Keep Your Eye on the Ball, as Major Equipment Shortages Sock Global Logistics

There’s a line in the classic baseball movie “Bull Durham” that goes to the unpredictability of the game of baseball. It’s where the character played by Tim Robbins mulls, “Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.”

Add to that, “Sometimes the conditions are such that the entire game is delayed” – as is the case with the global logistics industry these days as it continues to respond to rapid swings in cargo pricing, availability, and reliability due to unprecedented pressures along the world’s supply chains.

“At a time when consumer demand is at all-time highs, shippers are faced with protracted delays in moving cargo due to a global shortage of needed capacity,” says Omar Zambrano, Chief Operating Officer of Prime Group, “all of which is primarily a direct result of the pandemic.”

Another significant challenge facing virtually every manufacturing, service, and distribution company worldwide – and the supply chains they depend on – is the acute lack of equipment needed to enable all lines of cargo transport. Says Zambrano, equipment such as dry containers, reefer containers, and special equipment to move project cargo.

It all adds up to a serious situation with no short-term solution.

A Very Merry Q4

“All of this comes as major retailers are busy buying all they can now to stock up for what is surely to be a very frantic fourth quarter,” he adds. Even in a good year, planning in advance of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas all comes with unique challenges. This year, however, those traditional pressures are now further amplified against a backdrop of existing heavy consumer spending.

“It’s going to get to a point in October and November where it will be extremely difficult to find space – and there’s no simple solution, as so many of our products come from across the globe, from aircraft engines and canned foods to, well, even baseball trading cards!”

One way that cargo owners are dealing with the rampant shortage of equipment in the ocean shipping market is to bring in their product earlier in the hopes that it at least arrives during third quarter 2021. Additionally, they are importing more goods from multiple sources, increasing the number of container lines they are using, and routing goods through more ports than they have in years past.

Therein lies the conundrum: meeting the heightened demand for goods this year is making congestion at the major U.S. ports on the West Coast even worse – and the cascade of incoming containers is not expected to stop any time soon.

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

According to Zambrano, while there may be plenty of shipping containers across the globe, the reality is so many of them are now in the wrong places. For example, as the pandemic began, cargo ships in transit from Asia dropped off hundreds of thousands of containers in Western Hemisphere ports.

“But with pandemic-era restrictions in place at many overseas ports,” he adds, “they couldn’t be reloaded with other products and shipped back to Asia. Instead, they are piling up at ports and railway depots.” They were, and still are in many cases, out of position.

“In turn, the supply of shipping containers has shrunk at major export hubs, while COVID-shocked consumers continue to spend a ton of money on new manufactured goods,” says Zambrano. “It’s a spiraling situation that is likely continue into 2023.”

Looking for Answers

As a result, Prime Logistics is finding itself in the unenviable position of having to explain to its customers that very little can be done at this point to ameliorate the deepening issues affecting the logistics industry.

“It’s not in our corporate DNA to deliver news like this. With a service-oriented mindset and great contacts in the industry, we have always been able to provide alternative solutions for our long-term and new customers alike,” he stresses, such as utilizing the pre-arranged contract space Prime Logistics has with many of the major ocean carriers.

Build It and They Will Come

Across the globe, one idea in the pipeline right now is to boost production of new containers, and the three Chinese manufacturers that supply 80 percent of the world’s shipping containers are hard at work doing just that. But this may be a lot too late, as observers agree it’s just not going to quell this year’s acute and growing shortage.

Ocean carriers also are doubling orders for container ships this year as a result of the lack of tonnage to meet the strong demand. There are nearly a thousand new container ships presently on order for future delivery. In fact, Hapag Lloyd has commissioned ships that will expand it global system capacity by 60,000 TEUs to address the critical lack of equipment. Ironically, in many cases, production is being delayed as raw materials to manufacture those ships are caught up in supply chain bottlenecks.

Whatever It Takes

The pandemic-driven mentality of “do whatever it takes” is understandable but the options remain severely limited. Where creativity and innovation have helped Prime Logistics in the past to get customer cargo where it needs to go, they are now endeavoring to work with customers much closer and well in advance, to be able to offer more than just one option to move their cargo.

Prime Logistics shipping consultants are having outside-the-box conversations, as well, suggesting cargo owners might look at diversifying suppliers and resetting expectations of their existing partners, while factoring in higher costs – all key components of peak-season management.

Zambrano also emphasizes the importance of keeping up with the headlines. “Being knowledgeable and insightful on the rapidly changing marketplace is what we do best. When customers come to us looking for answers, we are ready to get to work for them.”

At present, in fact, news is breaking about record-setting lumber prices and supply restrictions, as well as the continued impact of high oil prices on transportation costs and petroleum-based products. Stay tuned there’s bound to be more reports like this.

Keep Your Eye on the Ball

The industry has had to face some hard lessons, says Zambrano, particularly around the importance of adaptation, persistence, and resilience.

“In essence, the pandemic has served as a coach, teaching us to keep on slugging even under the most cataclysmic conditions so that we might go on to win another day.”

Capacity Shortage Threatening Viability of Global Business Supply Chains

When businesses procure products wholesale, they make precise arrangements to transport the goods to their facility or retail store, and get set for resale to customers, all the while eagerly awaiting profits to begin rolling in the door. It’s as simple as that – in theory.

Because the reality is, sometimes a critical supply chain breaks or is slowed by extreme fluctuations in worldwide cargo capacity that end up causing unexpected spikes in shipping prices. So now what’s the plan? Order more product to get ahead of any future delays or order less to stave off the sudden expenses?

