The work of the forwarder is not only large transformers, freight aircraft carrying technically advanced military vehicles, or materials worthy of an Oscar thriller. These are also ordinary orders, moderately complex transports, in which everything has a chance to go as it should. Import of goods from China plays an important role in the whole forwarder’s craft. This, in turn, never belonging to the simplest, has now become even more complex due to the coronavirus pandemic. In today’s article, we look at the transport recently carried out by our freight forwarders from the rail freight forwarding department. What does their craft look like in which more and more popular rail transport from China is used?
Imports of goods from China – characteristics of rail transport from Asia
Rail transport from China is a relatively new solution used by Warsaw forwarding. Feasible since the 1970s, while the full potential of China’s rail connection with Europe could only be used since 2013, when the president of the People’s Republic of China announced the creation of a new permanent connection. The first years for this type of transport were quite modest. The first trips, still in 2011, closed in 20 trains, in 2013 in 80, and in 2014 already 308. Currently, we note an avalanche increase in trains moving from China to Europe, with the number of connections at the level of 6500-7000 per year. The New Silk Road has been presented in figures in an OECD report.
Trains depart from Chinese logistics hubs such as Shenzhen, Wuhan, Xi’an, Tianjin, Chongquing, Beijing and others. They take up to 40 20 'HC containers or standard wagons adapted for specialist and bulk transport. Thanks to international agreements, customs controls at every border are eliminated during transport, and fees and regulations favor the continuity of transport. This results in a short transport time: a train from China to Poland can arrive in two weeks. However, this is not the rule – there are often transports that reach the Polish border in a shorter time.
There are often transports that reach Poland in 9, 10 days. So far, the March record has fallen on 18.03 – the cargo reached its destination in 10 days from the departure of the warehouse.
The track gauge in the Russian Federation and former USSR countries is greater than the gauge track used in Poland. This is a hindrance, however, Poland has a terminal in Małaszewicze (the largest rail terminal in Central and Eastern Europe) and a Euroterminal in Sławków (the westernmost section of the broad-gauge railway in the world). This effectively puts Poland as the main recipient of goods from the New Silk Road, even if only for transhipment purposes.
Imports of goods from China – case report
For reasons of economy, stability and ease, rail transport from China is an ideal logistics solution for importers. This means that freight forwarders have their hands full. Below we present one of the cases which did not involve any challenge.
Like Road Transport from Hamburg to Warsaw, this article describes the craft of a rail freight forwarder on a specific example from the experience of the BBA Transport System. The railway forwarding department has many years of experience in cooperating with companies in China. The company was one of the first Polish forwarders involved in the organization of transport on the New Silk Road.
Circumstances preceding transport and start of implementation
The client turned to our forwarders with a question regarding the transport of cargo from Shenzhen to Pruszków near Warsaw. The customer was interested in the D2D transport model within a specified period. The list of tasks was as follows:
- consolidation of goods delivered by several suppliers;
- choosing the type of transport – full container or groupage;
- to fit in the time allocated for transport.
Tasks, as in the case of the aforementioned transport from Hamburg to Warsaw, did not differ much from the standard ones. The inquiry was received from the client after the recommendation of one of our partners. The load of transport was packaging for watches made of plastic, corrugated cardboard and filling in the form of plastic cushions. The offer was based on the costs presented by the agent and was accepted by the client. The framework of action assumed the receipt of goods from the factory 7 days before shipment, implementation in 20-24 days in the D2D (door to door) system on the Shenzhen – Pruszków route near Warsaw. After presenting the implementation plan with the assumed execution dates, the client accepted our offer and we were able to take on the task.
Initial procedures, minor difficulties and further transport
Despite the anticipated trouble-free life, minor complications must have occurred this time. The first was the delivery of cargo from four shippers. This seemingly trivial fact meant the necessity to consolidate the goods with four sets of documents. Freight forwarders have consolidated the goods into one shipment – the only problem is how to best transport the goods. The choice was between general cargo, with goods from other importers in a container, and full container – exclusive to container. Ultimately, we decided to carry out full container transport.
According to the assumptions, the goods were received from shippers a week before transport, which gave sufficient time to consolidate the shipment. Here, however, a serious problem arose: Wuhan was to be the original starting terminal. Shortly after the forwarding process began, the epidemic began, resulting in the closure of the city and limiting the work of terminals. In the end, the freight forwarder decided to bypass the Wuhan region. After leaving Shenzhen, the train was diverted to Chongquing, and then to Xi’an to continue on the New Silk Road track. The trip to Warsaw lasted 14 days. This resulted in 12 days on the road and 2 days of customs and transhipment procedures at the Małaszewicze terminal. The goods reached the customer within the pre-defined time frame.
Imports of goods from China – summary
As you can see, when everything goes according to plan, the transport of goods from China is a fast and effective method of transporting goods. What are the main success factors of this kind?
First of all, you have to bet on diligent, experienced forwarders. The BBA Transport System rail forwarding department consists of professionals who deal with a wide variety of rail transport orders. Good contact with a local agent who is well-versed in the market and legal regulations is also particularly important in transports from China. Thanks to smooth cooperation with proven partners, not only saves time, but also minimizes the risk of unforeseen events and additional fees.