With a global transportation and warehouse network built on the premise of Intelligent Logistics, Dachser Logistics has tailor-made warehouse concepts for industry-specific needs. In this conversation with Huned Gandhi, Managing Director at Dachser India Private Limited, he opens up about factors that drive the company, handling critical shipments during the pandemic and the future of the freight forwarding market.
How has DACHSER been able to seize the opportunity amidst such times of crises through its charter programs for flying medical protective equipment?
Customer centricity is a top focus at DACHSER. During the pandemic, we had to take immediate steps in ensuring that we are digitally connected with all stakeholders and continued to handle their urgent shipments especially for the Life Sciences and Healthcare customers who had critical shipments moving throughout the lock downs.
Our IT systems are fully equipped to manage the supply chains from the comfort and safety of our homes which enabled us to quickly align our services to the new norm of ‘work from home’. Our warriors on field at the air and sea ports, bravely faced the pandemic by following all prescribed safety protocols, and kept the critical shipments moving.
Since the start of the coronavirus crisis, there has been a huge surge for Personal protective equipment, PPE) and other medical essentials from the Asia Pacific region into Europe as well as the US and LATAM destinations.
DACHSER Air & Sea Logistics has handled more than 40 charter flights worldwide from the APAC region and transported a total of over 60 million respiratory masks plus medical items, such as personal protective equipment and protective gloves and made sure the requirements of the US, European governments and the distribution to the hospitals across these regions was carried out smoothly. Talking about India, the movement was largely for pharma goods by both air and sea freight.
The air sector had been reduced to minimal at the onset of the pandemic. Are there any signs of recovery? How do you think the air freight market will look in the future and what big changes might we see?
The pandemic has affected each and every one, each sector and business unit has faced the wrath of the COVID outbreak and the air sector is no different, the business in air freight has definitely been affected as like any other sector.
The airlines have not yet started operating with full capacity, which is still a challenge; the rates are still inflated, but considerably lower than what we had experienced in the beginning of the pandemic outbreak. However, now we are starting to see some stability in the market; the rates are also not as high as they were during the March to June period.
We are hopeful, as the crisis starts to subside, we will see a peak in demand for air freight, because of the depleted inventories across manufacturing companies. Also, once the vaccine production stage matures, there will be a huge demand for moving those shipments. Then the factors of speed and timely delivery will be crucial, and air freight will have its significance.
Talking about the future, Air cargo has come a long way and with new age aircrafts and technology, it has also proven itself as a highly time and cost effective solution for many products. More and more air freight processes continue to be automated and airports, airlines, forwarders and ground handlers have to work very closely to integrate the processes to save time and costs.
The sector embracing new electronic initiatives offering very high level of tracking and tracing capabilities, specialized products , especially for Life Science and Perishable industry.
One of the sector’s biggest developments has been the expedited practice of rapid-process-digitalisation, the focus—investments and innovation—from the stakeholders and the industry towards the adoption and enhancement of IT capabilities have been phenomenal. Also, the airport infrastructure that has seen overwhelming developments over the years has contributed directly to the country’s international competitiveness.
What has been the impact of the pandemic on the sea freight forwarding market in your opinion?
There is no denying that the Pandemic has exposed the Market Vulnerabilities, It’s definitely shaping up to be an enormous stress test for the market and also for globalisation.
During the lockdown, shipments could not move or say the movement was minimal. For import, customers had to pay high storage and detention charges, while export cargos were restricted to essential goods and pharma shipments.
Due to the depressed market scenario, the volumes were very low during the lock down phase and shipping lines were forced to implement blank sailings. The volumes are now increasing steadily especially to the US and Europe, leading to high demand for space,
Rates for imports and exports have shot up exponentially since mid of August and there is also a massive shortage of containers at all the major ports. This situation is likely to continue for the next couple of months until the demand and supply are balanced.
This is an abridged version of the interview. To read the full interview, click here.