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Category Archives: Freight Solutions

Mastering Peak Season Logistics: A Checklist for Supply Chain Professionals

The arrival of peak season logistics can be both an exciting and challenging time for supply chain professionals across various industries, including Automotive, Aerospace, Engineering, Manufacturing, Pharmaceuticals, and Healthcare. The surge in demand, increased competition, and potential supply chain disruptions require meticulous planning and execution. In this blog post, we’ll provide a comprehensive checklist to help supply chain professionals prepare for peak season, with a focus on how Freightline can assist every step of the way.


Evaluate and Optimise Your Transportation Network

An efficient transportation network is essential for the timely movement of goods during peak season. This involves scrutinising your existing logistics routes, carrier partnerships, and the modes of transportation you employ.

At Freightline, we understand that optimising your transportation network is pivotal. Leveraging our vast network of trusted carrier partners, we can assist you in evaluating your routes and choosing the most cost-effective and reliable options. Whether it’s road or air transport, we have the expertise to help you make the right decisions that ensure your products reach their destinations efficiently and on schedule.


Secure Reliable Logistics Partners

In peak season, securing reliable logistics partners is of paramount importance. These partners must demonstrate a consistent track record of on-time deliveries and the capacity to handle increased shipment volumes.

Freightline has built a reputation for reliability over the years. We understand that your supply chain’s success hinges on dependable logistics professionals. By partnering with us, you gain access to our network of trusted carriers who are committed to meeting stringent delivery timelines. Our dedication to reliability means you can focus on other critical aspects of your supply chain, knowing that your shipments are in capable hands.


Enhance Communication and Visibility

In the fast-paced environment of peak season logistics, effective communication and real-time visibility are not just important; they are absolutely essential. The ability to swiftly identify and address issues can make all the difference in maintaining operations running smoothly and meeting customer expectations.

At Freightline, we understand the critical importance of communication and visibility during peak season. Our commitment to your success extends to having dedicated key account managers who will be by your side every step of the way. Your Freightline key account manager will provide you with regular updates and real-time visibility into your supply chain. Whether it’s tracking the progress of your shipments, addressing unexpected challenges, or providing valuable insights, they are your direct line of communication to our logistics solutions. With their guidance, you can proactively manage any issues that may arise, allowing your supply chain to remain agile and responsive, even during the busiest times of the year.

Optimising Warehouse and Distribution

Efficient warehousing and distribution are fundamental during peak season logistics. Maximising storage space, organising inventory, and streamlining picking and packing processes are critical.

Our extensive warehouse racking facilities mean we can accommodate our clients’ specific storage needs. Whether you need a significant amount of warehouse space or simply a place to store a small number of items, we can help.

With our expertise in warehousing and distribution, we ensure your operations are optimised for peak performance. Our strategically located warehouses are designed to handle increased volumes, guaranteeing that your products are stored, picked, and packed with precision. By leveraging our solutions, you can maintain the highest levels of efficiency in your warehousing and distribution processes, even during the demanding peak season.


Plan for Contingencies

In the high-pressure landscape of peak season logistics, thorough planning is paramount. However, even the most meticulous plans can face unexpected challenges during this intense period. Preparedness for contingencies, such as adverse weather, labour shortages, or transportation delays, is key to ensuring continuous operations.

Contingency planning is a strength at Freightline. We have extensive experience in managing supply chain disruptions and can work with you to create robust contingency plans. Our wide range of transportation options and access to alternative routes means that, even in challenging circumstances, we can help you find solutions to keep your supply chain moving smoothly.

Peak season logistics demands meticulous preparation and execution in these critical areas. By partnering with Freightline, you can harness our expertise in time-critical deliveries and logistics management to enhance your supply chain’s resilience and performance during the peak season.
We are committed to ensuring your success and are ready to assist you every step of the way.


Ready to elevate your peak season logistics with Freightline? Contact us today to explore how we can tailor our solutions to meet your specific industry needs and ensure your peak season success.

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    We’re proud to be supporting Treedom!

    We are thrilled to announce that we are supporting Treedom!

    As we continue on our journey to strive towards sustainability, we have pledged to grow trees worldwide by partnering with Treedom. Treedom is a platform that allows anyone to plant trees from a distance and follow the story of the project online. Treedom also allows the owners of the planted trees to receive images of the trees that have just been planted along with their GPS coordinates and updates from the project.

