The intranet has been transformed into a more user-friendly space- a renovated area which will be presented to the upcoming members through a personalized welcome tour
With the aim of converting the members area in a more useful space for agents, The Coop team has redesigned its format. All changes have been included under the premise of improving the traceability and the use of the intranet. This renovation comes along with the digital strategy that has been developed by The Coop for the past two years.
The new design enables members to easily access the essential tools such as the Network Directory or FreightViewer. Moreover, there are two additions to this space. Firstly, a section dedicated to the newest Coop members, which will inform about their incorporation to the Network and will introduce new agents to the group. Secondly, we have created a section for The Coop member news. In this section the agents will find interviews with partners and interesting information related to the sector.
Along with these changes, the team will greet new members with an online welcome tour. This update is a significant change since it will enable the latest members to know all features and procedures within the Network. The Coop considers it essential to introduce new members into the group through a warm and personalized welcome.
This facilitates the interaction with all members and with the Head Office. Both these changes were included in the digital strategy adapted by The Coop for the last two years. This is because, reshaping the intranet enhances the traceability and the use of the members area. On the other hand, the welcome tour ensures that new members are integrated in the network from the beginning.
The welcome tour is for those agents who have recently joined the Network. Besides, it is also for those who wants to know more about the features offered inside the members area.
“We have team members who have worked with us for over 20 and even over 30 years and I often hear them say that they enjoy working at AIRSCHOTT. That’s the company’s greatest success and it’s been a team effort.”
This is a continuation of our last week’s interview with Robert Schott, the President of Airschott, INC, a Coop member in Washington DC, USA. In today’s interview, Mr. Schott sheds light on the problems facing the industry, the importance of having a disaster plan and once again tells us another highly engaging story involving the movement of a solar-powered, high-altitude UAV.
Q. What has been the greatest success of your team so far? How did you handle it?
A. In my opinion, our greatest success has been in providing a healthy, productive, cooperative environment for our staff. We have team members who have worked with us for over 20 and even over 30 years. I often hear them say that they enjoy working at AIRSCHOTT. That’s the company’s greatest success and it’s been a team effort.
Q. Can you tell us a curious shipment your team has handled? A. The ZEPHYR is a solar-powered, high-altitude UAV that was developed and built in Great Britain and brought to the USA multiple times for testing. AIRSCHOTT / SEASCHOTT had the honour (and challenge) to enter it into the US, transport it to test sites in remote desert areas and then re-export it back to England, attending to all the customs and transport formalities in each direction.
The aircraft, in its various iterations, had wingspans of 40’ – 70’ and travelled in a bespoke case (wings disassembled) that was shoved down the nose of 747F aircraft or fit onto a 40’ ISO flat rack. It would arrive by air freight and we shipped it back by ocean. We did this about a half dozen times from around 2005 – 2013, meeting a freighter at ORD or LAX and shipping back out of Houston after desert trials.
I don’t recall which year’s shipment it was but one year we had the aircraft on a flat rack and the ground handling equipment stuffed into a 20’ box, booked on an HLAG vessel from HOU. Shortly before scheduled sailing, Houston was locked down due to an incoming hurricane. The sailing was postponed, and we found a warehouse that would store the aircraft inside and the ground gear on the leeward side of the building, protected from the high winds and tidal surge.
The storm passed, all was safe, and we loaded the UAV and gear on the first available departure. All good, right? The container and aircraft arrived in England and I received a frantic phone call and e-mails about the recipient’s staff entering the container holding the ground handling equipment and being chased out by a huge, hairy spider.
Now, I spent much of my youth in my native Florida where huge, hairy spiders are a common fact of life – as a child, I watched my grandmother chase one out of her kitchen with a broom. So, when asked why we hadn’t provided insect control procedures prior to departure, I responded that the big hairy spider was our insect control procedure as its job was to capture and eat insects!
My sense of humour unfortunately was not appreciated in England.
