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SiShips Launches New Mobile App

SiShips Launches New Mobile App

Exciting New Way to Manage Freight Forwarding Available on Google Play Store Now

Freight forwarding is officially at your fingertips. Sheltered International is excited to announce that, as of June 27th 2022, our SiShips mobile app is now available on the Google Play store for Android devices. UPDATE (11.01.22) The SiShips mobile tracking and quote tool app is now available on the Apple App Store for iOS devices! Specifically optimized for the iPad, our clients are now able to quote, book and track shipments on all of their mobile devices. At Sheltered International, we are constantly on the lookout for new ways to blend cutting edge technology with personalized shipping expertise. Our new mobile app is just another way that we are putting control back in the hands of you, the shipper.

Mobile App to Combine Information and Efficiency

Our new app is truly the best of both worlds. Sheltered International will maintain our hands-on approach to freight forwarding and combine our personal experience with real-time data tracking—now just a touch away, thanks to the SiShips app. Our team is fully accessible and responsive, but without the clunky delay of a barrage of emails and endless phone calls.

Whether your cargo is traveling through the air, across the ocean, by rail or by truck, you will be able to survey its location with near instantaneous updates. You can now manually check these updates on the app, or turn on Push Notifications for even more convenience.

Current clients will be able to use their login credentials to get started immediately; new clients looking to get started can get in touch with us to begin using our new services as soon as possible.

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Part of Tradition of Embracing Technology at Sheltered International

Our new mobile app is the next step in the evolution of freight forwarding and Sheltered International remains enthusiastic about our role shepherding the industry towards the modern era. Within the last twelve months, Sheltered International has added around the clock rail tracking and managed transportation to our extensive portfolio of freight forwarding services. All of our services, including rail tracking and managed transportation, will be accessible on the app. 

The mobile app will exist alongside our desktop software with continual updates. All new services that Sheltered International will roll out to clients in the future will also be available on the app.


How SiShips Gives You the Advantage

Sheltered International combines expertise with state of the art desktop and mobile software to bring you the highest quality domestic and international shipping solutions. With the world constantly changing, SiShips puts the shipper in control, offering efficient and cost effective ways to ship your product.

To learn more about managed transportation with SiShips, or to view a demo of our software and new mobile app, contact us today.

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Tentative Deal Prevents Railroad Strike

President Biden Steps In at 11th Hour to Forestall Railroad Strike

Late at night on Wednesday, September 14th, President Biden intervened in deadlock negotiations between railroad companies and their workers. Biden, a long time supporter of America’s rail system, has been keeping a close eye on this contract dispute over the summer. The executive branch originally flexed its power back in July, amid fears that a railroad strike could cost the economy $2 billion per day. Now, following a marathon negotiation session, both sides have made a tentative agreement. The railroad brotherhoods will vote on Thursday, September 22nd, to either accept or reject the terms.

Major disruptions were expected, even leading to Amtrak preemptively canceling service on passenger lines, ahead of the deal announcement. The possibility of a railroad strike has been delayed, and possibly avoided.

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Photo courtesy of Robert Linder via Unsplash.

What Does the Railroad Deal Include?

After 20 hours of negotiations and a phone call from the president, the current contract includes:

  • Voluntary assigned days off and one additional paid day off 
  • Guaranteed time off for medical appointments
  • No disruption to current health care plans
  • Immediate wage increase of 14% and 24% over the next five years
  • Annual lump sum bonuses of $5,000

Unions had originally asked for 15 paid sick days, but this was rejected.

Demand for Voluntary Days Off

Despite headlines leading up to the potential strike focusing on the pay of railroad workers, the real sticking point was sick leave and voluntary days off. Up until now, railroad workers did not have any sick leave or guaranteed time off. In fact, union members are either working or on call 335 days per year. When on call, workers are expected to report within two hours, if needed.

Union representatives had blasted these working conditions as inhumane. The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) issued a statement that “these policies are destroying the lives of our members.” Following multiple years of record breaking profits for the transportation and shipping industries, union members felt confident in their negotiation position. They shared anecdotally on Twitter that their “savings will last longer than the rest of the economy if we strike.”

washington white house senate gop democrats railroad negotiations presidential emergency board

Photo courtesy of Ana Lanza via Unsplash.

Railroad Strike at Center of Election Season Showdown

The strongest fear among union members is their livelihood becoming a bargaining chip during an election season. While the vote begins this week, tallying the votes could stretch into October. That means a result could be announced perilously close to Election Day in November.

