Blog

PCB Freight Management’s logistics blog is a valuable resource for shippers, carriers, industry professionals and other supply chain partners navigating global trade. With the many regulations governing trade, it aims to help readers lower their freight costs, increase shipping efficiencies, address industry issues and manage their logistics activities. Several leading experts serve as blog columnists covering topics from freight, compliance and transportation to 3PL trends and warehousing.

China Implements New Manifest Requirements

marine cargo manifest


On June 1, 2018, the General Administration of Customs of the People Republic of China (GACC) announced there will be additional information required on all inbound and outbound shipments by air or ocean. The new information required includes Canadian Business Numbers and phone numbers on the bill of lading or master airway bill.

GACC Announcement No. 56 (2017)

The announcement was made in 2017 by the GACC and provided airlines and freight forwarders with sixth months notice to prepare for the implemented changes. The GACC first updated their systems on May 22, 2018, and the full implementation took place on schedule, June 1, 2018.

China Customs Advanced Manifest

If you are a Canadian importer and you wanted your air or ocean import or export to go smoothly, it is recommended you extract all of the information you will need when you make your purchase order. This way you will have all of the information required to comply with China Customs Advanced Manifest (CCAM) for your import or export with China. The information you will need to collect includes; the company name, the company’s code, your contact’s name and phone number, the country code and the notify party if the Bill of Lading is To Order.

How It Affects Canadian Businesses

If you are a Canadian Business you will use your Business Number (BN) as the required company code, enterprise number or organization code. It is important to note, everyone who is importing or exporting by air or ocean with China will need to provide all of this additional information required for the CCAM.

Some Require Freight Forwarder Information

In addition to the shipper and consignee information required for the CCAM, some agents in China are also requesting additional information for the freight forwarder. It is better for you to be safe rather than sorry, therefore it is recommended you provide your freight forwarders business number on all of your master airway bills and bills of lading to ensure all of your imports or exports with China go smoothly.

If You Need Assistance

If you need assistance with importing or exporting your commodities into or out of China, PCB Freight Management can help with both the freight forwarding and customs brokerage. Call us today to talk one-on-one with an expert or simply click on the request a quote button below to get started.
REQUEST A QUOTE
 

Read More

Logistic Strategies: Spot Market Freight vs. Contracts

spot market freight


Surcharge Pricing Announcement

Last week’s announcement of an Emergency Bunker Surcharge from several major ocean carriers should give shippers who put most of their freight business in the spot market enough reason to reflect on their pricing strategy. Usually, emergency surcharges are implemented with only 15 days notice and can be applied at any time. There have been many types of emergency surcharges over the past 20 years, which were fully applied to the spot market and not to shippers under contract, or in a worst case scenario applied at a discount after negotiation between the two parties.

Deregulation Drives Shippers to Spot Market Freight

Shippers want two things; freight cost certainty and service reliability. However, when shippers suspect their contracted rates are higher than the market level, they push more of their freight in the spot market. Indeed, deregulation and rate volatility has driven many shippers to play in the spot market far more than they should. Playing the spot market takes time. Comparison of services, origin charges and supplier relationships are only a few factors that make continuously negotiating rates a full time job. Most shippers are systems driven and are required to load new vendor pricing into their database.  A real pain if it is a monthly exercise. So what is the most effective strategy? How can a shipper have the benefit of market level pricing, service reliability and medium term cost certainty?

Successful Shipping Strategy

Depending on their volume, many successful shippers will contract a large portion (70-75%) of their freight once a year. The remainder will be made available to the spot market if and when it makes economic sense to the shipper. By committing a large part of their volume to one or two service providers, shippers get the benefit of more favorable pricing and services with economy of scale. Moreover, if there is a space crunch, the shipper with the service provider they have been supporting will have an advantage over the shipper who continuously moves business from one carrier to the next over price. Conversely, by keeping a portion of their freight in the spot market, shippers are able to keep an eye on the market. If freight rates soften, they can take advantage of the dip by pushing volume to their spot carriers. If price rise, they can try to get more freight booked with their contracted carriers.

