4 Ways to Reduce Marine Logistics Costs in 2023

The global maritime supply chain has, to put it mildly, been tossed about through three turbulent years as the world was swept by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the immediate aftermath of the initial coronavirus outbreak, whole nations closed their ports and borders, and entire fleets of planes were grounded. Then, as scientists and public health officials learned more about how to prevent, diagnose, and treat COVID-19 infection, demand skyrocketed for shipping of hand sanitizer, masks, and other personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as for ventilators for overrun hospital emergency departments. In the months and years that followed, those able to work from home ordered furniture, equipment, and supplies to fit out their home offices and adjust to homebound family life.

While all this new demand led to record gross revenues for shipping companies, it also dramatically increased complexity and operating costs. In the nearly three years that have followed, labor shortages and quarantines caused historic delays at ports, commercial flights dropped more than 70%, and exacerbated trade imbalances led to massive shortages of containers in key manufacturing regions of the world. All of this impeded and slowed delivery of critical marine spares, equipment, and supplies, while driving up air and sea freight rates astronomically.

Together, we found ways to get you what you needed to keep your fleets safe, able, and sailing, though we know those skyrocketing freight rates have strained your budgets. We did whatever it took to keep your deliveries 99% on time without busting your budget, and you stuck by us through the hard times.

Ocean and Air Freight Rates (and Transit Times) Set to Decline

As we enter 2023, it seems that smoother sailing for procurement departments is at last just over the horizon, with both rates and delays now declining:

Granted, this all comes with expectations that shipping revenue will decline in 2023, but so too should procurement costs. With the historic demand of the past few years subsiding, procurement departments will be under heightened pressure to seize all opportunities to reduce logistics costs in order to maintain healthy profit margins.

What You Can Do to Reduce Your Marine Logistics Costs

Fortunately, we expect 2023 to mark a return to more predictable procurement planning: an opportunity for you to do what you do best to control costs while keeping your fleet shipshape and sailing. Following are some key ways you can reduce costs in the year ahead.

Reap the Rewards of Planning

The chaos of the COVID era sometimes punished planning ahead. Rates, fuel prices, schedules, demand, delays, and everything else were in constant flux to a degree our industry has never seen before. But we expect 2023 to be a return to relative stability in the freight environment.

Planning ahead will once again be reliably rewarded. So map out in advance what you’ll need, where you’ll need it, and when you’ll need it there. Place your orders with plenty of lead time, confident once again that the entire industry won’t turn upside down before delivery.

Plan Backward from Year End

While the future is never certain, we’re returning to an environment in which you can usefully scope out the year ahead rather than reacting to each day’s new crisis. What planned maintenance will your ships need and when? When will major port calls be near key supply hubs? What other important milestones can you anticipate for your ships over the next year?

Plan out the foreseeable needs you’ll have through year’s end, then work back from there. You’ll save yourself a lot of stress and save on shipping costs too.

Revisit Contract Service Agreements

With spikes in fuel costs, many of your contract service agreements have been more expensive than you probably anticipated when signing. Higher fuel costs understandably led to higher shipping costs, but fuel prices have lately been leveling off and declining. Your shipping costs should too.

Carefully review all your contract service agreements that have fuel surcharge provisions or fuel-based pricing. Make sure you’re getting the shipping cost reductions that lower fuel prices allow.

Communicate Your Preferred Supply Ports and Logistics Hubs

Consolidation is one of the more effective ways we can control your costs. Horizon has 30 warehouses located near key suppliers and ports around the world. And we can save you more if we know more… and if your team knows more too.

Communicate your preferred supply ports and logistics hubs to us, to your team, and to all on-board staff who will submit purchase orders. That will allow us to better consolidate your orders and deliver them efficiently to your ships at planned ports of call.

Whether through turbulent seas or in times of smooth sailing, Horizon is here to help you optimize your budget. Whether for scheduled maintenance or an emergency need, we’ll get you whatever you need, wherever and whenever you need it to keep your ships safe, able, and sailing. Call us at +1 800-221-6028 or contact us online anytime, and tell us how we can help.

New Horizons: Horizon Air Freight Celebrates Young Talent

For over 50 years, Horizon Air Freight has kept the world’s fleets shipshape…

“A Mini United Nations”: An Interview with Steve Leondis Regarding Diversity at Horizon Air Freight

Over the last couple of years, Horizon Air Freight has experienced remarkable growth. During this period of expansion, we’ve added many staff members, and combined forces with powerful partners to elevate our global reach.

