega container ships in the Universe series will contribute similar viable operational gains.”

As the vessels get bigger and better, industry players can rightfully anticipate this as a major trend to keep an eye out for in 2020. Although increasing ship sizes supporting more capacity with fewer miles in between is a win-win, shippers must consider how this impacts the ports and their size capabilities and most importantly, their access to such ports. The North American Ports Outlook report states that orders for new vessels are being placed exceeding 22,000 TEUs and that East Coast ports are beginning to see more large ships. Furthermore, the Neopanamax Locks confirmed that as of just recently, it can handle over 14,000 TEU ships, but not by much. That’s not going to cut it for the big ships predicted in the near future.

MSC Mediterranean Shipping Co. announced a successful Asia-to-Europe voyage for the MSC Gülsün ship. The 23,756 TEU vessel holds the title as the world’s largest container ship and adds a new level of quality with its advanced engineering focused on energy efficiency and reduced fuel consumption overall. The Gülsün is one of more than 10 ships to be added to MSC’s advanced fleet between 2019-2020, and it doesn’t stop there. The IMO-2020 ready vessel boasts a hybrid Exhaust Gas Cleaning System (UN IMO-approved, of course) paired with a low-Sulphur fuel and/or LNG adaptation option. Not only is this ship more than prepared for revolutionizing the approach to IMO standards, but it’s also making a big dent in operational efficiencies.

Evergreen also made news last year by confirming new vessels with up to 23,000 TEU capacity are being added to its fleet. Information released from numerous sources confirmed that five or more vessels with such TEU capacity were approved for order. These mega-ships will be built at South Korea’s Samsung Heavy Industries shipyard and China State Shipbuilding Corp.with a price tag of roughly $1.6 billion. The order was placed back in September and current service estimation sits between 12-18 months, according to various reports.

Go ahead and add Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd to the list of super vessels to come. The Wall Street Journal reported that up to six ships with TEU capacity well over 20,000 were confirmed. Hapag Lloyd already boasts six vessels within the A 18 class with more than 19,000 TEU capacity. Overall, Hapag Lloyd boasts a total fleet TEU capacity of 1.7 million… and counting.

Even with these new massive ships on the horizon, it is hard to compare to the OOCL Hong Kong, the first of six in the G-class with a whopping 21,413 TEU capacity. One such ship went down in history as the world’s first to ever break the 21,000 TEU-capacity marks. Within months of this announcement, the OOCL Scandinavia, the OOCL Germany and the OOCL United Kingdom–all with 21,4313 TEU capacity—were also announced and christened.

“While our industry seems to have the knack to ‘outdo’ one another in building larger containerships relatively quickly these days, this project is nonetheless an important moment for us,” stated OOCL Chairman C.C. Tung in the announcement. “Faced with increasing competition and un-ending pressure on costs, we need to take the bold step in operating larger size ships of quality and high efficiency in order to stay relevant and compete effectively as a major container shipping company.”

Tung concluded, after the OOCL Scandinavia reveal, “This achievement is about working to bring people and companies of different professions and nationalities together to reach new heights, innovate, solve complicated engineering problems, and along the way, why not break a world record, too.”

Although the OOCL Hong Kong has yet to be replaced, competitors are pushing the limits of capacity to break new records the shipping sector has yet to encounter. Maximizing the capacity limits the industry is currently used to paired with the IMO 2020 regulations and changes will undoubtedly filter the industry leaders. The real question remains: Who will set the bar even higher than what it is now and how will they do it?

holiday

UPS: “This Holiday Season, We’ve Prepared Like Never Before.”

Today marked the first day of the peak holiday season for 2019 and the beginning of increased holiday shipments and deliveries. UPS confirmed a 5 percent increase in package shipments from 2018 record is expected in addition to an estimated 32 million packages and documents per day during peak season, primarily stemming from UPS’s retailer and B2B-focused customers. This anticipated chaos doesn’t seem to be a problem for UPS, however.

“This holiday season, we’ve prepared like never before,” said UPS Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, David Abney. “UPS has invested billions in our facilities, our air fleet and our workforce.  We have the capacity for, and are committed to, serving the unique needs of all our customers. To our customers, I simply say: We’re ready, Let’s go! You can count on us to help you make the holiday season successful.”