Twelve separate unions will be voting to ratify the contract; if a single one votes against the contract, negotiations will have to start again. On Wednesday, before Biden’s intervention, GOP Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina and Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi put forth a joint resolution to force the union to accept the terms from the Presidential Emergency Board created by the Biden administration in July. This measure was blocked by Senate Democrats led by Senator Sanders of Vermont. However, Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated at the time that if negotiations failed, Democrats would present a resolution to prevent a shutdown. Details of the bill were not announced. 


How SiShips Gives You the Advantage

Sheltered International combines expertise with state of the art software to bring you quality domestic and international shipping solutions. SiShips puts the shipper in control, offering efficient and cost effective ways to ship your product.

To learn more about managed transportation with SiShips, or to view a demo of our software, contact us today.

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New Updates to Merchandise Processing Fees

Why You May Notice Different Fees on Your Invoice

Just in time for the upcoming holiday season, U.S. Customs and Borders Protection is modifying their fee structure on cargo. The new Merchandise Processing Fees, first announced on August 1st, 2022, will enter into effect on October 1st, 2022. Keep in mind that duty-free imports are not exempt from paying these fees.

As part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015, the Secretary of the Treasury was given the power to adjust Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) fees in accordance with inflation. This decision is made by comparing the average Consumer Price Index from the previous year. If there is an increase of more than one percent, the COBRA fees must be changed, accordingly. These fee increases represent a small percentage of the whole, however, it is important to factor them in while budgeting and preparing calculations for shipments.

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Notable Fee Changes

The full list of COBRA related fees is available at the Federal Register. For ease of use, we’ve highlighted a few of the fees you are most likely to encounter.

Important to note is the Merchandise Processing Fee rate will not change; it remains at 0.3464% of the cargo value. However, both the minimum and maximum have increased slightly. From the U.S. Customs and Border Protection notice, “The minimum will change from $27.75 to $29.66; and the maximum will change from $538.40 to $575.35.”

  • The Surcharge for Manual Entry/Release (class code 500) will change to $3.56
  • The Dutiable Mail fee (class code 496) will change to $6.52
  • The Commercial Vessel or Commercial Aircraft Passenger Arrival customs fee will change to $6.52 per passenger. Also, the Commercial Vessel Passenger Arrival (from exempt areas) customs fee will change to $2.29 per passenger.
  • The Commercial Truck Arrival fee will change to $6.50. The total single crossing fee will be $14.05, as the Commercial Truck Arrival Fee does not include inspection service fees (which are currently $7.55).

 

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Are Any Imports Exempt from Merchandise Processing Fees?

While we mentioned that just because an import is duty-free that does not mean it is exempt from Merchandise Processing Fees (MPF), there are certain Free Trade Agreements that will waive the MPF. For example, the current Free Trade Agreement with Israel provides an exemption. Sheltered International will be able to help you work through and understand whether MPF will apply to your shipment.


How SiShips Gives You the Advantage

Sheltered International combines expertise with state of the art software to bring you the highest quality domestic and international shipping solutions. With the world constantly changing, SiShips puts the shipper in control, offering efficient and cost effective ways to ship your product.

To learn more about Merchandise Processing Fees and possible exemptions, or to view a demo of our software, contact us today.

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Chinese Shipping Rates Decrease

Multiple Factors Lead to Lower than Expected Shipping Costs

The anticipated rush of cargo following the recent reopening of Shanghai has failed to materialize. The Chinese city had been subjected to a months-long lockdown, the likes of which the west had not seen since the initial days of the Covid-19 pandemic. With business leaders like Elon Musk championing the economic and industrial might of Shanghai, a flurry of activity was expected to return the city to its full capacity. However, current economic hurdles have subdued demand. A positive side effect is a shipping rates decrease.

Shipping rates from China have decreased dramatically in the last few weeks. The dual threat of inflation and high gas prices leaves retailers expecting lower consumer demand and cutting back orders. Industry insiders are not expecting a pick up in demand until Q4 2022. The summer of 2022 is one of the best opportunities in the last several years for those looking to ship freight to and from China.

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High Gas Prices Lead to Conservative Spending

The historically high gas prices being faced by the United States and the rest of the world are the result of many different aspects, despite the desire of political commentators on both sides of the aisle to point a finger at singular issues.

