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20 Women Who Are Innovating Logistics And Supply Chain

women global trade supply chain

20 Women Who Are Innovating Logistics And Supply Chain

Women are becoming increasingly crucial in logistics and supply chains for several reasons. Firstly, they bring a valuable skillset. The industry thrives on organization, planning, and meeting tight deadlines–areas where women often excel. Additionally, women bring diverse perspectives that can spark innovation and improve problem-solving in a complex global network.

Read also: Unveiling the Vast Global Gender Gap: A Deeper Dive into Women’s Legal Rights

Secondly, the logistics industry is experiencing a talent gap. By actively recruiting and promoting women, companies tap into a wider pool of qualified candidates. This is even more important as the industry evolves with technology and requires a broader range of expertise.

Finally, diversity in leadership is proven to benefit businesses. Studies show companies with strong female representation in supply chain leadership tend to be more profitable. This is likely due to a combination of the factors mentioned above–a wider range of skills and fresh perspectives at the decision-making table.

In short, women are a driving force for growth and innovation in today’s logistics and supply chain landscapes. Their skills, diverse perspectives and increasing presence in leadership roles are essential for the industry’s continued success. Let’s meet just some of these industry changemakers.

Shelley Simpson

President and Incoming CEO 

J.B. Hunt

global trade supply chain

Simpson is currently the president of the Lowell, Arkansas-based trucking and intermodal provider, but on July 1 she will have chief executive officer added to her title. Current CEO John N. Roberts III is transitioning to become Hunt’s executive chairman of the board, which Simpson will join as a member. “Shelley challenges us to be excellent and innovative and always in pursuit of customer value,” Roberts says of his CEO successor, who has been with Hunt nearly 30 years. “She will continue to remain focused on disciplined investments to drive appropriate returns and long-term growth for the benefit of our people, customers and shareholders.”

Jennifer Coulter-Lissman

CEO and President

NTG Supply Chain Solutions

global trade supply chain

With nearly two decades experience working with international logistics and supply chain management, Coulter-Lissman has achieved incredible results in past roles, including growing a company from $15 million to $150 million, securing company-wide Customs Brokerage and International Air Transport Association licenses, and growing teams by 1,000 percent. As Indianapolis, Indiana-based NTG SCS’s CEO/president, she focuses on organizational growth, strategic planning and finding new and innovative ways to provide value to clients and the NTG community. Her team has grown to be comprised of about 50% women and an equal representation of minorities, and she is recognized for promoting employees from within the organization.

Elisabeth Cosmatos 

CEO

The Cosmatos Group

global trade supply chain

Having worked in the shipping, forwarding and logistics sectors for the past 25 years, Cosmatos was appointed managing director of Thessaloníki, Greece-based The Cosmatos Group of Companies in 2000 and leads business activities across a portfolio of well-known industry brands that include Hub Logistics, Fairplay Forwarding and Cosmatos Shipping Services. Last year, she also became president of The Heavy Lift Group, a consortium of western-European heavy-lift operators founded in 1987. Cosmatos confessed to Project Cargo Journal in September that it sometimes bothers her that women are treated differently, or their achievements are made to seem greater, explaining, “In my experience, gender doesn’t matter when it comes to working with others.”

Sharon Lee

CEO 

High Road Inc.

global trade supply chain

Lee’s illustrious career includes spearheading a boutique trucking and logistics company, actively participating in Nashville, Tennessee’s emerging artist scene and contributing to initiatives supporting touring professionals. Providing trucking services to touring acts, from big names to up-and-comers, High Road boasts of “revolutionizing logistics one concert at a time.” Lee participated in the Live Production Summit’s “Going the Distance Panel” in January, when logistical variances between European and U.S. tours were discussed, shedding light on critical aspects impacting tours on both continents. 

Cornelia Raportaru

CEO

Stuart 

global trade supply chain

Raportaru has more than 15 years of industry experience leading businesses across tech scale-ups, telecommunications and fast-moving consumer goods. She was previously Head of Partnerships at Twitter, Global Senior Product Manager at Vodaphone and Global Audit Manager at Cadbury. Prior to Stuart, she grew Taskrabbit from a small logistics startup to an $81.5 million concern. Raportaru recently navigated the European delivery platform’s acquisition by private equity fund Mutares, leading Stuart to a path of profitability. She is passionate about building a fairer, more equitable delivery ecosystem for retailers, couriers and consumers and is a key champion for small businesses. 

Beth Morgan

Founder and CEO 

boom!

global trade supply chain

Morgan was Research Vice President for SCM World, a Gartner community for Chief Supply Chain Officers and their teams, when she decided to leave and launch boom! in September 2019. With a vision to empower women in supply chain for the benefit of all, boom! boasts members representing all supply chain and procurement functions, and they span multiple industries across 42 different countries, bringing a rich diversity of experience, thinking and ambition. “There simply aren’t enough women in supply chain, particularly at senior leadership levels,” says Uckfield, U.K.-based Morgan. “I created the boom! community to help empower women who want to reach their full professional potential in harmony with fulfilling personal lives.”

Kelly Raia

Chief Operating Officer

Blue Tiger International

global trade supply chain

Raia literally grew up in logistics, as her father owned a freight forwarding business and, as a teen, she worked in the warehouse loading and unloading freight. Now, as COO of the Long Island, New York-based global trade and supply chain consultancy, she has helped more than 500 companies manage import and export, written over 100 articles on trade compliance and co-authored Mastering Import and Export Management, widely considered the go-to reference on the topic. Raia is actively involved in numerous supply chain, logistics and compliance organizations as well as numerous trade organizations. And she co-founded a nonprofit that works with wounded combat veterans.

Terri Bennett Robbins

Chief Operating Officer

ProvisionAi

Robbins started as support for desktop personal computers at then-small Chicago third-party logistics company Nexus. By the time she left 23 years later, she had risen to Chief Information Officer, and Nexus had gone national. As COO, Robbins is now ProvisionAi’s second in command, responsible for overseeing all activities and running day-to-day operations at the Franklin, Tennessee, supply chain optimization company. She enjoys using logic and analysis to solve problems and collaborates closely with other members of the organization, from fellow execs to team members. Outside of work, she recently started a foundation that helps disadvantaged and special needs youth, foster children and other young people.

Lisa Vegso

Chief Commercial Officer

PECO Pallet

As both a leader and mentor at the Itasca, Illinois, pallet rental company for grocery retailers, wholesalers, club stores and mass merchandisers, Vegso plays a pivotal role in embodying a supportive and inclusive environment where all employees feel valued and empowered to excel. She is known for her open-door policy, which encourages communication and transparency across all levels of the organization, as well as her willingness to engage with employees from any department and address their questions or concerns. Vegso was recognized by the Supply Chain Management (SCM) Association as one of the top 100 most influential women in supply chain for 2019.