UPS has prepared resources in the form of added space (five million square feet of highly automated facilities, to be precise), automated superhubs, 11 newly added aircraft (increasing payload by 2.5 million pounds), optimization technologies, and a robust employee network close to 100,000 seasonal workers.

“More than ever, the 2019 holiday season proves UPS puts customers’ needs first,” said UPS Chief Marketing Officer Kevin Warren. “That starts with eliminating residential peak season surcharges, and extends into a wide range of new services that complement our industry-leading portfolio of offerings.”

Additional service enhancements have also been added to further support the growing demand, including the fastest ground-service offerings to-date, commercial/residential weekend services for pickup and delivery for customers in the top metro areas, late-night pickups via UPS Extended Hours® to qualifying customers, and more.

“We have the right strategies in place to help our customers make the most of the holiday season, with extensive forecasting, expanded ground and air capacity, effective onboarding to bring an army of seasonal employees up to speed, and the products and services that help all our customers meet high expectations this time of year,” Abney said.  “We look forward to another successful peak season.”

demand

Adapting Supply Chains for Increased Consumer Demand and Same Day Shipping

Same-day and next-day shipping options are increasing, and consumers are beginning to desire expedited shipping options with minimal delay. Through new technologies, space optimization, and supply chain auditing, there are various ways companies can adapt to this demand.

There used to be a tattered cartoon taped to every dry cleaner’s cash register. There’s a man laughing — holding his stomach, actually, as the joke is so funny — with a bold face caption that reads: “YOU WANT IT WHEN?!”

Faced with minimal competition, it was a time when companies held production and delivery control, with consumers at their mercy to indeed receive their press garments at a time of the dry cleaner’s choosing.

Those days are long gone. Armed with just a digital device, consumers have numerous options in finding suppliers who can provide things whenever they desire. As such, they expect — rather, demand —products and services on their terms.

As a result, companies must either adapt their supply chains to accommodate these expectations or find themselves with diminished market share. Below are key areas that companies must address to compete in today’s on-demand environment.

Take inventory of your inventory

As a first step, perform a comprehensive audit of your entire supply chain, even hiring a third-party specialist to develop the critical assessment. Such a deep-dive look will measure delivery accuracy, on-time performance, worker productivity and even call center effectiveness, all significant contributors to the overall efficiency of your suppliers and their impact on your supply chain.

Find a better mousetrap

Once the audit is complete, it’s time to take action, which may mean making fundamental changes to your supply chain. If you’re currently operating with a hub-and-spoke distribution model, for instance, the feedback may point to achieving greater efficiencies by adopting a decentralized distribution model (and vice versa). Especially when it comes to last-mile delivery, partnering with a third-party provider can also help, providing you with the fast turnaround that your customers expect without straining your existing operations.

Get your house in order

Any fundamental change to the supply chain must include enhancements to warehouses, adopting technological advances that deliver greater efficiencies. For some, this may mean incorporating a short-interval waving warehouse management system (WMS), which allows orders to be dispatched in clusters or waves. Other advances automate the sizing and selection of cartons, which makes packing more efficient while streamlining costs.

Taking things personnel-ly

Until supply chain logistics can all be outsourced to robots, bottom-line performance ultimately depends on the availability and performance of your employees. To those ends, leverage technology to minimize labor supply disruptions, especially during holiday seasons when demand peaks. (This is increasingly important as unemployment reaches record lows, further diminishing the labor pool.) Technology should also be used for scheduling and training, which delivers greater efficiencies and even job retention, as greater scheduling flexibility leads to increased employee satisfaction and loyalty.

Consumer demand for ever-shrinking delivery timelines makes ongoing supply chain refinements no longer optional, but mandatory. Your long-term success depends on it.

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Neil Wheeldon is vice president — solutions at BDP International in The Hague, Netherlands.

Customs

Common U.S. Customs Clearance Issues & Overcoming Them

For people who are not intimately familiar with the international freight industry, it can appear to be dauntingly complex. After all, dabbling in international trade means dealing with a host of different entities, each of which has its own regulations and rules that you have to follow. And US customs are just one large piece in an ever-increasing puzzle.

However, understanding common US customs clearance issues and anticipating them is crucial for a successful global trading endeavor. That’s why we’re going to delve into some of them, and propose ways to of solving them.

