June 2004 | Commentary | Checking In

Not Your Father's Airfreight Forwarder

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"We've been using airfreight forwarders since the beginning of time," says Andy Bordash, head of the logistics and operations team at Bayer Health Care. Many IL readers can say the same thing, but times have changed.

As we report in The Plane Truth About Airfreight Forwarding, written by Leslie Hansen Harps, smart forwarders, both large and small, are changing with the times to keep customers satisfied. The converging trends and concerns about security and globalization, the application of global supply chain technology, and the growth of Internet e-commerce upsets many long-standing transportation, logistics, and international trade practices.

For example, one impact of the Internet is the transition from a push transportation model where the seller is in control to a pull model where the shipment's receiver controls demand-driven logistics.

Since the advent of airfreight forwarding, rarely have forwarders and their customers faced such changes. Now more than ever before, stateside consignees are managing the international inbound flow of materials so that they may better align supply with their demand.

Managing a global supply chain was never, and will never, be easy. But given the new security realities, the worry of just getting product to your customers has been amplified by the need to secure your product, as well as securing your supply chain processes and information globally.

China is increasingly becoming the factory floor to America and the world. And so it follows that many IL readers are changing their businesses to expand trade with China and other points in Asia. One example you'll see in our airfreight feature is Mark Dehlinger, corporate manager of distribution and transportation for Cleveland-based Chilcote Company. Dehlinger adapted to Chilcote's importing of a new product line by partnering with a forwarder to ensure the venture's success.

Another major impact of the increase in inbound China trade is the tightening of air freighter capacity on eastbound Trans-Pacific trade lanes. Getting capacity when you need it, and dealing with new paperwork and security issues can be daunting without assistance. Dehlinger chose a local airfreight forwarder to help, one that already had built a good solid knowledge base and experience in Asia.

Whether it is applying new technology, delving into new trade lanes, mastering new security regulations and concerns, or offering value-added services traditional airfreight forwarders are going above and beyond to provide flexibility to their customers. Smart logisticians will seize this change as an opportunity to build partnerships that keep all players flying high.

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