Friday, March 12, 2021

Bits and Pieces of News You May Have Missed This Week

Some Lower Key Stories from the Supply Chain Sector
Shipping News Feature

UK – Intermodal transport operator, Maritime Transport has paid its own tribute to the NHS, and the valuable contribution key workers across many sectors have made during the pandemic by having 25 new tractor units emblazoned with a wave-shaped rainbow replacing the usual blue Maritime wave, bearing the message 'Thank you key workers'.

For each of the 25 vehicles purchased, Maritime has also made a donation to NHS Charities Together, which provides outstanding support to NHS staff and patients. All 25 units sporting the new livery will join Maritime’s 1,275-strong fleet at the end of March, and will be seen across UK roads over the coming months lending visible support and encouragement to NHS staff and key workers.

UK – Many in the industry supported the announcement that eight new English Freeports are to be created but the concerns over their possible use as nests of criminal activity remain. This week the Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG) annual report is being published and Director General, Phil Lewis served up a stark warning of what might occur, saying:

“Freeports amplify illicit trade because they sit outside the home country’s jurisdiction. Often, they are lightly regulated which appeals to transnational crime groups and illegal activities. Unless enforcement and policing are strong, Freeports can become transit points and distribution centres for counterfeit goods. Freeports have been found to facilitate the export of fakes by concealing and disguising consignments in mixed shipments accompanied by false transportation documents.

”Businesses need assurance there will be effective detection systems at these new Freeports, including specialised officers and modern technology to assist surveillance, inspections and preventative customs controls. Without it, international criminals will take control of our borders.

“The global trade in counterfeit goods is now worth more than $509 billion and it is destroying businesses and threatening the safety of consumers daily. This years’ annual report shows the scale and impact of counterfeit goods and the collaborative work necessary to tackle this insidious trade across the UK, Europe and internationally.”

UK – The RMT union has written to the Scottish Minister for Islands, Energy and Connectivity, Paul Wheelhouse MSP demanding he act over the ferry company Calmac’s pay offer to staff of 0.5% for 2020-21. It compares the rise to the Scottish Government’s 2% settlement for 2021-22 for other public sector workers in Scotland. RMT General Secretary, Mick Cash said:

“From the outset, CalMac were intent on forcing this derisory pay offer on our members and even rejected the offer of conciliation through ACAS. CalMac’s dedicated and hard-working staff are public sector key workers who have put their health at risk operating lifeline services during the pandemic but are now being treated unfairly when compared to other public sector workers. That is nothing short of a betrayal.”

UK – FRANCE – In February 2021, Le Shuttle Freight transported 99,787 trucks, a decrease of 24% compared to February 2020, in a market still marked by the adjustments to new post-Brexit administrative rules, but with a trend towards normalisation. The compulsory requirement to present a negative Covid test, carried out on British soil less than 72 hours previously, for trucks entering France remains the most restrictive provision for cross-Channel logistics chains.

Needless to say the mandatory restrictions on passenger transport meant a dramatic fall in private vehicles with only 31,277 crossings between the two sides via Le Shutttle.

US – To paraphrase Lloyd Bridges, a bad time to try and quit smoking if you are a 'vape' fan. The technology has been banned for both import and export under the so called 'Vape Mail' ban, part of a congressional spending bill passed under former President Trump. By 5 April 2021 leading carriers such as UPS, FedEX, DHL and the US Postal Service itself will be off-limits for vaping shipments.

The news has concerned the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) which says its members will be badly hit, stating that ‘cigarettes, cigars, loose tobacco, smokeless tobacco, hooka or shisha, vaporizers (and) E-cigarettes’ are included as ‘tobacco products’ and that carriers have said ‘any and all non-combustible liquid or gel, regardless of the presence of nicotine, capable of being used with or for the consumption of nicotine, and all related vape devices, products and accessories are included in this prohibition.’

PORTUGAL – XPO Logistics has renewed its partnership with Sociedade Central de Cervejas e Bebidas (SCC) in Portugal, part of the Heineken Group. This is the fourth contract renewal for the two industry leaders, extending XPO's relationship with SCC to 16 years. SCC produces and markets the Sagres® and Heineken® beer brands, as well as Luso® and Castello® mineral waters. As SCC's transport partner, XPO is responsible for managing all primary transport of the beverages from SCC's breweries to its distributors in Portugal.

A dedicated XPO team uses control tower technology to manage the high freight volumes and seasonal peaks with strict cost efficiency while ensuring sufficient capacity and flexibility to meet SCC's high service standards. The dedicated fleet includes a high percentage of vehicles authorised to carry 44 tonnes, as well as two mega-trucks, reducing the number of trips. XPO has also introduced two natural gas trucks (LNG and CNG) into the fleet, and is using the XPO Connect™ digital freight platform and Drive XPO™ mobile app to optimise delivery routes.

WORLDWIDE – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) tells us that training courses in Temperature Controlled Cargo Operations were in the top five courses taken by aviation professionals and organisations in 2020. Moreover, a recent survey of 6,000 aviation professionals, cargo personnel noted that Temperature Controlled Cargo Operations is considered more important right now than Dangerous Goods or Safety Management Systems courses.

Due of course to the global vaccine roll out, IATA has opted to add additional sessions for both Temperature Controlled Cargo Operations as well as Audit, Quality and Risk Management of Temperature Controlled Cargo courses, to its schedule. Extra dates are:

  • Temperature Controlled Cargo Operations (9-11 March 2021, 6-8 April 2021, 13-15 April 2021 and 15-17 June 2021)
  • Audit, Quality and Risk Management for Temperature Controlled Cargo (15-19 March 2021, 22-26 March 2021,19-23 April 2021, 26-30 April 2021 and 24-28 May 2021)

Contact the IATA Cargo and Logistics Training Team at

SWEDEN – SOUTH AFRICA – OCEANIA – On 12 March Höegh Autoliners starts a new, regular direct service to South Africa and Oceania from the Port of Gothenburg with departures every other week. On arrival at the final destination, Auckland in New Zealand, the vessel will return to Gothenburg, taking in ports throughout East Asia.

The new service will present further opportunities for Swedish import customers to bring goods into Sweden and Scandinavia. Höegh Autoliners currently operates the world’s largest pure car and truck carrier (PCTC) vessels with a carrying capacity of 8,500 car equivalent units. Shipments from Gothenburg are expected to include cars, heavy vehicles, construction equipment, and large project loads.

Photo: Maritime Transport’s new livery on display.