“That’s exactly what’s happening right now, as a direct result of the pandemic and other disruptive forces,” says Omar Zambrano, the chief operating officer of Prime Group who oversees operations for subsidiary Prime Logistics. “There’s a terrifically serious shortage of needed shipping capacity, primarily from Asia but elsewhere across the globe, into the U.S. market. It’s a major issue.”

Worse yet, “prices are changing every week, and even by paying the highest rates, shippers still can’t often get solid confirmation of space,” he adds.

Even globally connected firms like Prime Logistics are struggling – not just to find available capacity for customers, but also to explain how in the world costs have risen up to 300% over the last six months.

Sticker Shock

According to Zambrano, as prices soared, many Prime Logistics’ importers said, at first, “I can’t pay that.” Eventually, they budged and bought shipping for just one container, and waited to see what would happen. “But they’re still waiting and it’s not getting any better!”

Stunned by the higher prices, many customers wrongly assumed this would be a temporary blip, not an all-out sustained and deepening situation. “Traditionally, our customers turn to us without question to do what we do best – move their product efficiently, reliably, and at the right price,” he says. “But now, we are also playing the role of a counselor, continually providing fair and accurate assessments of the current market conditions – and advising how to best to adapt.”

Prime Logistics has also been working side-by-side with customers to help prepare for the annual rush to get inventory onto shelves for the busy end-of-year retail season. “Compared with previous peak holiday periods, this year shipments must be booked up to eight weeks earlier than usual – which essentially means, today!”

So What Happened?

Zambrano notes that the primary reasons for the current global capacity problem are COVID and the new variants of the virus and, of course, the Suez Canal debacle.

He says the lack of back-up inventory caused by the first wave of COVID persists as retailers and wholesalers were never quite able to replenish their stock of product. They never really had chance to do so. “So with no inventory and limited ability move product quick enough to match the now-exploding increase in consumer demand, we are experiencing an unprecedented shortage of global shipping capacity.”

Then there was the Suez Canal crisis that exacerbated an already bad situation – when a massive ocean freighter ran aground this past March, blocking canal traffic for six days. More than 400 ships, laden with cargo, sat idle waiting to pass – as the world waited for delivery of the stranded goods.

So just when it would make sense to turn to air cargo to pick up the slack, many airlines had already begun reconverting their pax-freighters to pure passenger service. This, combined with the emergence of the Delta variant of the virus that resulted in a reduction of frequencies into certain key Asian markets, created sharp increases in rates in the air cargo segment, as capacity dropped.

Consequently, all of these factors conspired to lengthen the normal supply-chain flow. For shipments from Asia to the U.S. East Coast, for example, the norm is four to five weeks. Now, it is up to two months. But, says Zambrano, because Prime Logistics has strong relationships with both ocean carriers and air carriers worldwide, “we have, for the most part, succeeded in moving freight for our customers from Asia, even during this most difficult time.”

Now What?

On the home front in the U.S., supermarket shoppers accustomed to paying $.50 for a can of fruit, are now suddenly discovering that very same product has jumped to $3. Zambrano says that’s because it’s not just the cost of transporting a can of fruit, but the higher cost of the can itself and even the higher price of the wood that is used to build the shipping pallets.

“Every industry is being impacted by the lack of available capacity to move the commodities that support businesses and serve consumers worldwide,” he adds. Medical supplies as well are costing more. For example, Prime Logistics transports hundreds of  shipping containers per month of medical supplies from Shanghai to U.S. Gulf ports. “Yes, even shipment of essential products and equipment is an uphill battle,” he added.

“This also comes as wholesalers and retailers here and worldwide are presently buying up product for the holidays,” Zambrano says. “It’s only going to get more challenging to find space in the last four months of the year, and there’s no simple solution, as so many products for every-day life come from across the globe – everything from tires and canned foods to electronics, machinery, medical supplies, and even fresh and frozen produce and seafood.”

Better Safe Than Sorry

This situation is highly problematic for U.S. retailers who normally rely on their ability to maintain ample inventory to keep pace with rising consumer demand. No easy task – as the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis recently reported consumer spending on durable goods through May 2021 was running 25 percent higher than pre-pandemic 2019, while the inventory-to-sales ratio continues to skim near record lows.

Because of the unabated growth of U.S. sales and major supply-chain disruptions, Zambrano reiterates that it is especially important that medium and small shippers secure cargo space now and store inventory to keep ahead of the capacity shortage. “Clearly, freight-rate shock is hitting them hardest.”

But at the end of the day, no entity anywhere across the globe is able to escape this space problem – including even the major retail and online stores. Due to their towering market strength and deep pockets, they’ve been able to charter cargo container vessels between Asia and the U.S. to mitigate their risk of being impacted by the capacity shortage. Meanwhile, many other retailers and wholesalers are taking a different route – planning way ahead.

“To ensure that sufficient inventory will be available, particularly for the holidays, we are working with our clients in every market niche to move up their shipments this year to secure needed shipping capacity,” he adds.

Perfect Storm

According to Ben Hackett, a consultant in of maritime strategy and trade logistics, clearly the strain of the continuing economic expansion is putting considerable pressure on the logistics supply chains supporting all industries worldwide,” “We’re seeing first hand the lack of shipping capacity combined with port congestion as vessels line up week after week to discharge goods from both Asia and Europe.”

He says delays are stretching to landside as port terminals struggle with space shortages, and labor challenges are affecting ports, railroads, and trucking companies alike. “This part of the recovery is not a pretty sight,” he adds.

Zambrano agrees. In fact, he describes what is presently happening in global logistics as “the perfect storm.”

Prime Logistics has substantial shipping industry contacts and relationships to help customers through the tough times, but the path isn’t easy. “We are finding solutions for our customers – albeit, right priced under these converging conditions.”

