Behind the scenes with Rob, our Import Manager Airfreight
27 November 2019
“With over 40 years of experience working at Schiphol, air freight is in my genes”, Rob begins. For the last 12 years, he has been Import Manager Airfreight at Ritra Cargo Schiphol. There he handles all import shipments. Rob does this together with his colleague Mike. A wide-ranging position, where they have to deal with tight deadlines, delays and a lot of phone calls. But what’s it like behind the scenes? Rob tells us.
A customer’s deadline is our guiding principle
From booking to invoicing, Rob is in contact with his customers. As an airfreight forwarder at Ritra Cargo, he supervises the entire transport process. This starts with requesting the fares and choosing the most suitable flight.
Rob: “Depending on the customer’s deadline, I’ll see which flight fits best. Of course I also pay attention to the costs. The shortest transit time at the lowest cost, that’s what I’m always looking for. Fortunately, we have reliable agents who we work well with and who help me with this.”
Thanks to close cooperation with agents, customers quickly find out what the most efficient option is for their transport. Sometimes it turns out that airfreight (alone) is not the best option.
Rob: “Sometimes I advise customers to use sea-air when the deadline is only 15 to 20 days away. This can happen specifically with very large shipments from the Far East. The airfreight rates from there can sometimes be very high.”
“Proactively engaging with the customer is something we all do here,” says Rob. Because he is responsible for the entire transport process, he has an overview of everything and can intervene in good time if necessary. And that’s especially invaluable when delays are imminent.
Rob: “Flights may suffer delays, but that doesn’t mean that a shipment has to be delivered late to the customer. By continuously monitoring the status of shipments, I can make timely adjustments in the event of unexpected events.”
Faster delivery through short lines of communication
Another important part of Rob’s work is maintaining close contact with handling sheds and transporters. The fact is that it is no longer self-evident that the cargo will be delivered immediately upon arrival at the airport.
Rob: “Increasing staff shortages at Schiphol mean that the waiting times at the handling depots are sometimes very long. This is a real bottleneck these days. In order to avoid problems, it is important that I always think one step ahead. That is why I maintain good contact with the supervisors in the handling sheds. There’s often a range of options and delays can be avoided.”
Most of the cargo is transported from the handling shed at Schiphol to a shed at Ritra Cargo. From there, the final transport takes place. The aim is to deliver all standard airfreight shipments with destinations in the Benelux before 14.00 hours the next day. Due to the short lines of communication with (handling) sheds and the customs clearance documents drawn up in-house at Ritra Cargo, this promise can almost always be fulfilled.
CO2 standards and urban distribution
CO2-neutral transport is an important trend in the world of transport. Both transporters and customers are paying more and more attention to this. However, there is also a downside to environmental awareness. For example, CO2-neutral trucks are much more expensive to buy and use. So they are usually only used for urban traffic.
Rob: “Urban distribution will take longer in future and costs will rise. This is because this type of transport first has to pass through an urban distribution centre. Here, the goods are transferred from the regular truck to the CO2-neutral truck. And that simply takes more time.”
Changes are continuous. So embracing change and heading off problems is where a good airfreight forwarder can stand out from the rest. Rob: “I always say: change is a sport, the challenge, and at the same time the reason why my work remains fun!
Another look behind the scenes at Ritra Cargo? Read here how colleague John managed to get an exceptionally large airfreight shipment to its destination as quickly as possible.
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