IFLN News 2021

Broekman Logistics (Pharma) in India Overcomes All Obstacles

The Broekman Logistics India team with Covid-19 relief materials for shipment

Broekman Logistics, India is a member of the IFLN Healthcare & Pharma Network, a unified group of healthcare and pharma logistics specialists that offer a global door-to-door service.

In June this year, Broekman Logistics, India handled the shipment of vitally needed face masks from Ahmedabad Airport in western India to the UK’s biggest and busiest air hub, London Heathrow.

No less than 30.7 tons of N95 face masks packed into 3,000 cartons were shipped by Broekman Logistics India for the shipper and customer, a pharmaceutical manufacturer and wholesaler in the UK. This customer presented a deadline of 30 June for the consignment and, in no small part because of a lockdown that was in place in India at the time, the challenges facing the forwarder were significant.

The rules of the lockdown mandated that only one-quarter of staff were allowed in offices at any one time and that special permission was required from the relevant local government authority for work at the airport.

There were no passenger flights out of the gateway and very few freighter services. Perhaps as a result, recalls Kalpesh Chawda, branch manager in Broekman Logistics India’s Ahmedabad office, when the cargo agent approached various carriers, none was prepared to accept all the cargo as a single consignment.

Hence, he says, the decision was taken to split the consignment, with both Dubai-based Emirates Airline and Doha-based Qatar Airways playing their part. Qatar Airways flew 2,000 cartons of N95s on two air waybills (AWBs), Emirates 1,000 cartons also on two AWBs.

The problems were not over, however. With the masks on their way to the airport, Broekman was informed that the cargo would be placed on hold by Customs because the Indian Government had imposed an embargo on the export of all Covid-19 relief goods.

This was potentially disastrous: holding up shipment of this vital personal protective equipment (PPE) and meaning that there would be a charge for dead freight made by the airline (dead freight is the charge imposed when booked space on a truck, vessel or aircraft is not utilised).

Broekman approached the deputy commissioner of Customs but could not secure a face-to-face interview because of his desire for social distancing. However, says Chawda, “After a lot of persuasion we did arrange a meeting involving the commissioner, shipper and our own operations staff, while meeting Covid-related guidelines and protocols.

“We were advised to contact the Ministry of Health for the appropriate permissions, which had to be granted to the manufacturer (shipper). We had only 24 hours to gain this permission but, just four hours before the relevant flight’s arrival into India, the shipper received approval.

“Having paid overtime charges to Customs, the cargo was cleared to load on the flight out of Ahmedabad. As a result, the cargo was moved on time (in late June) and arrived at Heathrow as planned.”

Masks reached the end customer without further issue. “The shipper and consignee were very happy to receive the shipment and appreciated all our efforts to get this cargo moved before the deadline,” Chawda concludes.

These face masks were by no means the only shipment Broekman Logistics India has handled in support of the global effort to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. Over the last 18 months, Chawda has handled imports of oxygen concentrators, infra-red thermometers, pulse oximeters and ventilators, amongst other critically needed medical equipment.

He is now also importing syringes for a new customer, as well as machinery for manufacturing syringes and other healthcare equipment in India.


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