“My best guess is that recovery may start in 2024 with global shipping returning to some sense of stability,” he stresses, but adds that the worldwide problem is likely going to get worse before it gets better in 2021: “This is the most difficult period ever for the global logistics industry.”

Prime Logistics Standing By as COVID Crisis Continues

As the world works together to continue the fight against the persistent spread of the coronavirus, Prime Logistics is stepping up to do its part by providing expert logistics services to customers who need immediate transport of essential goods, medical supplies, and vaccine products to the most affected areas of the world.

Timing is everything during this crucial period, as variant strains of this deadly virus continue to emerge – and there is no room for error. That’s why government agencies, public and private interests, and logistics providers rely on Prime Logistics staff and representatives who are positioned and ready in key international locations – right now.

Standing by, 24/7, Prime Logistics’ highly capable team of movement managers not only has the necessary expertise to work hand-in-hand with pharmaceutical companies and makers of hospital equipment, but also with most major industry types. Our client portfolio also consists of top makers of aerospace and automotive components, heavy equipment manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers – and of course, distributors of time- and temperature-sensitive perishables.

We are widely respected for our skills in custom creating smart logistics solutions that shorten the shipping process, cut transfer times, and quickly and expertly resolve complications that arise along the way, as they often do.

Prime Logistics is a division of the Prime Group, an international logistics conglomerate founded in 2001 and based in Miami. With a vast network of agents around the globe, Prime Logistics reps are skilled at finding competitive air and ocean rates for your shipment.

Here’s a summary of types of cargo we handle, as well as special services provided worldwide by Prime Logistics:

Industries served:
  • Biotech & Pharmaceuticals
  • Medical Supplies
  • AOGs and Aerospace components
  • Perishable commodities
  • Chemicals & Hazardous Material
  • Project Cargos
  • Time-Sensitive Cargo
  • Live Animal
  • Human Remains
  • Military Cargo

Services Available:
  • Pick up
  • Delivery
  • Customs
  • Crating
  • Warehousing
  • Pre-Cooling
  • Valuable Cargo

Big or small – whether it’s one box or multiple pallets, customers team up with Prime Logistics to avoid the need to juggle multiple service providers all over the world. For information, call 305-592-2044 or visit www.primelogisticsgroup.com.

Sizeable Benefits of Shipping by Ocean Freight

Prime Group has long specialized in import logistics and export logistics support for produce and perishables goods such as seafood, flowers, and pharmaceuticals – specialty items that need to be shipped quickly and with maximum “personal” attention paid to freshness and quality.

But not all cargo is time sensitive and needs to reach the customer “tomorrow.” If a transit time of several weeks to a month from point to point is acceptable, then sea freight is the best choice – and Prime Logistics is ready to deliver.

To learn more about Prime Logistics’ growing emphasis on ocean freight services, we sat down with Group Sales Manager Yulieth Onofre. Having joined the Miami-based sales team in March 2020, she’s got vast experience in the ocean cargo side of the business, and is busy working her contacts to expand the company’s reach in this important niche.

Q: Are customers surprised to know that Prime Logistics also has a sales division dedicated to ocean freight?

Yulieth: Prime Logistics is synonymous with air cargo transport, yes, but as a full-service provider of global shipping and handling, a growing number of our customers also rely on us to get their products where they need go when rapid delivery isn’t the top priority.

Q: Why do customers pick ocean freight?

Yulieth: When determining the best mode of transport, shippers and forwarders not only consider how fast they need delivery, but they also factor in price. As you know, airfreight shipment is considerably more expensive than the same volume of sea freight cargo. So, essentially, it comes down to the nature of the freight, the time frame, and how much the shipper is willing and able to spend.

  1. So why join Prime Logistics right when the pandemic first hit?

Yulieth: Because most global logistics companies were designated “essential businesses,” such as those under the Prime Group umbrella, we continued operating for customers who needed us most – in addition to the new customers involved in the worldwide emergency response. As a result, air cargo space was at a premium, and a lot of resources were put toward meeting that demand.

But throughout this entire period, cargo like computers and other high-demand non-perishable commodities were still moving by ocean freight – especially food. People have got to eat! Vessels were still going to the same countries on the same itineraries carrying pineapples, avocados, mangos, and dry goods from companies such as a Goya and Iberia. In fact, we are now working to get more business from Iberia.

We are also working with customers who ship massive volumes of e-commerce goods like electronics, cosmetics, apparel, and home goods. Other good candidates to ship by sea freight are heavy equipment, cranes, and project cargoes. And, of course, we are also still moving medical equipment and supplies.

Q: So what do you bring to the Prime Logistics team?

Yulieth: I’ve got 20 years of experience in ocean freight – more than I want to admit to! But as a result, I am able to serve as the perfect ally for our customers because I have a clear understanding of the business and the processes involved. I am always able to find the right balance between service quality, cost components, reliability of the service provider, and time frames involved.

To be effective, it’s important to know the market, as well as how to ensure the customer doesn’t incur unnecessary charges due to improper or untimely documentation. I optimize routing, match the customer with the best mode of shipment, and due to long-term professional relationships with service providers, I achieve the best freight rates.

Q: Are there any downsides to using ocean freight that you have to explain to customers?

Yulieth: There are so many benefits to ocean shipping, but yes, customers should know of the challenge in predicting and controlling the shipping timelines due to circumstances like congestion at sea ports, which can end up causing delays and additional costs. Natural disasters also can wreak havoc on shipping patters and schedules. But we are very good at preparing for, monitoring, and responding to those real threats.

Q: What’s the market for ocean freight looking like at present?