While the United States received less than 10% of oil imports from Russia, the percentage was significantly higher in Europe. The economic blockade of Russia for their invasion of Ukraine is leading to an energy squeeze filtering from Europe to the entire world. As of the writing of this article, Saudi Arabia has been capping their oil production (although, a new report optimistically suggests OPEC+ might hike supply soon).

While there is the capability of digging new domestic and international oil wells, gas executives are hesitant to invest in long term projects with the expected rise of electric cars in the next decade and the recent memory of negative trading prices during the height of the pandemic. However, even experts are not prepared for the sky high trajectory of average gas prices. On June 14th, the New York Times reported the expected average price for the month of June 2022 was $4.59; less than a week later the average price was $4.98.

The demand for gas in America has only increased, following workers return to offices and the arrival of the summer driving season. Many Americans are opting for experiential vacations instead of physical goods having been cooped up inside. Consumers looking to tighten their belts have suspended home renovations and canceled subscription services. 

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Bear Market Helps Shipping Rates Decrease

The other major factor driving down demand is the arrival of a bear market. Defined as a decline of 20% or more across the entire stock market, nearly every sector is suffering (with the exception of energy stocks). The drop is acutely felt by brands like Wal-Mart and Target in the retail sector. With pressure from shareholders to find cost cutting measures and consumer demand down, these retail giants are not placing the same level of orders from Chinese factories.

Ships looking to make up the gap are enticing other clients with lower rates through Q2 and Q3 2022. Any proactive companies will be able to take advantage of this unique situation after a fraught two years of lockdowns, port backlogs, and supply chain disruptions.  

How SiShips Gives You The Advantage

Sheltered International combines expertise with state of the art software to bring you the highest quality domestic and international shipping solutions. With the world constantly changing, SiShips puts the shipper in control, offering efficient and cost effective ways to ship your product.

To learn more about managed transportation with SiShips, or to view a demo of our software, contact us today.

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WHO: China’s Zero-Covid Policy is Not Realistic

Omicron Variant Causing New Challenges for China’s Zero-Covid Policy

china shanghai beijing zero covidOver the past two years, the world has alternatively applauded and criticized China for its approach to handling the coronavirus pandemic. During the peak of the outbreak, 960 million people were living under some form of lockdown when China first instituted their “zero-COVID” policy. The tough regulations were viewed as a success when restrictions were lifted after five months in May 2020. Individual cases were met with swift action, including shutting down Shanghai Disneyland for two days last November after a single guest tested positive for COVID-19. However, as Shanghai approaches two full months of a strict lockdown in the spring of 2022, it is becoming increasingly clear a zero-COVID policy is unsustainable with the Omicron variant. 

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, noted during remarks last Tuesday that the virus is drastically different from the original variant identified in Wuhan. “We know the virus better and we have better tools, including vaccines, so that’s why the handling of the virus should actually be different from what we used to do at the start of the pandemic.” Predicting the animus from China following his comments, Tedros added, “regarding their choice of policies, it is up to every country to make that choice.”

Global Balancing Act to Curb Omicron Transmission

Other members of the WHO have echoed support for Tedros’ comments. WHO Emergencies Director Michael Ryan recommended China reconsider its approach to curbing the virus and any measures to combat the spread must show “due respect to individual and human rights”. The WHO has acknowledged extinguishing COVID-19 worldwide is impossible. At the current moment, the focus is on lowering transmission and lessening the impact on society and the economy. “That’s not always an easy calibration,” continued Ryan. 

President Xi of China has doubled down on the zero-COVID policy. The Chinese government has made it clear any critics will be punished.

WHO Chief Censored in China

China’s displeasure with the comments from the head of the WHO is apparent. Both the criticism of the zero-COVID policy and Tedros himself have been censored on popular Chinese social media sites Weibo and WeChat

This comes as a surprising turn of events. The United States had initially criticized Tedros for his support of China’s extreme response to COVID-19. Then president Donald Trump went as far as to initiate the process of withdrawing the United States from the WHO. This decision was reversed by President Biden upon assuming the office. The United States has historically been the largest funder of the WHO.

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BEIJING, CHINA – JANUARY 28: Tedros Adhanom, Director General of the World Health Organization, (L) attends a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People, on January 28, 2020 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Naohiko Hatta – Pool/Getty Images)

Economic Fallout from China’s Zero-Covid Policy

Shanghai, China’s most populous city, is slowly making its way out of lockdown. Some shopping malls and markets have reopened. The next step is public transportation resuming operation for limited hours. There are several hundred cases being reported each day. However, this is significantly less than the tens of thousands reported during the peak of the outbreak.