During a routine walk around the office recently, CEO Steve Leondis found himself noticing that this company growth has had multiple positive impacts. And a big one included the breadth of diversity among the staff.

“Even from the beginning,” he remarks, “Horizon has been multicultural. We are, after all, a global organization, founded by my father who was a Greek immigrant to the United States. But now I can really see that, as much as we serve global companies around the world, our staff members reflect that too.”

The team at Horizon has long included men and women from diverse backgrounds. But Leondis was struck by the sheer number of nationalities represented to date. Currently, the combined nationalities represented across Horizon’s New York, Miami, Seattle, Houston, and Argentina offices include:

  • Argentinian
  • Bangladeshian
  • Bulgarian
  • Chinese
  • Ecuadorian
  • Filipino
  • German
  • Greek
  • Guyanese
  • Irish
  • Italian
  • Jamaican
  • Puerto Rican
  • Russian
  • Serbian
  • Turkish
  • Ukrainian
  • Vietnamese

Leondis attributes this breadth of representation to a few simple things.

Common Respect & A Common Cause

“Historically the mindset has always been to hire for the job,” Leondis insists. “I learned that from my father. Whoever fit the job description was hired, period. That’s always how we’ve looked at things. Just hire for the job. So that’s in our backbone, but in the last year or so the applicants are even more diverse than before. It’s not just individuals from New York anymore, or even people from the logistics space. And I love this.”

Even when hiring from a more diverse pool, however, the common goal at Horizon has continued to remain the same.

“Our common goal is always to serve the customer,” Leondis states. “Recently we went through a DE&I exercise involving individual and team interviews over a couple of months. And at the conclusion, serving our customers came through loud and clear as everyone’s primary goal. That dedication is what unites every single person who works here. And I think that comes through to our clients, as well.”

Expressing mutual care and respect for one another has been another key element to the success of Horizon’s diversity.

“Historically we’ve been available for all of our employees 24/7. For a company of our size, that is an outlier,” Leondis admits, “but that’s who we are. My office door is open for anyone at any time, and my phone is available. Given the pressure and busy-ness we experience, we always take time to unite people with simple, but personal, things. We celebrate everyone’s birthday with cake and coffee, for example. We recognize everyone from A to Z.”

Beyond providing a pleasant, empathic workplace and competitive compensation, Leondis also believes “a big differentiator is that we treat customers and employees as individuals. Whether it’s a warehouseman, truck driver, or senior salesperson — everyone deserves the same respect. That’s how we’ve developed as a company, and that’s what we want to keep as we grow.”

The Benefits of a Blended Workforce

“I’m at the office very early each morning,” Leondis says, “so I see everyone come in. When I walk into the kitchen to have coffee, I see a very diverse group sitting and enjoying the start of their morning together. But beyond this friendliness, teamwork is required to meet the daily challenges. These diverse personalities all come together to create the best solutions.”

Combining diverse resources across the team to solve problems makes the company stronger, Leondis insists. But a multicultural workforce can also strengthen relationships with clients.

Leondis intends to build into that strength even more as the company continues to grow internationally. “As our services become more global, we may utilize even more individuals familiar with different languages and cultures to help grow our business in those areas, or even help us get new business in other locations.”

Thinking Like a Businessperson

Early clients of Horizon Air Freight were largely from Greece — homeland of founder Anthony Leondis. As the business grew to include more U.S. shipping companies, the elder Leondis would occasionally send another representative instead of himself. “He had a heavy Greek accent,” Steve Leondis explains, “and he didn’t think a Greek immigrant would serve well to pitch for the business. I don’t have that same feeling he did, but it has given me an understanding of moving between two worlds. And the biggest thing this larger worldview has helped me with as a CEO is to always put yourself in someone else’s shoes.”

For Leondis, this means when visiting a client in Germany for example, to consider their needs, demands, and expectations. And keep an open mind as to how they may be viewing you and your own culture, as well.

“In these situations,” Leondis asserts, “I don’t think of myself as an American. Instead I think of myself as a businessman, and try to relate to my customers that way.”

Leondis encourages this macro-level thinking for everyone at Horizon, regardless of their position or background. And he hopes that continued connection and collaboration will empower everyone to conduct their work similarly.