    Treedom directly finances agroforestry projects throughout the territory. The philosophy is to establish sustainable ecosystems and allow thousands of farmers to support the initial costs of planting new trees, ensuring food autonomy and income opportunities over time.

    We are truly inspired by the remarkable work of Treedom and their commitment to making the planet greener. By supporting this chosen charity, we hope to raise funds and contribute to their mission of reducing CO2 emissions and bring about awareness of the environmental benefits, at both a local and global level. Together, we can make a difference..

    Follow us on our social channels to keep track of our efforts.

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    We’re proud to be supporting Macmillan!

    We are thrilled to announce that we are supporting Macmillan!

    We are thrilled to announce that our employees have selected Macmillan as the charity of choice to support this year at Freightline. Macmillan is an incredible organisation that offers a wide range of services to individuals living with cancer at every stage of their journey. With a strong commitment to supporting those affected by cancer, Macmillan provides not only emotional support but also practical, physical, and financial assistance.

    Emotional support is vital when facing the challenges of cancer, and Macmillan understands this deeply. They offer a compassionate network of counsellors, support groups, and helplines, providing a listening ear and guidance to individuals and their families. Whether it’s navigating the emotional ups and downs, coping with the impact of the diagnosis, or addressing concerns and fears, Macmillan is there every step of the way.

    Additionally, Macmillan recognises the practical obstacles that cancer patients may encounter. They offer practical support services such as transportation assistance to medical appointments, help with daily tasks, and access to practical resources and information. By alleviating some of the logistical burdens, Macmillan aims to empower individuals to focus on their health and well-being.

    Recognising that cancer can take a toll on physical well-being, Macmillan provides various programs and services to address the physical needs of patients. From rehabilitation programs to specialised exercise classes, their aim is to enhance the quality of life and promote overall wellness during and after cancer treatment.

    Furthermore, Macmillan acknowledges the financial challenges that can arise for individuals and families affected by cancer. They offer financial guidance, advice on benefits and grants, and assistance in navigating the complex financial landscape associated with cancer care. By providing practical solutions and resources, Macmillan aims to ease the financial strain and ensure individuals have access to the support they need.

    We are truly inspired by the remarkable work of Macmillan and their commitment to improving the lives of those affected by cancer. By supporting this chosen charity, we hope to raise funds and contribute to their mission of providing comprehensive support to individuals throughout their cancer journey. Together, we can make a difference and bring hope, comfort, and assistance to those who need it most.

    Follow us on our social channels to keep track of our fundraising efforts.

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    Revolutionise Your Supply Chain with Freightline at Automechanika Birmingham!

    We’re very excited to be attending Automechanika Birmingham next month!

    It will bring together European and global decision makers from the most important automotive manufacturers and logistics innovators. The UK’s leading trade exhibition for the automotive and supply chain sector. Our comprehensive automotive logistics solutions make getting items from A to B a fast and seamless process.

    Automechanika is the biggest national event to source national and international tools & technology and review cutting-edge innovation from 500 leading suppliers. Join the rest of the aftermarket community at the big UK reunion to influence industry-wide change.

    Come and see us in Hall 20, Stand F16 to find out more about our Automotive services.


    Get your free tickets here:

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    ISO Accredited

    We are pleased to announce the extension of our ISO 9001 and 14001 accreditations. 

    Freightline underwent an extensive and in-depth evaluation process that included an evaluation of our quality management systems, a review of the documentation about those systems, and an audit of our processes and compliance, all of which were successful.

    Our commitment to these standards is reflected in every aspect of the business, from how we treat our customers and employees to how we manage the logistics and operations.

    By implementing this global standard, Freightline will be able to achieve its legal obligations while reducing waste management costs. Additionally, this will help build on the trust that is currently established between the company and its clients, suppliers, and employees.

    What are ISO certifications and why are they important?

    ISO certifications are a seal of approval from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) body that acknowledges a company is run to their developed and published international standards.

    ISO is a non-governmental international organisation that brings together experts to share knowledge and develop standards that enable innovation and resolve global challenges.


    What is ISO 9001:2022? 