Christine Barnhart

Chief Marketing and Industry Officer

Nulogy

Christine Barnhart, VP Product Marketing and Go-To-Market, Nulogy (CNW Group/Nulogy Corporation)

Barnhart’s rich knowledge of supply chain management, combined with broad experience as a software industry executive, positions her uniquely to unify sales, product development and customer success within the marketing strategy of the Toronto, Canada-based platform. She was appointed to the SCM Board of Directors, for whom Barnhart leverages her extensive industry experience to offer valuable insights, guidance and recommendations. She’s also a notable advocate within the Supply Chain Insights Network of Networks group, pushing for job posting revisions to attract candidates from historically underrepresented groups, as well as a board member for various nonprofit organizations.

Christine Klemmer 

Chief Innovation Officer

Jettainer

Klemmer was appointed in August 2023 to the newly established department, which aims to enhance unit load device (ULD) management services through cutting-edge technology, strategic AI applications and tracking solutions. “Christine Klemmer’s experience at home and abroad and her wide-ranging expertise in ULD management, air freight, and IT, makes her the ideal fit,” Jettainer CEO Thomas Sonntag said at the time. Klemmer also held onto some previous duties at the Raunheim, Germany-based freight and cargo transporter, remaining responsible for strategic development and managing the wholly owned subsidiary of Lufthansa Cargo’s project portfolio and corporate communications. 

Sarah Ruffcorn

President

Trinity Logistics

Ruffcorn, who has presided over Trinity Logistics since 2019, was instrumental in the transition of the Seaford, Delaware-based 3PL/freight brokerage/cold storage provider to a Burris Logistics Co. beginning in April of that same year. She was recently recognized by the Transportation Intermediaries Association and Truckstop as the 2024 Distinguished Woman in Logistics. “Sarah’s significant career accomplishments and passion for mentoring others embody the key characteristics of this honor,” remarked Jennifer Hedrick, president and CEO of Women in Trucking, when the winner of the 10th annual award was announced.

Sarah Massie

President

S Massie Consulting LLC 

Best known in the Pacific Northwest, Massie runs her company from France. She specializes in export consulting, creating written processes and protocols for export and International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) compliance programs, and training companies to navigate the complicated laws and regulations for U.S. exports. With more than 20 years of experience in international business, she has organized promotions at international trade shows as well as U.S. state governor-led trade missions across five continents. The author of an upcoming memoir uses her personal story to empower women to stay true to themselves as they overcome their fears and pursue their dreams with confidence.

Jill Gross

Vice President of Strategic Accounts 

Sunset Transportation 

Gross’ leadership at the St. Louis, Missouri-based 3PL transcends mere business expansion, emphasizing the cultivation of an environment where mentorship and teamwork thrive. Her project management prowess is particularly visible in diverse areas such as customer onboarding, IT, process enhancement and sales. Moreover, she champions sustainability in both operations and personnel, paving the way for a culture of mutual respect and professional growth that resonates strongly with Sunset’s commitment to inclusivity. Her guidance propelled the company to achieve an impressive Sustainability Rating of 81 in 2023, which has proven to be a boon for business and the environment.

Chelsea Lamar

Vice President, Global Sustainability

AIT Worldwide Logistics  

Hired to the newly created role this past September, Lamar leads the Itasca, Illinois-based 3PL’s sustainability initiatives, furthering AIT’s commitment to environmental responsibility and ethical corporate citizenship, including its goal to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2035. She brought with her more than a dozen years of experience in sustainability strategy development and execution. In her previous roles, she implemented electric vehicle and renewable fuel pilot programs, introduced energy efficiency initiatives to Illinois public schools, and launched sustainability programs across more than 200 facilities, saving $3 million in annual energy costs.

Julie Colona

Director of Operations & Global Solutions

Mesa Logistics Group 

Colona brought extensive experience in supply chain management, project leadership and trade compliance when she joined the Chesterfield, Missouri-based 3PL specializing in furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E) in June 2023. Her previous expertise involved designing scalable supply infrastructures and driving process improvements. “Her operational expertise, commitment to excellence and passion for customer satisfaction align perfectly with our values,” said Casey Ellis, president of Mesa Logistics Group. “With Julie leading our Operations & Global Solutions division, we are confident in our ability to deliver industry-leading FF&E supply chain solutions.”

Lisa Flohr

Director of Operations 

Nexterus

Flohr celebrated her 25th year with the New Freedom, Pennsylvania-based 3PL and supply chain management solutions provider by being named Director of Operations. She started at Nexterus as the Truckload Manager but now manages all day-to-day tactical activity for the company, overseeing global 3PL, including domestic freight, international freight, claims and freight bill audit and pay. “Lisa is the definition of a Nexterian,” says Ryan Polakoff, president of Nexterus. “She is a true leader respected and admired by other team members, clients and partners. She’s a true asset to our team.”

Olga Dubinok 

Director of Business Development, USA

MYCRANE

Headquartered in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, the world’s first global platform for online crane rental hired Dubinok for the newly created role in February. “Her established contacts in the industry and can-do attitude will be a great asset to the company as we expand our presence in the USA and advance the digitalization of the crane rental process,” explained Andrei Geikalo, MYCRANE founder and CEO, at the time of Dubinok appointment. Working out of Phoenix, Arizona, she is responsible for engaging with customers and crane rental companies and raising awareness of the MYCRANE brand. She’s a familiar face in the industry, serving on a Specialized Carriers & Rigging Foundation committee.

Destinee Broussard

Senior Customs Compliance and Logistics Analyst 

Acushnet Co.

Broussard has spearheaded several major initiatives for the Fairhaven, Massachusetts-based operator of such golf brands as Titleist, Pinnacle and FootJoy. She recovered more than $314,000 in duty savings by reviewing entries for exclusion eligibility and optimizing Free Trade Agreement utilization. Broussard developed robust procedures that reduced the broker error rate by 60% through comprehensive audits, SOP updates and direct collaboration with brokers. And she enhanced Acushnet’s customer putter return process, streamlining it for customs compliance and user-friendliness through collaborative efforts with cross-functional teams. Broussard serves on the company Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Council and has worked with several nonprofit charities.

Azalia Shamsaei

Product Manager, Platform

Kinaxis

Shamsaei was drawn to the Ottawa-based supply chain management and sales and operation planning software company three years ago because it is recognized as one of Canada’s top employers. Its focus on addressing global supply chain challenges, particularly in the post-pandemic era, also aligned with her passion for making a meaningful impact. She is currently focused on streamlining the experience for developers who leverage the Kinaxis RapidResponse supply chain management solution. Her company was recently named a Leader in the 2024 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Supply Chain Planning Solutions.

global trade veolia

Veolia Joins Forces with ChemSec to Combat Hazardous Chemicals in Supply Chains

Addressing hazardous chemicals in waste management is emerging as a crucial sustainability issue for the next decade. In a significant step towards tackling this challenge, environmental service company Veolia has joined the ChemSec Business Group, aligning itself with industry giants like Apple and Ikea to reduce hazardous chemicals in the global supply chain.