Freight Rate Landscape

The world is adapting to the deregulated environment where freight rates are entirely driven by supply and demand. Global demand growth has been relatively steady at 5-6% per year. Volatility in pricing has been driven almost entirely on the supply side. Carriers can remove tonnage from a trade, thereby driving freight rates up, or they can add tonnage which of course lead to some dramatic price reductions. Emergency surcharges such as the bunker fuel surcharge announced last week are typically strategies used by carriers to recover costs without increasing freight levels. While the 75/25 contract/spot formula may not fit with all shippers, good freight partners can map out a strategy tailored to their business needs.

You Are In Good Hands

You are in good hands with the experts at PCB Freight Management. Click the button below to request a quote for all of your logistics and customs brokerage needs.
REQUEST A QUOTE
 

Read More

How To Reduce Produce Spoilage In 3 Steps

Reduce Produce Spoilage


New Regulations Affecting Your Imports

The most common question you ask our freight managers is how can I reduce produce spoilage? What are the steps I can take? Where can I make any gains? There are three areas in which produce spoilage can be reduced.

1 | Utilize A Cold Supply Chain

Ensuring your produce is in a temperature controlled environment throughout the supply chain will make a big difference in its life cycle. From farm to table, the number of hand-offs from grower, to distributor, to carrier, can each impact spoilage. One hour in a hot van can make spinach seem lifeless and unusable. The supplier should have pre-cooling systems. The freight provider must utilize temperature controlled vans, rail cars, and cargo containers. All of these precautions are critical, and that includes warehouses which offer cold storage as well.

2 | Choose Carriers Wisely

A carrier with proper equipment makes all the difference. Either single or team drivers can be used to reflect the correct transit times that the shelf life dictates. The shorter the shelf life, the more important the transit times. A highway carriers genset temperature controlled van is reliant on fuel levels and a temperature setting monitored by the driver. Monitor the carrier's activities from pre-loading, ensuring the equipment is pre-cooled and set at the correct temperatures before arrival at the warehouses for loading are all essential actions to take with perishable produce.

3 | Ensure Appointments Are Booked And Met

With as many moving parts as there are in logistics, it is very easy to forget to book an appointment for pickup or delivery. With the current climate of highway carriers mandated Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) limiting the number of hours they can idle while waiting to get loaded, unloaded, drive, work, etc., and congestion at the port, arriving without an appointment or missing the time slot can have massive repercussions. Once the appointment is booked, supply chain managers should regularly check in with their drivers to ensure they are on schedule to meet that appointment time slot, and make the necessary adjustment if they are not. Making sure all appointment times are in place and adhered to by the carriers is a small act, but makes a big difference in spoilage. Although these steps may seem simple, not taking them can trip up even the most organized and prepared supply chain manager. We have heard from countless clients who have run into difficulties in these areas and look to freight managers for long-term solutions. PCB Freight Management has the tools in place to ensure a smooth, cold storage transition from grower to seller.

You Can Reduce Produce Spoilage

If you need help with clearing produce shipments into Canada or the U.S. please contact our sister company, Pacific Customs Brokers. If you want to take the steps to reduce produce spoilage click on the button below to get started with PCB Freight Management.
REQUEST A QUOTE

Read More

Carrier Freight Contracts And Matters Affecting Performance

Baseball | Matters Affecting Performance


It is important you read the fine print and are happy with the terms of agreement you make in the freight forwarding process. This includes Matters Affecting Performance which you will find on many carrier’s Bill of Lading.

MLB Makes An Unusual Request

It was a most unusual request even for the most seasoned transportation professional. In the summer of 2002, an official from Major League Baseball asked a container carrier if they could send a helicopter out to a ship anchored in the Port of Los Angeles to remove a container from the ship. The container was packed with promotional goods for the all star game taking place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. If the product wasn’t there in time, it was worthless. The ship was at anchor in the port along with dozens of others due to a work slowdown caused by a contract dispute between the Longshoremen’s Union and the Maritime Employers Association. The shipping line was not able to assure Major League Baseball that the container would be off the ship in time for the All Star Game, despite receiving the cargo well in advance of the scheduled arrival date. Had all gone according to plan, there would be no talk of helicopters rescuing freight. A rescue that would have been completely at the expense of the importer, not the carrier.

