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Francisco Ulloa, WCSA Managing Director from Maersk, and the logistics consolidation in pandemic. If there is something good the coronavirus has done it’s that logistics are living their moment of glory.
A couple of years, ago MundoMaritimo talked with the Managing Director Area WCSA Maersk, Francisco Ulloa, and he told us that the company was preparing -on a global scale- its transition towards becoming an integrated logistics operator. It is the start of the 2020 decade -and with a worldwide pandemic in course- the coordination and services work has peaked, consolidating Maersk as a company that has made a successful transition from container rental to logistics supplier from beginning to end. We sat down with the Danish carrier’s head of the west coast South America division again to learn the details of how the COVID-19 has impacted the regional team, and the challenges and opportunities the pandemic has brought.
The logistics consolidation
The coronavirus is never a welcome guest, but it has generated the ideal conditions to boost the use of digital platforms amongst Maersk clients. “This scenario has given us the chance to value more the digital tools at our disposal. The same has happened with our clients, who have learned to value more Maersk’s technological power: BL printing, online bookings, Maersk Spot (with an at-the-moment rate). This last product has had an important increase not just in the WCSA region but around the entire world. We believe that when clients realize that they can get solutions at the grasp of their hands they are thrilled,” says Ulloa.
The executive also highlights that, despite the social distancing rule, relationships with clients are closer than ever due to the increase in use of the digital platforms that allow a more independent organization by themselves. “Our relationship with clients has migrated from transporting a container to delivering a complete integrated logistics solution. This has brought many benefits for both parties,” adds the WCSA lead.
“The most important thing for us at the moment is for clients to feel like they can come to us and that we have created an integrated logistics company. We are growing in our supply chain footprint in the markets. This year west coast has been very interesting, and we have been able to grow in our logistics services,” he adds, emphasizing that the company has supply chain management services, 4PL, warehousing, land transport and tailored solutions for each client.
The ups and downs of the supply chain
Commodities exports in the west coast of South America have managed to remain stable during this time. However, imports have been strongly affected by the drop suffered by consumer demand but adjusting capacity through blank sailings has proven to be an effective tool -specially for services coming from Asia- to navigate the troubles waters the COVID-19 has brought.
But the challenges haven’t been on the cargo side, but rather on the hard-hitting impact on society and the consequences on the supply chain. “Ecuador began with problems at the start of the pandemic, now Peru is going through some tough times and that has affected transport and caused bottle-necks. Chile has managed to maintain a stable supply chain, and thus we have been able to work on keeping the flow of goods strong and stable,” highlights the lead executive for the WCSA region. However, considering the current scenario, it is complex to make any projections as to what may come in the near future. “We hope that the results for the second quarter will be similar to Q1 (worldwide). The current conditions do not allow us to speculate of project any kind of expectations for the rest of the year because it is all very uncertain. The downturn in the economy in Peru and Chile shows a very sharp drop in consumer demand and as soon as there’s a recovery we will see it reflected in import activity,” adds Ulloa far from making any official forecast.
Looking towards the future: the dream of the single window Part of Maersk’s digital sphere is to consolidate the digital documentation platforms in joint efforts with national authorities in the countries where they operate. The dream of the single window isn’t any less relevant in times of pandemic. “We are constantly in touch with governments to better understand how we can digitalize transport,” he adds, pointing out that the blockchain technology platform Trade Lens -developed in joint venture with IBM- is permanently adding suppliers (ports, carriers), which are taking part in a historic advancement for the industry “as ground-breaking as the very creation of the container box,” in words of the executive. “There is great efficiency to achieve from the point of view of documentation. The carrier industry is behind when it comes to technological interaction, that’s why these advancements are so relevant and valuable.”