Customs Exams

If you want to deal with common US customs clearance issues, be prepared for customs exams. Naturally, you probably know that random checks at customs aren’t that rare of an event in the world of maritime shipping. And sure, only up to 10% of global shipments are inspected in reality. While that may be a small fraction of the overall volume of shipping; you need to be prepared. And that goes for any customs in the world, including the US.

Issues with US Customs Clearance

The first thing you need to understand regarding US customs clearance issues is – they are different in each country and port. So, some things you read about the priorities of Dutch customs won’t necessarily be true when the US is concerned. Generally, U.S. customs tend to have frequent random inspections.

Know that there are separate, country-specific inspections that they conduct, depending on what country your shipment is coming from. That’s the sort of information that importers regularly provide to freight forwarders. So, that sort of logistical information is important, as any misleading information can lead to long-term distrust; not a good thing for trading efforts. If complete information flows both ways, your freight transport will be a smooth process. And in the case of the contrary, you’ll be dealing with another issue: delays.

Delay Expenses

One of the most common US customs clearance issues is delays. And these happen precisely because of different exams and holds. These, in turn, lead to fees and charges that are a consequence of delays. Which can happen for an entire slate of different reasons. However, not all delay charges are the same. Generally, they are divided into per diem, detention, and demurrage. So, make sure you familiarize yourself with the terms, before negotiating with a shipping company.

Missing Documentation

When it comes to your shipping process, know that the original copy of your Bill of Lading is the most crucial document. And its misplacement is a surprisingly common problem that happens to shippers. If the Bill of Lading is missing, be sure that you will face issues regarding your shipment’s release. And that will result in additional delays. That’s why you need to be sure that the Bill of Lading will be carried through a channel you can rely on. That’s where the aforementioned trustworthiness comes into play.

If you’ve got a supplier with whom you have a fairly trusting relationship, you can opt for an Express Release or a Telex Release. Though, you may require more particular paperwork, depending on the type of cargo and the port of destination. Uncertainty and trade volatility is something that all shippers face; being familiar with all the details will go a long way towards reducing them to the minimum.

Missing Taxes and Duties

As we’ve mentioned just now, you may need some specific sort of paperwork, depending on where the shipment is going and the sort of cargo you’re shipping. And not abiding by this is one of the common US customs clearance issues, but you want to avoid that. After all, this additional paperwork is there to protect the interests of the country’s residents and the economy. Thus, some commodities may be forbidden, while others are allowed, but only with special permits.

To give an example – auto-shipments are among those which require specific documentation. Before the shipping is done, have a look at the HS Code of the cargo that you’re transporting. You may encounter extra taxes and duties in order to clear your shipment. So, if you want your shipment to go through smoothly, be certain that you have all of the particular documentation that all the different ports require.

Cargo Damage

Unfortunately, cargo damage is something that happens often in the world of shipping. That’s why you want to make sure your cargo is safely secured in its container at the port of origin. Statistics show that 90% of cargo damage actually happens due to improper storage and packing. Plus, bear in mind that the loading process in your origin point should be perfect. Take care of all the details, like remembering how many pallets you can actually fit into the container.

Because in reality, cargo damage rarely happens due to terminal or carrier mishandling. But if that does happen, do not forgo filing an insurance claim. And while doing that, take great care to go through all the proper procedures step by step, if you want to be certain that you will be compensated for the losses. Still, though; we recommend safely securing your cargo, and you won’t have to go through any of this.

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Nathan Smith is a freelance author, mostly writing analyses of the maritime and air shipping industries. When he’s not writing about moving companies like Four Winds Saudi Arabia, he likes reading crime fiction and watching science fiction movies.

International Shipping

International Business Shipping Tips for Success

Shapiro Company provides detailed tips on the best ways to navigate international business shipping from privacy to proactive measures.

Ensuring these steps are included in your company’s shipping checklist can prevent delays, loss, and reduce overall risk.

plantain

Africa’s Plantain Market to Reach Over 30M Tonnes by 2025

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘Africa – Plantains – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

Consumption By Country in Africa

The countries with the highest volumes of plantain consumption in 2018 were Democratic Republic of the Congo (5.5M tonnes), Cameroon (4.8M tonnes) and Ghana (4.1M tonnes), together comprising 59% of total consumption.