Q. That was funny! Changing the topic a little bit: What are the main challenges facing freight forwarders regarding the pandemic at the moment and how is AIRSCHOTT dealing with these challenges? A. Obviously, keeping staff and clients safe was, for some, the biggest challenge. However, about 18 years ago, AIRSCHOTT developed a “work-from-home” model both for convenience and as a part of our “disaster plan”. COVID-19 brought the disaster that we had prepared for since 9/11 and the transition was pretty easy for us. Now, the challenge is freight capacity and dealing with carrier shortages and this challenge extends to all transport modes.Q. What is the outlook for your country’s shipping market? Which sectors in the freight forwarding industry are growing, and which not? A. We see the market growing and capacity improvements in all modes as the pandemic is being brought under control. Outdated and deteriorated infrastructure is a serious problem domestically and we’re hopeful that the government will soon address this issue aggressively.
“We had the honour (and challenge) to enter a solar-powered, high-altitude UAV into the US, transport it to test sites in remote desert areas and then re-export it back to England, attending to all the Customs and transport formalities in each direction.
Q. In your opinion, what does the freight forwarding industry lack? How would you think it should improve? A. Industry-wide professionalism and integrity need to improve
Q. From your own experience, which are the keys to success in the freight forwarding industry? A. Communication and attention to detail are key. Innovation leads to success in this and most industries. The most important thing is to listen to the clients’ needs and find the best ways to fulfill those needs.
“We are local and home grown but our focus has been national and global. We’ve pursued the more esoteric, challenging and highly regulated commodities: We’ve moved satellites to their launch sites, high-explosive charges to mining/drilling sites, prototype automobiles to secret sites for photo-shoots, among others.”
Today we had a long conversation with Robert Schott, the President of Airschott INC, a Coop member in Washington DC, USA. In this two-part interview Mr. Robert Schott, the President of Airschott INC, not only introduces his company, its strong points, its achievements but also narrates a very interesting story about an extremely challenging and complicated DG shipment they handled.
Q. Can you tell us a little about the history of AIRSCHOTT? A. I founded the company in 1977 as a sole proprietorship, customs brokerage firm. In 1982, AIRSCHOTT, INC. and SEASCHOTT, INC. were incorporated, the former based in the Commonwealth of Virginia with offices and warehouse on Washington Dulles Int’l Airport (IAD) and the latter based in the State of Maryland, near Baltimore. The names identified the modal markets we served as both Customs Brokers and Air/Ocean Freight Forwarders.
Q. What distinguishes AIRSCHOTT from other freight forwarders in your city?
A. We are local and “home grown” but our focus has been national (and global) for many years. We’ve been forward thinking and innovative in all respects and we’ve pursued the more esoteric, challenging and highly regulated commodities where others shy away from difficult transactions. We set up two Foreign Trade Zones, ab initio, both on airports, one in Maryland the other in Virginia. We also developed and patented a mobile, temperature controlled fumigation chamber to process inbound air freighted fruits and vegetables. At IAD, we remain “on-airport”, adjacent to the flight line, in order to be able to efficiently handle airside transactions.
We set up two Foreign Trade Zones, ab initio, both on airports, one in Maryland the other in Virginia and we also developed and patented a mobile, temperature-controlled fumigation chamber to process inbound air freighted fruits and vegetables.
Q. What would be the most significant shipment your team has handled?
A. After 43 years, it’s difficult to identify a single shipment – there have been so many. We’ve moved satellites to their launch sites, high-explosive charges to mining/drilling sites, university laboratory samples for research, aircraft by ocean and air to/from testing sites, prototype automobiles to secret sites for photo-shoots, live animals, ship spares, AOG parts, frozen foods; disaster relief material…too many to list.
Q. Wow, that is very interesting, could you please let us know more about these memorable shipments?
A.The following derives solely from my memory as the paper and electronic records have long ago been shredded. As time passes, my memory sometimes seems shredded, as well, but this was a pretty memorable shipment.
The year was around 2008. The shipment of hundreds of shaped explosive charges originated in Australia and consisted of Class 1.1 products used in the mining industry to generate controlled underground blasts that provide a seismic profile of the earth below. It was headed to the mountains of Azerbaijan. It was a 20’ container that was, of course, being watched very carefully.
The task was to move the container to the US West Coast, then across the country by truck, park it in a safe harbour before lading aboard an ACL vessel in Halifax for transport to Liverpool where the container would be stripped and a charter aircraft would carry the contents to Baku. At GYD, the consignee would collect their cargo and move it to the mining region in the mountains.
MAERSK brought the box to Oakland. In preparation, well in advance, we contacted the U.S. Customs supervisory officer in charge and provided all appropriate information for collection by a qualified trucker and movement “in bond” across the USA into Canada.
