TMCnet Feature
July 29, 2021

Moving time critical cargo - when stopping is not an option

Time critical cargo to assembly plants

Time-critical air cargo charter flights have always played an important role when it comes to keeping the UK and Europe’s production lines and supply chains running smoothly. Add a global pandemic into the equation and the role of time-critical cargo deliveries becomes even more critical.

During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, airlines and cargo charter companies realised that time critical air charter was vital for the movement of personal protective equipment (PPE) along with urgent medical and healthcare supplies. When the history books are written, there will no doubt as to the role time critical cargo charter played in the urgent fight against the global virus outbreak.

At first, the pandemic caused many unknowns and logistical uncertainties. Closed borders, grounded airline fleets, new government health and hygiene regulations, and the continual fear of the international spread of the virus. Right across the UK and Europe, what were once standard airport procedures had to be urgently reviewed and updated to match the present situation. Ground staff had to be able to work safely and in compliance with new regulations. Plus, as the virus wreaked havoc across the continent of Europe many airport services were forced to a halt.

In a combined effort between governments, international health authorities, aviation and airline regulators, and cargo charter company representatives, time critical cargo was given the assistance it needed to remain operative.

Of the most important initial worries was the rules and regulations concerning aircrew movement, before and after flying time. For aircrews, having to self-quarantine for fourteen days after every border crossing – which could have been a simple sector hop between London and Paris – meant that flights and staff rostering would have been next to impossible. Through sensible precautions, goodwill, and common sense these early hiccups were overcome and supply chains remained open – even if only in a limited manner.

Air transport regulators were instrumental in urging governments to use their influence as early as possible to; reduce burdensome and time-consuming cargo charter paperwork; ensure the availability of staff and resources to handle and process cargo efficiently; and exempt cargo crew from restrictive quarantine regulations.

Time critical secure air charter to keep the wheels turning

Regardless of pandemics or other man-made or naturally occurring crises, time-critical cargo charter is a pivotal cog in the wheel of international trade and commerce. Any disruption to the essential movement of time critical cargo can be a costly spanner in the works for many non-stop industrial production lines. Any unscheduled disruption to the production process could cost the company millions of Euros, and in addition, the knock-on effect could be felt by countless others.

Every day around the world, from the intricacies of the car manufacturing process and automated manufacturing plant lines to offshore oil and gas facilities and mining operations, the urgent need for the delivery of supplies is a constant balance to be maintained by line managers. Should anything upset that balance, the consequences could be disastrous.

Even small delays in the movement and delivery of time-sensitive cargo to car manufacturers, big pharma companies, or any other industry reliant on a non-stop production process, can leave lasting scars on entire economies, both directly, and indirectly.

The enormous cost of supply chain disruption

Any disruption to industrial supply chains may at first appear to be local. However, for the world’s major industries, a kink in the chain can be felt right around the world, by governments and entire economies right down to small businesses and individuals.

As an example of the importance of time critical aircraft charter and the effects of any failure in component supply to the car manufacturing industry, in a recently released survey of 101 automotive industry executives, the results were staggering. Most of those involved in the survey said that the cost of production stoppages in the automotive industry average €18,500 per minute (over €1.1 million per hour). Some respondents to the survey put that figure at as much as €42,000 per minute (or €2.52 million per hour).

These enormous figures graphically illustrate the need for a dependable cargo charter partnership with a professional charter company that fully understands the consequences of any failure in the supply chain, and who is committed to ensuring that regardless of external disruptions all of the working parts must somehow come together.

In late 2020, the Chapman Freeborn charter brokerage team in Europe received an urgent cargo inquiry to transport 600kg (1,322lbs) of cargo packed in 12 pallets in an event that turned out to be a unique time critical charter operation.

With the cargo already on board a scheduled flight from China to Frankfurt the production plant urgently required the cargo to be delivered sooner to save total plant shutdown. Acting quickly, the charter team at Chapman Freeborn determined that the nearest airport to the plant was over an hour away meaning another charter flight from Frankfurt wouldn’t be an option. Instead, an EC145 Eurocopter was positioned at Egelsbach airport, only 15 minutes from Frankfurt International Airport. The charter team located a landing site at the plant’s parking lot which was immediately cleared and one pallet was loaded on the helicopter – with mere inches to spare – and the cargo was flown directly to the plant to ensure uninterrupted production.

A time-critical operation of such enormity and such high-risk value should only be entrusted to the hands of a reliable and proven professional cargo charter company. The story also adequately demonstrates the importance, and value of building a close working relationship between industry and cargo transporters.

Personal onboard couriers and reliable cargo specialists

In the UK and across the European continent another option available to solve the problem of time critical cargo delivery is the use of an onboard courier service for the delivery of time critical parts, medical supplies, or other necessary production or business materials.

Time critical onboard couriers can carry urgent cargo – from an envelope of documents to several large boxes – as part of their onboard luggage. This ‘cargo’ can be transported in the passenger cabin, or as additional checked luggage in the cargo bay. This is a great option for small components, spare parts, prototypes, documents, or small-batch samples which need to reach their destination within a critical period. Time critical onboard couriers also offer the advantage of a personal touch to the delivery process and can offer instant notification and proof of delivery.

Deliveries with time sensitivity have the potential to cause a lot of stress for the sender. For this reason, establishing a trusted partnership with a reputable cargo charter company is paramount.

Having that trusted partner means that both you, and they, fully realise that time is of the essence in keeping a business up and running and avoiding costly delays or even complete shut-down. A trusted cargo partner will most likely provide you with round-the-clock service, out-of-hours collection, and the promise of 24/7/365 availability, they can guarantee their services and offer prime customer care.

Should anything go wrong along the way, a reputable time-critical cargo specialist will go the extra mile to make sure that your consignment reaches its destination on time, without having to bother the sender every 5 minutes with requests for additional information. Your cargo broker can even provide full transparency by offering the latest digital tools to dispatch, track, and verify your time-critical delivery.

The importance of having a trusted cargo specialist can’t be overstated. If your cargo’s safe and time-critical delivery is of the utmost importance to the success of your business, organisation, or even your personal life, it makes complete sense to trust your valuable cargo to the very best cargo specialist you can find. In the end, any extra expense incurred by hiring the best can far outweigh the costs incurred through production disruption, or even complete shut-down.

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