By: Boris Gullev
Global trade has historically been the number one driver of the rise of civilisations. Connecting demand in one hemisphere with a supply of goods in another part of the world has through centuries helped shape nations and cultures, and the exchange of goods has over time more than anything else driven the exchange of new technologies, overall benefitting the entire human race.
At the same time global trade has historically been a game of extreme uncertainty and the ever present possibility of total loss. Meaning that constant risk management and countless sleepless nights through history has been defining the lives of merchants everywhere, constantly worrying: Will the cargo reach its target on time? Will the cargo be handled well? Will I get my payment? Will I be able to support my family?
This paradigm for global trade is however changing for the better as we speak. Because Mærsk is now enacting, what no one else in history have ever dared.
Global gamechanger in the making: Whats the overall mission?
Establishing an unbroken cold chain, first across land from producer to port, then through oceans and waterways crossing several time zones and national boundaries, to unloading efficiently and handling customs documentation speedily and then getting the product safely onwards to the buyer, is in a sense a task of military or even epic proportions.
Looking at the level of uncertainty traditionally dominating export of fresh citruses from Morocco to supermarkets in St. Petersburg, it is no wonder that no one has taken up the challenge. Until now.
Securing the integrity of the full length of a cold chain is paramount to implementing the All The Way strategy of the new cold chain product from Maersk.
A company that deep in its genes has a pedigree that documents a tradition of excellence and ingenuity combined with the ability to leave a historic impact on society.
Taking risk out of the equationIn constant remembrance that any weak link in a cold chain can be catastrophic for the quality of the product, Maersk is operating with a constant remembrance of Murphy's Law, which states that "anything that can go wrong, will go wrong."
Carrying all of the risk for both seller and buyer, demands a guardian with both high standards and broad shoulders.
The Cold Chain implementation requires constant optimization and ingenuity, combined with a scalability and agility that only Maersk can provide to quickly fix sudden gaps in the cold chain, like major accidents and force majeure weather problems affecting the cold chain.
Anecdotes of how to fix a broken cold chain and developing long term best practice strategies, and the personal wins for people serving the cold chain overcoming obstacles, is what will tell the story of the Maersk All The Way the most effectively.
Four GLOBAL TRADE angels on the cold chain implementation
1. Disrupting Global Trade - All The Way
While the Maersk cold chain between Morocco and Russia is up and running, news of this new way of doing global business is now reaching markets like India and South Africa and other global exporters.
These nations are now actively reaching out to Maersk to join the cold chain gang of companies looking for a better tomorrow for international trade. And many more nations will join the cold chain as years pass and the cold chain network widens and ripens for a real global, even historic, impact.
Global trading has been disrupted many times through history as existing technology has developed new and quicker ways of getting goods from a to z.
For centuries the combination of trucks and train transporting goods over land and the moving of goods in large vessels over water, and vice versa, has defined the international trade.
The invention of steam train engines and the development of combustion engines for both shipping and trucks off course disrupted global trade immensely.
But the Maersk All The Way strategy is not a result of new technological achievements in itself. It is first and foremost a bold vision of correcting a well known nuisance to merchants everywhere, and it is a sign of astute determination and the untirering will to pursue a dream with existing technology.
The cold chain will over time foster a rise of local economic strength and cultural pride, affecting both young and old on a personal level, but on an even larger scale lead to less social and political unrest, less migration and waste of resources and improved income levels of entire nations.
C-suites (and the new procurement leaders with a mindset going beyond cost and time) and their need to be on top of facts and news about Global Trade.
2. Security of Supply
For the supermarket boss in Skt. Petersburg having fresh products on the shelves to offer for customers is the foundation of the business plan.
“Sorry, we are sold out” is not a popular phrase in the retail business. Neither is “Sorry, we sold you a rotting product”.
Empty shelves or the offering of products that go bad after a short time, is a tell tale sign to customers and the competition, that something in the organisation is not working as it should. And there is always another supermarket around the corner.
Knowing exactly what day and time new products will arrive, and the possibility to order new products with short delivery time, is therefore essential to the competitiveness of a supermarket chain. Showing a full and fresh array of products is what makes the customer come back.
This is where the Maersk Cold Chain will make a decisive difference for the buyer, securing a scalable but steady influx of goods demanding continuous cooling and special handling, not compromising with quality and guaranteeing a delivery time that the supermarkets can rely on.
Also having a partnership with Maersk handling the incoming products all the way up to the loading docks of the supermarket, ensures full visibility and accountability on transactions.
Not only for the buyer, but also for local authorities, and thereby the Maersk cold chain can contribute to minimize the existence of black economy in many markets.
C-suites, Procurement and VP’s of Logistics focusing on their need to be on top of the facts and news about Global Trade and the impact on their supply chain.
3. The Logistic Tasks
The monumental logistics of building a bridge over a historical missing link, such as global trade has been defined for millenia, involves a wide array of activities all ending up serving one single, but novel purpose: Connecting sellers and buyers of goods all over the world in the most effective and transparent way possible.
First step for Maersk in building the cold chain in Morocco was identifying the problems for local producers and sellers of goods. Getting boots on the ground.
Maersk representatives in Morocco- were analyzing how to build up the cold chain in Morocco in close partnership with the ministries of trade and agriculture, but also closely inspecting the starting points of the cold chain to get the best possible starting link of the cold chain.
One of the first steps was importing 100 so-called gen-sets, small stand-alone generators producing electricity for cooling on the local trucks transporting the goods from the producer to the port terminal. Thereby taking advantage of already existing infrastructure, but qualifying and upgrading the performance to fit the end goal of not leaving any citrusses uncooled for the entirety of the cold chain.
Maersk thus takes over the full logistics chain, putting the before mentioned coolers on the containers, weighing the containers, inspecting the cargo for quality and damages, takes care of trucking, ensuring full cargo ships and checks the documentation on the final stage meeting the customs requirement.
All of this meaning less loss of food and revenue.
Senior Professionals in logistics and their need to be informed about the latest product advancements and offerings. Would also resonate well within internal Maersk logistics professionals.
4. Societal Impact
For Moroccan citrus farmers the new cold chain means a new and better tomorrow.
With the cold chain in effect, the farmers can focus their efforts on growing the best citruses possible, letting Maersk carry their produce to the world market in an effective and timely manner. Thereby securing both the price level of the product and and a longer shelf life.
A single citrus have traditionally changed hands up to fourteen times, from one service provider to another, travelling from its origin to its goal.
So stories of lost or rotting shipments of citruses somewhere causing cancellation of payment, leaving no money for family life and education, is no longer clouding the local producers and their lives.
The cold chain will on the longer term effectively become a key enabler of higher local income levels, fostering more economical development in the local community, allowing investments in new production technology.
It’s a broad target group. If we look towards our defined audiences this would primarily stimulate the pride of being part of the logistics industry therefore the audience would be logistic professionals and internal communication within the Maersk organizations.