Yulieth: Typically, August and into the fall is the annual peak season for ocean shipping. In recent years, however, a summertime peak period also has emerged in advance back-to-school demand. That didn’t happen last year of course, due to the pandemic, but it appears we are slowly getting back on track with this general trend. And although it is still summer now, we already have our eye on the peak holiday period ahead.

About Prime Logistics

One of the four main divisions of Prime Group, an international import-export logistics conglomerate founded in Ecuador in 2001, Prime Logistics streamlines, optimizes, and expedites freight to and from the U.S. for a wide range of major industries.

With offices in Miami, New York, Los Angeles, Bogota, Quito, and Amsterdam, Prime Logistics capitalizes on its long-time relationships with the major air carriers and ocean lines, so it may offer competitive rates and ample space to destinations all around the world.

Prime Logistics Sales Manager Yulieth Onofre may be reached at salesmanager@primelogisticsgroup.com. For information, call 305-592-2044 or visit www.primelogisticsgroup.com.

Warming up to the Prospect of Surviving Disasters along the Cold Supply Chain

With the corporate headquarters of the Prime Group based in Miami, we are keenly aware of the prospect of major storms disrupting our operations – and especially right now as the Atlantic hurricane season is upon us.

But beyond the potential physical-plant threats to businesses along “Hurricane Alley,” the impact of a disaster on a global logistics enterprise here can easily extend to all corners of the globe. That’s because today’s supply chain is more tightly interconnected than ever.

As successful supply chain operators in the field of perishables, vaccines, and multiple other sensitive commodities, our subsidiary companies Prime Logistics and Prime Fresh Handling are certainly no strangers to dealing with risk. And while climatologists don’t expect this hurricane season to be as busy as 2021, it only takes one storm to test their ability to respond to fast changing conditions.

We’ve long known that what truly counts is #1 smart planning; #2 ability to adapt, and; #3 the use of new technologies.

Disasters of a Different Color
Of course Mother Nature doesn’t account for all disasters. In addition to sustaining snowstorms, hurricanes, and the recent California fires, this 1-2-3 approach to survival also comes to play in managing through manmade disasters. Civil and labor unrest, cyber-attacks, piracy, major utility failures, terrorism, and other “critical events” are also among the panoply of catastrophes that can take a stress a business to the breaking point if not managed right.

Smart Planning
Using extreme weather as a model, each incident large or small, provides a lesson for supply chains to be better prepared for the next. This includes scenario mapping, inventory tracking, and close collaboration with peers, customers, suppliers, and vendors.

In the Florida market, the first step to in preparing for the coming hurricane season is blow the dust off that old familiar maxim: It’s not a question of “if,” it’s a matter of “when.”

Constant monitoring of conditions and continual risk analysis become the basic tools in minimizing operational impact. There is no single rule of thumb to know the degree to which a critical event may or may not affect your operation, which is why preparation is key. But we do know is there is no margin for error, especially on the cold supply food chain.

Adaptability
In the face of a storm, natural or otherwise, the right decisions have to be made – be it re-routing product in transit, slowing or halting the movement of cargo to and from seaports, or just knowing when to hunker down and ride it out.

A couple years back, a storm heading straight at South Florida was showing telltale signs of becoming a major hurricane. In light of this, one steamship line decided to halt a sailing for several days – but with tens-of-thousands of dollars in worth of time and temperature sensitive product onboard, this was now becoming customer-relations disaster all its own.

By working with the supplier to quickly unload the merchandise, we were able to find another ship that was doing an earlier sailing. As a result, the customer was spared a major loss of product, and all the insurance claim hassles that would entail.

Successful logistics providers are smart to know that when coupled together, forecasting and adaptability are key to maintaining solid relationships in the perishables and medical supply and vaccines industries, as well as to the integrity of the entire cold supply chain.

Planning and resiliency also go hand in hand. So as natural disasters and wildfires continue to grow both in frequency and intensity, it further underscores the necessity of having a well-conceived business-resiliency plan in place.

And now add to that list, worldwide pandemics.

No matter the source of the disruption, unexpected shifts in supply and demand call for flexibility among all parties: producers, shippers, retailers, and consumers. The COVID-19 crisis not only revealed major vulnerabilities in the worldwide food system, its ripple effects were felt across the entire chain, from farm to pantry shelf.

By employing an impact analysis coupled with a comprehensive disaster recovery plan, we can better respond to such disruptions – while at the same time have a better chance at maintaining continuous business operations and protecting  product and assets.

But at the end of the day, it is immensely important to have an expert logistics provider on your side like Prime Logistics or Prime Fresh Handling offering consistently smart and creative solutions – not excuses.

Technology
Smarts come with experience. It also comes as a result of using the latest innovations in technology.

The wave of the future for industries across all business sectors is artificial intelligence (AI). Within the specialized food distribution arena, this is particularly exciting because of the role AI is going to play in preparing for natural and manmade disasters.

As we progress deeper into the automated world of AI, hopefully predictive information on natural disasters will help buyers, food distribution companies, and logistic vendors not just make delivery more intelligent, but to maintain the freshness of product across the entire cold supply chain.

For more than 20 years, our customers have depended on us to be smart, nimble, and intuitive problem solvers – and we will continue to be there for them in the best and worst of times.

~ CEO Roger Paredes

Ensuring that Vaccines Become Vaccinations Remains Our Critical Mission

In 2020, the entire world’s priority mission was to stop COVID-19 in its tracks. But even now, as we enter the second half of 2021, infection rates continue to rise, with global deaths about to top the 4 million mark, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

And though more than 2.75 billion vaccine doses have been administered worldwide – equal to 36 for every 100 people – in dozens of poor countries, inoculation has barely started.

