IFLN News 2021
IFLN Forwarders Ship Vital PPE-Related Shipments Across Continents
Cargolux plane, wearing PPE, was used for entire entire
IFLN Network and IFLN Global Projects member forwarder Falcon International alongside Flytrans, member of all 3 IFLN networks, and IFLN Network member Tigers have over the course of many months collaborated on a number of shipments that have played a vital role in combating the huge impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on different continents.
Cooperation between Falcon and Flytrans on this ongoing project dates back to April last year, when Montreal, Canada-based Falcon International was approached by Medicom, one of the world's leading manufacturers and distributors of high-quality, single-use, preventive and infection control products.
A new customer for Falcon, Medicom asked the forwarder to assist it with the shipment of numerous mask-making machines to Montreal in Canada, Thomson, Georgia in the US and Northampton in the UK. The machines had to be shipped from Taiwan, Shanghai in China, Italy and France, while production needed to begin as quickly as possible at the new sites – indeed, they needed to be in full operation at the latest by January this year.
Moreover, given that each machine – with a shipping volume of 25m3 – had to be fabricated, tested, shipped, delivered and installed before they went into production in just about six months, the challenge was a big one.
Falcon contacted IFLN partner Flytrans in Lyon, France, to assist with the continental European aspect of the operation. Patrick Legault, Falcon International’s president, recalls: “Immediately, Flytrans offered very innovative options and, together with our own Air team, we chose a very quick and efficient solution.
“Flytrans booked the machines on a flight from France to Chicago via Luxembourg. From Chicago, our team at Falcon was in charge of the arrangements to deliver the vital cargo safely to the different production sites in Georgia in the US and Montreal in Canada.”
Christophe Pacard and Aline Perez, respectively Flytrans’ branch manager and responsible for customer service in Lyon, add their recollections and explain more about their role.
“As we had previously handled a project for Falcon in 2018, and also met with Falcon at some of IFLN’s arranged one-to-one meetings, we were contacted by Falcon in March 2020 to work with them to find the best air routeing solutions to the US and Canada for this project.
“At that time, possible solutions were already limited due to the global pandemic, particularly for OOG [out-of-gauge] cargo. We presented several options to Patrick and Mary and together, we defined a transportation plan based on the routeing (as short as possible) and the costs.” Mary is Mary Panagiotakis, operations manager at Falcon, who worked together with Patrick on the project.
Subsequently, Flytrans handled the following aspects of the project in France: contact with shippers (checking for cargo-ready dates, checking on specific needs, providing support on anything as and if necessary); confirming bookings with airlines; arranging export clearance; issuing transportation documents; and being available to address any issues as they arise, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In addition to the shipments by air, Flytrans – an IATA CEIV-certified pharmacy specialist that is also QMS (Quality Management System) certified – arranged some movements by sea to Canada and by truck to the UK. In this second case, the challenge was to organize urgent dedicated deliveries within 24 hours when other regular sea-going line operators no longer had any solutions, Pacard and Perez recall.
With regard to the transatlantic air shipments, from pick-up in France right through to delivery in North America took just 72 hours, Legault notes. Those expeditious deliveries were only possible with the additional help of fellow logistics specialist Tigers, which tracked the shipments through Chicago O’Hare International Airport and ensured that everything went according to plan there.
Indeed, explains Tigers’ New York-based import manager Susan Gargiulo: “Tiger’s JFK was responsible for cargo tracking, broker notification and co-ordination of the delivery. Plus, we arranged for the on-carriage to destination.”
This was a key element of the whole operation, says Legault. “While airports like Los Angeles, New York JFK and Atlanta were overwhelmed, we got our cargo at O’Hare same day or next day available for pick-up. At JFK, it takes between three and five days. We also used a direct pick-up at Chicago and saved three or four days in transit compared with other airports or other routings.
“None of the cargo could come to Canada directly,” he continues. “We picked O’Hare and this innovative idea was 30% less expensive and many days faster than regular airline transfers.”
Plus, “Tigers worked nights and over the weekend to expedite pick-up and thereby enable Falcon to deliver as planned on time,” he adds.
Meanwhile, in the Far East, SHARP Shanghai supported the project there with the movement of eight machines from Shanghai to locations in both the US and Canada, while in the UK delivery also went off as planned: machines, flooring and various raw materials were all delivered there, too, so that Medicom could put the equipment into full production in January.
The main challenge of the project was finding space on aircraft at the last minute, Legault notes. “Because these machines take months to produce, the readiness date kept changing and we needed to quickly adapt. When the machines were finally ready to ship, we delivered within 48-72 hours and working nights and weekends to ensure we don’t miss one beat.”
“It has been very challenging to secure space,” Legault observes. “However, both Falcon and Flytrans have been very active to find the right flight at the right time and so place the best possible booking.” The right cargo carrier was B747 freighter operator Cargolux, based in Luxembourg.
This collaboration between Falcon and Flytrans is by no means a recent thing: “We have worked with Flytrans on a daily basis for five years,” says Legault, “and we love the customer service that its Lyon and Paris Charles de Gaulle offices provide.”
For their part, Pacard and Perez at Flytrans add: “Even if we have mastered these kinds of shipments, we do sometimes face difficulties (albeit often minor in reality). In this case, we have confronted them together with Patrick and Mary, always with common sense and mutual trust: we inform, we think about the best way to solve the problem, and we act.”
Moreover: “We have a similar way of working and we understand our mutual expectations,” Pacard and Perez point out.
The co-operation with Tigers on this project is also not a one-off – Falcon often asks Tigers to help with Customs clearance and airport handling, usually at O’Hare and New York JFK.
Gargiulo says that working with Falcon has been “a pleasure”, adding: “We have had a longstanding partnership with Falcon, as we act as their broker in the USA and in turn we support them in Canada. Our partnership is very strong, we share full visibility and, most importantly we share the same common goal: ‘to deliver excellent service to our client base’.”
Over 1,200m3 of this invaluable cargo has been shipped so far during the course of the project as a result of the hard work and combined effort of these various partners and, all in all, Legault declares, “We are all very proud to be part of this amazing success story.”
The project is now nearly completed, he continues. As of mid-January, four Medicom sites are in full production in the US, France, Canada and the UK, thanks to the delivery of a total of 35 machines delivered as promised. Another dozen or so machines are still to be delivered, with further shipping expected in February and into spring this year.
Moreover, Medicom is also expecting to open three more production sites, which will require further machines, and very possibly the further assistance of Falcon and its IFLN partners.
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