Matters Affecting Performance

Many shippers do not realize that when they contract carrier services. The carrier is under no obligation to complete the terms of the contract if there are extenuating circumstances preventing them from delivering the goods. On the back of most ocean bills of lading is a clause that outlines Matters Affecting Performance. Here is the terminology used on the bill of lading from a major container carrier: Without prejudice to any rights or privileges of the Carriers under covering Bills of Lading, dock receipts or booking contracts or under applicable provisions of law, in the event of war, hostilities, warlike operations, embargoes, blockades, port congestion, strikes or labour disturbances, regulations of any governmental authority pertaining thereto or any other official interferences with commercial intercourse arising from the above conditions and effecting the Carrier's operations, the Carriers reserve the right to cancel any outstanding booking or contract of carriage. At carrier’s option, cargo in transit may be enrouted to a different discharge port or destination for cargo delivery. Any additional cost associated to this arrangement shall be for account of cargo.

Shippers Must Be Prepared

Shippers should take careful note of the wording particularly as it includes port congestion and strikes. At what point does congestion in the Port of Vancouver become so great that the carrier will invoke the clause? Would a rail strike cause shippers to pick up their cargo in Seattle, or even Prince Rupert? The risk to the shipper is added costs and delays, and perhaps as was the case with Major League Baseball, perishable promotional goods possibly missing their delivery date. In the end, Major League Baseball absorbed the costs of trucking containers over 2,000 miles from Los Angeles, California to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. An unexpected but necessary expense to get all of the all star game memorabilia to the fans attending the game.

You Have A Helping Hand

The world of international freight can have many twists and turns. You can be prepared with the help of the experts at PCB Freight Management. Contact us for all your freight forwarding and logistics needs.
REQUEST A QUOTE

Read More

How The Ocean Freight Industry Learns From The Past

Strict ocean freight carrier policies in effect today are born from monumental and sometimes dangerous mistakes from the past.


ocean freight container ship tugboat


Verified Gross Mass Policy

A great example is the Verified Gross Mass (VGM) policy. Ocean freight carriers require all containers to have their weights verified prior to loading any vessel. This applies to all ports worldwide. Certain ports have their own policies stating they will not accept any containers without the VGM data. Shippers have two options. One, weigh the containers on their premises, prior to and after loading. Or two, have the loaded containers verified at a certified scale before returning to the terminal. This increases the costs of each additional container move, as well at time. The questions is, how did the ocean freight industry get to the point where strict policies are the norm? The answer lies in the old adage those who do not learn from history, are destined to repeat it.

How The Ocean Freight Industry Learned From The Past

Once upon a time, the rate for ocean freight commodities (lumber, metal scrap, waste paper, etc.) were rated by weight, usually metric tonne. There was little incentive to misidentify weights since carriers charged by what was loaded into the shipping container. To prevent shippers from loading one or two metric tonnes into a container and shipping a full box at a reduced rate, carriers charged a minimum tonnage on each box (i.e. 21 revenue tonnes). It did not take long for shippers to declare exactly 21 metric tonnes on all shipments irrespective of the real weight in the actual container. In the early 90s the inevitable happened in the port of Vancouver. A container of green lumber declared at 21 metric tonnes had the floor fall out when it was being loaded onto the ship.  Fortunately, no one was hurt, but the terminal shut down operations and refused to load the remainder of the ship until all weights were verified from each shipper. The ship cut and run without the rest of the load causing a stir among the ocean freight community.

The Short Term Solution

After the incident an investigation was held to determine how it could be prevented going forward. The carrier decided to arbitrarily stop offering rates by metric tonne and began pricing on a per container basis, thereby eliminating the incentive to cheat on weight. Other carriers followed suit and the problem was solved. At least that was the general opinion of the industry leaders at the time. Unfortunately, as time would tell, they made a poor decision. Due to the advances in container structure and the use of alloys, new and advanced containers allowed for greater weights in the same sized box. As a result, shippers pushed the limits and inevitably more boxes were involved in accidents. Some with catastrophic results.