    ISO 9001 is the international standard for quality management systems. By holding the ISO 9001 accreditation, Freightline has demonstrated the ability to consistently deliver a high-quality service. The accreditation emphasises performance and has been achieved by combining the process approach with risk-based thinking to improve efficiency when providing clients with time-critical logistics solutions.


    Why do we need ISO 9001?

    ISO 9001 is excellent for any organisation looking to improve quality and consistently meet customer requirements. Our ISO 9001 certification provides us and our clients with evidence that we meet all the standards required to achieve internationally recognised accreditation.


    What are the benefits of ISO 9001?

    Benefits of ISO 9001 certification include – increased efficiency, international recognition, a factual approach to decision-making, better supplier relationships, improved customer satisfaction, and greater employee morale.


    What is 14001:2022?

    The ISO 14001:2022 accreditation standard provides practical tools that allow companies to consider their environmental responsibilities, focusing on the environmental implications of operations. The ISO 14001 accreditation demonstrates Freightline’s commitment to continuous improvement of existing environmental management systems, as well as compliance with future regulations. As part of this accreditation, Freightline demonstrates its commitment to sustainable environmental management and encourages its suppliers to adhere to the same standards.


    Why do we need ISO 14001?

    ISO 14001 is the International Standard for Environmental Management Systems (EMS) and was designed to help businesses and other organisations to reduce their environmental impact.

    Implementing ISO 14001 helps us to demonstrate to our clients and suppliers that our business is committed to reducing its environmental impact.


    What are the benefits of ISO 14001?

    With IS0 14001, we can demonstrate our commitment to waste reduction, resource efficiency improvement, and cost reduction in waste management.

    By achieving ISO certifications, we demonstrate that we have a clear, robust process for risk management, handling documents and data, and ensuring business continuity.

                                            Aaron Rai, Head of Operations.

    Quality control and environmental management are of the highest level, with ISO 9001 and 14001 accreditations. Our commitment to these standards is reflected in everything we do, including client, supplier, and employee relations.

    By being accredited, we ensure we always strive to exceed customer expectations. Quality and environmental management will continue to be our top priorities.

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    How logistics is playing a critical role in automotive industry’s post-pandemic success

    The last couple of years have been challenging for a broad range of industries and the pandemic has been particularly difficult for the automotive industry as its supply chain is one of the most complex in the world.

    From the operational concerns caused by Brexit and the closure of China’s manufacturing industry during the pandemic, to mounting supply shortages, the automotive industry has been left bruised by the events of the last two years.

    With Brexit and the pandemic exposing the vulnerability of global supply chains, the role of third-party logistics is now more important than ever before.

    So, we’ve had a look at some of the biggest challenges facing the automotive industry in 2022 and how logistics is playing a critical role in its post-pandemic recovery.


    Manufacturing shutdowns

    Global manufacturing shutdowns represented one of the most significant challenges within the automotive industry during the pandemic.

    The introduction of social distancing measures and nationwide lockdowns led to large financial losses, even after production recommenced in 2021.

    With Europe and the United States still struggling to get back to regular car production, experts say manufacturing shutdowns may continue to remain one of the most critical challenges facing the automotive industry.

    The service that third-party logistics providers offer is even more critical in the aftermath of a global pandemic, when businesses including car manufacturers play catch up.

    Dealing with significant backlogs of orders, logistics companies are now heavily relied upon to get stock to customers.

    As a leading logistics provider, we know that the fast and reliable shipment of goods is essential and we adapt our services to match the requirements of our customers.


    Disrupted supply chain

    One of the most vital challenges faced by the automotive industry during Covid was the worldwide disruption of supply chains.

    With its ‘just-in-time’ operations, car manufacturing heavily relies on supply chains that come together as and when production requires – meaning even the smallest disruption can have a long-lasting knock-on effect.

    More often than not, supply chains are spread internationally, and with every country imposing its own post-pandemic protocol, supply chain management took a huge hit.

    Facing more than just disorganisation and disruption caused by Covid, automotive supply chains now have to burden various bottlenecks, such as the one relating to semiconductor – or microchip – manufacturing.

    With logistics being the backbone of supply chains, we know our role is now more important than ever. Our customers will be looking to us to help rebuild their supply chains and make them less vulnerable in the future.



    Global shortage of microchips

    An industry that was already laced with long-standing issues, such as insufficient capacity, Covid both exposed and exacerbated the global shortage of semiconductors.

