Tuesday, 29 October 2013

General Strike in Indonesia - 3 million workers to take part - major logistics impact - are you aware?

Good afternoon All

Do you trade with Indonesia? If so are you aware of the planned General Strike from 30-Oct to 1-Nov (Wed-Fri this week)?

We're advised by some of our Asia logistics providers that many workers have already taken part in industrial action today (28-Oct) in preparation for the General Strike. The strike will impact air and ocean shipments (both import and export). See below link and excerpts from a bulletin we received today.


Indonesia Strike

On the 28th October tens of thousands of workers went on strike in preparation for a two-day national strike announced for Oct. 31 to Nov.1.

As a result all container depots were closed on Monday so there were issues collecting empty containers. The situation has improved today although demonstrations continue but not to the same scale.

Jakarta News have advised

 "Workers will participate in the action across several regions,” Confederation of Indonesian Worker’s Union (KSPI) chairman Said Iqbal said in Jakarta on Sunday as quoted by Antara news agency.

Around 10,000 workers will strike on Pulogadung Industrial Estate and KBN Cakung in East Jakarta. Around 50,000 workers will strike in Bandung and Cimahi cities as well as Bandung and West Bandung regencies in West Java.

“Workers in Karawang, West Java, and several other regions will also hold a convoy,” said Said.

He said millions of workers would attend the two-day national strike to demand that the government abolished the outsourcing system.

“Three million workers will participate in the national strike. The action will become a proof that we, the workers, are not just playing in voicing our demands,” said Said.

The three demands comprise appropriate wage, social protection scheme and the abolition of outsourcing.

“The government has so far not once responded to demands for a dialogue,” Said explained.

He said the three million workers would paralyze Indonesia’s economy by stopping production processes and economic activities in airports and seaports.

The national strike will take place in 20 provinces and 200 regencies and municipalities.

Why should you use a logistics consultant ?

Afternoon All

Here's something well worth reading, especially as it is so well put and dispels a lot of the myths/concerns about appointing an external source of expertise.

It's written from a generalist perspective on any consultant, but I think it's particularly relevant to logistics, particularly as regards market knowledge / objective viewpoint / getting the job done.

Kind Regards



If you're looking to improve your supply chain, you may have considered using the services of a logistics consultant. You might be worried, though, about whether it will be worth the cost or bring any real benefits to your business. Here are some reasons to seriously consider using a consultant.

Product Knowledge

Working with a logistics consultant who has a broad knowledge base and experience working through similar issues to those you are experiencing brings a number of advantages to your team.

You'll probably have received loads of literature from sales people, for example, telling how great their products are, but how can you possibly choose between them? An independent logistics consultant is not selling products and does not get any financial incentives from the products they specify, therefore they can give objective advice.

A project run internally can often get sidetracked by everyday management issues. Bringing in a consultant who can focus on delivering results will ensure that the goals are achieved quicker.

Consultancy does not need to take project ownership away from the management. However, as long as management is clear about its objectives and is able to select, direct and manage the consultants carefully, real added value can be seen.

When Should I Use a Consultant?

All organisations at some time reach a point when they are aware that they could be doing things better or differently. It may be one or several areas of the operations that are not achieving their goal or not functioning as efficiently as they might.

The main reasons for using consultants usually focus around:

o Complexity
o Timescales
o Expertise
o Resources

Efficient Staffing

The issue or problem may be short-term. To manage the change effectively and maximise the benefits will require an intense effort, potentially jeopardising the performance of the rest of the operation. Permanently increasing the headcount to handle a short-term project will increase operating expenses. A consultant can assist in managing the change until the introduction is complete and the operation has stabilized.

Often specialist knowledge exists within the company but a secondment cannot be arranged in the required timeframe. Consultants are ideally suited to providing the skills that are not available from permanent staff.

Decisions which result in a large change or financial commitment from the company will frequently involve consultants to review any analysis before a decision is made. An outsider can ensure that an objective approach and attitude are taken and that all potential alternatives are known and explored. Often the consultant will know of additional alternatives which were not even considered previously. At other times just having the consultant confirm competent and thorough analysis can add additional weight to the business case.

If a project has lost momentum or is not delivering the expected results a consultant can quickly provide the input required to get it back on track.

Working With a Logistics Consultant

The use of consultants is unlikely to bring benefits if you dismiss the consultants' involvement as an expensive distraction from everyday operations. However, if you chose the right consultant or consultancy, clearly define the project objectives, provide the consultants with the information they require and set aside time to review progress and buy into their ideas, the benefits will be seen.


Monday, 21 October 2013

Taken a look under the bonnet of your logistics recently?

Good afternoon All

I was driving down the motorway recently and an interesting thought came to mind which connected the world of international logistics to the cars we drive today.

Most people would agree that cars are becoming more and more complex, and even basic servicing is beyond most of us, either for fear of breaking something, invalidating the warranty or if we're brave enough to consider it - for not having the specialist tools or expertise to carry out the job ourselves.

We're therefore pretty resigned to the fact that if we want our car to remain reliable, safe and efficient that we should entrust the work to qualified motor vehicle technicians, who spend every day of their life working on increasingly complex vehicles.