Even if the Chinese government were to lift their domestic zero-COVID policy, the international forecast is not so good. Overseas travel, including freight forwarding, would likely remain severely hampered. The lack of a mass-vaccination program and drop-of-the hat lockdowns following Omicron-related cases has many companies reconsidering their presence in China.


How SiShips Gives You the Advantage

Sheltered International combines expertise with state of the art software bringing you the highest quality domestic and international shipping solutions. With the world constantly changing, SiShips puts the shipper in control. We offer efficient and cost effective ways to ship your product.

To learn more about managed transportation with SiShips, or to view a demo of our software, contact us today.

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Shipping Delays Reverberate from Russia Sanctions

Russia Cut Out of Global Shipping

Russia sanctions rock the global economy following the unprecedented invasion of Ukraine in February. Now, as the dust begins to settle from Russia’s first salvo and ensuing sanctions from the rest of the world, the picture of how the global supply chain and shipping industry will be affected is becoming clearer.

In line with sanctions, Maersk, MSC and CMA CGM have suspended most deliveries to Russia, the world’s 11th largest economy. The refusal to deliver “non-essential” goods is in line with numerous other companies that have suspended sales in Russia such as Apple, Google, Ford and Harley-Davidson.

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Photo courtesy of Obv Design via Unsplash.

Full Extent of Impact Remains to Be Seen

While foodstuffs and medical supplies are still being allowed into Russia, ports and customs are seeing significant delays due to the need to screen all shipments. Maersk, in particular, is advising shippers to be aware of the risks of transporting perishable goods and can make no promises of when they might be delivered. 

As we saw last year with the blockage in the Suez canal, seemingly isolated incidents can have large ripple effects across the globe. A supply chain that is already stretched thin is not helped by extended delivery times on the European and Asian continents. Not just limited to the sea, Maersk has canceled rail transport between Europe and Asia until further notice. 

Also being hit hard by sanctions is Russian ally-Belarus. The EU has banned over 70% of Belarusian exports for its supporting role in the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The major sectors that could see repercussions are wood, timber, steel, and iron, along with cement, rubber and fuels.

Difficulty Processing Payments from Russia

maersk mcs cma switzerland belarus russia ukraine invasion putin shipping delays global supply chain

Photo courtesy of Jacob Meissner via Unsplash.

Perhaps the strongest sanction to hit Russia is the removal of seven major Russian banks from SWIFT. The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or SWIFT, is a secure financial messaging service based in Belgium that enables international companies to complete transactions with each other. While Russians will feel this more acutely in their daily lives than other citizens, it does affect the global economy and will not help with the current rate of inflation.

Banning any country from SWIFT effectively freezes all of their assets and makes it impossible for them to perform international business transactions. For example, Maersk, a Danish company, is currently unable to accept payments from any Russian company. No matter what happens as the conflict develops, there is literally no international business or shipping Russian operators can participate in until SWIFT lifts its ban. 

Some analysts speculate that aid might come from the East. In 2015, China established the Cross-Border Interbank Payment System (CIPS) in an effort to increase the power of the yuan and lessen the traditionally isolationist country’s reliance on western banks. Experts caution that this is unlikely, however, as only direct participants can use CIPS. Of the 76 direct participants, almost all are Chinese banks or closely-related overseas subsidiaries of those banks.

Complications for Humanitarian Aid

One of the strongest negotiation points where NATO, Ukraine and Russia have managed to agree in principle is the need for humanitarian corridors during the invasion. Though the U.S. has banned trade with the two Ukrainian regions recognized as independent by the Kremlin, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreigh Assets Control has issued six licenses to ensure humanitarian efforts are not negatively impacted. Those licenses include a short-term wind down of trade activities, imports of food, medicine and medical devices, and continued operation of telecommunications, mail and Internet.


How SiShips Gives You The Advantage

Sheltered International combines expertise with state of the art software to bring you the highest quality domestic and international shipping solutions. With the world constantly changing, SiShips puts the shipper in control, offering efficient and cost effective ways to ship your product. 

To learn more about managed transportation with SiShips, or to view a demo of our software, contact us today.