Read also: Addressing the Growing Issue of VOCs in the Supply Chain

Veolia is the latest addition to the Business Group of ChemSec, an environmental NGO, and stands out as the only environmental services company in the cohort. By joining forces with brands such as Apple, Ikea, and Adidas, Veolia brings a unique perspective to the group, enriching its efforts with extensive waste management expertise.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Veolia. The company’s deep understanding of waste management will be transformative for the Business Group. We’re eager to explore the challenges and opportunities related to hazardous chemicals in the waste phase,” remarked Dr. Jonatan Kleimark, project manager of the ChemSec Business Group.

While the discussion around chemical production often takes center stage, hazardous chemicals in waste have long been a significant sustainability issue. In the context of advancing the circular economy and anticipating future legislation, many brands are now committing to increasing the use of recycled materials in their products.

“The demand for post-consumer recycled materials is soaring, driven by corporate sustainability commitments. To meet this demand and help brands achieve their sustainability goals, we need to significantly boost the production of recycled materials,” explained Dr. Kleimark. “This requires waste management companies to recognize the potential in recycling materials without hazardous chemicals. Establishing non-toxic waste streams is key to scaling up the circular economy.”

Recent legislative focus has also highlighted the importance of non-toxic waste management. The Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, which aims for toxic-free material cycles, along with the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation, are expected to enhance transparency in chemical use and facilitate recycling processes.

As an environmental services company, Veolia is crucial in supporting both public and private sectors to transition towards safer chemical alternatives in the global supply chain. Veolia’s decision to join the ChemSec Business Group underscores its commitment to this vital issue.

“By collaborating with the ChemSec Business Group and engaging with various sectors, Veolia is a pivotal partner in accelerating the chemical transition, contributing to ecological, economic, industrial, and social transformations. This initiative is part of our new strategic plan, GreenUp, which aims to accelerate ecological transformation while preserving human health and ecosystems for a safer, more sustainable future,” stated Ismahane Remonnay, Head of Prospective & Regulatory Affairs at Veolia.

global trade mexico east

US Importers Brace for Freight Rate Surge Amid Strike Threat at East and Gulf Coast Ports

US importers are caught in a vicious cycle of disruption as a looming labor union strike at East and Gulf Coast ports threatens to escalate freight rates and cause massive disruptions in ocean freight container shipping.

Read also: East Coast and Gulf Coast Ports Face Strike Threat as ILA Halts Labor Negotiations

The International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) recently announced the suspension of labor contract negotiations with the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX). The current agreement is set to expire on September 30, raising fears of a potential strike.

Peter Sand, Chief Analyst at Xeneta, commented, “Shippers have already been frontloading imports ahead of the traditional Q3 peak season due to supply chain concerns from the Red Sea conflict. With the added risk of disruptions at East and Gulf Coast ports, they may accelerate these efforts, further complicating the situation.”

The increased frontloading of imports has contributed to severe port congestion in Asia and Europe, driving ocean freight container shipping spot rates up by more than $2,000 per FEU. Sand noted, “Shippers are stuck in a vicious circle where their efforts to safeguard supply chains could exacerbate the problem.”

According to Xeneta, spot rates from the Far East to the US East Coast have surged by 64% since April 30, reaching $6,820 per FEU as of June 11. In the first four months of this year, 2.44 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) were shipped from the Far East to the US East and Gulf coasts, accounting for over 40% of total US container imports from the region.

Sand suggested that shippers might consider redirecting imports to the US West Coast, reversing a trend seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this shift could tighten capacity and increase rates on the West Coast and other alternatives like Vancouver or Mexico, which has already experienced a significant rise in Far East imports over the past year.

Xeneta’s forward-looking data indicates that the recent surge in spot rates from the Far East to the US East Coast is expected to slow, with a modest 2.4% increase projected for June 15 compared to the 19% rise observed on May 1. Despite this, Sand believes the threat of disruptions could keep spot rates elevated for an extended period.

“If negotiations collapse and more shippers rush to import goods ahead of the holiday season, we could see spot markets remain high,” Sand warned. He also noted the fierce rhetoric from the ILA, which makes the breakdown in negotiations unsurprising.

Well-prepared shippers with robust risk management and supply chain strategies may have anticipated this scenario, contributing to the early frontloading of imports. Sand emphasized that while shippers hope for a resolution similar to last year’s West Coast labor negotiations, a strike amid ongoing pressure on ocean freight networks could lead to a challenging end to 2024.

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The Disappearing Divide Between Product and Party Compliance

Supply chain transparency is not just knowing where your products are; it equally applies to risk management. You’ll never break the chain sort of thing. In this context, it is only logical that supply chain compliance is approached holistically: no more fragmented product classification, license requirements, denied party screening and certification processes but a single, unified approach towards supply chain risk or compliance. The movement towards a single compliance program is not coincidental: party, product, and transactional compliance are everywhere, sometimes hard to distinguish from one another, and a landslide away from their original setup decades ago. Legislation, a more holistic view of compliance programs, and the progression of software solutions are the drivers that have forced and/or facilitated the unification of processes. 

Read also: Managing Risk With Trade Compliance In Global Supply Chains

Legislation and Other Developments

Legislation has focused on particular elements in the supply chain as well as on broader supply chain issues. For example, in the case of forced labor, legislation zooms in on one specific issue, yet the limitations are not just whether the factory in question is using forced labor—it is also important to understand if semi-finished products were routed through a factory where forced labor was used. As such, forced labor turns into not only an entity issue, but also expands scope into a review of the Bill of Materials. This is in contrast (addition) to European (EU and German) legislation where it can be argued there is more of a framework set forth within which (say) carbon footprints or forced labor restrictions can be further detailed. An additional example concerns current discussions regarding the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) where likely changes will affect when (product safety) certification needs to be submitted (upon import versus currently post import). Once more, this is an instance where product compliance (the product safety data is a product compliance element) is tied with party compliance (as, for example, reputational status will impact the level of scrutiny or even interest in doing business with a particular party).

Rumors don’t work; facts are needed: add to this legislative component a trend for more—and more immediate insights—into market (i.e., supply chain) disruptions, whether a blockage of the Suez Canal, a volcano outburst in Iceland, or a renewed focus on transshipments of certain products, and the drivers for a ‘one view fits all’ approach are documented.

