COVID-19 Update #5 – Frontline & Fighting – We’re Open For Business !

March 17, 2020  |   News

Update Friday 3rd April

We would like to update you further on the current and quickly developing situation, regarding moving cargo around the world, and to update you on our own contingency plans during this difficult period.

Our Continued Response

Our new measures of split working, 50/50 week on/week off are in effect and, whilst it’s a new challenge for our team, they are working incredibly hard to ensure we function normally.

Key Updates Below:

  • Air Freight Services Update
  • Int’l Courier Update
  • Response to delays making and administering bookings
  • Beware of warehouse staff in dinosaur costumes as PPE

Practical Measures

After placing SFS Facility in ‘lock down’ on the 16th March, we continue to operate as normal, albeit with a mix of remote and physical working.
 
We kindly remind everyone that ALL drivers and visitors are guided to report to Warehouse G doors where there is a door bell for access, and the front doors have a sign with our telephone number in order to contact the main office. Please ask you drivers to respect our rule for personal contact and understand they are not allowed into the warehouse, or to use our facilities. These are difficult times, but we must all play our part to help restrict the spread of this virus.

Our drivers (and all members of staff) are equipped with hand sanitizer, anti-bacterial wipes and tissues. Drivers also have surgical gloves to minimise contact. We have instructed our drivers to restrict, where possible, personal contact when collecting or delivering your cargo. We would ask your assistance in this regard, in order to protect everyone, and they may now call your office to announce their arrival, instead of walking into the premises.

NOTE: We have instructed our warehouse staff not to handle or sign any tablets or screens at this time, or make personal contact with clipboards etc. They will provide the delivery driver with their name. We also will request our own drivers are not asked to handle any tablets or screens when collecting or delivering at your premises.

Contingency Planning; NEW WORKING ARRANGEMENTS

Further to our update on Friday 27th , our split working arrangements have been largely successful, however we would ask everyone to understand that we are essentially on the frontline, and each shipment or quotation is taking considerably longer to produce, thanks to the hugely complex nature of this current situation.

Our teams are split 50/50 working – one week on – one week off, in an effort to reduce cross contamination. We have restructured our working environment to ensure minimum distance is observed, and split use of toilets and kitchen facilities, whilst also ensuring we further protect our warehouse team and our drivers.

We have implemented new technology for warehouse/office/transport communication also, to help facilitate efficient communication and functionality between teams, but with reduced physical contact.

But our office is still functioning, our teams continue to be on the front line and we’re busy helping the world continue to move cargo, including important medical supplies and equipment needed around the world, and here in the UK.

**UPDATE – We have noted many concerns relating to quotes, bookings and post flight issues on air export in particular. Please note comments below in airfreight export section

Please just bear with us at times if our response times are slow.

The World is Still Moving

The Majority ofcargo routes remain open, however there are tightening restrictions in some countries where the lockdown process is more restrictive.

  • Airfreight Export continues to operate at full steam, despite such a dramatic reduction in passenger flights. Some sparks of good news this week, with Virgin Atlantic and Emirates now resuming some passenger flight operations. Many US carriers are still offering services, select destinations with British Airways, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines and we also have an extensive network of all freighter aircraft routes available. Rates are particularly high. **Our air export team are battling with slow responses, last minute flight changes/cancellations, poor customer service in some areas or having to deal with some airlines that, dare we say, under ‘normal’ circumstances, we may choose not to! But beggars cannot be choosers, as the saying goes. A normal air quote or booking would usually take 5-10 minutes – but they are now taking an hour or so. Please bear with our fantastic team as they battle through this crisis!
  • International /UK Courier – ALL services remain in operation, but rather sadly we are now facing the implementation of an Emergency Situation Surcharge (ESS) as of 1st April. This is not an SFS surcharge. Both DHL and FedEx are charging now, and we are seeing it elsewhere. Many tariffs are temporarily suspended, so therefore we must begin to quote on a per shipment basis to be sure of the correct charge at time of shipment. Our online tariff is offline for the time being as we encourage your teams to email courier@sotonfreight.co.uk or call us on 02380 860999 (please remember we have limited staff in the building, so we encourage email communication)
  • DHL and FedEx are operating as normal, but those and our other wholesale services across the world may experience some short delays and restrictions on POD’s
  • For Urgent European shipments we have an extensive network of dedicated vehicles that can deliver into Europe next day (or perhaps two days depending on the distance). Please let us know ANY requirements you have, large or small.
  • Some continuing delays on standard European road deliveries and POD’s may not have a signature due to reduced personal contact at delivery points. This is an ongoing and developing situation
  • Ocean Freight space issues for special equipment (such as reefer containers) and on some routes, but we can make bookings for containers daily. We are seeing more blank sailings so capacity may reduce in the short term. Some areas have more space available than others, so we would encourage you to discuss with our ocean export team by calling 02380 860999 or emailing searoad@sotonfreight.co.uk to discuss your requirements
  • Warehousing space is available for large, small, racked, out of gauge, bonded, non-bonded, hazardous cargo, pick and pack etc. If your warehouse is closed/closing but you still want to ship orders, please discuss options for us to hold your stock and despatch against your orders. Contact sales@sotonfreight.co.uk

We are fighting as a team to continue operating under these exceptional circumstances. Whilst the incredible emergency services of this country keep working in the background to protect us, we’re also providing an emergency service to keep the world moving. Talk to us about your requirements.

We will continue to update you when more information is available. In this deeply worrying period for the world, we want to express our hope that you, your colleagues, families, friends and businesses are safe from harm. We are here to support you in any way we can and thank you for your support, as always.

Ross, Chris and the entire SFS Family

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