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How thinking inside the box helped businesses navigate the pandemic

How thinking inside the box helped businesses navigate the pandemic article image

Businesses that have survived and thrived over the past 18 months have needed great adaptability, resourcefulness, imagination – and a slice of luck to be in a sector that can still operate.

Importing and manufacturing have necessitated changes and thinking outside the box like never before.

C.H. Robinson, as a global transport and logistics company with a strong presence in Australia, has had to revolutionise the way it uses sea-freight to continue to thrive and to help its partners prosper.

Pre-pandemic, traditional sea-freight consisted mainly Full Container Loads being shipped for one business but that has changed as availability has become less and costs have increased.

But with so much uncertainty for businesses over supply, availability and even the ability to operate, C.H. Robinson had to think outside the box about what was going inside the containers. The result has been allowing its partners to have far greater flexibility and margin for error by encouraging their use of Less than Container Loads (LCLs).

“As we approach the busiest time of the year for imports, businesses can avoid panic buying stock and rely on a steady and consistent supply by using consolidated services,” said C.H. Robinson Vice President Oceania, Andrew Coldrey.

“Many of our customers are looking at smaller consolidated loads, increasing frequency and thereby using less warehouse space and employees to unload.”

“For example, why force an auto-parts supplier to bring over a full container of parts and potentially put their business at risk through holding a large inventory, when you can fill that container with a variety of different goods for various customers?” he asked.

Successful formula for automotive company

This is a sea-freight formula that has worked well for CoolDrive Auto Parts, which supplies more than 10,000 Australian businesses.

“LCLs not only give us incredible flexibility but also provides that same flexibility to the businesses we supply,” says CoolDrive’s Supply Chain General Manager, Matthew O’Shea.

“We have 200,000 parts in our catalogue coming from 600 suppliers in Asia, Europe and the Americas.

“With LCLs, we can see how new products perform without overcommitting to them. It has helped us grow our catalogue, create relationships with new suppliers and allowed us to be even more flexible and responsive to specific customer needs.”

CoolDrive receives weekly deliveries through C.H. Robinson which in Melbourne uses Secon to pick up containers from the wharves, unload the LCLs at its Truganina base and deliver to customer usually with 24-36 hours of arrival.

Unprecedented trading conditions

Daniel Considine, Business Development Manager for Australian freight logistics company Secon, says the company has never experienced conditions as they are now.

“In the current climate consolidation services serve more than just space utilisation. They are necessary for local business and economic continuity,” Mr Considine said.

“Whilst congestion is ubiquitous in our industry, our ability to consolidate and work together, to share our resources, and ultimately release the pressure valve caused by congestion has proved more fundamental than we anticipated.”

Logistics companies C.H. Robinson, Secon and forward-thinking businesses like CoolDrive are well-placed to deal with current challenges and ensure economic continuity – from ship to shelf.

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