    Semiconductors are small microchips required for a number of electronic functions within cars, such as lighting or seat control, and hence form a vital part of the global car production.

    Car manufacturers cut their chip orders in the first half of 2020 due to plummeting car sales but, when sales recovered quicker than anticipated, supply became an issue – even bringing some car manufacturing to a complete halt.

    With widespread efforts to lessen the impact of global supply-chain disruptions – such as some governments upping their investment in semiconductor technology – there will be heavy reliance on third-party logistics providers to help recover supply.

    With more than half a century of experience in moving goods for businesses of all types and sizes, we at Freightline have the knowledge and are ideally placed to step up when required.


    Vehicle supply and demand

    One of the key challenges facing the automotive industry during Covid has been the dramatic change in new car supply and demand.

    The general uncertainty felt by everyone across the UK and most of the developed world at the start of the pandemic initially brought on a rapid drop in demand.

    Whilst this doesn’t come as a surprise, with buying a new car not particularly high on people’s priority lists during a global pandemic, the numbers are still somewhat of a shock.

    According to the Society of Motoring Manufacturers and Traders, the UK automotive industry lost £1.3b in sales in 2020, leading to large amounts of excess stock, high levels of debt and ongoing demand uncertainty.

    Then, with demand for cars increasing again as we come out of the pandemic, supply of new cars has been hit by shortages or delays of automotive parts, in particular the global shortage of semiconductors from China.

    As supply and demand balance out again in time, there now is an even bigger requirement for a globally resilient chain of supply and effective third-party logistics services to ensure on-time delivery of goods.


    Change in customer behaviour

    With a weakened economy, price increases and high levels of general uncertainty, a global pandemic brings with it a significant shift in customer behaviour.

    It’s particularly easy to see how this would impact the automotive industry, with people less likely to purchase cars during times of uncertainty.

    As one of the ways to overcome the profit hole left partly by the shift in customer behaviour, many car manufacturers attempted to make car purchases digital by, for example, offering short-term subscription-based lease models for customers.

    Despite a resurgence of sales in 2021, customer footfall still remains low and is likely to continue to represent one of the most critical challenges for the automotive industry in years to come.

    To navigate the ongoing challenges of the Covid aftermath, one of the key measures that businesses within the automotive industry will be looking at is building a more resilient supply chain. Adapting supply chains as well as logistics services to a new way of working is key.

    At Freightline, we are used to ever-changing circumstances and know how to react quickly to ensure there is minimal disruption to the delivery of your goods.

    Backed by over 50 years of experience and trusted by over 350 satisfied clients, we provide third-party logistics services you can depend on, even in unprecedented times.


    Freightline provides a logistics service you can rely on

    At Freightline, we’re market-leading logistics experts, specialising in the urgent and time-critical movement of goods and products.

    With reach across the UK, Europe and beyond, we are a leading logistics provider to numerous market-leading companies across multiple industry sectors.

    Our dedicated account managers ensure that your shipments are collected and delivered safely and on time – because we understand the deadlines you have to meet.

    Particularly with an economic climate dominated by uncertainty as well as supply chain challenges, being able to rely on a third-party logistics provider is more important than ever.

    With our expertise and first-class customer service, we ensure your goods are delivered quickly and cost-effectively, 24/7, 365 days a year.

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    What is logistics in business

    As we have explored as part of our recent series of blogs looking into the world of logistics, this is the industry that manages the acquisition, transport, storage and distribution of resources, typically on behalf of a third party client. While logistics is clearly still a vital component that helps to keep the public sector moving, it is private business contracts that make up the backbone of the contemporary logistics industry. 

    A well-designed and effectively executed logistics strategy is essential for every business. Whether that’s a manufacturing company that needs to get its goods from one place to another in order to trade, or a retailer that requires an efficient warehousing and distribution process to help store and ship their products, logistics is key. But how does this work in practice? What processes need to be in place? And why are good logistics so important in determining a business’ success? 

    In this blog, Freightline Carriers will answer all of these questions to ensure you are up to speed on this broad topic.  

    What does logistics mean in business?

