The movement of goods across the globe is essential for all economies. In this context, maintaining smooth cross-border logistic operations even during a global pandemic is essential. With all the travel restrictions that are in place, merchandize must continue moving from one country to another and reach store shelves. In this article, the Logistic Packaging consultants will share a few lessons we learned during the last year from our own experiences and those of our clients.
The Key Problem: Volatile Predictability in Cross-Border Logistic Operations
As logistics or supply chain managers, you know the importance of predictability. You need reliable data and market conditions that allow you to plan ahead and make medium to long term plans. However, disruptions can happen all the time in cross-border logistic operations.
The recent incident on the Suez Canal, involving the Ever Given container ship stuck right across the canal for a full week, is a relevant example in this respect. Your best laid plans can be overturned in one moment and you are faced with several negative consequences, from spoiled goods to unhappy customers who did not receive the merchandize they ordered on time.
How to Mitigate Risks in International Logistics
At Logistic Packaging, we know that we may never reach the ideal world where all these issues are solved. New challenges will always appear and it is a good thing, because otherwise we may fall into complacency and stop innovating and improving ourselves.
Meanwhile, we have to deal with the current unprecedented issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the major disruptions it causes in your cross-border logistic operations. We believe that the starting points for reaching a new normal are:
1. Locate Your Warehouses Close to the Border
If you ship a significant part of your products abroad, you should find a suitable location close to the border to establish a central warehouse. In this way, you will reduce the time spent by your merchandize on the road by several days – and that means a lot in the online shopping era.
We attest to the wisdom of this choice, as we established a Logistic Packaging production facility in Arad, a city close to the western border of Romania and well connected by rail, roads and airport to European countries where we distribute our returnable packaging materials.
2. Create Shipping Flows Based on Product Types
Some products need to be shipped as quickly as possible, in special conditions, such as low temperature, specific humidity levels, etc. Others do not require specific shipping conditions and will not suffer damage if the trailer carrying them is delayed in customs or for other reasons.
This means that you have to create specific shipping flows for cross-border logistic operations for various types of products, depending on:
- The demand for these products
- Their shelf life
- The ability to maintain special temperature levels in the trailer for a longer period of time.
This leads to other considerations, such as the type of packaging you need to allocate for each type of product and the kind of trailer used for shipping them. For instance, you may ship onions and potatoes in large pallet boxes in a regular trailer and have no issues with a few days of delay due to unforeseen circumstances. If you ship delicate fruit like grapes or berries, you need to choose a refrigerated container and foldable containers for fruit and vegetables, which ensure adequate protection and ventilation.
3. Choose Traceable Packaging Materials
Modern reusable packaging materials, such as shipping crates, pallets and containers can be equipped with RFID chips that ensure proper traceability of the merchandize in transit. By monitoring shipments in real time, you can mitigate damage and loss. At the very least, you can notify your customers and stress that the issue is beyond your control and that you are actively seeking ways of solving it.
At Logistic Packaging, we are always looking out for the latest innovations and technological developments. We try to be early adopters of any new materials and designs, which make our packaging materials more reliable, safer and with a longer lifespan.
4. Build Long Term Relationships with Key Vendors and Suppliers
Predictability in business does not depend only on your organization, but also on your main vendors and suppliers. Is your packaging provider capable of supplying a last-minute order of plastic pallets or stackable containers? Can you rely on your transportation partner to deliver an urgent shipment to a customer?
When you can rely on your business partners, you can work together to find solutions to problems in cross-border logistic operations. At Logistic Packaging, we are always ready to discuss with our clients and identify the adequate packaging solutions for their products.
Our team of packaging experts is ready to help you find the best packaging products for your shipments from our standard catalogs or create customized packaging materials to fit your needs. Send us an email or schedule a Skype video call to discuss your application!