Holistic View of Compliance Programs

No more room for little opportunities or little lies in little programs. Risk management, supply chain resiliency, supply chain procurement, and sourcing platforms are officially on track to be on the same page and within the same organization. After a few major supply chain security breaches, even InfoSec has found its spot in the realm of supply chain risk management, or supply chain unity if preferred. With this holistic view comes a variety of new programs and organizational changes, and reporting lines are starting to shift from traditional structures (e.g., party screening under legal, product compliance in the shipping or trade department, and sourcing in procurement). Back up a paragraph and it is evident that if a party or product is failing to pass a security check, alternatives need to be found. This means procurement gets tasked and where better and more efficient to complete that task than within the framework of a holistic supply chain program (versus a standalone procurement process only after which the relevant risk assessments are completed)?

Software Solutions

The supply chain software market has evolved. With a proper AI injection, possibly chatbot- or language model-driven, an ongoing machine learning (ML) component to it, and a never going back again mentality, solutions or platforms for supply chain mapping, single/aggregate risk management and opportunity assessment don’t stop popping up or expanding scope. It is a critical part of the trifecta—program – team – application—and supply chain software vendors are aware that a singular, difficult-to-integrate-with solution is nothing but an albatross. This is not to imply that companies will opt for a single vendor but to submit that companies will require vendors to collaborate, ideally and soon, within a single platform/view/UI/login.

The supply chain value proposition goes hand in hand with best-in-class compliance solutions. These come with APIs, flexible integrations, and higher levels of configuration (versus customization) that allow companies to truly leverage the best parts of what supply chain software vendors have to offer. Add a chatbot or two, pay attention to the committed roadmap, and Gen AI capabilities and dreams can well come true: solutions that facilitate traditionally separated teams to happily work together and ensure holistic compliance programs can effectively navigate new, global legislative changes. 

Parting Thoughts

While building out from a modern solution is perhaps simpler than assumed, navigating from more secluded teams towards a corporate supply chain unity/risk/resilience team with representation across functional teams where product and party compliance blend together is not without challenges. Letting go of more traditional compliance management tasks in favor of integrated compliance management solutions, platforms, and communication will also require a healthy dose of change management across the organization.

global trade scholarship

RACCA Opens 2024 Scholarship Applications for Aspiring Aviation Professionals

Applications are now being accepted for the 2024 Regional Air Cargo Carriers Association (RACCA) scholarships, aimed at supporting aspiring pilots, aircraft maintenance technicians (AMTs), and airline managers in their career pursuits.

Read also: 8 Strategies for Empowering Emerging Talent in the Supply Chain Industry

“Awarding the four scholarships is one of the most important things the Regional Air Cargo Carriers Association does,” said RACCA President James Goddard. “Each year we are impressed with the quality of the applications and what these young people will contribute to the industry once they complete their education. Our members support our scholarships with generous donations because they believe in paying it forward and encouraging the pursuit of cargo careers.”

The RACCA Aviation Scholarships, valued at $2,500 each, were established to promote aviation as a career choice and raise awareness of opportunities within the air cargo industry. Representing 50 air cargo carriers, many of which support FedEx, DHL, and UPS networks, RACCA provides these scholarships to assist with tuition, flight training, or obtaining new or additional licenses. Four awards are made annually in November.

Goddard highlighted that flying for a RACCA carrier is an excellent way for pilots to build flight hours, offering experience with scheduled flights, inclement weather, inflight and procedural issues, night flying, busy airspace operations, cockpit resource management, and required recordkeeping—key elements of airline operations. He emphasized the importance of maintaining professionalism and discipline, as instilled during student training, for aspiring pilots to effectively build their flight hours.

To qualify for the scholarships, applicants must:

– Be a college student currently enrolled in an accredited aviation program.
– Be a resident of the United States.
– Maintain a Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.

The Richard Mills Memorial Scholarship requires an additional letter of introduction from a current RACCA member or associate member to help candidates learn about the air cargo industry. Candidates are encouraged to visit a nearby RACCA member’s operation or contact a member to ask questions about the industry if no member is locally available.

The Terry Hibler Memorial Scholarship aims to encourage careers in industries supporting cargo operators, including maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), aviation management, financial careers in insurance and leasing, manufacturing, airports, and other aviation services.

The application deadline is October 15, 2024. Scholarship selections will be made by November 30, with distributions to accredited schools on December 15.

The RACCA Aviation Scholarship application is available on the RACCA website

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A Closer Look at Life on a Cargo Ship: 7 Realities

The water transportation industry rarely gets the spotlight. That said, delivering freight from country to country is hard work that deserves more recognition. 

Read also: Innovative Strategy Reduces Cargo Ship Emissions by 17.3%

A great number of people contribute to a package’s journey and destination. Here’s a closer look at what to do to get and stay on board a cargo ship.

Applying to Become a Cargo Worker

There are many jobs in the sector, with seaman and material handler as the entry-level roles. It can take some time to climb the ranks and become a senior member of the crew or ship captain. However, some are content with taking on more niche roles such as ship cook or rigger.

Cargo ship jobs usually have fewer educational requirements, with some accepting high school graduates. However, maritime training and certification is key. U.S. companies and sole proprietors must obtain a license from the Federal Maritime Commission to qualify for ocean freight transportation.

Sending in an application does not guarantee landing a role. Logistic jobs may be in demand with the growth of e-commerce and globalization, but most enterprises look for people with experience handling inventory and shipping.

It’s also important to check on one’s health before pushing through with becoming a cargo worker. Unlike shipping roles on land, a crew member will have to face the sights and motions of the sea throughout their career.

Checking Compensation for the Crew

Compensation can vary from role to role. Experience and rank can also play a big part in the salary. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, water transportation workers had a median pay of $31.22 per hour or $64,930 annually in May 2023. Some shipping businesses offer a premium for overtime work.

Some people receive their pay weekly or monthly, depending on management. However, some crew members need compensation due to unfair employers and rogue manning agents. The International Transport Workers’ Federation recovered over $35 million in wages owed.

Cargo ship workers must be wary of their employers and any payment problems that may arise. Check the agency’s legitimacy by checking its registration and whether it is under an ITF agreement. A claim against brands that have breached those conditions will be easier to process and resolve.

Crew members can connect with the rest of their shipmates to address delays and collect their salaries. However, being wary of acquaintances who will take advantage of the situation and extort money is also essential.

Experiencing the Working Conditions

The sun and the sea are both unpredictable natural elements. Docking at the port and moving the freight onto the boat can already be a taxing experience. Depending on the size of the vessel and the number of crew members working together, the movement can take a while.

Some people may experience muscle soreness with a delayed onset afterward. These aches show up 24 to 72 hours after strenuous activities. However, staff can’t get rest right away, especially when the ship finally sails.