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Post Chinese New Year Shipping Outlook

The Sun Rises in the East

As 2021 drew to a close, America faced a tough road ahead due to a historic rise in inflation and European growth slowed due to rising energy costs. The, as for now temporary, delay of the Nord 2 Pipeline has contributed to the high price of energy, as well. Russia’s incursions into Ukraine have made the outlook in Europe even foggier. As we examine the Chinese shipping outlook, it is clear economies from every continent are more intertwined than ever.

Following the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) entering into effect on January 1, 2022, the Asia-Pacific region looks to lead economic growth through the remainder of the year. This year’s Lunar New Year celebrations were slightly milder than usual with many Chinese citizens staying home due to pandemic restrictions. Now that the Lunar New Year festivities are winding down alongside the decrease in Omicron cases, Chinese enterprise is poised to explode. 

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Renewed Hope for Sino-American Relations

Despite a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing-hosted Olympics, the economic relationship between China and the United States looks to improve in 2022. A leading reason for this rosy outlook is the power of the RCEP, as the world’s largest free trade agreement. In fact, US companies’ investments in 2021 increased 30.9% year-on-year and look to continue on the same trajectory. The global economy as a whole is projected to rebound this year, creating more investment opportunities for multinational corporations in America, China, and other countries.

Another benefit of the RCEP is creating elasticity in regional supply chains. One of the important provisions in the historic agreement is improving the division of labor among the 15 member states. Moving on from Covid-19, everyone is looking for ways to protect the supply chain and this agreement will be effective for years to come.

Impact of Covid-19

Compared to the early years of the Covid-19 pandemic, countries and corporations appear to be more in control of proper responses to outbreaks. The Omicron variant created a series of difficulties, but the spike combined with the Lunar New Year could have resulted in catastrophic backlogs at Chinese and American ports. While there are still delays and tightened capacity at ports around the world, a combination of ever-increasing access to vaccines and preparedness by private companies has mitigated worst-case scenarios. For example, Maersk is one of several companies to secure extra storage and transportation to ride out the Lunar New Year downtime.

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Shipping Rates Remain High

2021 was a banner year for shipping companies and 2022 looks to be much the same. Q1 began with high costs as everyone prepped for the Lunar New Year holiday. As we enter Q2, stores needing to restock depleted inventories will keep those rates at the same price or push them even higher. Deutsche Bank is predicting Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd rates will be up 30% or higher compared to 2021—a previous record. 

Even less excitable forecasts have to contend with the potential outbreak of another Covid variant, continued labor negotiations and the possibility of a global military conflict, all of which would escalate shipping costs for every route.

How SiShips Gives You the Advantage

Sheltered International combines expertise with state of the art software to bring you quality domestic and international shipping solutions. SiShips puts the shipper in control, offering efficient and cost effective ways to ship your product.

To learn more about managed transportation with SiShips, or to view a demo of our software, contact us today.

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Border Protests at the US-Canada Border Torpedo Supply Chain

Auto Industry Losing Millions of Dollars Weekly

With new cases of the Omicron variant beginning to lessen, there were hopes by many life might slowly return back to a pre-pandemic state. February is a month that traditionally feels the brunt of a tightened supply chain due to Lunar New Year celebrations, but this year the strain on the supply chain is coming from border protests on the North American continent.

Three border crossings have been closed or affected by a group of Canadian truckers who are protesting Covid mitigation measures. Thousands of truckers have joined forces to fight a mandate that all Canadian truckers must be fully vaccinated or quarantine in their homes for two weeks after crossing the US-Canada border. The protests have been declared unlawful by police, but for the majority of the protests practically zero arrests have been made.

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What Caused the Border Protests?

The so-called “Freedom Convoy” began in the western Canadian provinces with the goal of driving to the Canadian legislative capital, Ottawa, and remaining there until the mandate was lifted. Previously, truckers had been exempt from any form of vaccine mandate in an effort to keep the supply chain operational during the height of the pandemic. Since arriving in Ottawa, the truckers and other like-minded protesters have effectively shut down the city. There were rumors that similar protests might occur in Los Angeles, who hosted Super Bowl LVI on Sunday, February 13th.

The protest has spread from the capital to border crossings in multiple Canadian provinces, crippling the trade of goods between the United States and Canada. The Ambassador Bridge, which carries over one quarter of all trade between the two countries has attracted the most attention from protesters and media, alike.

Who Is Most Affected?