Brazil just recently surpassed 500,000 COVID deaths, more than any country but the U.S.; and a COVID surge is now happening across Africa, where more contagious variants are spreading fast. Meanwhile, a growing number of countries are allowing – even encouraging – people to get two different vaccines, rather than two shots of the same one, in hopes of boosting the immune response.

Clearly the virus-fighting mission remains as critical as ever. Quick, efficient, and safe distribution of tens of millions of additional doses of those life-saving vaccines and medical supplies must remain a priority in order to support the massive immunization of people on every continent on the planet.

 Global Logistics Companies Doing Their Part

Worldwide logistics firms, such as Prime Logistics thus remain at “ground zero” in helping to stop the spread of the virus, by ensuring vaccines move door-to-door while maintaining their efficacy – from manufacturer to airport to the last mile.

Since the very first vaccine was administered in the UK in December 2020, it was understood that delivering coronavirus vaccines would be an astounding task. By some estimates, more than 10 billion doses will still need to be delivered to all regions of the world over the next two years.

Ultimately, as a global community, the goal is to turn vaccines into vaccinations – and failure is not an option. That’s why Prime Logistics remains well positioned and ready to play a vital role in providing the best supply-chain transport and logistics possible.

 Cold Supply Chain at the Forefront of Vaccine Logistics

The cold chain is at the forefront of vaccine logistics. The coronavirus vaccines have strict temperature requirements that must be maintained throughout the supply chain. An important part of adhering to the requirements is ample freezer capacity and monitoring systems that ensure product temperatures don’t get too high or too low. These are service lines where Prime Logistics and its network of partners around the world excel.

All across the globe, we are now handling multi-faceted, highly complex logistics services and carefully mapping out the transportation of vaccine shipments from manufacturing sites to land-based transportation, onto airline and cargo flights, and into temperature-controlled holding facilities. From there, the vaccines await pick-up by delivery services on the local level for distribution to hospitals and clinics.

Prime Logistics knows that few other missions than the worldwide delivery of vaccines is more important. For every day that goes by without the maximum number of people being vaccinated, more lives are at risk. We are very grateful they we’re able to utilize our expertise in shipment and handling of cold-pack, perishable goods to help save lives.

The critical mission is clear. Global control of this pandemic cannot be achieved until and unless the vaccines get into the hands – and arms – of people in every corner of the world. We’re very proud to be doing our part.

WCA Credential Underscores Our Commitment to Pharmaceutical Logistics

Recognized by the World Cargo Association (WCAworld) – and its nearly 10,000 members in 194 countries – Prime Logistics remains the first-ever U.S. based global logistics company to offer the expertise of a fully credentialed Responsible Person for Logistics.

This highly regarded designation, awarded through London-based WCAworld Academy, signifies that corporate staff has a thorough understanding of the vast regulatory requirements for storage and distribution of materials for medicinal products in the pharmaceutical industry – not just in the U.S. but across the entire freight forwarding community worldwide.

Such certification comes at a pivotal time for the air cargo industry, as logistics companies across the globe are being called upon to play an ever-increasing role in the crucial worldwide distribution of COVID-19 vaccine.

Leader in Global Logistics

Having a WCA-accredited Responsible Person on staff reinforces the company’s commitment to continually expanding its knowledge base through education, innovation, and adaptation. It also reaffirms the company’s position as a trusted leader in the global logistics industry.

Responsible Person (RP) in Logistics course training provides candidates with a thorough understanding of the regulatory requirements for storage and distribution of materials or medicinal products in the pharmaceutical industry. Once certified in “Good Distribution Practice of Medical Products for Human Use,” the provider possesses a practical understanding of the systems and processes required to be implemented worldwide in delivering services in the most safe and efficient manner.

A key benefit of the certification is being authorized to proudly display the distinctive Responsible Person Certified (RP) seal – and the industry clout that brings.

This important RP designation ensures that customers know that Prime Logistics is highly qualified, knowledgeable, and compliant not only with the rules and regulations for shipping in the U.S., but for the multinational clients and companies that depend on us to properly prepare, package, and document their cargo so that it can be accepted without delay at airports and ship ports all across the world.

Certainly, this achievement puts Prime Logistics in a prime position, competitively. Additionally, this RP certification focuses not only on moving pharmaceuticals like vaccines, but also compliance and needed skills to expertly provide a whole host of medical supply logistics solutions.

The Go-To Source

WCAworld training also covers all the requirements of Good Distribution Practice (GDP) and associated responsibilities to ensure that products are exported and imported within the legal supply chain. This makes the “Responsible Person” the go-to source for the company and its customers regarding specific requirements in the proper transportation, storage, and distribution of medicinal products. The designee’s company also must have in place a well-designed Quality Management System (QMS) that focuses on compliance and continual improvement.

Under the umbrella of WCAworld, the largest and most powerful network of independent freight forwarders in the world, the WCA Academy offers both online and classroom-based training and education necessary to achieve and maintain the highest industry standard. Its base of 9,540 members may achieve certifications in a range of areas, from general freight training and problem solving to specialist courses in pharmaceuticals, perishables, and obtaining compliance.

About Prime Logistics

Prime Logistics is a division of Prime Group, a Miami-based air cargo and international logistics conglomerate founded in Ecuador in 2001. With offices and refrigerated warehouses in Miami, Los Angeles, New York, Quito, Bogota, and Amsterdam, Prime Logistics has hundreds of contacts and representatives around the globe skilled at providing expert logistics solutions. Myriad global industries are supported by our team in the shipping of commodities via air, land, and ocean – to virtually any location worldwide.

Friendly and knowledgeable customer-service and operations agents are available 24/7, by calling +1 305 592 2044 or via email at info@primelogisticsgroup.com. For information, visit www.primelogisticsgrop.com.