    From highly-specialised international air freight services and professional freight forwarding to day-to-day warehousing and distribution solutions, when we talk about logistics in the business sector, we are specifically referring to how these services and solutions are used by private companies (particularly in the manufacturing and retailing sectors) to keep the supply chain moving. In a nutshell, this is the entire process involved in managing stock and transporting a business’ goods and products from point A to point B – including everything required in between. From distribution plans and inventory management to custom clearances and any storage requirements at both ends – this makes up what is meant by business logistics. 

    With this in mind, businesses have two options when it comes to their logistics needs – they can either manage all their requirements in-house or they can hire a third-party business logistics partner (3PL), such as Freightline Carriers, to manage all, or just certain aspects, of their logistical processes on their behalf. 

    What is a logistics business process?

    Logistical processes refer to tasks, jobs, and procedures your business is required to carry out in order for the supply chain to operate effectively. For example:

    • Sourcing materials

    Manufacturing businesses need to have logistical processes in place that help them to efficiently procure and distribute the raw materials and other components they need to make their products. Not only relating to the transportation of the materials needed, the logistical processes involved in procuring these items requires physically locating, negotiating deals for, storing, and eventually using them.

    • Transportation

    The first process most people think of when considering business logistics processes, the physical movement of materials, goods and products from one location to another (both inbound and outbound) requires a lot of planning. From sourcing and implementing the best shipping methods for the job to ensuring deadlines are met and goods are kept safe, this is an area in which 3PLs can be particularly helpful. 

    • Warehousing

    An often overlooked aspect of business logistics, processes that manage and control the storage of a business’ goods need to be well thought out. Not only a case of locating the physical building used to store your goods, warehousing processes should cover everything from the installation and maintenance of the infrastructure to and from your warehouse(s) to the day-to-day use of inventory management systems. This can help you to forecast demand, control stock levels and improve order fulfillment efficiency. 

    • Order fulfillment

    This is a broader term that can encompass a number of the previous processes mentioned. Order fulfillment is essentially the tracked management of customer orders, from the point a purchase is made to the time it is physically delivered. This process typically involves the use of sophisticated logistical software tools including order management programmes and shipment tracking applications.

    Why is logistics important for business success?

    The efficiency of a business’ logistical processes have a direct impact on the wider supply chain the organisation operates within, meaning if your processes are not as optimised as they could be, your business may perform less successfully overall. 

    To put it as simply as possible, if your business has poor logistics strategies in place, it is likely that this will have a knock-on effect on your supply chain, in turn impacting how effectively you can operate. If, for example, you don’t have an efficient shipping and distribution process in place, customers may be left waiting longer than needed for their orders, or if your warehousing processes are inefficient, your ability to properly manage stock and inventory can suffer. These small inefficiencies can soon snowball and start to affect how your business functions, potentially increasing costs, damaging your business’ reputation and impacting your relationships with supply chain partners. For this reason, ensuring you have a well thought out business logistics strategy in place is absolutely essential.

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    What is custom clearance?

    Customs clearance is a mandatory process that all goods must go through when entering and leaving a country. In the UK’s case, custom clearance allows HM Customs & Excise to ensure the submission of export and import documents has been completed correctly and that the payment of any duties, VAT and other costs incurred by customs agents, such as storage and testing, has been made. Additionally, with the UK now no longer a member of the European Union, it operates inside its own customs territory independent of the EU’s collective free-trade zone. This means that added customs checks and additional inspections are now required for all imports and exports to and from the UK. 

    Below, we explain how customs clearance works in importing and exporting, before looking into how shipping companies can help clients efficiently navigate the process.

    Custom clearance procedure for export 

    Customs clearance for exports is essentially the process of gaining permission from a country’s government to transport goods out of a sovereign territory. When looking at what the custom clearance procedure for exports looks like, a number of factors need to be taken into account. For example, the specific regulations in place in your country of export, the type of goods you are attempting to ship, trade agreements in place between the countries of export and import, and the sophistication of technology used by an exporting country’s customs agency. However, as a rule, the custom clearance procedure for export typically follows these steps:

    1. Registering your business/organisation with the customs authority’s system and obtaining an export business number. This will only need to be performed once, rather than for every shipment.
    2. Applying for and obtaining a certificate of origin for the items you want to export. This essential item can be provided by a ‘competent authority’ of the exporting country.
    3. Ensuring the goods you are attempting to ship are not prohibited or banned in either the country of export or the country of import. This can be checked on the official websites of both parties.
    4. Determining which export commodity codes you need in order to legally and efficiently export your goods. These unique six, eight or 10 digit numbers are assigned to every different type of product type and help customs agencies quickly identify products and decide the customs duties applicable. 
    5. Applying for and obtaining an export licence and/or permit for your goods, if needed. This will typically only need to be performed once per specialist item, rather than every time you ship specialist goods. 
    6. Completing an export declaration form for each shipment. This can be done either manually or digitally, and must be carried out before all shipments you export.