For the moment, the people feeling the brunt force of the protests are autoworkers at factories in Michigan, Kentucky and Ontario, Canada. Due to a lack of materials, employees’ hours have been cut back. Economists estimate that workers in Michigan, alone, lost $51 million dollars during the week of February 7th to February 13th. Factories typically keep two weeks worth of supplies on hand, but if the bridges remain closed much longer, “then you’re looking at layoffs,” says Carla Bailo, the president of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This loss of wages extends throughout the entire community, with people spending less money on food and entertainment while their hours are curtailed. It is a stark reminder of how precarious the global supply chain can be.

Additionally, the communities of Detroit and Windsor, Canada, where the Ambassador Bridge is located, are acutely feeling the pressure of the protests. The required police presence at the border protests, while leading to few arrests, has led to an increase in 911 response times for the rest of the cities. Additionally, in Ottawa, the epicenter of vaccine protests, the downtown area has been in a state of deadlock for several weeks. Businesses are closed simply because it is impossible to get to their doors due to the immense crowds.

The recent lack of steel and aluminum from Canada compounds upon the shortage of semi-conductors to drive up the value of both new and used vehicles. After announcing their earnings report for Q4 2021, Ford stocks fell 6%. However, Ford reported profits of over $10 billion dollars in 2021 and remains “bullish” on 2022.

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When Will the Border Protests End?

On Sunday morning, February 13th, following an injunction from a Canadian judge that entered in to effect on Friday evening, police began to arrest the truckers blockading the border crossings. While tow trucks removed vehicles, hundreds of pedestrian protesters remained. The road from Detroit into Windsor was partially re-opened, but it will take some time for auto plants on both sides of the border to rev back up to full production.

It is difficult to say when the borders will become fully operational, but goods are making their way, slowly, across the border. Prime Minister Trudeau, for the first time, invoked the Emergencies Act on Monday, February 14th, which gives the government more power to suspend citizens’ right to free movement and prevent financial support of the protests. However, the vaccine mandate was not repealed and after seeing the success of their initial protest it is likely there will be subsequent blockades in the coming days.


How SiShips Gives You The Advantage

Sheltered International combines expertise with state of the art software to bring you quality domestic and international shipping solutions. SiShips puts the shipper in control, offering efficient and cost effective ways to ship your product.

To learn more about managed transportation with SiShips, or to view a demo of our software, contact us today.

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In Conversation with Licensed Customs Broker Michelle Rockwell

The Past, Present and Future of the Customs Industry

Today on the blog, we had the chance to sit down with Michelle Rockwell, a Licensed Customs Broker and Operations Manager here at SiShips. Rockwell is a veritable fount of knowledge for all aspects of importing and exporting. Her career has spanned thirty years in the shipping industry. Rockwell has been a valued member of the SiShips team for the last seven years. Over the course of our conversation we touched on a variety of topics, including Rockwell’s unique experience as a Licensed Customs Broker, what she’s learned about freight forwarding in school and on the job, and the direction she sees the customs industry heading in the future. You can read our conversation below:

Hi Michelle, thank you for taking the time to chat with us. Let’s start at the beginning, how did you originally become a customs broker? 

Rockwell: On one of my yearly reviews my manager listed taking the broker exam as my goal for the year.  I had worked in all aspects of the industry during my career in international logistics and this was the next step in advancing in my career.

Was freight forwarding or international trade something you studied in school?   

Rockwell: No, I studied travel and tourism

What is an important lesson you learned early on in your career that you still think about today?  

Rockwell: The industry is a fast paced [one] with constant change that only the adaptable survive.

How to Work with Clients as a Custom Broker

What is your personal philosophy when dealing with clients? 

Rockwell: Always be transparent and honest with the customer.  The customer may not always like the truth, however they will respect you.

Do you treat them all the same, or does each receive individualized attention, depending on their wants and needs?  

Rockwell: Each customer requires individual attention depending on their working knowledge, experience, and expectations.

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A Custom Broker’s View of Covid-19

Apologies that we have to bring it up yet again, but how has the Covid-19 pandemic affected the way you do business?  

Rockwell: We have had to extra care with our customers who are frustrated with the extra challenges they have faced during Covid.  Covid has caused delays throughout the entire supply chain from port congestion, labor shortages, and extremely inflated freight rate. 

What advice do you have for clients that are frustrated with the current global situation? 

Rockwell: Ship earlier than you normally would, check all port options for creative routings, and expect freight rates to be highly inflated and above all remember to be patient as we are all struggling [through] this together.

