Innovation is crucial for forwarders managing supply chains hit by Covid-19 challenges

Faced with global cargo capacity crunches in both air and ocean freight as a result of Covid-19, the U-Freight Group says its operations around the world are working ‘as normally as possible’ given the circumstances, as it seeks innovative solutions to overcome the challenges of managing supply chains hit by the virus.

The Hong Kong-based freight forwarder and logistics group, with subsidiaries and a long-standing network of partners across Asia, North America and Europe says that whilst capacity reductions are a reality, freighter and passenger airline capacity is adjusting to the new market reality.

On a positive front, with its significant presence in the Chinese market, where is has a network of five regional distribution centres, supported by sales offices across the country, the company has been somewhat encouraged by the fact that China is likely to get close to full production by the end of March. It is also seeing an increased number of freighter flights in the market, which are helping ease the outbound China capacity strain. However it notes that demand for products made in China will be affected by events in countries that source from the People’s Republic.

In ocean freight, the biggest current impact is on space and container availability throughout the world, with shortages of containers and special equipment, with carriers imposing Peak Season Surcharges. 

U-Freight Group CEO, Simon Wong says: “All our global offices are acting in accordance with advice being provided by their respective local authorities, with an increasing number of staff operating from home within the scope of our business continuity plans. They continue to answer calls and emails, and are arranging shipments in accordance with the latest market conditions.

“Given the fact that the regional restrictions and freight capacity are out of our control, now is the time for the innovative thinking that has characterised U-Freight’s 50 year history.

“We were the first freight forwarder to offer track and trace via the internet; one of first overseas foreign freight and logistics companies to gain an A-class operator’s licence in China. We were also one of the first to spot the opportunities stemming from the e-commerce revolution and are now a logistics partner of choice for the growing number of online channels and platforms which entrepreneurs are using to sell their own designs and products, including global eCommerce shipping platforms such as Easyship. We are also heavily involved in the Fulfillment by Amazon programme in several countries.

“Just last week we saw an example of that innovation. When air cargo capacity fell dramatically, we arranged immediately a charter flight on one of our most important trade lanes from Hong Kong to Manila, accommodating urgent shipments from our important customers, which arrived in Manila before the city went into lockdown. 

“Customers having specific questions in regards to the management of their cargo flows are requested to contact their usual U-Freight representatives who will keep them informed of our specific plans in terms of operational continuity and ad hoc capacities being deployed to cater for the changing requirements.”

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