How else can Horizon benefit from and celebrate this remarkable diversity in the future? There are a multitude of ways. “For one,” Leondis says happily, “I think we should have a cultural food day where everyone brings something to share from their homeland.”

Given Horizon’s diverse team and global reach, that will make for quite a feast.

Ever-Expanding Horizons

Horizon and Delver Agents Partner to Serve Arctic, Alaskan, and Antarctic Expeditions

For 15 years, Delver Agents has been the premier Ushuaia-based port agency and supplier supporting Antarctic expeditions from Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay. Antarctic operators from cruise lines and fishing fleets including NASA and Metallica trust Delver for ship services, freight forwarding, and import and export services. From parkas and pistons to mobile labs and submarines, they’ve always found a way to get you whatever you need, wherever you need it, from ports throughout the Southern Cone.

Now joining forces, Horizon and Delver Agents have the global reach to serve all your Arctic, Alaskan, and Antarctic expeditions. With our combined logistics supply chains, we provide consolidated door-to-deck delivery of marine spares, hotel supplies, and food and beverages from vendors anywhere in the world.

Together, Delver Agents and Horizon offer you an integrated, end-to-end solution that streamlines your procurement operations while giving you greater transparency, security, reliability, and control of all your purchase orders.

Our teams provide:

  • Personalized port services for anything and everything your expeditions need.
  • Consolidation of globally-sourced spares at Horizon’s 30+ international warehouses.
  • Consolidation of food, beverages, and hotel supplies in LA, Miami and Europe for Antarctic, Arctic, and Alaskan expeditions.
  • Expedited import/export and customs clearance to and from South American markets and worldwide.
  • Real-time tracking of all your purchase orders through Horizon WorldTrack.
  • 24/7 support by Delver’s port agents and Horizon’s routing specialists.

How can the combined forces of Horizon and Delver support your Arctic, Antarctic, or Alaskan expedition? Whatever you need, wherever you need it, we’ll get the job done.

Contact us today.

Horizon Air Freight Announces WorldTrack 2.0

Keep your fleet shipshape and sailing with instant information and intuitive insights.

Announcing the launch of Horizon WorldTrack 2.0, a major upgrade to the global marine logistics portal you already rely on to track your fleet’s supply chain and optimize your budget.

For nearly two years, Horizon’s business strategists and software development team collaborated with our customers to reconceive and redesign WorldTrack around the challenges, opportunities, and technical capabilities of today’s most forward-thinking, data-driven shipping companies. We then redeveloped WorldTrack from the ground up for robust performance, enhanced security, and lightning fast response.

Highlights of WorldTrack 2.0

  • Intuitive experience for easy access to the information you need.
  • Customizable interface adapts to each individual’s priorities and workflow.
  • Real-time tracking for all shipments worldwide.
  • Data visualizations reveal patterns and trends at a glance.
  • Intelligent analytics to discover valuable insights hidden in your historical data.
  • Powerful search features to quickly find exactly the information you need.
  • Saved queries for instant access to frequently needed information.
  • Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) integration with all marine procurement systems.
  • Exportable data, charts, and forms for reports, further analysis, and imports into your own IT infrastructure.
  • Enhanced security and access control to give each user and role only the permissions they need.

“The UI/UX is fully revamped, functionality is much more intuitive, features are more interactive, and the overall experience is more tailored to each individual user.” — Sheryl Ann Crespo, Director of Engineering and Technology

WorldTrack 2.0 gives your marine purchasing and technical departments  exactly the information and insights you need, whenever you need them, however they’ll be most helpful to you. So you can keep your fleet on schedule while optimizing your budget.

How Can WorldTrack Do More for You?

We built WorldTrack 2.0 on a rock-solid foundation of cloud-native infrastructure. It’s scalable, extensible, and customizable to serve your evolving needs for transparency, analysis, and integration. Our strategists and developers are eager to work with you. How can WorldTrack 2.0 better serve your fleet’s needs?

“We’ve always believed that you need data to drive decision making in terms of value, efficiency, optimization, and planning.” — Alex Leondis, Business Insights and Data Analytics Manager

WorldTrack 2.0 is now live and available through the website portal link. During the transition to WorldTrack 2.0, you will still have access to the classic WorldTrack portal through a link on the new portal’s home page.