Yesterday’s Mistakes Save Lives Today

In 2016, the International Marine Organization (IMO) amended the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) rules to include stricter enforcement of VGM. This not only eliminated the risks of carrying overloaded containers, but it also set the bar higher creating standards and an overdue discipline that was greatly needed in the ocean freight industry. It is safe to say the mistakes of the past created a precedence for carriers to make the necessary changes to potentially save many lives today and in the future.

You Have A Helping Hand

If you need help moving freight by ocean, air, highway or rail, PCB Freight Management can help provide you with excellent service from our logistics experts. Contact us today for a quote on your next freight shipment.
REQUEST A QUOTE
 

Read More

Shipping Perishables By Air & Ocean Freight

Fresh Produce


Are you shipping perishables? It is a scary job which makes many people anxious. The risk of losing perishable goods in transit can translate to lost revenue, can tarnish the actual quality of your goods and can create angst among your customers. Advancing technologies have provided you with many different options to ship your perishable goods around the globe. Whether you are shipping perishables by air, shipping perishables by ocean or shipping perishables by ground, the trusted experts at PCB Freight Management can provide you with experienced logistics solutions.

How are Your Perishables Packaged?

Packaging is an important factor when shipping perishable goods. Packaging can be the difference between your perishables being top quality for your customers or having potential customers looking for alternatives. Choosing and testing the right type of packaging before shipping your perishable will protect you and your goods from spoil. If your goods are packaged properly, they will take up less space, reduce your liability, and most importantly, make you money. An experienced logistics provider can assess your current process and  optimize your packaging. A packaging provider can also offer prototypes and packaging alternatives tailored to you and your products. This can be accomplished by designing an effective packaging solution for all of your products.

Shipping Perishables by Air Freight

The next question you have to ask yourself is, what is the best mode of transportation for my perishables? With knowledge of your products this will be an easy step to determine what will be the best option for shipping your goods. If your main factor is time, than air freight is right for you. Air freight allows you to get your perishables in front of your customers the fastest. This ensures the quality of your food is high and the shelf life of your products is extended. Retailers will not have any problems selling your goods and your B2B relationship will grow and prosper. All perishable goods must be shipped to market quickly, which is why air freight is the most common mode of transportation for perishables. Air freight will be more expensive than other options. A cost benefit analysis will help you decide whether having your goods fresh for your customer with a long shelf life will pay off more than any other mode of transportation.

Shipping Perishables by Ocean Freight

If your perishable goods have a longer shelf life, ocean freight may be the best option for you. Using ocean freight to ship perishables is becoming more common thanks to improving technologies. This includes refrigerated containers with controlled atmospheres, suited to ship perishable goods overseas. Refrigerated containers have improved over the years, becoming more efficient and are therefore a realistic way for you to ship your perishables. This is where knowing your product is vital. If your perishables can wait, ocean freight will be the less expensive option. Couple this with better container technologies and ocean freight opens up more options to ship your freight at competitive rates.

Shipping Perishables | Air Freight vs. Ocean Freight

While this is seen as an advancement in shipping perishables, ocean freight is still not risk free. As time is a main concern for fresh perishables, businesses are trending towards using air freight to ensure their high-quality goods are delivered fresh to their customers. It is very important you consider the shelf life of your product when choosing your shipping method. You also have to consider port congestion, which has added further complications to the decision whether you should use air freight or ocean freight. Because time is so important to shipping perishables, many are choosing air freight to mitigate the risk of spoilage.

By Your Side | The Experts at PCB Freight Management

Decisions must be made when deciding on what is the best way to ship your freight. They all have their costs and benefits. Air freight is the quickest yet most expensive option. Advancement in shipping containers makes ocean freight a possibility for perishables. No matter which mode of transportation you choose, the experts at PCB Freight Management can help. Our air freight, ocean freight and ground freight teams are always available to provide you with assistance on all of your shipping needs.
REQUEST A QUOTE
 

Read More