    What is import customs clearance?

    Import customs clearance is the process of gaining permission from a country’s government to bring materials and/or produce into their sovereign territory. For the most part, the import customs process is very similar to export customs clearance, however with the addition of a number of steps. These extra stages generally relate to tax and duty assessments and final payment options involved in international shipping, and include:

    • Completing and filing an import declaration form. This can be done either digitally or manually. At this stage, it is likely you will also need to provide a packing list for the goods in your consignment, any copies of relevant import licences, and certificates of origin. As we discuss below, this can be done by your freight forwarder or broker, if you chose to use one. 
    • Waiting until customs officials based in the country of import approve your declaration.
    • Paying the duties and taxes you owe based on the customs import assessment. Again, if you are partnered with a freight forwarding company or broker, they will typically do this for you and invoice you at a later date. 
    • Waiting for your goods to be released, signalling the end of the customs clearance process. 

    Does the shipping company arrange customs clearance?

    If you choose to partner with a specialist customs broker or a freight forwarding shipping company to help you manage your logistical needs, this partner will typically make all arrangements, in theory at least, taking the stress out of overseas shipping. From ensuring relevant VAT declarations and customs clearance documentation are correctly completed and filed to monitoring and ensuring the entire export/import customs clearance happens as efficiently as possible and your goods remain safe, a shipping company can take care of everything.

    However, in order for a shipping partner or broker to act as an intermediary between you and the various stages involved in long-distance shipping, they will require you to provide the customs agents working for the partner with a number of vital documents. As discussed above, this includes commercial invoices, packing lists, commodity codes and licences, and certificate of origins. For this reason, despite the expert service many shipping companies provide when it comes to customs clearance, it can still be a good idea to employ someone familiar with these administration processes.

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    What are Incoterms?

    Incoterms are an essential part of international shipping and customs clearance processes

    From setting out who pays what to clarifying which party is responsible for the shipment at each individual stage of the journey, the international transport of goods requires a lot of complex planning and arrangements – Incoterms simplify this process.

    These universally used set of 11 recognised and accepted rules, which are represented using common acronyms, are used to define the responsibilities of both the sellers and buyers of a particular overseas shipment. However, if you are new to the world of international trade, these relatively simple sets of rules can appear confusing. With this in mind, here at Freightline, we have put together this handy guide to ensure you know exactly what to expect when dealing with Incoterms.

    What does Incoterms mean? 

    The word ‘Incoterms’ refers to International Commercial Terms – a series of internationally accepted trade rules published by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). 

    As mentioned above, the purpose of these rules is to clearly set out the responsibilities of both buyers and sellers for the delivery of goods which are under contract and set to be shipped. This is to say they allocate the specific obligations, costs and risk-share between the two parties at each and every stage of a shipment’s journey. This information includes specific instructions relating to who is responsible for factors such as paying for and managing the shipment, documentation, insurance, loading/unloading, storage, customs clearance, and other logistical activities.

    An Incoterm is typically presented as an easily identifiable three-letter acronym which can be quickly and efficiently recognised and understood by all parties involved in each stage of the shipping process. From specialist freight forwarders, such as Freightline, to customs agents and port staff, the Incoterm impacts all aspects of a shipment’s journey. 

    What are the different types of Incoterms? 

    There are 11 different types of Incoterms, which can be plotted on a scale ranging from those commercial terms that state the vendor is 100 per cent responsible for the entire transport of a shipment to ones which set out that the buyer carries all responsibilities for the goods during every stage of transit. 

    Below are brief descriptions of all 11 Incoterms:

    1. EXW (Ex Works)

    This means the vendor must give the buying party complete access to goods at an agreed location. From the moment access has been granted and a location agreed upon, the buyer bears all costs and risks during the entire shipping process.