Material handlers need to recheck inventory to ensure nothing is missing. Engineers need to monitor and maintain the motor to keep the ship afloat. The captain and officers must navigate the waters and steer the freight to their destination.

As bigger ships need hands on deck 24/7, someone will always be working. The shift assigned to a worker will typically state their exact hours and when they can rest in their personal quarters.

Living on a Water Vessel

A cargo ship is quite far from a cruise ship, as it is more optimized for transporting different packages. Being in the middle of the ocean makes Wi-Fi connection quite difficult to come across. Even when an email does get out, the captain is in charge of reviewing correspondence.

While it lacks the amenities and entertainment required, most cargo ship workers can find plenty of solace in the endless sky and sea. Taking in the sights in between monitoring the mechanisms and freights can be relaxing.

Most cargo ship organizations provide meals for the crew at specific times of day. Vessels with longer journeys have a limited food supply, so each person gets only one portion. Fresh food is hard to come by after a few months since it will have gone bad already.

For sleeping accommodation, ship crewmates of a higher rank may get their own room and bed. Deckmates and other roles share a cabin and bunk bed with others on the boat. Toilets and a shower room are also for communal use.

Maintaining Gear and Equipment

Cargo ship workers are responsible for a lot of gear and equipment, which isn’t always smooth sailing. For instance, marine freshwater tanks store water for drinking and cooking. These portable liquids should be clean and free of infection. Unfortunately, they are still subject to contamination, which can cause Legionnaires’ disease among the crew.

There’s also the struggle of inclement weather when on board. Whether rain or shine, the boat needs to continue moving forward. The crew must be prepared to move items and evacuate the area if any damage occurs to the hull due to turbulent sailing conditions.

Foul weather gear is recommended since it has a water-repellent finish to protect the material. However, it diminishes after every 20 to 30 uses. Wearing it every day during the rainy season can affect its quality before the ship even gets to its destination.

In those cases, workers have to rewax the area to achieve the waterproof effect again. If the layers are separating from the interior fabric, report to a manager to get a new suit.

Navigating the Work Culture

There is still a stigma that the maritime industry is only for men due to traditional gender roles. However, many female seafarers have created a mark on the industry. For example, Caroline Mayhew became a captain in 1846 after her husband and crew members fell victim to the smallpox epidemic. She was able to steer the vessel to safety.

Numerous modern-day heroines are still pursuing careers on cargo ships. While some crew members are less than respectful towards women and the work culture still needs improvement, the space is slowly changing to become more inclusive. Look for employers focusing on each person’s safety and mental well-being while on the clock.

Managing Personal Time

One key reality about working on a cargo ship is how hard a work-life balance is to achieve. A rating can take around nine months or so. In that time, a crew member can miss a holiday, a loved one’s birthday and other important events.

It’s challenging to manage personal relationships. However, some people do maintain friendships and families while sailing worldwide. Just communicate and set expectations with loved ones before the next venture.

The Truth of Cargo Ship Life

Staying afloat during a cargo ship’s trials and tribulations is challenging and rewarding. Acknowledge the realities and appreciate the people within the field. Those with a newfound respect or admiration for the trade are more than welcome to join.

global trade industry

REVEALED: How Disruption in Supply Chain Affects the Food & Beverage Industry

The food and beverage industry represents a huge portion of the economy, amounting to around $1,011 billion in 2024, with an expected annual growth of 3.81%. Despite being such a large contributor, there have been huge losses within the industry that have come directly from supply chain issues. In fact, a survey from WTW found that 73% of business and industry leaders stated supply chain-related losses have been higher than expected over the previous two years.

Read also: REVEALED: How Disruptions in The Supply Chain Affects the Infrastructure Industry

For the industry to strengthen the supply chain and ensure that losses are mitigated as much as possible, it’s important to understand where the disruptions occur the most Chris Thompson, Operations Director at Electrix International, leading suppliers of electrical junction boxes for a wide range of industries, have offered expert insight into the issues facing supply chains in the food and beverage industry and how best to combat them.

The Freight Recession

The global shipping industry has been experiencing a recession in freight that has continued for longer than anticipated. According to data from DAT, the trucking industry saw a net loss of 29,000 carriers in 2023, with more expected to go throughout 2024.

Reduced freight vehicles and activity can result in downward pressure on shipping rates. This might sound positive for businesses looking for lower transport costs, but it can emphasize underlying economic weakness as well as decreased consumer spending. This is a huge concern for the food and beverage industry, which relies on consumer spending to drive economic success.

The freight recession directly affects supply chains, with raw materials and finished products being delayed in delivery. This can impact the manufacturers as far back as they are experiencing a surplus of inventory in warehouses due to a lack of delivery options. This feeds down to retailers and restaurants struggling to maintain adequate stock levels, affecting their customer base and growth.

Cargo Theft

One of the key struggles within the supply chain is the noticeable spike in cargo theft affecting stock and supply. A CargoNet report on theft statistics found that there was a 57% increase in events of cargo theft in the second quarter of 2023 compared to the previous year. The total amount comes to more than $44 million in shipments, with the average value per event increasing to more than $260,000 from $100,000 due to the theft of high-value shipments.

Theft that occurs within the industry’s supply chain massively impacts supermarkets’ ability to stock their shelves for consumers. Similarly, it has a knock-on effect on the restaurant industry, as they’re unable to source the ingredients required for their menu items.

The cost faced by businesses extends beyond the price of the goods but also encompasses the expenses related to insurance claims, increased security for prevention, and even reputational damage that can occur. Costs within the industry also filter through the supply chain, with perishable items getting lost, which can lead to shortages and price fluctuations, as well as consumers facing limited availability of specific products or high prices at the point of sale.

Strategies for Resilience

This is why companies in the industry must employ strategies to promote resilience and adaptability. Particularly, proactive measures can help to reduce the impact these disruptions can have so that progress isn’t halted. One aspect of the strategy should always be keeping on the cutting edge of investment in technology to maintain visibility and security throughout the supply chain. This can be in the form of GPS tracking, RFID tagging, and real-time monitoring devices to track the movement of goods more efficiently, as well as being able to react quickly to incidents of theft or delays.

Diversifying sources within the supply chain is also important for strengthening and avoiding disruptions. With a diverse supplier base and investing resources into finding alternative transport routes, businesses can increase flexibility and establish strategic partnerships with reliable logistics providers. This can, in turn, make processes more efficient and streamlined.

One solution for strengthening is for the industry to build strong relationships with government agencies, law enforcement, and associations to collaborate and share information. This can help to develop better and more proactive strategies to address the challenges within the supply chain.