From 2007 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of plantain consumption, amongst the main consuming countries, was attained by Democratic Republic of the Congo, while the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

The countries with the highest levels of plantain per capita consumption in 2018 were Cameroon (197 kg per person), Ghana (141 kg per person) and Uganda (68 kg per person).

From 2007 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of plantain per capita consumption, amongst the main consuming countries, was attained by Democratic Republic of the Congo, while the other leaders experienced mixed trends in the per capita consumption figures.

Market Forecast 2019-2025

Driven by increasing demand for plantain in Africa, the market is expected to continue an upward consumption trend over the next seven years. Market performance is forecast to retain its current trend pattern, expanding with an anticipated CAGR of +2.9% for the seven-year period from 2018 to 2025, which is projected to bring the market volume to 30M tonnes by the end of 2025.

Production in Africa

The plantain production stood at 25M tonnes in 2018, picking up by 3.6% against the previous year. The total output volume increased at an average annual rate of +3.0% from 2007 to 2018; however, the trend pattern indicated some noticeable fluctuations being recorded throughout the analyzed period. The pace of growth appeared the most rapid in 2010 when production volume increased by 12% against the previous year. Over the period under review, plantain production attained its peak figure volume in 2018 and is likely to see steady growth in the near future. The general positive trend in terms of plantain output was largely conditioned by a conspicuous increase of the harvested area and a relatively flat trend pattern in yield figures.

Production By Country in Africa

The countries with the highest volumes of plantain production in 2018 were Democratic Republic of the Congo (5.5M tonnes), Cameroon (4.8M tonnes) and Ghana (4.1M tonnes), together comprising 59% of total production.

From 2007 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of plantain production, amongst the main producing countries, was attained by Democratic Republic of the Congo, while the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Harvested Area in Africa

The plantain harvested area amounted to 4.2M ha in 2018, growing by 3.7% against the previous year. The harvested area increased at an average annual rate of +2.9% over the period from 2007 to 2018; however, the trend pattern indicated some noticeable fluctuations being recorded throughout the analyzed period. The growth pace was the most rapid in 2010 with an increase of 14% against the previous year. Over the period under review, the harvested area dedicated to plantain production reached its peak figure at 4.3M ha in 2015; however, from 2016 to 2018, harvested area stood at a somewhat lower figure.

Yield in Africa

The average plantain yield amounted to 5.8 tonne per ha in 2018, approximately equating the previous year. In general, the plantain yield, however, continues to indicate a relatively flat trend pattern. The most prominent rate of growth was recorded in 2016 when yield increased by 1.6% y-o-y. The level of plantain yield peaked at 5.8 tonne per ha in 2009; however, from 2010 to 2018, yield stood at a somewhat lower figure.

Exports in Africa

The exports totaled 99K tonnes in 2018, dropping by -5.8% against the previous year. Overall, plantain exports continue to indicate an abrupt decrease. The growth pace was the most rapid in 2013 when exports increased by 27% year-to-year. The volume of exports peaked at 181K tonnes in 2007; however, from 2008 to 2018, exports remained at a lower figure.

In value terms, plantain exports amounted to $45M (IndexBox estimates) in 2018. Over the period under review, plantain exports continue to indicate a drastic descent. The pace of growth appeared the most rapid in 2014 when exports increased by 13% year-to-year. The level of exports peaked at $85M in 2007; however, from 2008 to 2018, exports failed to regain their momentum.

Exports by Country

In 2018, Mozambique (38K tonnes) and Cote d’Ivoire (26K tonnes) were the main exporters of plantains in Africa, together making up 65% of total exports. It was distantly followed by Sudan (14K tonnes) and South Africa (12K tonnes), together committing a 27% share of total exports. The following exporters – Cameroon (3.2K tonnes) and Ghana (2.9K tonnes) – each accounted for a 6.1% share of total exports.

From 2007 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of exports, amongst the main exporting countries, was attained by Cote d’Ivoire, while the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

In value terms, the largest plantain markets in Africa were Cote d’Ivoire ($12M), Sudan ($11M) and Mozambique ($11M), together accounting for 76% of total exports.

Sudan experienced the highest rates of growth with regard to exports, among the main exporting countries over the last eleven-year period, while the other leaders experienced mixed trends in the exports figures.