Horizon Air Freight Data Analytics: New Technology for the New Year

Building on a Foundation of First-Rate Service

For fifty years, Horizon Air Freight has specialized in equipping our clients with high-touch customer service — paired with high-quality data analytics — to help you do your vital job more efficiently and effectively.

But we’re not resting on our laurels. Thanks to feedback from our valuable customers, this year we’ll be presenting two outstanding new technology platforms. Together, they will give you custom-designed transparency, analysis, and insight into all of your procurement activities — from the most granular to the highest level. You’ll be empowered with the real-time information your operation needs to optimize your budget spend while supporting your fleet at sea.

Here’s how we’ll do more for you than ever before.

Horizon WorldTrack Upgrades

“We’ve always believed that you need data to drive decision making in terms of value, efficiency, optimization, and planning,” says Alex Leondis, Horizon Air Freight’s Business Insights & Data Analytics Manager. Which is why, for over 20 years, Horizon WorldTrack has given customers analytics and insights into the daily status of any shipment, including warehouse arrival times and delays.

WorldTrack information can already be filtered by specifics including country of origin or destination, and give you access to relevant documentation including invoices and master air waybills. “These things are happening now,” Mr. Leondis says. “And not everyone else has it.”

But in the coming months, we’re upgrading WorldTrack to include real-time tracking information on global shipments. We’re adding more specific data points as well, along with a new and improved interface to make interpreting your data even easier.

“If you want to see, say, information from 12:12 p.m. today, you could click a refresh button, and once it loads up, you’ll have the data as of that minute,” Mr. Leondis explains.

Highly Customizable Business Intelligence Dashboards

To equip you with even more state-of-the-art business analytics for a variety of KPIs, early this year we’ll also be unveiling new, customizable, business intelligence dashboards. These dashboards will allow you to ask — and answer — even the most detailed, unique questions your business requires, including:

  • What’s the cost per kilo on a particular shipment?
  • Which vendors are delivering spares consistently to this destination?
  • What’s the waiting time on a particular fleet — or vessel?
  • Are we spending too much to cover last-minute shipments?
  • How many shipments and POs are we handling — and in what cities?
  • How many orders from this particular vendor have been delivered late?
  • Where else can we trim costs and increase efficiency?

“We’re excited because this will allow for much more modern, analytics-based decision-making that will streamline our customers’ procurement operations while optimizing their shipping budgets,” Mr. Leondis says.

The deeper you dive into the new dashboard’s advanced analytics, the greater value it can provide you. But we know from experience that one client’s specific needs may not be the same as another’s.

“We’ll be able to get very specific and tailor to what each customer wants to see based on their unique needs,” says Mr. Leondis. “It may open our eyes to challenges not seen before, and present new possible solutions. And then we can work together to drive even more value and maximize savings.”

A Powerful Combination — Still with a Personal Touch

In order to execute on both plans, we’ve spent the past 18 months hiring and onboarding an in-house software development team — ensuring quality and consistency from early planning to smooth migration. We’ve also partnered with current clients throughout the process, utilizing questions sent to us over the years, and discovery meetings to gather their insights for optimum visualizations. You can also rest assured that after launch, we’ll continue to provide you with trusted one-on-one guidance to help you sort and display the information in whatever way suits you best.

With an updated WorldTrack system, we’re giving you real-time information that will streamline your procurement operations by greatly reducing the time you spend requesting status updates and documentation. And our new business intelligence dashboards will empower you to make cost-effective decisions on shipping, optimizing your budget spend while keeping your fleet sailing safely and on time.

I’m excited,” Leondis says, “because this depth of rich, real-time data and flexible analysis is something that the industry hasn’t had in the past. There’s a whole opportunity to grow.”

Stay tuned for more information on the rollouts. Contact us if you have questions or would like to set up a time to see how Horizon can drive value for you.

Horizon Air Freight Announces Partnership with Inchcape Shipping Services

Leading Port Agency and Marine Services Provider Relies on Horizon for Last-Mile Logistics and Door-to-Deck Delivery Throughout the Americas

Horizon Air Freight and Inchcape Shipping Services have jointly announced a new partnership that will streamline Inchcape’s last-mile spares logistics and door-to-deck delivery throughout the Americas.

As one of the world’s oldest and largest port agency and marine services providers, Inchcape’s vision for a “smoother, smarter ocean” led the company to create its new Marine Supply Chain Solutions (MSCS) service line. MSCS manages integrated marine services for shipping companies across all ports, for enhanced customer efficiency, simplicity, and value.

