Strange times require strange measures – especially when it comes to procuring and transporting equipment that is desperately needed in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. This is what led Cross X Staff GmbH to join forces with CEVA Logistics in early May to launch an unusual initiative.
While it is true that production of medical equipment and consumables has started up again in Asia, transporting these products remains a huge problem. Heavy cuts in transport capacity – especially in the air and sea freight sectors – and rapidly rising costs are still causing supply bottlenecks in many markets, and Germany is no exception. All in all, it is safe to say that these are not the best conditions to be faced with when you need to ship around 1.32 million community masks from Shanghai to Düsseldorf as quickly as possible, as Cross X Staff did at the start of May. “Transporting goods from Asia to Europe is our daily business. But the current situation has made it difficult, even for us. To save time and costs, we eventually decided to use overland transport,” explains Bodo Knop, Chairman of the Board at Cross X Staff. He received valuable assistance in this undertaking from C. Jairo Garcia de Diego, Global Head of Fashion & Apparel at CEVA Freight Management, whose team took on the responsibility for organizing and preparing for the journey. By May 4, two CEVA Logistics drivers were setting out on the almost 8,900-kilometer journey from Shanghai to Düsseldorf. Regularly swapping driving duties, they steered their truck and its load of 660 export crates along the route that had been carefully mapped out to take them to Germany. On May 18 – just two weeks after leaving the Chinese metropolis – they reached their destination in Düsseldorf. The next few days were spent moving the masks on from the German city as they were distributed to doctors’ practices, care and retirement homes, and other medical facilities that were in desperate need of them.
The recipients of the deliveries benefited twice over from the incredible effort on the part of CEVA Logistics and Cross X Staff. “We didn’t just deliver the masks within two weeks – we did it with much lower transport costs. Air freight would have cost three to four times the price, and it wouldn’t have got the goods here any faster,” explains Bodo Knop, whose company had already been donating masks to welfare institutions in Düsseldorf before the initiative began. And it doesn’t look like the trip from Shanghai to Düsseldorf will be a one-off, either. Following the roaring success of the dress rehearsal, the two partners are now planning to offer the overland freight as a regular service – ideally bringing other players on board as well.