    1. FCA (Free Carrier)

    An increasingly common delivery condition, here the seller must make the goods available at their own risk and expense at an agreed place. This means the seller is responsible for all export customs activity and other export activities. However, from delivery at a named port/terminal onwards, the buyer is responsible for all shipping obligations. 

    1. CPT (Carriage Paid To)

    Here, the seller has the same responsibilities as under FCA, however with the additional responsibility of having to pay delivery costs. This means the seller must organise customs clearance, ensure export fees are paid and arrange for a carrier to deliver the goods to an agreed location. After this point, the buyer takes responsibility for the shipment. 

    1. CIP (Carriage Insurance Paid To)

    This is the same as CPT, however here the seller is obligated to arrange and pay for cargo insurance. Like CPT, when CIP is used, the responsibility for the shipment shifts from seller to buyer when the seller transfers the cargo to the carrier.

    1. DAP (Delivered At Place)

    With DAP, the vendor carries all the responsibility in terms of shipping costs and risk during the transport to an agreed address. However, this responsibility shifts to the buyer as soon as the goods have arrived and are ready to be unloaded. 

    1. DPU (Delivered at Place Unloaded)

    This means the seller is responsible for all costs and risks associated with delivering goods to an agreed location, as well as the process unloading for further transport.

    1. DDP (Delivered Duty Paid)

    The vendor carries the cost and risk of transport and arranges all export and import tasks, including payment of VAT and duties. As soon as the shipment has been delivered at the location and is ready for unloading, the buyer takes on the responsibility.

    1. FAS (Free Alongside Ship)

    The vendor bears all the costs until the goods are delivered to the port and are ready to be loaded onto the ship. After this, the buyer is responsible for the goods, including import/export customs clearance.

    1. FOB (Free On Board)

    Here, the seller is responsible for the goods, including export clearance, until they are safely loaded onto the ship. Once the goods have been loaded, the buyer takes on all responsibility. 

    1. CFR (Cost And Freight)

    This is the same as FOB, however, here the seller must also cover the costs of transport to the port. 

    1. CIF (Cost, Insurance, and Freight)

    CIF dictates that the vendor has the same responsibilities as with CFR, however, there is the additional obligation of paying for basic cargo insurance. That being said, the buyer is responsible for paying for more comprehensive insurance policies.

    Which Incoterm should I use?

    Naturally, the Incoterm you choose will very much depend on a number of different factors. These factors include the nature of your goods, the method of transportation (road, sea, air or rail), who is insuring the goods, how well you know the buyer and more. For this reason, it is important that you fully understand the commercial arrangements you have in place with your buyer before deciding on an Incoterm. 

    FOB is the most popular Incoterm as it represents a relatively equal share of the risk for both buyers and sellers. However, if you are a more experienced importer, you may want to retain more control over the shipping process. In which case, EXW may suit your needs better. However, the most advantageous Incoterms for importers include DAT, DAP and DDP.

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    A bevy of black swans: are black swan events increasing in frequency and can you predict the unpredictable?

    As the world becomes increasingly complex, the challenges encountered by the logistics and supply chain industry continue to mount. From globalisation and global warming to the COVID-19 pandemic and political instability, any business involved with the transportation, distribution and the storage of goods on an international scale is faced with an ever-growing web of potential hurdles. 

    And it seems it isn’t enough to plan for things that are likely to happen, many business leaders feel like it’s more important than ever to try to anticipate and plan for the unlikely. In this blog post, we focus on the concept of black swan events, unpack their impact and discuss whether you can safeguard your business against the fallout of these incidents.

    What is a black swan event?

    A black swan event refers to an unexpected or unpredictable event that has catastrophic and far-reaching consequences. Such happenings are often said to have been predictable in hindsight, despite their high improbability.

    The expression is derived from the historical and false belief that all swans are white. The oldest documented reference to a metaphorical black swan comes from second-century poet Juvenal who wrote: “a rare bird in the lands and very much like a black swan”.

    Developed by the mathematical researcher and former Wall Street trader Nassim Nicholas Taleb, who wrote a book on the subject in 2007, black swan theory refers to unpredictable, high-profile events that have extreme consequences. Black swans can take any form, from state collapses, to financial crises, to terrorist attacks. In some cases, they have resulted in important scientific discovery, technological breakthrough and artistic achievement. 

