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Global Project Logistics: Does Your 3PL Have What it Takes?

Global project logistics assignments are just that – projects that require days and weeks of careful planning to move large, expensive equipment on a very precise time schedule.

The requirements for the freight move are so complex that much can go wrong.

The importance of the freight move is so critical that nothing can go wrong – or you risk huge financial consequences.

Your choice of a 3PL partner is key to the success or failure of such mission-critical shipping projects. In this article, we outline Dimerco’s execution of a global project logistics operation for one large semiconductor company.  After reading the details, ask yourself: How well does your freight forwarder manage projects of this size and complexity?

 

The Assignment

Dimerco was asked to ship a large amount of semiconductor manufacturing equipment from the North East of USA to Taiwan for just-in-time delivery. The cargo was:

  • Valued +$10 million
  • Weighed +150,000 pounds
  • Required 5 trucks to transport to the airport
  • Required 18 upper deck positions on a 747 freighter
  • Needed to be delivered to the customer within a 12-hour time window nearly 8,000 miles away

 

Anatomy of a Semiconductor Industry Shipping Project

Following is a summary of key aspects of this global project logistics job:

global project logisticsOversized, Sensitive Equipment

When most people think of semiconductor products, they think of wafers or chips, but this project involved the very large, delicate machines used to fabricate the wafers. Semiconductor companies and their equipment manufacturers want to work with freight forwarders with a first-hand understanding of the unique requirements of semiconductor equipment shipping.

 

Precise Timing

Product was picked up from two different East Coast locations for delivery to Taiwan 4 days later to meet a precise timeline. At destination, there were special agreements in place with ground handlers at the airport to immediately load freight directly onto trucks for transport to the manufacturing site. A crew of people were on standby at the site to assist with receiving and installation. Also, engineers had flown in from other locations in Asia to oversee installation and calibrate the new equipment.

One mistake during the shipping process would have caused significant loss of time and revenue.

 

Custom Routing Plan

JFK Airport in New York may have seemed the right origin airport for this shipment. But it was determined, after careful analysis, that Chicago was the better option despite its distance from pick up points. Due to COVID and other circumstances, the chosen airline did not have sufficient lift at JFK to ship all equipment on a single flight. The JFK alternative would have involved three different flights, creating havoc with the precise schedule at destination. For this reason, Dimerco’s air freight specialists chose Chicago O’Hare.

 

Door-to-Door Temp Control

For one sensitive piece of equipment, even a 5-degree temperature change could cause certain ceramic material to crack.  To prepare, the Dimerco team:

  • Arranged early arrival of a specialized reefer truck at the shipper’s door to bring the trailer’s temperature in line with the warehouse temperature
  • Coordinated with the airline to have equipment move straight from the truck to a staging area to be loaded into the aircraft.

 

Specialized Loading

The heaviest piece of equipment required a special forklift to lift it at initial loading, at the airport, and at destination. Dimerco ensured that this equipment was available and, in addition, arranged for two 20-foot ULD boards to be trucked in from New York to accommodate the size and weight of two of the machines. Riggers placed the crates onto the ULDs before loading into trailers.

 

Special ground transport requirements

  • Climate-controlled lowboy trailers with smaller wheels to increase vertical loading space in the trailer
  • Cranes and special forklifts to load equipment onto trucks
  • Engineered loading to meet DOT weight restrictions and requirements for load balancing
  • Team drivers for 5 trucks for an 18-hour non-stop run from East Coast to Chicago.

 

Back-Up plans

For every Plan A for this project, there was also a Plan B – a contingency plan if something went wrong, such as a truck breakdown or an airport delay (it was the middle of winter). This added to the complexity.

 

Real-time Communication

A Dimerco project lead in USA ran point on project coordination and communication, with designated operations leads at origin and destination. The project, because of its critical nature, required direct real-time communication with the customer in Taiwan – not just website updates at milestone points. At times, Dimerco’s project lead was on-site observing and coordinating activities.

 

Careful Preparation Leads to Fault-Free Execution

In the Olympics, while an actual sporting event may take just seconds or minutes to complete, the preparation for peak performance takes years. It’s similar with global project logistics assignments. Lots of careful planning and coordination happens before any freight is moved, and that’s what ensures on-time, fault-free execution.

Is your 3PL partner delivering peak performance for your project freight?

If not, consider Dimerco. We serve companies from offices around the world. Begun 50 years ago as an air freight specialist, we welcome complex, time-sensitive global shipping projects.  It’s our heritage. Contact us to start a discussion.