Friday, April 24, 2020

The Virus Even Affects Port Hardware in This Week's Look at Some Smaller Logistics Items

Pieces of Shipping and Forwarding News You Might Have Missed
Shipping News Feature

UK – We start this week's look at some of the less obvious shipping and logistics news items with a warning about an unforeseen problem which has arisen due to the use of hand sanitizers now used so frequently by people in all walks of life in the battle to avoid and not spread the coronavirus now known as Covid-19.

At the DP World Southampton terminal the operator was left with five of its VBS terminal pedestals inoperative after drivers, anxious to protect against Covid-19 infection, cleaned the terminals before using them. VBS terminals are an essential component of the company’s Vehicle Booking System. The keyboards have been replaced but the situation illustrates a larger potential problem for anyone using similar equipment and DP World advised drivers to use the fluids on hands or wear gloves.

UK – Meanwhile another sign of the times is the type of press release we are seeing during the crisis. This week in came an interesting little video from Forth Ports which shows in time lapse how a container can arrive at the berth in the Port of Tilbury, be unloaded and get on the road within one hour.

UK – Following our piece on the problems HGV drivers over 45 were having getting their medical checks in order due to GP surgeries not seeing them, the DfT announced temporary changes for those applying for the renewal of their vocational licenses. The changes remove the requirement for a form D4 and apply to HGV drivers over 45 whose licences are due to expire, or have expired, since 1 January 2020.

Under this scheme, HGV drivers over 45 will be able to apply for a temporary 1-year licence, providing they do not have any medical conditions that affect their driving. Drivers with health issues will still need to declare these, and those with health issues that prevent them from driving safely will not have their licence renewed. The system is different in Northern Ireland.

UK – The Crompton Group has purchased the trading assets of ARX Maritime which now becomes a maritime addition as ARX Mouldings. ARX developed its ABaC System as an anti-boarding and climbing modular unit which prevents would be raiders gaining access to a vessel. ARX says the system currently protects around $35 billion of assets every day and around 4000+ seafarers.

UK – Walker Logistics has been awarded storage and fulfilment services for CBDfx, which produces a variety of hemp and cannabidiol products. Such products, doubtless due to a somewhat exotic reputation, are currently one of the fastest growing markets in the world, US based CBDfx has opened a UK subsidiary and office, and is targeting larger retailers as well as selling online directly to consumers.

CBDfx has over one hundred organically sourced products in its range from creams, face masks and tinctures to gummies (chewable sweets) and e-liquids and Walker Logistics will receive inbound goods directly from the US, store and then fulfil all end distribution channels from its facilities in Membury, Berkshire.

UK – CHINA – Virgin Atlantic Cargo, whose boss Richard Branson has been asking for a government hand out this week, is restarting scheduled cargo services to China with three flights a week to Shanghai. The cargo capacity on two of the three times weekly Boeing 787-9 flights from China will be used exclusively by the UK Department of Health and Social Care to increase deliveries of Personal Protective Equipment and medical supplies for front-line NHS staff.

There will be three flights per week every Monday, Thursday & Saturday. The airline has been given permission to carry cargo on the aircraft’s passenger seats and in overhead lockers as well as the cargo hold to maximise the payload of each flight. The airline has already carried 3.5 million items of personal protective equipment for immediate despatch to British hospitals.

US – Freight forwarding outfit Dachser Americas has expanded its Less than Container Load (LCL) services throughout the US and Latin America. The company says that extra demand has been caused by reduced air freight capacity, an increase in blanked sailings and service route cancellations coupled with the uncertainty of global economy and consumer demand, cancelled orders and the shuttering of retail locations and manufacturing facilities translating to smaller shipments.

US – ARGENTINA – Despite passenger flights being halted American Airlines Cargo are clearly still hard at work and the freight carrier has just broken the company’s all-time record for freight volume, moving 115,349 pounds (or 52,321 kilogrammes) of soybean seeds on a Boeing 777-300 via one of American’s cargo-only routes from Buenos Aires (EZE) to Miami (MIA).

That equates to 76 cows or 20,900 chickens and passed the previous high from Los Angeles (LAX) to London (LHR) in 2014. The soybean and corn seed season runs from March to May and American has shipped over 290 tonnes to the Midwest in just the past few weeks. Harvested seeds from this year’s crop will get flown back to germinate in the South American warmth later in the year, thus completing the cycle.

Photo: It seems liquid alcohol based hand sanitizers just don’t agree with port terminal hardware!