Detailed Guide to Cool Chain Logistics

The Perfect Solution For Transporting COVID-19 Vaccines

The main objective of a temperature-controlled logistics system is to ensure that sensitive products are kept at consistent temperatures throughout the entire shipping process, be it via ground, air, or sea – and every step in between.

In a globalized world, top-tier logistics service providers like Miami-based Prime Logistics have become a vital component of the modern-day supply chain mechanism. Transporting large quantities of perishable goods and medical products over great distances and diverse climatic conditions requires precise temperature recording and monitoring services.

Typically referred to as cool-chain or cold-chain logistics, this system involves the safe transportation of a wide variety of items such as fresh fish and produce, flowers, and medical goods such as vaccines and biologics. But highly sensitive chemicals, high-tech electrical and electronics equipment, and many other shipments are also on the list.

A Common Misconception About the Cool-Chain

Since it is called cool- or cold-chain logistics, people naturally confuse it with a system that is meant only to maintain low-temperatures. While it is true that the vast majority of products in this category require consistently cold conditions during transit and short-term storage, not all cool-chain cargo needs to be transported at near or sub-zero temperatures.

During winter months, for example, transporters need to keep some fruits and vegetables warm in order for them to maintain their best quality. Different types of product categories demand different types of temperature and ambient conditions. This is the reason why cold or cool-chain logistics is also called temperature-controlled logistics.

Following are some of the instances where cool-chain logistics is useful:

  • Seafood and meat exports require “deep freeze” ambient conditions within the range of -28°C to -30°C.
  • Most fruit and vegetables, and certain types of dairy products require ambient temperature to be maintained between 2°C and 4°C.
  • Unless they are COVID vaccine requiring deep-freeze temperatures, many vaccines, biologics, and other pharmaceutical products require the temperature to be a bit higher, between 2°C and 8°C to be precise.

The average cool-chain logistics services maintain the ambient temperature between 12°C and 14°C. The typical products transported in such types of supply chains include fresh produce, processed food, and over-the-counter drugs.

A Specialized Provider for Cool Chain Logistics

Since transportation in a cool-chain logistics system involves maintaining a wide range of temperatures, it is imperative that specialized providers have the capability to deploy new techniques and technologies along with the basic know-how on putting it all together in the most optimal fashion.

Prime Logistics is one of the leading global players in the supply-chain logistics arena. In fact, the company has invested in vacuum cooling and pre-cooling technologies to further strengthen its fresh delivery supply chain. Very few enterprises can bear such a high capital cost of this type of equipment. But, the investment is paying off due to the sheer volume of merchandise they are handling, which justifies the expense. It even serves as a selling point in attracting customers looking to reap the benefits of longer shelf lives for their perishable products.

Rapid cooling is a crucial step in maintaining the integrity of the cool chain. The ultra-modern ColdMAX vacuum coolers that Prime Logistics utilizes can process 4,000 kg of material in each cycle; sensitive products like perishable fruit, vegetables, and flowers. Equipment such as the ColdMAX can help to ensure optimum temperatures are maintained throughout the entire transit process.

From an economical standpoint, and for efficiency’s sake, it is therefore highly important to choose a provider that utilizes the latest in available technology and possess the know-how in applying it on command. Providers with widespread delivery networks like the Prime Logistics not only ensure safe delivery by leveraging the latest technological innovation, but they also bring down delivery fee structures, which ultimately reduce overall cost.

Cool Chain Delivery Phases & Their Importance During a Pandemic

The importance of cool-chain delivery has increased in the current pandemic-stricken world. Several global leaders in pharmaceuticals, namely Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca have strict temperature requirements to maintain their integrity during transport. For instance, the Pfizer vaccine has to be maintained at ultra-cold temperatures between -70°C and -80°C, and can only be refrigerated for up to five days at point of delivery. Moderna’s vaccine remains stable in a standard refrigerator for 30 days and can also be kept in ordinary freezers for long-term use.

The executing authorities demanded that a distribution network be built consisting of ultra-cold freezers and mobile vaccination clinics. Such specialized logistics require a provider with the capacity and experience to carry out such a job.

A Detailed Guide

How should a cold-chain logistics provider prepare itself for such an uphill task? Prime Logistics offers a detailed outline regarding how the logistics providers and product distributors need to work together to meet the challenges – with a strategy involving synergistic coordination among different phases of the logistics chain:

Transport: Being a global leader in supply-chain logistics, Prime Logistics has well-established collaborations with some of the world’s largest and most reliable air cargo carriers. Combined with Prime Logistics’ time-tested expertise in managing ad-hoc cargo charter operations, it creates an ideal pre-emptive delivery network that can prioritize and expedite the delivery when and where it is needed the most.

Storage & Material Handling: The most crucial phase in the chain is when it comes to the delivery of vaccines. Prime Logistics is seeing this as a combined effort to improve cold storage, material handling, and warehousing facilities together. For a cool-chain logistics provider, the efficient management of this phase starts with the tracking and monitoring of the shipments. Prime Logistics, for example, has invested in world-class inventory management and product monitoring technologies.

Another key area that is under Prime Logistics’ focus is increasing the capacity of the temperature-controlled warehouses, especially for the ones that are at their key transit points. Warehouses in any supply-chain logistics system cannot run without adequate manpower. Therefore, it is required to deploy necessary manpower and services at the anticipated staging locations of the vaccine.

Packaging: Delivery of vaccines at hospitals, clinics, and other vaccination distribution points is the stage where packaging becomes highly important. The packaging should not only be resilient to normal wear, tear, and damages but should also be sophisticated enough to maintain the required atmospherics of the vaccine. For example, in the case of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, Prime Logistics is leveraging its experience of dealing with temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals. It includes deploying government-approved procedures and trained staff at the locations of refrigerated warehouses throughout the network that will ensure the integrity of the last-mile delivery.