Export Prices by Country

In 2018, the plantain export price in Africa amounted to $454 per tonne, growing by 4.8% against the previous year. Overall, the plantain export price, however, continues to indicate a relatively flat trend pattern. The most prominent rate of growth was recorded in 2015 an increase of 11% year-to-year. Over the period under review, the export prices for plantains attained their maximum at $485 per tonne in 2012; however, from 2013 to 2018, export prices failed to regain their momentum.

Prices varied noticeably by the country of origin; the country with the highest price was Cameroon ($850 per tonne), while Ghana ($203 per tonne) was amongst the lowest.

From 2007 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by Cameroon, while the other leaders experienced mixed trends in the export price figures.

Imports in Africa

The imports totaled 179K tonnes in 2018, picking up by 11% against the previous year. The total imports indicated a prominent expansion from 2007 to 2018: its volume increased at an average annual rate of +5.5% over the last eleven years. The trend pattern, however, indicated some noticeable fluctuations being recorded throughout the analyzed period. Based on 2018 figures, plantain imports increased by +20.7% against 2014 indices. The pace of growth appeared the most rapid in 2013 with an increase of 19% year-to-year. Over the period under review, plantain imports reached their peak figure in 2018 and are likely to continue its growth in the immediate term.

In value terms, plantain imports totaled $51M (IndexBox estimates) in 2018. The total import value increased at an average annual rate of +1.8% from 2007 to 2018; however, the trend pattern indicated some noticeable fluctuations being recorded over the period under review. The pace of growth was the most pronounced in 2017 with an increase of 11% y-o-y. Over the period under review, plantain imports reached their maximum in 2018 and are expected to retain its growth in the near future.

Imports by Country

South Africa was the key importing country with an import of about 119K tonnes, which resulted at 66% of total imports. Senegal (29K tonnes) held the second position in the ranking, followed by Mali (17K tonnes). All these countries together took approx. 26% share of total imports. Botswana (5.1K tonnes) and Algeria (3.1K tonnes) occupied a little share of total imports.

Imports into South Africa increased at an average annual rate of +11.5% from 2007 to 2018. At the same time, Senegal (+19.5%) and Mali (+6.1%) displayed positive paces of growth. Moreover, Senegal emerged as the fastest-growing importer in Africa, with a CAGR of +19.5% from 2007-2018. By contrast, Botswana (-2.5%) and Algeria (-16.8%) illustrated a downward trend over the same period. From 2007 to 2018, the share of South Africa, Senegal and Mali increased by +46%, +14% and +4.6% percentage points, while Algeria (-11.4 p.p.) saw their share reduced. The shares of the other countries remained relatively stable throughout the analyzed period.

In value terms, South Africa ($27M) constitutes the largest market for imported plantains in Africa, comprising 53% of total plantain imports. The second position in the ranking was occupied by Senegal ($13M), with a 25% share of total imports. It was followed by Botswana, with a 6.4% share.

From 2007 to 2018, the average annual rate of growth in terms of value in South Africa totaled +9.2%. The remaining importing countries recorded the following average annual rates of imports growth: Senegal (+22.9% per year) and Botswana (-3.2% per year).

Import Prices by Country

In 2018, the plantain import price in Africa amounted to $284 per tonne, coming down by -1.9% against the previous year. Overall, the plantain import price continues to indicate a perceptible setback. The growth pace was the most rapid in 2015 when the import price increased by 12% year-to-year. The level of import price peaked at $421 per tonne in 2007; however, from 2008 to 2018, import prices failed to regain their momentum.

Prices varied noticeably by the country of destination; the country with the highest price was Algeria ($1,017 per tonne), while Mali ($64 per tonne) was amongst the lowest.

From 2007 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by Algeria, while the other leaders experienced mixed trends in the import price figures.

Source: IndexBox AI Platform

ltl freight shipping

Benefits of LTL Freight Shipping

Less than truckload (LTL) shipping is a method of shipping that uses either LTL carriers or parcel carriers. The sticking point of this type of shipping is that it allows for people to put together their smaller loads (less than 150lbs, 68kg) and then ship them together with other people’s packages. This allows shipping companies to make shipments much more economically than with the FTL (full truckload) alternatives. But, besides economical benefits, there are other benefits of LTL freight shipping that you need to be aware of in order to incorporate it with your business. So, let us take a look at why LTL freight shipping is comparable and often preferable to FTL shipping.