Proactive approaches are crucial to mitigating risk management within supply chains. With enough preparation and proactive strategizing, they can help navigate turbulence and build resilience.

global trade port

Lessons For Ports: How To Seek $3 Billion In U.S. Grants For Zero-Emission Moves

Trade ties between Asia and North America are bookended by two powerhouse ports: Singapore and Long Beach, California. Both are in the process of electrifying their operations to get off fossil fuels. Other ports that sought a U.S. EPA grant in May to do likewise can learn from their experience. 

Read also: America’s Ports Surge Ahead: $5 Trillion In Funding Is Earmarked For Groundbreaking Infrastructure Overhaul

Singapore ranks as one of the world’s busiest ports in terms of total shipping tonnage. A fifth of the world’s shipping containers pass through there.

On the American side of the Pacific, the Port of Long Beach in Southern California handles 9 million 20-foot container units every year, accounting for a fifth of all containers moving through U.S. ports.

Both ports share a goal to electrify port-side vehicles as part of aggressive goals to cut the air pollution that results from the near round-the-clock operation of container handling equipment such as yard tractors, RTGs (rubber-tire gantry cranes) and AGVs (autonomous guided vehicles) that shuttle containers around the port. They typically run on diesel fuel, emitting both air pollution and greenhouse gases.

Electric versions are available, and in April 2023, the Port of Long Beach applauded as a “welcome and needed” a first-of-its-kind rule by the California Air Resources Board requiring a transition toward such zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles at the state’s ports, as well as on its highways.

The rule noted that while trucks represent only 6% of vehicles in California, they account for more than 35% of the state’s transportation-generated nitrogen oxide emissions, and a quarter of on-road greenhouse gas emissions.

Successfully electrifying the trucks used in ports requires attention to at least three key components.

First, and always, is safety. Electric vehicle chargers used in port operations can deliver anywhere from 75 kilowatts to 250 kilowatts of power to recharge the batteries, which may increase in the future. To keep charging safe, Stäubli Electrical Connectors offered these early adopter ports its Quick Charging Connector (QCC) system as part of a “hands-free” charging strategy to support their electrification.

As a yard tractor, AGV or RTG driver pull into a parking space, the QCC system guides a pin from the charger into a funnel connected to an enclosed socket on the vehicle. It automatically completes the connection, hands-free, and charging begins without having to involve the user in the charging process. In-between, it’s fully enclosed and touch protected.

Second, mission-critical port operations can’t allow for failures. Port real estate is some of the most valuable in the world, and some of the most important real estate within the port is where the ships are unloaded, moved, and queued for distribution. That’s also where yard tractors, AGVs and RTGs operate.

Even a single electric charger going out of service can disrupt port operations, with a high economic cost.

Third, charging must be rapid, to get these special-purpose vehicles back into revenue-producing operation as quickly as possible. The QCC plugs in in less than 10 seconds as soon as the vehicle is in position, without the operator being forced to get out or plug in the vehicle. Other robotic connections range from 30 seconds to a few minutes. If a driver needs to get out of the vehicle to plug in, it can similarly take minutes until high-power DC current is flowing into the battery.

A few extra minutes of charge time each time goes a long way toward optimizing the operation.

With those goals in mind, both the Port of Singapore and Port of Long Beach operator SSA Terminals selected the Quick Charging Connector.

SINGAPORE PLANS FOR THE FUTURE

Such automated systems take center stage in an entirely new port that PSA Singapore is building. The goal is nothing short of revolutionizing the future of shipping.

Plans call for totally automating terminal operations and related infrastructure to strengthen Singapore’s ability to deliver to some 600 ports worldwide.

As envisioned, a fleet of fully battery-powered yard tractors will each carry 65 tons of cargo at a cruising speed of 15.5 miles an hour (25 km/h). These self-driving platforms will be charged automatically in about 20 minutes. And that amount of charge will provide up to five hours of continuous use.

CLEANER AIR FOR LONG BEACH

At Long Beach, 33 tractors designed to transport shipping containers around the terminal were delivered with an electric vehicle powertrain.

SSA Terminals chose high-power 175 kW DC chargers to power the tractors, and Stäubli to install its QCC equipment for automated, rapid charging. The system entered service in November 2023.

The project with SSA Terminals was part of a $50 million grant to the Port of Long Beach obtained from the California Air Resources Board’s Zero and Near Zero Emission Freight Facility program to cut air pollution as well as greenhouse gas emissions.

MORE GRANT MONEY FROM EPA’S CLEAN PORTS PROGRAM

The push to electrify the rest of America’s ports got a boost in late February when the Environmental Protection Agency announced the launch of a $3 billion Clean Ports Program to fund zero-emission equipment, infrastructure and climate planning. 

Two related Notices of Funding Opportunities were open until a May 28 application deadline. The Environmental Protection Agency anticipates notifying selectees by September and awarding the grants by December.

Most of the money—nearly $2.28 billion—funds a Zero-Emission Technology Deployment Competition for port equipment and infrastructure that reduces mobile source emissions. Eligible projects may include human-operated and maintained zero-emission cargo handling equipment, electric charging infrastructure, and other technology investments.

HOW HANDS-FREE CHARGING WORKS

Stäubli’s Quick Charging Connector system uses an enclosed pin-and-socket design that is self-cleaning and touch-protected on both sides of the connector.

At the Port of Long Beach, the 33 QCC systems automatically connect the chargers to an electric receptacle on each terminal tractor.

All 33 of the tractors can be charged simultaneously with no manual intervention. Operators pull into a charging station and the QCC deploys to plug in the tractors. Recharging can be done during work breaks or shift changes, maximizing charging uptime and labor productivity.

Each QCC features UL-rated components that withstand contaminants that can foul port equipment including salt air, high humidity, and airborne rust and rubber.

The QCC system helps future-proof the port in case future equipment has higher power needs. Among passenger vehicles, for instance, the original Chevy EV1 charged at 20kW, which was high for the time in the 1990s. But now certain passenger EVs can charge at 500kW. The QCC is available in sizes of 650kW, 1500kW, up to 5000kW or 5 megawatts in a liquid-cooled version, and Stäubli offers a megawatt-sized MCS connector as well.

The Long Beach project is helping the Port of Long Beach and Port of Los Angeles fulfill their joint Clean Air Action Plan to achieve 100 percent zero-emission terminal operations by 2030.

Stäubli also is actively involved in a number of standards-writing efforts, including IEC 61851-23-1 for electric vehicle conductive charging systems, and SAE J3105-3 for medium and heavy-duty vehicle conductive charging.

The Stäubli system is designed to align with these international standards, for interoperability between charging infrastructure and electrified trucks. That means EV manufacturers and service equipment providers will face few if any obstacles to adopting the hands-free connection equipment.

The recent deployments in Singapore and Long Beach offer proof positive that zero-emission, electric yard tractors can operate economically and reliably in a challenging salt-water environment while meeting stringent air quality goals. And qualifying for the EPA grant program will improve the economics for any U.S. port embarking on electrification.