On the day of the vessel’s arrival in port, our driver was waiting at the quay to collect the container. Of course, the U.S. Customs Supervisor with whom we had prepared all in advance was not on duty that day. The replacement officer had no advance information and questioned the adequacy of the trucker’s bond – which we had previously cleared as adequate. While in the process of trying to educate the substitute Customs officer, I received a phone call from the Captain of the Port of Oakland, saying that if I didn’t remove that container from the quay within 1 hour he was going to shut down the Port and my company would pay for all the expenses that would entail. I immediately called the Customs Port Director and explained all to him. Within about 15 minutes, the container was released to the bonded trucker and the driver left the port with the container.
Liverpool required a $20million bond in order to discharge the container there, which was arranged with our colleagues/agents in England. Over-flight permits across all the nations between England and Azerbaijan were challenging but the air charter operator managed that in due time. The cargo was delivered, we were paid. All good.
Keep an eye on our News section next Friday to read the second part of this very interesting interview!
They were in charge of several aspects of the cargo including port formalities, reloading and delivery to the consignee’s warehouse by truck
Alphatrans Ltd, a Coop member in Odessa, Ukraine, has recently carried out the movement of a spray dryer. The shipment which came from China was moved from the port in 1×40′ Open Top + 1×40′ Flat Rack and delivered to the warehouse in Ukraine by truck.
The cargo in FR weighed around 12 MT but moving it was challenging because of the odd shape of the shipment. In the words of Dmitriy Balaban, the Managing Director of Alphatrans, “Although the weight of the shipment was not too much, moving it posed a bit of challenge since we had no information about COG. After discussing with the shipper and the consignee, we arranged for the reloading from FR into low bed trailer and safely delivered the cargo to the final destination.”
Congratulations to Alphatrans Ltd for pulling off this project successfully and all the best for their future projects!
The logistics service provider supports the health system in Africa by transporting test kits for the public health departments in several cities across the continent
Imperial – a Cooperative member in Malmo, Shanghai and Zurich – has beaten the airfreight capacity crunch with 10 charters of COVID-19 test kits and PPE destined for South Africa.
The project totalling 2,868.19 cbm, and comprising protective gowns, goggles, masks and testing kits – was flown to Johannesburg on one flight from Beijing, one from Guangzhou and eight from Shanghai. Imperial used freighter aircraft of Etihad Cargo, Ethiopian Airlines Cargo and South African Airways Cargo.
The Imperial team sending out time critical, cold chain shipments from China to several countries
Joshua McLarin, Managing Director of Imperial in China, says: “Since the pandemic started, our team has successfully executed many projects involving the shipment of PPE and testing kits.”
“We have faced many challenges along the way including extreme urgency, frequent lead time deviations, delays due to physical inspections by customs authorities, constantly changing export regulations, severe shortages of airfreight capacity and containers, and flight delays. Warehouses and airport terminals have also been extremely congested, complicating urgent deliveries to handlers.”
“In spite of all this, by working around the clock and leveraging all our experience and contacts, we have ensured that the shipments reached their destinations – typically local hospitals and government departments – within the required deadlines”.
Congratulations to Imperial and all the best for their upcoming projects!
They have been offering a vast array of highly personalized services for their clients since the last 15 years
Stella Shipping, a Coop member in Durban, South Africa, makes the grade and ranks as one of the top shipping agents in their country by Africa Logistics, a news portal dedicated to the supply chain sector in Africa. This ranking indicates their excellent performance for a decade and a half and their ability to deliver their customers and partners with quality services in their areas of operation.
“We are absolutely delighted with this recognition as this is something we have been constantly working towards since day one, that is providing world-class services from Durban to the rest of the world.” says Byron Vather, the Sales Director of Stella Shipping.
They are widely recognized for their high ethical standards and their value-added logistical services in the field of breakbulk cargo, air freight, IMO class 1 cargoes, intermodal transport, customs clearance, cargo insurance etc. “Keeping in mind the stiff competition and the pandemic- induced economic crisis, this has indeed been a remarkable achievement on the part of our team. We are lucky to count on a highly professional and dedicated team of workers who work relentlessly to make a success of each and every project and for belonging to a professional network like the Coop where you can find the most competent partners,” adds Mr. Vather.
