February 2014
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Weathering the Supply Chain

The Northeast and Midwest continue to experience intermodal container backlogs caused by winter weather.  Rails and ports are working additional hours to relieve congestion as quickly as possible.  Winter storms are to blame for rail car imbalances, negatively impacting cargo movement throughout the US and Canada.  Additionally, truck power has been impacted by the series of storms and facility closures.  Future Forwarding Company is working with our vendors to minimize the impact of extreme weather conditions on the movement of your cargo but there may still be some delays.

What can importers and exporters do to prepare for
weather-related incidents and other factors beyond their control?

Know your product:   Understand how products could be affected by climate change or other delays.  Verify shipments are adequately insured against potential perils.  Cargo containers really take a beating on their journey across the ocean, especially during stormy winter months.

Assess Risk:   Collect and organize data to analyze and assess risk in the supply chain.  Once risks are identified, you can begin contingency plans.  Plans should be reviewed at least annually or after any type of disastrous event to ensure all reasonable risks have been addressed.  Monitor threats and trends in countries where your factories and customers are located.  In addition to weather, also consider terrorist activity, organized crime, political unrest, etc. which can disrupt the supply chain.

Communicate:   Collaboration between all internal and external supply chain partners is essential.  Emergency preparedness plans should define clear communication channels in the event of a crisis.  An effective supply chain ultimately depends on partners who can communicate with each other and who can trust what’s being communicated.

Plan for uncertainties:   As businesses strive to keep inventory costs down, logistics planners should still factor in some safety stock to compensate for weather-related emergencies.  If products are needed in an emergency, make sure your supply chain has the ability to keep up.  Each supply chain is unique.  While some supply chains are impacted during colder winter weather, cold chains cannot sustain prolonged heat.  Consider potential impact of hurricane season when shipping perishable products.

Build a reliable network:   Maintain relationships with alternative suppliers and allow your forwarder to investigate different logistic strategies and routings.  Future Forwarding can provide choices which enable you to control costs and service levels in normal times, and provide flexibility in emergency situations.

Ocean Carriers are requesting a March 15 GRI (General Rate Increase) as follows:
             Origin:  All Indian and Far East Ports
             Destination:  All United States Ports

GRI:   $240 / $300 / $338 / $380 per 20’/40’/40’HC/45’HC container
LCL:   $6.00 w/m (per 1 cbm or 1000 kgs, whichever is greater)
Employee Spotlight - BETH MASK
Beth is a determined redhead who is an Import Specialist in our Customs brokerage department.  She has been a dedicated employee for over 8 years and really knows how to weather stressful situations.  Beth is knowledgeable in a vast array of products but her passion and expertise is time-sensitive air freight and apparel imports.   When she is not moving freight, she is working out, playing "mom taxi", or reading.  She married her high school sweetheart and they have three beautiful children. 

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