Urgent automotive: Detroit’s ‘largest-ever’ onboard courier (OBC) shipment

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In the automotive industry, every second counts and downtime is incredibly expensive. Time and again, we have provided emergency logistics solutions that maintain line uptime and output. This case study highlights the flexibility and adaptability of our solutions, overcoming new challenges in rapidly evolving situations.

Scenario

One afternoon in early February 2022, the Evolution Time Critical global control centre received an urgent request. A standard logistics provider needed emergency support to rapidly deliver a shipment of automotive components from Irapuato, Mexico, to Detroit for a major US automotive OEM. The shipment was 45 cartons with a total weight of 300 lbs (136kg).

Our Operations Analysts began putting together an urgent solution, maintaining constant communication with the client.

Risk

While the goods were packaged appropriately, the implementation of an effective solution would depend on accurate shipment information, particularly volume and weight. If the scope of the request were to change or there were any discrepancies in the request, it would require quick action from ETC to adjust the solution. Any changes to the project scope could result in shipment delays.

Solution

Our Operations Analysts delivered the first proposal in less than an hour, with same-day collection for next-day delivery – a rapid solution for an urgent shipment. Due to the size, weight and importance of the shipment, the best solution was to use onboard couriers (OBC) – leveraging commercial air routes to maximise time- and cost-efficiency. As it was an international operation, customs and immigration would have to be cleared at both ends, with delivery vehicles ready to move once the cartons arrived in the US.

The success of this project demanded significant expertise:

  • Very quickly developing an international logistics solution for urgently required shipment.
  • Ability to organise sufficient onboard courier capacity at short notice.
  • Leverage available commercial airline and road transport resources at short notice.
  • Manage bureaucratic processes for an unusual shipment.

Challenges

This project presented a number of significant challenges and hurdles that could have derailed the operation. These issues were due to evolving project scope, with shipment details changing multiple times within the first 12 hours. The two major issues were:

  • Following the initial proposal, the customer advised that the shipment had evolved from 45 to 105 cartons. We adjusted the number of OBCs to seven.
  • Once the ETC team was able to physically check the cartons, they were much heavier than indicated. Each carton weighed around 24lbs (11kg) per unit, for a total of 2546lbs (1,155kg). Almost nine times heavier than the original request. This necessitated an expansion of the OBC team to eleven persons.

Conclusion

All three road transports were loaded with the goods in less than 12 hours following the initial call, despite significant changes in project scope. The ETC team ensured that all cartons were wrapped and secured for the flight, with all units arriving at the airport in Mexico at 7am, through customs and loaded onto the aircraft by 1pm. The aircraft touched down in Detroit just before 7pm local time with all 11 couriers and 105 cartons clearing US customs in around an hour, accompanied by the feedback from one customs official ‘that is the largest OBC I have ever known come into Detriot!’

The door-to-door delivery was achieved in 23 hours, avoiding production line stoppages with all 105 cartons successfully transported from Irapuato to Detroit.

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