David Rababy is Head of Sales, E-Mobility North America for Stäubli.

global trade supply chain

The Competitive Edge: Leveraging AI, Blockchain, and Analytics To Improve Supply Chain Management

In today’s dynamic global market, the agility and efficiency of supply chain operations are not just beneficial—they are imperative. Companies are at the forefront of adopting groundbreaking strategies to sharpen their competitive edge, significantly cut costs, and enhance customer experiences. This exploration into the evolving world of supply chain management (SCM) provides a comprehensive overview of how leveraging the latest technologies, innovative processes, and strategic insights can transform the foundational aspects of your business. From artificial intelligence and blockchain to lean and agile methodologies, we’ll dissect the mechanisms that are setting new standards in SCM. 

Read also: Supply Chain Evolution: The Role of Blockchain in Logistics

Utilizing Advanced Software Solutions

Digital Transformation with AI and Machine Learning: Today’s advanced software solutions are reshaping supply chain management through the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). These technologies are pivotal in enabling predictive analytics, which can accurately forecast disruptions and demand spikes across the supply chain. IBM’s Supply Chain Insights, for example, is an AI-powered tool that aids organizations in predicting, assessing, and mitigating risks and disruptions efficiently.

Blockchain for Enhanced Transparency and Security: Blockchain technology revolutionizes supply chain transparency and security. By documenting each transaction within a tamper-proof ledger, blockchain significantly bolsters visibility and builds trust among all participating stakeholders. A prominent instance of its application is the Maersk and IBM TradeLens platform, which dramatically improves the efficiency of shipping processes by integrating blockchain technology to manage logistical paperwork and operations seamlessly.

Enhancing Integration with ERP Systems: Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are crucial in unifying various components of supply chain management into a cohesive framework. These systems facilitate the integration of processes from procurement to delivery, ensuring a seamless flow of information and materials. By providing a central platform for data and resource management, ERP systems help organizations optimize operations, reduce costs, and enhance decision-making. For instance, ERP software can integrate inventory data with real-time market trends to adjust procurement strategies swiftly, leading to significant improvements in efficiency and responsiveness. This integration supports a more synchronized supply chain that is robust against disruptions and aligned with business goals.

Innovating Processes to Enhance Agility

Adopting Lean Management Techniques: The principle of lean management is to streamline operations by minimizing waste and maximizing productivity, creating a more efficient supply chain. Toyota’s “Just-in-Time” (JIT) inventory system exemplifies this approach. JIT significantly reduces inventory costs and decreases warehouse needs by synchronizing production schedules with demand, ensuring that components are supplied and assembled only as needed. This not only reduces overhead but also enhances operational efficiency and reduces the capital tied up in stock.

Implementing Agile Methodologies: Borrowed from the realms of software development, agile methodologies are now transforming supply chain management. These methodologies promote the use of cross-functional teams and iterative processes to improve flexibility and responsiveness. By breaking down silos and encouraging collaboration, agile methodologies enable organizations to respond more swiftly to market changes and consumer demands. Dell’s adoption of agile practices in its manufacturing operations allows for rapid adjustments to product designs and allocations based on real-time market feedback, providing a competitive edge in meeting customer needs quickly and effectively.

Continuous Improvement with Kaizen: Kaizen, or continuous improvement, is a strategy that involves all employees in the pursuit of making small, incremental changes to improve workflows and processes. This philosophy encourages a culture of scrutiny and adjustment, which can lead to significant enhancements in productivity and efficiency over time. By regularly assessing and refining every aspect of the supply chain, from procurement to delivery, companies can ensure they remain at the peak of operational excellence and innovation.

Keeping an Eye on Industry Innovations

Internet of Things (IoT) for Real-Time Data: In the intricate web of supply chain management, the Internet of Things (IoT) stands out by providing essential real-time data that helps in monitoring the status and condition of goods throughout their journey. IoT technologies employ sensors that can track a wide array of parameters such as temperature, speed, and location, thus allowing for instantaneous updates and proactive management of the supply chain. DHL, for example, utilizes IoT sensors extensively to enhance the precision of its shipment tracking and optimize its logistics operations, thereby increasing overall efficiency and reducing potential delays.

Sustainable Practices and Circular Economy: As global attention shifts towards sustainability, supply chain strategies are increasingly incorporating principles of the circular economy to enhance environmental stewardship and build consumer trust. This approach not only supports recycling and reuse of materials but also drives innovation in product design and resource utilization. IKEA’s commitment to using only renewable or recycled materials by 2030 exemplifies how sustainability can be embedded into the core of supply chain operations, turning eco-friendly practices into a competitive advantage that enhances brand reputation and fosters customer loyalty.

Advanced Material Handling Technologies: Embracing advanced technologies in material handling can significantly boost efficiency and accuracy in inventory management. Automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS), for instance, are reshaping warehouses by optimizing space utilization and reducing retrieval times. Robotics and automated guided vehicles (AGVs) in fulfilment centers are not just minimizing manual labor but are also enhancing the precision and speed of order processing, thereby improving overall throughput and reducing operational costs.

Utilizing Predictive and Prescriptive Analytics for Decision Making

As supply chains become more complex and data-driven, leveraging advanced analytics is crucial for strategic decision-making. Predictive analytics utilises historical data and AI algorithms to forecast future trends and potential disruptions in the supply chain, enabling companies to proactively manage risks. Beyond prediction, prescriptive analytics provides companies with actionable insights based on these predictions. This includes optimization and simulation capabilities that help in making informed decisions on how to address future scenarios.

For instance, advanced analytics tools can simulate the impacts of potential supply chain disruptions from geopolitical events or natural disasters, allowing companies to test different response strategies in a virtual setting before implementing them in reality. This not only mitigates risks but also enhances adaptability and resilience. Leading companies like Amazon use prescriptive analytics to optimise their inventory levels and distribution routes, thereby reducing costs and improving service delivery.

Conclusion: Driving Future Success Through SCM Innovation

In the fast-paced and competitive global market, the importance of effective supply chain management cannot be overstated. By embracing advanced software solutions like AI, blockchain, and ERP integrations, and by innovating processes through lean, agile, and kaizen methodologies, companies can significantly boost their operational efficiency and adaptability. Furthermore, keeping abreast of industry innovations such as IoT, sustainable practices, and advanced material handling technologies is critical for maintaining competitiveness.

However, the true power of these strategies lies not just in their individual capabilities but in their synergistic potential to drive transformative change in businesses. As supply chain dynamics continue to evolve with technological advancements and shifting market demands, businesses must remain committed to continuous learning and innovation. This will not only ensure optimal performance in the present but also secure strategic advantage for the future, ultimately enhancing customer satisfaction, reducing environmental impact, and improving profitability. Thus, companies that are agile, informed, and forward-thinking in their supply chain strategies are those that will thrive.