Are you able to forecast when the industry and the supply chain might return to normal—if “normal” is even a possibility anymore, especially in light of the new Omicron variant?  

Rockwell: At my best guess I would not expect to see any improvement before Chinese New Year 2023

Apart from Covid-19, what is the biggest change factor you have seen over your 30-year career in the customs industry and how do you anticipate the industry to change in the next five to ten years?  

Rockwell: Another big change I have seen is when we changed to ACE for the reporting to US Customs.  This change helped to make the industry a more paperless environment, however it took away the personal relationships you had with US Customs in your local ports. 

We’ll finish with a fun one: if you’re able to share with us, what is the most surprising or unique client you have worked with during your career as a licensed customs broker? 

Rockwell: An individual that imported a Mosaic piece of artwork to hang on their wall that weighed over 600 pounds.


How SiShips Gives You the Advantage

Sheltered International combines expertise with state of the art software to bring you quality domestic and international shipping solutions. SiShips puts the shipper in control, offering efficient and cost effective ways to ship your product.

To learn more about managed transportation with SiShips, or to view a demo of our software, contact us today.

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Shipping Companies Are Taking Advantage of Pandemic Profits

Increased Demand, Increased Profits

The global supply chain continues to be a mess. There are delays in ports around the globe and backlogs at every step of the way. Shipping costs are 20 times more per container than before the pandemic. However, expenses for shipping lines have remained relatively constant. This translates to one of the most profitable periods ever for a historically low-margin industry.

So, what are the world’s largest shipping companies doing with their newfound pandemic profits? A whole lot, it turns out. The industry leader, Maersk, is investing their war chest in every step of the supply chain. Other firms are diversifying their business by expanding into adjacent industries. The one thing they all have in common is an interest in shoring up their future before profits return to normal.pandemic profits maersk shipping cargo freight industry invest airbus airline supply chain

Investing Pandemic Profits in Shipping Lanes

The Evergreen Group is doubling the size of their fleet after dropping $2.6 billion on 20 new ultra-large containerships; even the globally bad press from the Suez Canal blockage was not enough to sink this Taiwanese-based conglomerate. The privately held Mediterranean Shipping Company is taking advantage of their boost in profits to make one of the largest secondhand cargo ship purchases ever. They hope their addition of 60 secondhand cargo ships to their fleet will be enough to overtake Maersk as the largest shipping company in the world.

Speaking of Maersk, the Danish company is opting for quality over quantity with their fleet and ordering eight carbon neutral vessels to be delivered by 2024. Part of the draw of green vessels for Maersk is the zero carbon ambitions of their clients, like Unilever, Amazon, and Proctor & Gamble. CMA CGM echoes this philosophy with their $627 million spend on ice-breaking cargo ships that can travel the more environmentally friendly routes of the Baltic Sea.

Expanding Airline Fleets

Major shippers are taking “by land, by sea, by air” to heart and pouring money from their pandemic profits into increasing their air delivery capacity. CMA CGM has announced intentions to expand their airbus fleet with a purchase of four A30F freighters at the recent Dubai Air Show. This represents a further commitment to air from the French shipper by tripling the previous size of their cargo airline.

As mentioned earlier, Maersk is sitting no part of the supply chain out and that includes airfreight. Combined with leases and other company acquisitions, they have essentially doubled the size of their airline fleet since this time last year. The two new Boeing 777s, which will serve as the crown jewels of the fleet, are expected to be delivered by 2024.

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Diversifying the Shipping Industry

Part of many shipping companies’ plans for the future involve expanding their portfolios to keep profits on the rise, even when margins return to their typical pre-pandemic levels. Maersk is securing their future with the purchase of German-logistics expert and freight forwarder, Senator International. They are also capping off their shopping splurge with a $5 billion stock buyback.

Mediterranean Shipping Company has placed a large bet on their cruise division by ordering 12 new ships to be delivered from now until 2027. This purchase also includes the launch of a luxury cruise brand from MSC to set sail in 2023.

Finally, Hapag-Lloyd is taking a different approach from all of their competitors. Instead of investing in increasing their capacity, they are using their pandemic profits to purchase sea and rail terminals. If their belief that these port blockages are a one-time issue is correct, this is a wager that could pay huge dividends for Hapag-Lloyd.


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Sheltered International combines expertise with state of the art software to bring you quality domestic and international shipping solutions. SiShips puts the shipper in control, offering efficient and cost effective ways to ship your product.

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