Congratulations to Stella Shipping and wishing them the very best for their future endeavours!
Added to this, they are also transporting testing kits for the public health departments in Botswana, South Africa and Namibia on a weekly basis
Imperial, a Cooperative member in Zurich, Malmo and Shanghai since 2019, has played yet another key role in the global fight against COVID-19 with the movement of more than 2,000,000 COVID-19 testing kits from Xi’an and Shanghai, China, to Italy in conjunction with its network partner in Milan.
The Imperial team sending out time critical, cold chain shipments from China to several countries
The urgent testing kits – with a total volume of 48 cbm – were transported by airfreight in blue ice boxes, to conserve temperature within the critical range of -15 degrees to -25 degrees. Imperial was also responsible for arranging temperature-controlled pre-flight storage and ground handling of the cargo, as well as chilled road transportation from the factory to the airport.
The routing of the shipment was also critically important, both to eradicate any risk of temperature excursions en route, and to ensure delivery within the strict limit of 144 hours from origin to destination.
As said by Joshua McLarin, Managing Director of Imperial China: “We are really proud of this successful project, which was challenging due to the time constraints and the need to obtain capacity at short notice. End-to-end supervision and scrutiny of all supply chain elements was also vital to eliminate any risk of damage to the shipment contents.”
“We are pleased to have played a part once again in the war against the pandemic, and we thank our partners in Milan for their professionalism and team spirit”.
Imperial is also now handing the weekly shipment of testing kits for the public health departments in Botswana, South Africa and Namibia.
Congratulations to Imperial and all the best for their upcoming projects!
“Risk assessment prior to execution is compulsory when transporting inflammable or toxic liquids through populated areas, since people are exposed to undue risk in the event of an untoward incident.”
Durar logistics LLC is in the ISO tank business since they started their operations in 2016, as they are now considered as a veritable expert in the field of petrochemical logistics.
It can’t be denied that the tank business is one of those logistics sectors that will keep its growth rate intact in the future. According to QY Research, the value of the global ISO Tank Container market was $790 m in 2018 and they expect it to reach $1580 m by the end of 2025.
Durar logistics LLC, a Coop member in Damman, Saudi Arabia, is in the ISO tank business since they started their operations in 2016. As a veritable expert in the field of petrochemical logistics, today they are going to immerse us in the world of tank containers.
Tanks containers were invented to serve the bulky transportation of chemical liquid and these tanks are specially designed to meet various chemical classifications. ISO tanks enable inter-modal logistics between various modes of transportation including sea vessels, trucks, and rails. These tanks comply with the International Organization for Standardization and are meant to transport bulk fluids that can be hazardous or non-hazardous”, explains Mahmood Samman, the Project Director of Durar Logistics.
ISO tanks are often made of stainless steel and have a life of at least two years carrying corrosive chemicals. Regarding its advantages, Mr. Mahmoud is clear on the fact that, “They are a safe and reliable mode of transport for moving bulk liquids around the world. They also offer greater flexibility in planning and helps in cost reduction”.
The most challenging part in tank shipping is the safety of dangerous goods and the regulations of handling
procedure. Every commodity is required to follow the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and Technical Data
“Even though Tank Containers are very safe, Mr. Mammoud talks about the procedures that are required before transporting liquid chemicals in tank containers. “Risk assessment prior to execution is compulsory when transporting some inflammable or toxic liquids through populated areas since people are exposed to undue risk in the event of an untoward incident. For this reason, risk assessment is of primary importance”.
“This is precisely why I believe that the most challenging part in ISO tank shipping is the safety of dangerous goods and the regulations of handling procedure. Every commodity is required to follow the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and Technical Data Sheet (TDS) so as to understand the nature and ensure regulatory compliance. That is why we do emphasize the technical part of the commodity along with the classification of MSDS to define the exposure of hazardous substances and abide by the liners regulations at both the origin and destination countries. Our freight booking is placed on the basis of product classification and regulations.”
Due to all the challenges and risks that are involved in this industry, “IATA Certification is required when moving this kind of shipments. Moreover, Dangerous Goods Regulation (DGR) will guide on how to transport dangerous goods safely and efficiently, while providing insight on several technical aspects such as the materials applications, classification, packing instruction, packaging specification, documentation, handling of radioactive materials, best practices for environment safety etc. In order to improve workforce qualification a constant training in HSSE program is recommended.” says Mr. Samman.
