Industrial shipping, often, implies shipping oversized cargo requiring special equipment and handling. This can be quite a headache for both shipper and freight forwarder! When time, money, and many different parties are involved in such an intricate shipment, it is important that you find a freight forwarder that you not only trust but will provide you with the personal service that you require to get the product shipped on time.
I can recall a time when going the extra mile for my customer really paid off when it came to managing a tricky oversized shipment. My customer was shipping a cargo plane from Provence, France to Long Beach, California. The process involved me overviewing the dismantling of a cargo plane in Provence then arranging the shipment to Long Beach, California, where it must be cleared through US customs duty free and then shipped via truck to be delivered to its end destination in Southern California.
As the plane was quite large it needed first to be dismantled and then shipped first via ocean to the US. Due to size, it needed to be loaded onto 40′ ocean flat racks placed on lower deck trucks to then accommodate the inland transportation under a permit load and police escort.
I first arrived in Nice, France to stay for a couple of nights to get my bearings, the city is lovely and the Mediterranean Sea was warm with clean and clear water. As I was brushing up on my French and working on my tan, I reviewed my shipping file that I had collected thus far.
The booking was already in place with a shipping date. Though as past experience has taught me, when shipping oversized cargo this date may have to be postponed. We had several oversized flat racks which had to be shipped under one vessel, with one bill of lading, one US Customs clearance, and a combined delivery meeting the engineers and crew to unload the cargo plane so timing was everything in our case! Though the process was not easy to juggle, through my many years of shipping experience I was able to work out the logistics so that my customer would not be negatively impacted.
But the fun was only beginning! I had relocated inland right next to a small airport where the cargo plane was being dismantled. On the surface, all of the parties were set, but underneath that surface a volcano was erupting every few hours with a variety of problems to resolve.
Issues ranged from the trucking and waiting time to the airport management freaking out on us and involving the local French customs agents too soon. Right there, I felt like running, but I managed to play it cool and maneuvered the questions and documentation that we had to procure above and beyond regular required paperwork.
They even had us locate the former owner of the plane to provide documentation of the last flight and that it was sold to my customer in addition to many other questions from the French customs and few trips to check on the cargo.
After, our freight agent and I worked overtime, we were able to resume loading, bracing, and blocking the parts of the plane onto the ocean flat racks and get the lowboy trucks to show up within a few hours of one another to allow for the use of one crane.
The shipper and consignee were the same party and they were under a time constraint, which only continued to increase. Their incessant anxieties were projected onto us and their forwarder, who had to keep all the trucks, equipment, and vessel at the ready to meet the ship deadline.
Finally, the shipments were returned to the port of Fos S/ Mer and were loaded onto the vessel and shipped out. After that, I rented a car and shipped out myself to the old Provence and French Rivera Coast for a little rest and relaxation. Within hours, I felt 100 pounds lighter and 10 years younger but in the end it was worth it for a happy customer.
In the end it was creative thinking, years of experience, and good customer service that kept our customer happy and his shipments moving forward on time. When shipping overseas with a large conglomerate, no matter how large or unique your shipment is, you are not guaranteed that the same agent will handle your shipment from start to finish, causing a breakdown in communication and possibly even time lost.