Information & Control: It is not a separate phase but something that invariably dictates the success rate of each of the phases above. To meet customer demand and the standards of service reliability, cool-chain logistics providers must always be ready to answer questions such as where is the delivery at present, when it will arrive at the location, and what could be the impacts of any delay. Prime Logistics has tackled these issues head on by increasing its global supply chain visibility and strengthening its system of receiving event-notifications on time.

To become more efficient in information monitoring and data tracking, Prime Logistics not only relies on its historical data, it also leverages the services of the global IT companies to redefine and digitize its operation. Companies involved in the supply chain logistics services of such emergency medical goods must use the latest technology available to enhance their efficiency, adaptability, readiness, and performance.

As a leader in this field, Prime Logistics is stepping well beyond traditional applications of information technology – especially to tackle the mammoth task of COVID-19 vaccine delivery. The company is exploring AI-powered augmented analytics to explore and analyze data. An efficiently analyzed dataset is of immense help when it comes to the effective running of the various operational procedures essential for on-time and safe delivery of refrigerated cargo from origin to destination.

Summary
Triggered by the pandemic, the global cold-chain logistics market is expected to witness significant growth in the years to come. Market research estimates suggest that the market may grow from the size of US$160 billion in 2018 to a size of US$585 billion in 2026.

To run a successful cool-chain logistics operation, a company needs to specialize in many aspects together. Like Prime Logistics, it would need robust carrier facilities across all modes of transportation including, air cargo, ocean freight, and roadway trucking. For one company, it might not be possible to excel in every area of transport but it certainly should establish reliable partnerships with third-party carrier companies in that case.

A provider of cool-chain logistics should understand the latest information management software well, and also be aware of the latest refrigeration, warehousing, and transportation technologies available in the market. It’s important to keep on reinventing the process and making it more efficient and cost-effective.

Lastly, the provider’s management and the staff absolutely must have experience in this field. They should have a clear understanding of which intervention points are critical in the chain and the possible areas where the process may go wrong. Deep and holistic knowledge about the stakeholders involved and being ready to respond to bottlenecks would make cool-chain logistics the most efficient supply chain in today’s world.

About Prime Logistics

Prime Logistics is a division of Prime Group, a Miami-based air cargo and international logistics conglomerate founded in Ecuador in 2001. With offices and refrigerated warehouses in Miami, Los Angels, New York, Quito, Bogota, and Amsterdam, Prime Logistics has hundreds of contacts and representatives around the globe skilled at providing expert logistics solutions. Myriad global industries are supported by our team in the shipping of commodities via air, land, and ocean – to virtually any location worldwide.

Friendly and knowledgeable customer-service and operations agents are available 24/7, by calling +1 305 592 2044 or via email at info@primelogisticsgroup.com. For information visit www.primelogisticsgrop.com.

Prime Logistics Team Throttles Up to Ship Oversized Engines

There are two things people in the industry know about “AOGs.” They come with little notice and a lot of angst. For Prime Logistics, however, they also come with a huge rush of adrenaline.

 

Whether it’s a matter of responding to a frantic call a continent away to quickly ship out a replacement engine for a stranded aircraft on ground (AOG), or even managing shipment of parts for scheduled maintenance at an international overhaul center, Prime Logistics is the expert at providing shipping solutions for aerospace and aviation.

 

But more than that, the Miami-based Operations team actually feeds off the inherent challenges that come with expediting a 6,000 kg engine or other essential parts.

 

“When we get an AOG call, we immediately go into ‘emergency responder’ mode,” says Prime Logistics General Manager Edgar Campana. “Time is money – and in this case, big money – so we literally jump into action, pull our team together, and don’t stop until the job is done.”

 

Campana says AOG missions are also challenging because of the sheer weight of the need to succeed. “That’s because there is absolutely no margin for error when handling such high-value equipment – and airline operators and MROs are totally depending on us,” he added.

 

Aircraft are going to experience maintenance issues from time to time. It’s the nature of the business. “But these AOG incidents have to be remedied fast, because the ripple effect they create can be crippling to a carrier’s entire operation.

 

“Everything is urgent, urgent, urgent – but that’s what makes it so exhilarating!”

 

AOG 101
Campana explains that any failure in delivering spare parts or an entire engine to an aircraft can lead to a situation called “Aircraft On Ground,” a term used when a problem is serious enough to prevent the plane from flying.

 

“Generally, to get the aircraft back into revenue service, the air carrier needs to get the part ‘yesterday’, otherwise it will lose its profits – and perhaps even its reputation.” In operational costs alone, including passenger, crew, ground services, and catering costs, the tab for an AOG can be as much $25,000 per day for the airline.

 

Case Study

This is where Prime Logistics comes in. Whether it’s in the middle of the night or for shipment to a remote island a world away, the company’s expert team of certified personnel are standing by to manage all aspects of the dispatch, handling, and shipment of all types of aviation and aerospace equipment – from a Triple-Seven engine to the smallest of avionics components.

 

The typical scenario for this crucial door-to-door service goes as follows:

 

  • As soon as the estimate to do the work is approved by the customer and Prime Logistics gets the green light to go, the clock starts ticking.
  • The first step is to dispatched a driver for immediate pick up and transport of the engine from the supplier for storing overnight in one of PL’s secure facilities
  • This is done using a special air-ride suspension truck to avoid any impact damage.
  • Next step is for staff to inspect the engine, ensure it is in good condition to be transported, and double check that all the necessary Hazardous-Material documentation and labeling is in place. After all, by its nature, an aircraft engine contains oils and other fluids that must be properly contained during transit.
  • Simultaneously, the PL team secures an airline that accepts Dangerous Goods bookings.
  • Once those arrangements are promptly solidified, the client is advised of the ETA for delivery and gets real-time updates at every possible stage of the trip.
  • Upon arrival at the destination airport, Prime Logistics then manages offloading for last-mile shipping.
  • Often times, this entire process is conducted with 72 hours of the first alert.

