Cross-border logistics are standard practice in shipping. However, not all shipments have Germany either as the origin or the destination point. When it comes to such complex cross trades, smooth planning and handling are particularly important. Hansa Meyer Global relies on its globally based offices for this, as well as brain power in the Bremen headquarters.
Credits: HANSA MEYER GLOBAL
And it is exactly such facility engineers, known as EPC contractors (Engineering, Procurement and Construction), that form part of the client base of project forwarders such as Hansa Meyer Global. “Typically, these companies plan, design and build the facilities independently for the customer until project completion, and they require one or more forwarders to execute this,” explained Schuisdziara. “Your company location usually plays little role in the procurement process. That means the customer or freight payer could be based in Germany and commission us, a Bremen-based company, to handle the project deliveries to the construction site in Texas. Deliveries are made from Shanghai via containers, as break-bulk cargo by ship or via other means.”
Observing international customs and requirements
Such contractual triangles constitute a typical cross-trade transaction. In logistics, this refers to cross-border transport where both the place of export and the place of import are located in foreign countries. For typical project forwarders such as Hansa Meyer Global, this has always been part of the service portfolio. What has changed, however, is the prominence of this business segment. “20 or 30 years ago, the proportion of deliveries via Germany was significantly higher, at around 70–80 per cent,” the managing partner recalled. “Today, that ratio has reversed – two-thirds of our shipments are cross trade.” The only outlier here is air cargo, for which the proportion of cross trading is significantly lower at 15 per cent.
Customers are well aware of the challenges involved with this and know that changes in plans on behalf of the supplier and/or construction site are also very common abroad. Nevertheless, getting the components to the construction site at the agreed time and within budget is only possible if there is very close coordination between the suppliers, local service providers such as packaging companies, truckers and lighters, as well as the ports and main transport carrier. Furthermore, the more complex the transport requirements in each country – for example, customs clearance; approval for heavy and oversized cargo; and challenging packaging and interim storage stipulations – the more experts are needed on site.
Data transfer with customers is gaining in importance
IT also plays an increasingly crucial role in this type of business: “In order to ensure transparency in complex projects, some of which may involve over 100,000 freight tonnes per individual order, and to manage the contractually agreed key figures, we are investing in the continuous development of our data systems,” reported Schuisdziara. “For example, we can directly transfer order data from our customer’s SAP system or another database via the interface, and then display this alongside the planning and shipping data, including any documents from Hansa Meyer. In addition, all companies involved in the logistics chain are also connected, so that real-time data can be reflected in the original plans and deviations can be accurately documented.”
“Two-thirds of our shipments are cross trades.”
Jan-Dirk Schuisdziara, Managing Partner, Hansa Meyer Global Holding