Written and researched by Charlie Green

Senior Research Analyst at Comparesoft

 

global trade

Managing Risk With Trade Compliance In Global Supply Chains

When we view the risks associated with global supply chain management, trade compliance stands out as an area often misunderstood, miscalculated and at times misaligned with corporate cultures of compliance and operational excellence.

It often is also not appropriately aligned with corporate sustainability, resiliency and adherence to company policies, credos and goals. While we are seeing this beginning to gain ground in some larger public companies, we are continuing to witness a huge void in small, medium and larger organizations.

Typically, when an infraction on an import or export transaction or trade compliance issue arises that no one saw coming, it sets off the alarm bells of corporate governance. This leads to scrutiny from all levels of management and legal oversight … causing discomfort, stress and often chaos. 

Read also: Resiliency, Wherever You Can Get It: Uncertainty In Global Supply Chains Is Going To Stay

When I began my supply chain career in the 1980s, “trade compliance” was heard but it was a benign factor in global trade. Only the most serious goods related to the military were scrutinized on exports and importing into the U.S. was a routine process.

Historically, the turning point was the Customs Modernization Act of 1993, which changed the entire landscape of imports into the States. Furthermore, it changed the relationship between U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), brokers and principal importers.

Trade compliance, like any aspect of global supply chain—procurement, manufacturing, operations, distribution, import/export, customer service, sales, finance, and other related silos—became a more important aspect of the global supply chain in 1993, but it took a huge leap forward following the events of 9/11. 

From that point forward, trade compliance took on a whole new meaning and continues to do so in 2024. Trade compliance has become a much more integral and functioning component of larger corporations and made a more serious medium in smaller importers and exporters.

Managing trade compliance responsibilities prevents supply chain disruption, mitigates exposures to fines and penalties, avoids civil and criminal prosecutions. Public companies can gain Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, while for private companies a best practice culture is created. Trade compliance opens the door for better run supply chains, faster movement through the border and potentially less delay.

Trade compliance can be utilized to gain access to reducing “Landed Costs,” including:

  • Foreign Trade Zones
  • Bonded Warehousing
  • Container Freight Stations
  • Drawback Opportunities

It can provide access to the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism and the CTPAT Trade Compliance Program, where a host of benefits are gained. And it keeps management out of time-consuming compliance issues, allowing execs to focus on business development and sustainability matters.

Trade compliance management can be viewed as both a Risk Management Silo or a Best Practice Silo in a company, depending upon how the silo is utilized and its role in the corporate structure. In the most likely circumstances, in most global supply chains we would weigh trade compliance as 70% prevention and 30% opportunity. 

Government agencies actively involved in trade compliance include CBP, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Food and Drug Administration and the departments of State, Justice, Commerce, Treasury, Agriculture and Homeland Security, to name a few of the more than 20 agencies that interface with the import and export supply chain, from a regulatory perspective.

There are four pillars of trade compliance: due diligence, reasonable care, supervision and control and proactive engagement.

Due diligence and reasonable care are defined by court precedence, common practice and interpretation of CBP and other government agencies in enforcement proceedings. In other words, it is a concerted, responsible and comprehensive effort put forth by a company and the individuals responsible for trade compliance to actively pursue the compliant operations in their global supply chain according to the import and export regulations that apply to their business model.

The concept of supervision and control refers to the typical scenario where importers and exporters outsource much of their supply chain responsibilities to service providers, channel partners, freight forwarders, customshouse brokers, direct carriers, 3PLs and other related parties.

Though the work is outsourced, the government mandates that the principal importer and exporter supervise and control those actions of their engaged third parties. This means that the principal importer and exporter create capabilities followed by controls to responsibly supervise their activities. In fact, that supervision can be outsourced to third party auditing and inspection type companies. This would not usurp responsibility; the principal importer and exporter is simply enlisting professional assistance in the review process.

Proactive engagement may not be specifically written into government regulations, but it is implied in the enforcement practices of the various agencies outlined previously and is something we supply chain consultants with over 35 years of experience have learned. More specifically, there is an implied responsibility that the government expects, which is that the company and the personnel involved in trade compliance will proactively outreach to develop an information flow, resources, skill set development and practical guidance on how to responsibly manage trade compliance in your company’s global supply chain.

Examples of such outreach include:

  • Joining trade compliance organizations, such as the International Compliance Professionals Association (ICPA)
  • Engaging in trade compliance training
  • Working with consultants, attorneys and service providers that have expertise in trade compliance.
  • Attending government outreach events sponsored by agencies including CBP, the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Industry and Security
  • Studying and developing trade compliance skill sets through various mediums and documenting same

When we consider the four pillars, the natural question that arises is, “How are those standards best achieved?” That question weighs into our experience over 35 years in managing trade compliance matters, being engaged in the global supply chain industry and being involved in all sorts of compliance cases, problem resolutions and in the development of best practices.

This can only be achieved if senior management strongly endorse a trade compliance management culture in their organization. Additionally, proper funding, support and guidance need to be in the senior management team’s credo.

An internal memo and doctrine notating and documenting that support needs to be published publicly and regularly re-endorsed.

A point person, potentially supported by a committee of stakeholders, should be designated to lead trade compliance initiatives in the organization. It may be a full-time position or part of an individual’s job description.

If there is leadership, follow-through and proactive engagement, the structure can vary and succeed.

Standard operating procedures are a significant and important methodology in keeping a company aligned in trade compliance adherence. It also demonstrates to government agencies your organization’s commitment in writing to how trade compliance will be managed in your company.

Training from an oversight perspective should be mandated to all stakeholders in the import and export operation, including procurement, sales, customer service, finance, operations, manufacturing, legal, distribution and senior management. It should be thorough, comprehensive and timely, occurring periodically and with the new hire of personnel in the supply chain.

Technology can be utilized as a major tool to support trade compliance management responsibilities. Classifications, denied parties checking, record keeping and auditing are examples of technology interface in trade compliance management. Artificial intelligence is also developing as an important tech gain helping companies manage trade compliance programs. 

Auditing is a requirement demonstrating due diligence and reasonable care in assuring your company is operating compliantly. It can assign degrees of compliance, provide recommendations for improvements or efficiencies, and can hold personnel and systems accountable for their performance in compliance responsibilities.

Trade compliance management is certainly a risk management policy for corporations to follow. More importantly, it can be utilized in foreign trade zones and drawback programs that can not only minimize risk but reduce landed costs and earn revenue gains in the organization’s bottom-line.

Author Bio

Thomas A. Cook is a seasoned global supply chain professional, author of more than 20 books on global trade and managing director of Blue Tiger International. He can be reached at tomcook@bluetigerintl.com or (516) 359-6232.