What’s the most unusual or unexpected transportation move or logistics project you’ve been involved in?
The most unusual thing I’ve transported is rhodium “dust.” Rhodium is a precious metal 7 times more expensive than gold. The rhodium was used in an industrial chemical process and dust generated from the process was collected and transported to a special recovery facility. It required an escort because each drum was valued at more than $1 million.
—Robert Gerwig, Senior Vice President of Distribution, Sweetwater
I led EMEA logistics for a large shipper when the Icelandic volcano erupted in 2010, closing EU air space. We innovated quickly to meet substantial customer commitments and chartered three B747 freighters out of Spain for two weeks. However, not an order was missed for the quarter.
—Ronald Kleijwegt, VP Global Sales & Managing Director, EMEA, Blume Global
The multimodal logistics coordination needed to move two 180-ton locomotives from Houston to Callao, Peru, in the middle of the COVID pandemic, utilizing ship, rail, and road, is one of my greatest professional memories.
—Eduardo Rey, Managing Director, Air & Sea Logistics, DACHSER Peru
Moving an overweight piece of pipe measuring 60 feet long with joints making it 22 feet at its tallest and widest point from Adelanto, California, to the Portland, Oregon, area. They had to lift powerlines/traffic lights and pull fire hydrants and post office boxes off the street corners along the journey. Any guesses on the average cost per mile? More than $75/mile.
—Bill Madden, Group VP, Logistics as a Service, BluJay Solutions
Shipping a building in a box. At VersaTube, we pre-engineer carports and garages into do-it-yourself kits (think erector sets with American-made steel) and ship them to people’s homes. It’s funny, but packing the structure on an 88-inch pallet is the easiest part. The real challenge is delivering a 1,000+-pound pallet to someone’s home and have the driver offload it without knocking down telephone poles in residential neighborhoods.
We partner with LTL freight companies who are also in the moving business. This means they have forklifts attached to the back of the truck and can offload these large pallets. This has been helpful but with sales growing due to e-commerce, COVID-19 home improvement projects, and skyrocketing lumber prices, we’re running into challenges finding enough capacity.
—Dusty Dean, Founder and CEO, BITCADET
Operating three expandable trailer units that are essentially mobile surgery suites that are on the road 48 weeks out of the year to support one of our healthcare customer’s sales and training efforts. They travel to set up at hospitals, educational institutions, and conventions, where they are used for community outreach programs, cadaveric training, and product showcases.
—Mike Pallo, VP, Transportation Sales, Kenco
When I worked for a German fashion company in 2002, I had a small airplane standing by in Frankfurt, Germany, to pick up goods in Tunis, Tunisia, if regular airfreight wouldn’t take the goods this particular night. It was never guaranteed.
Our customer had heavily advertised for goods to be available in the shops on a particular day. And we would have faced serious penalties if the goods were not available. So to have the pilot on standby was the cheaper and safer solution. The goods were taken by regular airfreight and the pilot could go home. Better safe than sorry. I don’t remember if it was pants or blouses, though.
—Simone Ross, COO, Setlog Corp.
The new Miami Dolphins stadium. Sunset’s involvement in the construction of the new stadium in 2015 was the most unusual and complex. It went through so many changes over so many months, like outside vendors canceling work after raw materials were already onsite.
—Scott Griffith, Logistics & Project, Management Supervisor, Sunset Transportation
Sunset provided "superload" hauling of fabricated steel from St. Louis down to Miami, which was complex from start to finish for permitting, weight capacity, and tight scheduling. In this project, the supply chain was ever-changing but the deadline was not. It was gratifying to see it all come together.
—Scott Griffith, Logistics & Project Management Supervisor, Sunset Transportation
The Super Bowl. One of our customers supplies office equipment for the event, which means Ryder has not only transported equipment to several venues but also installed it. Essentially, we’ve helped set up the back office behind one of the biggest sporting events on the planet.
—Steve W. Martin, SVP, Dedicated Transportation Solutions, Ryder
Back-to-school shopping usually means notebooks or gym shoes. We were contacted in late July by a bedding manufacturer to deliver 10,500 vertical-standing, in-store mattress displays for college students. In four weeks, we trucked inbound, warehoused, cross-docked, built displays, planned outbound, shipped LTL, and zone-skipped pool deliveries into 3,500 Walmart stores.
—Dave Giblin, VP, ODW Logistics
Helping special-needs children through returns processing. A major medical device maker asked us to launch a special returns-processing program to repackage returned, unused glucometers for distribution to special-needs children’s camps, to help teach diabetic children how to check their glucose levels. We are proud of our role in helping them stay healthy.
—Ken Bays, VP Product Development, Inmar Intelligence
A customer was interested in moving live cattle. I had to research what it involved and the legality behind it because the United States has rules in place to protect the animals. We began looking into vets who would be able to travel with the cows and tranquilize them during travel, "cowtainers" where the cattle can stay during the voyage, and seeking clearance from the government.
The customer didn’t end up going forward with the move, but now I have all the knowledge on how to transport cattle so I can take that on in the future.
—Shani Atapattu, VP, ShipOCI
In partnership with the NYC Mayor’s office, this past spring we moved 150,000+ pounds of essential PPE to warehouses throughout New York City to ensure healthcare workers had adequate stockpiles of materials to protect them while caring for patients with COVID-19. This included masks, gloves, eye protection, and ventilators.
—Lily Shen, CEO, Transfix
Harvesting crickets. We had a customer who has expertise in alternative sustainable food sources and farms insects from hatch-to-harvest. They came to us looking to incubate and harvest live crickets in an AS/RS solution, and we were able to use our products to help them.
—Hasan Dandashly, President and CEO, Dematic
In 2001, while working with an American company on optimizing their distribution and warehouse network, they unexpectedly asked us to help their Italian team with similar challenges. This turned out to be the week before 9/11 and we flew over on the first flight after the N.Y. airports re-opened.
—Mark Wheeler, Director of Supply Chain Solutions, Zebra Technologies
I had to support a customer a few years ago with an asset recovery (picking up some of their material from a third-party site). Asset recoveries are a normal part of their business, but what made this one unique is that the material was an active mining site in northern Alberta in Canada. The site was huge, several dozen square miles, and since it was active the driver had to take some on-site training on blast zone safety, prior to being allowed on-premise.
—Brett Minner, Director, Logistics as a Service, BluJay Solutions
I had one pallet of frozen croissants destined for Costco in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that if late, would result in fines for my shipper. Driver was going to run out of hours and no local warehouses would help me facilitate an offload/reload scenario, so I arranged two drivers to meet in a parking lot to transload the pallet onto a new truck to deliver on time.
—Matthew Anderson, Director, Logistics as a Service, BluJay Solutions
Every year when a natural disaster occurs in North America, logistics companies are called upon to have emergency supplies coordinated for deployment to needed areas. It’s always a great honor to know I’m helping my customers achieve the required visibility into the status of loads/deliveries, so teams on the ground know when they arrive.
—Ben Derin, Descartes MacroPoint
Split cargo with optimized cost-effective solution. 70-tons, 17-oversized cases of PCB manufacturing machines during pandemic was split on 2 separate flights, but we advised our customer on the most effective course to avoid the high airport storage fees by unloading and holding the first partial shipment on a truck overnight with considerably lower pressure fare instead.
—Kathy Liu, Regional Director, Sales & Marketing – Greater China, Dimerco
Have a great answer to a good question?
Be sure to participate next month. We want to know:
What supply chain adjustment would you have made at the start of 2020 if you knew then what you know now?
What’s your best e-commerce fulfillment tip?
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