One of the biggest takeaways from 2021 is that despite rigorous planning, curveballs can deeply affect your supply chain and logistical network. Disruptions can crop up unexpectedly, sending ripples across your business, accumulating to bigger waves, and at Maersk, we want to support you in all aspects of your business as best as we can, especially when the unexpected happens.
Whilst many situations are beyond our command, we can control our mitigation efforts. As your integrated logistics partner, we strive to find unique responses to crisis situations that benefit our customers, working steadfastly to support your supply chain with resilience, agility, and flexibility.
Considering roads less travelled
When unforeseen obstacles crop up, delays can be hard to avoid. Solutions to these obstacles can often be found by thinking outside of the “container”, as in the case of reefer cargo challenges in Manila, starting in August 2021.
August is peak season for import of cold stored foods, as these products are utilised for end of year celebrations. The shortage of reefer plugs (which allows the reefer containers to maintain power and their internal temperature) in the terminal, resulted in a challenging situation. Through collective efforts from Maersk and Manila Terminal, solutions were created. Secondary container locations and off-dock customs facilitation were put in place, and there was an extension of free time for cargo at dock, giving customers options that facilitate a smoother supply chain.
Resilience can also be created by seeking out uncharted routes, such as in the case of two large fashion companies shipping out of Chinese ports and Vietnamese ports to EU countries. Due to congestion at various ports in the region throughout out the second half of 2021, as well as overall delays in transit, these customers utilised larger volume flows via the inter-continental rail route. Additionally, other fashion customers have utilised airfreight as a contingency when facing similar situations. This ensured products in reaching the demand point on time and allowed the companies to avoid sales loss, which could have been caused by bottlenecks in the supply chain.
Exploring new ways forward
Congestion can be caused by a multitude of things, but what they all have in common is that they are frustrating for our customers. As such, flexibility and agility are necessary tools when creating solutions.
During the blockage of the Suez Canal, customers experienced longer transit times, with products trapped at sea and an overall lowered empty equipment supply. Our foremost priority was to ease the pressure our customers were already feeling due to revenue losses. Heightened communication and visibility allowed customers overview of the situation and logistical assistance was offered to help customers minimise the delays caused by the blockage.
Complicated situations call for dexterity and agility, like in the case of Sudan. Sudan’s political situation has been challenging and as such, all port operations were suspended, leading to delays in cargo to port. Due to the situation’s unpredictability, Maersk has utilised open communication and heightened visibility through social media campaigns as well as through our traditional channels. Customers were offered free change of destination, no cancellations fees and logistical assistance for those that have decided against shipping to the area during this time.
Whilst we do our utmost to minimise the impact of crisis situations on our customers, sometimes, it’s unavoidable. The current Covid-outbreak in Dalian, China (much like in Yantian in May and June 2021) has caused the halting of production, operation, and sale of imported cold chain food. To avoid further impacting customers’ supply chains, Maersk has stopped reefer bookings into Dalian since mid-November, as well as waiving the change of destination fee.
Small steps lead to great strides
The above-mentioned cases are a fraction of the many complex situations the world of logistics has faced this year. The pandemic and its aftermath have highlighted many things, including just how complex an undertaking it is to run a global supply chain, and we at Maersk understand how important it is to have partners you can rely on. This year we have continued to focus on our customer-centric approach, looking at what challenges our customers face, when faced with challenges like these. We are in constant contact with our customers, learning from each situation and working to better our responses to situations like these.
As your integrated logistics provider, we pride ourselves on helping our customers in every aspect of their supply chain. We know partnership begins with trust, and we know that means assisting you in ways that ease your logistical headaches, be they caused by blockages, natural occurrences, or something else entirely, and we look forward to getting better and better at creating solutions that meet all challenges ahead of us.