    The trouble with black swans

    Many businesses these days are accustomed to analysing past data and using it to predict future events. However, standard forecasting methods cannot predict black swan incidents. Indeed, if firms put too much stock in these methods, it can lead them into a false sense of security and make them complacent when it comes to building robustness against high-impact, low-probability incidents.

    Some notable black swans and their effects

    Many incidents in recent years could be referred to as black swans. Here we take a look at just a few examples:

    The Suez Canal blockage

    In March 2021, a huge Japanese container ship, measuring 400 metres long and weighing in at 200,000 tonnes, ended up wedged in the Suez Canal. The extremely busy and important trading route, which sees approximately 12 per cent of international maritime trade passing through it each year, was obstructed for over six days. The blockage sparked a chain reaction of global supply chain disruptions. With ships being forced to re-route, congestion increased at busy ports and distribution centres. It also aggravated the already difficult shipping container shortage. Many types of businesses experienced shipment delays, including dining and drinking establishments, construction firms, health suppliers, wholesale trade and food retailers. This difficult-to-predict event held up an estimated $9.6bn of trade each day. This equated to approximately $6.7m per minute. 

    The COVID-19 pandemic

    Although some people argue that the coronavirus outbreak is not a true black swan due to the fact that experts had previously predicted that a pandemic was inevitable, the majority of businesses couldn’t have predicted the impact this kind of crisis would have on their supply chains, their businesses and the world at large. According to an Ernst & Young LLP (EY US) survey of 200 senior-level supply chain executives in late 2020, only two per cent of respondents said they were fully prepared for the pandemic. Meanwhile, research conducted by McKinsey in July 2020 suggested that 73 per cent of supply chain executives faced problems in their supplier base, and 75 per cent experienced production and distribution. The food and consumer-goods industries were particularly hard hit, with 100 per cent of executives in these sectors saying they had encountered production and distribution problems and 91 per cent revealing they had experienced issues with suppliers. A study commissioned in June 2021 by Interos indicated that pandemic-related disruption cost large companies, on average, $184 million (approximately £134 million) per annum. It also unveiled that 83 per of large businesses have suffered damage to their reputation due to supply chain disruptions.

    The 2007-2008 financial crisis

    A wide variety of factors led to the global financial crisis that began in 2007, including predatory lending practices, inadequate regulation of the financial services industry, excessive risk-taking on Wall Street and the subprime mortgage collapse in the US. These interconnected events have often been referred to as a ‘perfect storm’. The impact of the economic downturn on the global supply chain was profound, with companies that depended on banks to provide working capital to pay for production, inventory and materials left without liquidity. In the UK, after 63 quarters of expansion, the economy began to shrink. It continued to get smaller for five quarters in a row and took five years to recover to its pre-recession size. It’s thought that the crisis led to the closure of approximately 800,000 businesses in the UK alone. 

    Protecting your business against black swans

    Despite advances in risk management methods and forecasting technologies, it’s clear that we can’t always predict the future. In that case then, how can business leaders in the logistics industry ensure that their firms stand the best chance of weathering the next great storm? The answer lies in building resilience and robustness so that, no matter what the future holds, your chances of survival are healthy.

    Here are some of the key areas that logistics businesses should be focusing on in order to become more resilient and robust:

    • Reskilling workers for a digital supply chain

    According to Ernst & Young LLP, 61 per cent of supply chain executives plan to retrain and reskill their workers in the next year. Businesses should be looking at helping staff to adapt to digital technologies, increased automation and greater levels of virtual collaboration. The health and safety of staff when using equipment should also be a key priority. 

    • Creating greater supply chain visibility

    Businesses need to improve their response to disruption by investing in real-time visibility and monitoring of their supply chain and its constituent parts. More and more, businesses are utilising Internet of Things (IoT) technology and sensors to gather information on the location and condition of goods in the supply chain. This can help a business to move from linear to more integrated and complex supply chains with greater ease.  

    • Achieving a competitive advantage through sustainability

    There’s no doubt that the focus on sustainability is going nowhere. Environmental goals should be taking centre stage for logistics businesses around the globe. Not only will good sustainability performance help to attract investors, employees and customers, this area is also becoming increasingly important in terms of regulation. Furthermore, focusing on a circular, no-waste approach can create significant cost savings.

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