 

Mission accomplished.

 

Of course, not all AOG are emergencies. According to Campana, often times an aircraft is purposely rotated out of services for regularly scheduled maintenance. Even still, a qualified network of AOG professionals is required to ensure safe and reliable transport of crucial replacement parts according to the customer’s rigid timeline.

 

We Can Ship It

“We have a saying around here that goes, ‘If you can ship flowers, you can pretty much ship anything’,” says Campana. “But let’s face it, AOGs are even more critical than flowers. Because not only do we have to be unquestionably reliable and fast, we have to be responsive at a moment’s notice.”

 

Prime Logistics offers domestic U.S. and international logistics services in multiple industries beyond aerospace and aviation. They also provide freight logistics for the pharmaceutical companies as well freight services for perishables like seafood, produce, and flowers.

 

But when it comes to high-value jet engines and sensitive electronics equipment, only the most seasoned international logistics provider can be depended on to do the job right. Everything thing has to be perfect and every minute counts. And on that, Prime Logistics delivers.

Prime Logistics Expertise Now Includes ‘Spotting Trouble’

It’s great for a company to have all the best processes, all the best technology and all the best people, and we’re pleased to say we believe that’s the case at Prime Logistics. But in our modern society, unfortunately, companies need to be the absolute best at something else as well – spotting trouble before it happens, and moving quickly to handle the situation, as well as meeting unexpected challenges along the way.

Logistics & Security

Not surprisingly, during this COVID-19 era, many governments and companies have concerns about their deliveries and, particularly, the efficient and safe delivery of pharmaceuticals and vaccines in the shortest possible time.

To assist our valued customers, Prime Logistics and its sister company Prime Fresh Handling (PFH) both employ in-house teams that are highly knowledgeable about the massive yet intricate operational structure of global pharmaceutical logistics and the need for sensitive handling of any perishables such as vaccines.

It’s a massive system that involves tens of thousands of people, countless facilities and many extremely-difficult-to-reach transportation destinations. But that’s not all. Unfortunately, life-saving, high-cost drugs or technologically sophisticated biologics are often the target of criminals.

It’s not uncommon for international cartels to attempt to steal these products during delivery to sell them at cheaper prices or even to counterfeit them. The reality is that logistics companies and manufacturing firms must invest appropriately and be extremely diligent in making these deliveries secure.

Checks on the System

As a result, appropriate security deployments must be in place at each transit point – such as travel between the manufacturing location and the warehouse, between the warehouse and delivery fleets, and between delivery fleets and delivery-location storage.

It’s also important to have a robust security framework in place in the last-mile delivery phase. That will help ensure that products reach the intended recipient and aren’t diverted to unlisted wholesalers or suppliers.

In addition, both of these Prime Group companies have the latest, top-of-the-line systems in place to track and trace cargo 24-7. This year, we’ve also further enhanced our security measures to protect the goods or pharmaceuticals that the company has been entrusted to handle.

Investment in People

But the most valuable resource in assuring safe, secure and timely transit of pharmaceuticals, vaccines and other goods is always the “human touch.” Thus, Prime Group has invested heavily in its “people,” both at Prime Logistics and PFH. That further assures the complex process for pharmaceuticals and transport of vaccines is secure. They are continually keeping a keen eye on ways to expand and enhance the skills and aptitude of our team members.

Fortunately, Prime Group is a member of the World Cargo Association (WCA), which serves nearly 10,000 members in 194 countries. Earlier this year, through its WCA relationship, multiple staff members of Prime Logistics and PFH received an “Anti-Bribery & Corruption Certification” issued by the London-based WCAworld Academy.

Newly certified are Commercial Manager Cristina Moscoso,  Administrative Assistant Mary Marino, General Manager Alex Parades, Regional Manager Jose Luis Suarez, Commercial Manager Jose Luis Vargas, and Manager Severyn Yanytskyy.

Now these employees are skilled at risk analysis, understanding the risks by the country or region of operations; doing risk assessments; tracking global opinion; selecting vendors and managing suppliers; and supporting customer due diligence.

 

We are extremely proud to have a strong team that’s WCAworld Academy-accredited in “Anti-Bribery & Corruption,”. It not only reinforces their commitment to continually expanding our knowledge base through education, innovation, and adaptation, but also reaffirms that Prime Group companies are trusted leaders in the global logistics industry.

 Such certification comes at a pivotal time for the air cargo industry, in particular, as logistics companies across the globe are maneuvering into position to support the crucial worldwide distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Prime Group staff recently have secured other important WCAworld Academy certifications as well.

 In earlier 2021, Prime Group was able to claim to have the first-ever U.S. based global logistics representative to be fully credentialed by WCAworld Academy as a Responsible Person for Logistics.

 “The WCAworld Academy is fully committed to assisting our members with the highest levels of training and compliance,” says Adam McKenna, general manager-WCA Pharma Group. “Prime Group’s dedication to training and constant improvement helps to secure their status as one of the most qualified pharmaceutical and healthcare logistics forwarders in the U.S. and we are delighted to have them as members.

 

So, moving into the second half of 2021 and beyond, customers who require complex logistics and safe care for their global shipments of vaccines and other pharmaceuticals can rest assured their valuable shipments are in the best hands.