In the last five years, Durar Logistics has handled several delicate shipments. Mr. Samman narrates one such story about a complicated shipment, “Over the years we have encountered several problematic shipments. Once during the transit of one ISO tank, we encountered a leaking tank condition and we had to work in conjunction with the liner and the local agent to escalate the case and enforce the recovery procedure. The tank was held at the port for further recovery and survey procedure by the third party approved surveyor, and it was closely handled with the assistance of other parties to discharge the materials safely and replace the ISO tank and allow further movement to the consignee port.”
Regarding the competition, as the Middle East region continues to see significant growth in the use of tank containers, “it goes without saying that the competition among forwarders here is stiff. Dammam, the capital of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia is a city known for oil & chemical liquid supply locally and over the world, and freight companies specializing in this field are competing to prove their worth to sustain long-term projects. The most important characteristic of the service provider in this sector is the commitment to the corporate standards that is a pre-requisite for obtaining important contracts. Consequently, what sets us apart from the competition is that we have been carrying out businesses with governmental entities and private chemical manufacturers regularly via our group’s umbrella organization in Dammam. Since the last few years, we are focusing more on the core of chemical engineering and their expertise and know-how in this field keep them ahead of their competitors.”
The digitalization will be the key in the chemicals sector, the value chains are being reconfigured as sustainability, economic and geopolitical trends; new technologies and changing consumer demands are on the freight forwarders’ agendas.
However, in 2020, like in every business sector, the pandemic has also impacted the ISO shipping sector. “COVID-19 has directly affected production and the demand and disrupted the supply chain market. Its economic impact on firms and financial markets greatly impacted the normal functioning of the chemical and tank industry.”
As for the future, Mr. Samman is clear about this: “The digitization is going to be the key in the chemicals sector. The value chains are being reconfigured as sustainability, economic and geopolitical trends, new technologies, and changing consumer demands are challenging the bottom line of the companies and their future profitability.The Coronavirus has added even more complexity to our business. I believe the chemical logistics companies will need to redefine their value chains and business models to adapt to the circular economy, while capturing the opportunities from digital technology, and upskilling their workforce”.
They move a shipment of 2,100,000 protective gowns by rail from Zhengzhou to Helsinki
Imperial – a member of the Cooperative Logistics Network in Malmo, Zurich and Shanghai – has taken one third of the entire capacity of the inaugural freight train from Zhengzhou to Helsinki, with a mass consignment of 2,100,000 PPE protective gowns for health workers.
Imperial moves 1/3 of total freight for the first China-Europe freight train
The cargo – destined for Helsinki General Hospital – occupied 13 40’ dry containers, weighed 156,000 kg and was packed in 15,110 cartons. Imperial managed every aspect of the shipment, overcoming problems of space availability, loading at origin and customs complications.
A further 10x 40’ containers are following in a second major shipment.
According to Joshua McLarin, the Managing Director of Imperial in China, ”We are excited to be one of the first forwarders to utilize the newest China-Europe rail freight service, and to have been able to support it in such a major way. The service is a key element in the growing Belt and Road Initiative, boosting business between China and Europe”.
Congratulations to Imperial for this commendable endeavour!
Throughout the lockdown they retained all their staff and were able to maintain a high level of customer satisfaction
Greenvine Company Limited, a Coop member in Tema, Ghana, has recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. Their company started its journey back in 2011 when Mr. Joe DeGraft Yeboah got into this business after gaining considerable experience by working with DHL, FedEx, and Aramex. Since then, they never looked back and presently they count on three offices with a total employee strength of 16.
Greenvine managed to retain their entire workforce who received full remuneration as they were working from home throughout the lockdown period, and they even managed to maintain a high degree of client satisfaction.
In the words of Joe DeGraft Yeboah, “We couldn’t have an in-person celebration because of the present circumstances but our entire team met online. In the last 10 years, we have achieved a great many things including enhancements of various aspects of our services and improvement of our online services. It feels amazing to be part of the Coop family and we are very excited about our future plans and at the possibility of generating a global buzz!”
Congratulations to Greenvine and wishing them all the best for their future projects!