International freight forwarder Rhenus Logistics married fashion and food in its shipment to the Arab Fashion Week last month, transporting 101 handmade chocolate stilettoes more than 7,000 km. Chocolate shoes may seem like the dream delivery, however, there are many factors that made this journey extremely complex.
In this article, Neil Riley, Rhenus Logistics Temperature Controlled Manager, explains some of the challenges of temperature-controlled logistics (TCL) and how forwarders can prepare for any and all extremities.
Knowing your cargo
Knowing your cargo in advance, and understanding your customers’ needs, is vital in TCL. It shapes your decisions regarding the modes of transport and types of packaging used during conveyance, empowering the forwarder to know which shipments they can and can’t commit to. It is no surprise that there is a peak in the summer months as temperatures rise. As demand increases, however, capacity remains the same and, while this doesn’t mean businesses are going to struggle to get goods from A to B, it does mean they need to plan ahead to ensure that logistics services happen as and when they’re needed.
In June, the Rhenus team transported 101 Cocoa To Thrill chocolate shoes more than 7,000 km, from Fulham in London to Dubai. Upon receiving the shoe order, we knew this would be a more complicated shipment than usual, not only because of the fragility of the stock but also because of the need for constant temperature control and monitoring. Knowing the contents of the shipment beforehand enabled us to prepare for this and utilise our global resources to ensure we maintained Rhenus’ reputable customer service, despite the challenging cargo.
Guarding against vulnerabilities
Rhenus sends shipments to Dubai on a weekly basis, but most will travel frozen and packed together with additional coolants to protect the cargo from high external temperatures. For this particular shipment, however, the intricate detail of the shoes meant greater care had to be taken when packing the shipments. In order to keep the shoes in pristine condition, the temperature could not rise and fall, as this would cause the chocolate to ‘bloom’ (when the cocoa butter rises to the top of the chocolate and causes a white cast). This left us with two potential vulnerabilities to manage: delicacy and temperature.
To combat this, we not only optimised the route to minimise heat exposure but also provided additional gel packs to ensure the cargo was maintained at the optimum temperature as it was transferred from aircraft to warehouse, to delivery vehicle.
To further negate the effects of heat, we arranged for customs clearance to be completed while the shipment was sat in Germany awaiting the connecting flight, which helped streamline the delivery process once the cargo landed in Dubai.
Going above and beyond for your customer
Having never sent a shipment outside of London, our customer, Cocoa To Thrill, was understandably apprehensive. They were sending chocolate shoes into the desert after all! Because of this, gaining the trust of the client was our top priority. Each Rhenus branch works as a local entity with the resources of a global network. It is this personal approach that enabled us to spend time talking with Cocoa To Thrill and answer all the queries they had concerning the shipment.
Temperature controlled logistics can be complicated, therefore ensuring you have the right forwarder who can cater to every need is a necessity. For more information on the full range of services offered by Rhenus, including its temperature-controlled logistics, please visit www.rhenus.com/en/uk/
By Neil Riley
Neil Riley is Rhenus Logistics’ temperature-controlled shipping manager. He is responsible for all temperature-controlled logistics within the UK and has had extensive experience with handling shipments to and from countries with hot climates. Previously with Staples International, Neil has been part of the Rhenus team for two years and brings a wealth of knowledge to his role.