Top Benefits of LTL Freight Shipping

The fastest way to ship your packages is to have a shipping company pick them up, load them and directly transport them to your desired location. Unfortunately, this is often the least economical way of doing it. In order to make shipping cheaper and more eco-friendly, shipping companies often have to use alternative ways of shipping. And one of the better ones is LTL. Even though it can be slower than direct FTL shipping, it allows for a much better cost and fuel efficiency. And, with modern technologies and regular use, it can be just as efficient as FTL shipping.

Shipping Cost

One of the largest benefits of LTL freight shipping is the reduced shipping cost. Since this method of shipping is based on smaller loads from various clients, it manages to reduce the overall shipping cost for everyone. This is due to the fact that by using LTL, shipping companies put together multiple smaller loads. By doing so they manage to reduce the fuel and the number of vehicles necessary to transport their loads. If they were to ship client by client, they wouldn’t be able to fill the vehicles to their maximum capacity (hence the less than truckload). But, by lumping up items together, LTL shipping manages to save cost on transport, while allowing the same service as FTL.

Eco-Friendliness

More and more companies are turning towards eco-friendliness as a necessary mode of operation. And, once you take a look at our current rate of climate change and our carbon footprint, you’ll also be hardpressed to look for eco-friendly solutions. Luckily, when it comes to shipping, LTL is one of the greener options. By reducing the amount of fuel and vehicles necessary for shipping, LTL allows shipping companies to be much greener. They are also able to figure out optimal pathways, due to more regular shipping that is common to LTL. So, if you are looking for an easy way to make your shipments greener, simply employ LTL freight shipping.

Increased Safety

The first way that LTL freight shipping increases the safety of your items is with ample packing. Companies like Triple 7 Movers will first make sure that your possessions are properly packed. Then they will repack them each time the total LTL shipment is altered. By reapplying protective covers, they ensure the safety of your possessions from both physical and environmental harm. Individual loads are usually either packed on a parcel and then secured, or the company puts them in protective containers. This allows for maximum safety during shipping as well as easy handling.

Another safety feature of LTL freight shipping is that there is almost no chance of a package getting misplaced. By using tracking technologies, safety measures, and notification requirements, moving companies ensure that any package on board is well looked after. Furthermore, shipping companies usually organize LTL shipping routes with as few stops as possible. This allows them to keep packages safe for the entirety of the trip.

Better Organization

The biggest worry people have about LTL freight shipping is the supposed lack of availability. After all, with an FTL, you have the control of timing and the necessary route. Meanwhile, the LTL shipments are often limited by their route and the necessary drops. So, can better organization really be one of the benefits of LTL freight shipping? Well, as it turns out, it can. LTL freight shipping is ideal for customers who have regular shipments. Shipping companies often group up regular customers together. This allows them to achieve a greater degree of reliability and consistency. Along with regular shipments, companies also use automation to figure out optimal routes.

But, the true beauty of modern LTL freight shipping is that you don’t have to rely on your shipping company’s skills alone. Modern technologies allow clients to track their packages and get live notifications of any delays or setbacks. Therefore, with LTL freight shipping, you should be able to run your business and both send and receive your shipments with a high degree of reliability.

Shipping Options

Most shipping companies offer various shipping options. These options can come at a higher cost, but they can also make your shipping much better organized. Some of them are:

Expedient shipping – You can use this option if you want your goods to arrive faster than standard transit time. This option can often be quite costly, but it is quite useful for emergency shipping.

Liftgate – Does you freight exceeds 100 pounds? Then you should opt for Liftgate. Also, consider using it if the receiving location doesn’t have a clear dock for shipments.

Limited access – You can use this type of LTL for areas that have limited access due to safety reasons. So, for your construction sites or rural locations, you would probably want to choose this kind of shipping.

Custom delivery window – If you need your shipment to arrive within a specific period, you can opt for custom delivery windows. Most companies will deal with your package so that it fits their workload. This allows them to deal with transport cheaply and efficiently. So, this option can also be costly and should, therefore, be used with ample forethought.