DHL using expanded rail freight and charter flights to meet COVID-19 demand challenges


Bottlenecks in supplying medical equipment, stricter controls at international borders, and the absence of air freight capacity are just some of the challenges facing the logistics industry during the pandemic, according to DHL Global Forwarding. However, thanks to the skills of specialist staff, a worldwide network of terminals, warehouses, and offices, and its technological infrastructure, DHL Global Forwarding has remained “able to effectively maintain supply chains”, the company insisted.

“Despite the strained situation in air and ocean freight, urgently-needed protective equipment, medicine, and SARS-CoV-2 test kits in particular are still being transported. Additionally, the capacities for complete trains on the New Silk Road have almost doubled in recent weeks.”

In a briefing today, the company said: “In ocean freight, DHL Global Forwarding is also offering its customers business continuity solutions to avoid unnecessary transport costs and delays. Many customers use these tailor-made solutions to ramp up their business or production as quickly as possible the moment demand in the manufacturing industry or in the retail sector increases again. The goods are stored either in secured container hubs or warehouses near the destination, giving customers fast and flexible access to their items.”

The company said it was also supporting its customers “when existing options appear to be exhausted. Despite drastically reduced freight capacities, DHL Global Forwarding was able to make resources available on short notice to ensure good distribution practice (GDP) compliant transport of medicine. Over three weeks, more than 100 pallets of temperature-controlled medicine were delivered daily to China. Furthermore, a special unit load device cover designed to control temperature during transport saved valuable time.” 

When it comes to medical goods and pharmaceutical products, DHL Global Forwarding relies primarily on Frankfurt and Leipzig as its main logistics hubs, operating state-of-the-art centres near the two airports for transhipping medical products. “Both locations are ideal gateways for European imports and exports, with temperature-controlled areas, dedicated GDP-compliant transhipment warehouses, and IATA CEIV Pharma and TAPA A certifications for internationally operating customers,” the company said.

Tobias Schmidt, CEO DHL Global Forwarding in Germany, said difficult times require flexible and pragmatic action – especially when it comes to safeguarding supply chains. Deutsche Post DHL Group’s air and ocean freight specialist said it is “deploying its many years of expertise to meet rapidly growing demand for transport services in the Life Sciences & Healthcare segment”, along with “new technologies and the high degree of dedication displayed by its employees”.

DHL claimed: “Without these attributes, large quantities of protective equipment and medical products could not have been sourced and distributed within such a short time.

Schmidt commented: “We’re currently working faster than ever. Our employees are working almost around the clock to get important deliveries to where they are urgently needed.

“We’re currently seeing a strong shift in demand towards products and goods needed in the fight against COVID-19. For example, for the past week, we have been transporting around 100,000 COVID test tubes a day from China to Germany and the Czech Republic for a customer specializing in medical accessories. We’re also still transporting everyday industrial goods and products.”

He continued: “Flexibility and pragmatism are needed to meet demand as quickly as possible. We have been using numerous charter flights to ensure that our customers can maintain their supply chains despite the sharp decline in availability among our commercial carriers.”