Specialised freight solutions
How do you transport the 85-year-old relics of a Catholic saint? Move live fireworks for an Olympic ceremony? Deliver pole vaults for an Olympic athlete? Specialist freight services all over the world move weird and wonderful goods.
Every day millions of containers are trucked, shipped and flown across the world. Sometimes their contents are a little out of the ordinary.
Since their first large-scale sporting event appointment for the Sydney Olympic Games in 1999, global freight conglomerate DB Schenker has become a world leader in specialist operations, looking after major sporting tournaments, international exhibitions, artworks, museum pieces and events including the Catholic World Youth Day in 2008. Sabine Schlosser manages specialist logistics in Australia and New Zealand for the company. Her advice for exporters moving an unusual cargo is to consult the experts.
Freight involves a web of international regulations, protocols, documentation, permit applications and cargo agreements, and it can be hard for a novice to negotiate. “If it’s anything that is not just a normal pallet which you can send with normal cargo in the normal freight section, just give specialists a call,” Schlosser advises. “The advice costs you nothing.”
Basically, special operations logistics is “nothing fancy”, Schlosser says. “The principle of sending freight (by sea, air or road) and looking after pick and pack is fairly straightforward.” What sets special logistics apart is the planning and negotiation that goes on before and afterwards, making sure everything runs smoothly in a complex operation.
Planning routes and handling protocols, negotiating legalities, ensuring documentation and paperwork is correct, making deadlines and ensuring safe and timely transit are the hard parts. That’s where specialists like DB Schenker can help.
A holy commission
Things get more complicated when the client is the global Catholic Church. This took the special logistics department of DB Schenker into uncharted territory. While familiar with the transport of human remains, in the lead-up to World Youth Day 2008, Schlosser’s department was confronted with a new logistical challenge. How do you move the relics of a saint, dead for more than 85 years?
Pier Giorgio Frassati was never embalmed but his remains lie uncorrupted in a tomb in Turin. DB Schenker was asked to freight the relics to Sydney for the pilgrimage. “I believe in miracles,” Schlosser says, but she was determined to have a chemist involved in the process of freight. “There’s a reason why that body is not decaying.”
A chemist assisted DB Schenker to recreate the conditions in Frassati’s tomb for a special crate, and DB Schenker freighted Frassati to and from Sydney with no incident. “We’ve never moved a saint. And a saint doesn’t have a passport to start off with. The whole paperwork side of it was quite interesting.”