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SFN Zoom Member Discussion

SFN members recently met on Zoom to connect and discuss their latest experiences in the industry. There are certainly multiple obstacles to be faced right now.

Ofer at Davidson International in Romania raised some issues with trucking: "Trucking is a big issue, because we need more truck drivers in Europe. The truck drivers are getting sick and then are not able to work. The situation with Covid is bad here, we are even sending sick people from Romania to other countries."

Patricia at AT&L Canada commented on the situation in the ports, saying, "There is definitely congestion with reefers in the Chinese ports, due to the Covid-compliant cleaning operations that have to be done."

Greg at Mill Wright in the USA mentioned how things have changed this year: "There have been big changes within the industry, notably things like manufacturing, during the initial shutdown in China. Due to the tarifs in the USA, we have had to adjust rates to where empty containers are sitting."

Serap at Turkon in Turkey asked everyone for their perspective on the 'container shortage', saying: "We need to know a timeframe in order to make a strategy. Different people are saying different things. How long will this last?"

Rolando at Upcargo in Panama had a strong case to make for working together and combining information regarding this issue: "We are looking at collecting the information to create a document with details, statistics and information for all. As independent forwarders, we need to unite."

It is certainly apparent that utilising networks, and sharing information, has helped a lot of our members. Having access to expert, 'on the ground' advice from different countries has proved invaluable to many.

David Ma at Ocean Bright Logistics in China suggested pooling resources with fellow members to combat problems, saying: "Equipment leasing includes SOC, not just space. Therefore, we should combine cargo together. I suggest we work together on renting/combining SOC and use LCL service bartering... although not sea as the round trip is too far. We need to look for solutions, and for opportunities, despite a bad situation."

Haseeb at Paklink Pakistan also shared his thoughts, reminding us that strong companies have managed to do well, despite the difficulties: "It's hard, we are not getting shipping spots/space. We have equipment and are using our own boxes, but the problem is space on the vessel. Imports from China are low in comparison to the vast volumes being exported, resulting in a huge shortage problem. Rates keep changing also, meaning that business is not stable and things are volatile. Our company personally deals with rice and textiles, for example, and as one of the top forwarders in Pakistan, we are getting space. We are booking prior to arrival. But it's not easy and some forwarders are just not getting the space."

There was a general group discussion about the way the Pandemic has affected working practices, with several members commenting on how different age groups affect sales approaches in the industry. As one member put it, "Younger forwarders don't seem to want to talk, just a quick email or phone call - it doesn't have the personal touch. The older generation do seem to be different. We want to get out and meet people, face to face, to establish those relationships."

This lead on to SFN Managing Director, Kelly, asking if people were generally preferring the current ways of meeting on Zoom, working from home, and having more time with their families. By a show of hands, some members would indeed value some more balance in the future, even once travelling was allowed.

Caryn at Colbeck and Clarke in Canada mentioned how working from home, once they adjusted, has actually been good for her staff - those needing time for family commitments could have that flexibility, and no lengthy commutes meant more time was saved. Some members, however, were desperate to travel again as it's one of their favourite aspects of the job.

It was a varied discussion and highly interesting to hear the comments from our different members. It is strongly apparent that independent freight forwarders who have invested in a dedicated network will reap the benefits of that association - be that new business, assistance with challenging shipments, or just good sound advice from trustworthy sources.

If interested in joining SFN and having these benefits yourself, please complete the Application Form.

© 2012 Specialist Freight Networks