Commentary

Cracking the last-mile in delivery to the world’s trouble spots

Ahead of next week’s Nordic Delivery Conference in Copenhagen,  Lotte Weichenfeldt Schjøtt from delivery management company Consignor, interviewed Mads Drejer, chief commercial officer at Damco Nordics on the subject of making deliveries to some of the toughest places on the planet.

Lotte Weichenfeldt Schjøtt, EDI-Soft

Lotte Weichenfeldt Schjøtt, Consignor

Every day Damco deliver essential supplies to the world’s trouble spots. It is not always the 7.000 miles ocean journey that represents the biggest challenge, but rather the inland delivery in complex environments that provides both political and physical barriers.

The sun is burning in the sky, the air is dry and it is 40 degrees. At the orphanage in Juba in South Sudan food supplies are low and there is not enough food for all the home’s children. Currently one child a day dies from hunger. Every day new children arrive at the orphanage, fleeing their homes because of the yearlong conflict in the country. The orphanage desperately needs food, medicine and clothing. However, it is difficult to get the necessary supplies in line with the increasing need because of the legal restrictions that Sudan is subject to by the UN. Only a few carriers are allowed to deliver to the orphanage, and therefore it is difficult to find a partner who can deliver the essential supplies.

This is what a typical scenario could look like, when Damco delivers emergency aid to Africa in cooperation with international relief organizations. However, delivery to the world’s trouble spots may also involve delivery of equipment, vehicles and manpower to military operations around the world, and include many other barriers than legal, says Mads Drejer, chief commercial officer at Damco Nordics: “There may be physical barriers. Is it physically possible to deliver to the crisis area, for example if there are no established roads? There are also customs barriers. Do you have customs permission to enter the country with your supplies? Because of these barriers, time is also an element. Time progresses easily in relation to the barriers, and that is critical at such supplies, which have to be delivered fast.”

Planning, cooperation and people with the right mindset are key factors in order to solve such delivery challenges

You have to like the fact that things can go wrong

Delivery to the world’s trouble spots require employees and partners with an emergency mindset according to Drejer: “An emergency mindset means that you are available 24/7 and requires that you like challenges. You almost have to like the fact that things can go wrong. Our employees must possess this mindset and find reliable partners across countries both internally and externally. Partners who can be our extended arm, and who we can continue to use. Planning is also an important parameter. We plan well in advance and during the process together with our customers. It is also important to have a plan B. We always have a plan B, because it is rare that things go according to plan A.”

Drejer also explains that at Damco they use the experiences from delivering to the world’s trouble spots in other delivery situations also: “We always try to have a Plan B for our other customers. It helps to ensure high quality in deliveries, if things do not go as planned.

“We also transfer parts of the emergency mindset into other parts of the business, because it makes us proactive and responsive to any challenges. Finally, we also gain insight into markets that we can benefit from at other customers for example customers in the retail and lifestyle industry who wants to establish themselves in new markets such as Africa.”

At the Nordic Delivery Conference (9 June) Thomas Kongsted, head of special operations at Damco, will discuss delivery to the world’s trouble spots in detail, and what it requires of Damco from a logistics point of view.

Image credits:
  • Main image: Copyright US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Todd Frantom, Wikimedia Commons, link