And that's when I had the thought - logistics is a very specialised field too, however many companies never give their logistics model a service, MOT or winter safety check! In truth, it may work reasonably well from a service perspective and the freight/duty costs are "what they are"...checking freight invoices is not something that many customers feel confident about or enjoy doing, quite understandable given the number of different charges and acronyms used!
So often, their challenge is that even though they know their freight model might benefit from an overhaul, they wouldn't know where to start in researching better or more cost effective alternatives, and in many small to medium sized companies, they really do not have the resources or expertise to carry out a professional logistics RFQ and selection process.

We generally work with small-medium sized UK importers and exporters who spend £50-£500K per annum on air and ocean freight costs and most of our customers so far had the very same dilemma, quite understandable in small-medium sized companies who have very flat organisational structures and often little in-house expertise.

Their initial concern is that they could not afford to employ consultants on a traditional time based fee model and so we operate on a results based fee model which generates significant freight savings (average 35% across all clients since 2009) and leaves the client with the lion's share of the cost savings and a leaner, more customer focused logistics model.

We carry out the whole process for the customer from an initial assessment onto the RFQ, selection and then implementation, and then managing the new freight model for them to ensure rates are charged as agreed, services are monitored and rates are re-negotiated to ensure their new costs are kept under tight control.

We offer a free no-obligation meeting to importers/exporters in the North West so we can explore what opportunities there may be and we have some excellent testimonials, many of which are quoted on our website and LinkedIn.

So the next time you think that your car needs a service, consider whether your logistics model would benefit from the same expert attention, you'll be glad you did.

Kind Regards

Andy Cliff



Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Asia-Europe Ocean FCL Freight Rates - get ready for another rate increase?

Good afternoon All

Here at Straightforward Consultancy, we're managing the freight models for many customers, and the key markets for most UK importers are the US and Asia, and Asia is the one you really need to watch.

Since early 2012, we have seen huge swings in ocean freight full container (FCL) rates from Asia, all related to the lack of demand and excess of containership capacity and on the other side of the coin, the financial performance of the ocean carriers, who can soon move to loss making positions if rates weaken.

We monitor Asia-Europe every week and we've seen rates hit the floor in Jun-2013 to be followed by around USD 1500/TEU (per 20ft container unit) increases in July and August.

So, USD 1500 is a hefty increase but here's the thing. Ever since the last increase in August, rates have been falling (because Peak Season from Asia is actually around August) and here we are, mid-Oct and quite remarkably only TEN percent of the increases are now still in force.

Enter from stage left the carriers, keen to reverse the downward trend with proposed increases of around USD 1000/TEU (20ft). I was sent an piece today by a major forwarder who had listed the increases and they are all between USD 925-1000/TEU - what a coincidence...

So, the question is, what rates are you paying now and are they line with the market - and secondly, what rate increases are you expecting for November 1st?

I think the key message here is that on a market like Asia-Europe, you really need to actively manage and monitor it and keep control of your costs, which is what we're doing for our clients every day.


Kind Regards

Andy Cliff

***************LATEST NEWS*********** 1st November 2013

So today is (was) the big day, the day when the USD 1000/TEU (USD 1000/20ft) increase hit the Asia-Europe market. I was talking to a potential client earlier today who have modest volumes (say 250-300 TEU) ex China/South East Asia and he told me they were paying USD 900/TEU more for November sailings than they did in October....! After I'd almost fallen off my chair, I arranged to meet him to talk about how we manage this area for our clients and keep them competitive and compliant.

So have you checked into this and found out what rates you were paying in October ? And what sort of cost increase you will be paying from now on?
If you want to avoid these sort of cost hikes, please talk to us. It may be the best decision you make this year.

Kind Regards

Andy Cliff

Straightforward Consultancy Ltd
4, Beckett Drive
Winwick Park

Tel : 07934 443492
Email : andy@straightforwardconsultancy.co.uk
Web :
Blog : http://straightforwardconsultancy.blogspot.co.uk/
Twitter: @AndyCliffSCL

Monday, 7 October 2013

Quality - Brands - Customer experience - Loyalty - my recent experiences

Good afternoon All

It had to be said that I have very standards, which means I expect whatever product I buy to be as described and I think that goes without saying really.

A case in point would be a BMW 3 series I bought two years ago, which at the time was around 3 years old but we bought it from a BMW dealer with (fortunately) a 2 year extended warranty.

I had never owned a BMW in all my years of car ownership and I suppose it was what marketing people would describe as an aspirational brand, all those associated attributes, you know - quality, reliability, performance, customer service, owner satisfaction. Fair enough and clearly car manufacturers invest a lot of money investing in their products and creating a premium brand feel.

Sadly though, my experience of BMW was a real disappointment, mainly because the car seemed to have glitches which the dealer could never seem to fix, despite several 2 day visits to the BMW workshop. It culminated in one fault, where the car's engine would suddenly die when you needed power (eg at a junction) almost causing an accident.

I then realised this needed fixing once and for all but I was told by the BMW dealer that I couldnt have it looked at for almost 3 weeks and they might need it for a week. I tend to be pretty loyal to "brands" and companies however I think I reached the tipping point with the BMW, I just lost the will to keep taking it back with no improvement.

Now here's the thing. Once you have had a bad service or brand experience, you're unlikely to return to that brand and you'll find something better, more reliable, more competitive, whatever - and no matter what happens you'll never try that brand or supplier again.

And for me that is the ethos we have here at Straightforward Consultancy - we truly go the extra mile for our customers and this brings about a tremendous loyalty. We're now in our 5th year (wow) and our business and reputation continue to grow. Mind you, we do enjoy what we do!

Speak soon.

Kind Regards

Andy Cliff