“I was in search of a marine logistics company who would partner closely with us as we built this service line together,” says Crystal Waldroup, senior manager of MSCS – Americas. “I wanted a partner who had a global network of transportation companies already in place, someone who could handle both last-mile and door-to-deck deliveries anywhere in the world.”

According to Waldroup, the right partner would also have:

  • Excellent internal processes
  • Timely communications
  • Resourceful solutions
  • Technical sophistication

“Horizon was the obvious choice,” says Waldroup. “We’d worked informally with Horizon before and knew their reputation as the logistics company that could solve the most complicated shipping challenges. The time was right to formalize a true partnership.”

Inchcape Customers can now use the Horizon WorldTrack portal, which gives them real-time, consolidated updates on all their purchase orders.

“Prior to partnering with Horizon,” says Waldroup, “management of this service was a detail- intensive process internally. Horizon has really streamlined that process, allowing our customers to log in and extract any documents or data they require.”

“I couldn’t be happier with this new partnership,” says Horizon CEO Steve Leondis. “Inchcape shares our commitment to do whatever it takes to keep ships sailing safely and on schedule. We look forward to serving their customers throughout the Americas.”

Horizon Air Freight keeps fleets shipshape and on-schedule with global marine logistics by air, land, and sea. Critical marine spares, supplies, and equipment from any vendor worldwide: consolidated, expedited, delivered door to deck. Whatever you need, wherever you need it, we’ll get it there on time and on budget. With more than 50 years of experience, we keep more than 3,000 ships safe, able, and sailing. To learn more or to request a quote, call 800-221-6028 or visit haf.com.

Since 1847, Inchcape Shipping Services has provided the local knowledge and means to deliver port calls that enable business to ship smoothly and trade successfully. Inchcape combines its worldwide infrastructure with local expertise through a global network of over 240 proprietary offices across 60 countries and a team of more than 2,500 committed professionals. For more information, reach out to us and let us know how we can help you best.

Horizon Air Freight Featured on “Inside the Blueprint,” Airing on Fox Business and Bloomberg International

On August 7, 2021, Horizon Air Freight was honored to be featured on “Inside the Blueprint.” Airing on Fox Business and Bloomberg International, “Inside the Blueprint” is a “fast-paced series that takes a sweeping look at innovations in the commercial construction and design spaces, chronicling ideas and products that impact how we live, work and play.”

As the world’s most reliable and reputable marine freight forwarder, Horizon was delighted to be among the innovative influencers featured on this program.

With appearances from Steve Leondis (Horizon CEO), Alex Durante (Horizon Director of Global Sales), and Pixie Gibbs (Horizon Export Manager) the spot focused on how crucial the shipping industry is to global commerce, and how Horizon is uniquely positioned to assist these ships.

Crucial Support for a Crucial Industry

As the episode’s introduction overviews, 90% of the world’s global commerce and trade is transported by sea, either because flying cargo is too expensive, or because the volume is too great to send any other way. “Without these ships, the world doesn’t run,” Mr. Durante asserted.

This is where Horizon provides critical support. “Inside the Blueprint” showcases how we are uniquely positioned to provide “last mile service,” clearing customs in remote countries and delivering critical equipment on deck, with personalized service to any port worldwide. This means crucial equipment or supplies can be provided straight from the supplier to the individual vessel, keeping things running smoothly, and shipments delivered on time.

Customer-Focused Technology and Service

Our “Inside the Blueprint” episode also highlighted how Horizon’s technology has been designed to keep the customer’s needs in mind at every step throughout the entire process. Through our Horizon WorldTrack customer portal, clients can track with transparency, from time of first collection to the moment of satisfactory delivery, as Ms. Gibbs explained.

This is because Horizon stands behind its original mission to bring high-quality service at every level. As Mr. Leondis explains in the segment, Horizon was originally founded in 1971 by his father to support the Greek shipping community. But under his tenure, the business grew to an all purpose freight forward logistics company for fleets around the world. For 50 years, these ships have relied on Horizon to deliver supplies and equipment “where they need them, when they need them, no matter what it takes.”

Boutique Benefits with Better Pricing

Though our reach is wide, Mr. Leondis assured “Inside the Blueprint” producers that Horizon prioritizes quality over quantity. This allows us to not only thrive as a high-touch customer service company with boutique benefits but also provide better pricing. Horizon clients get the best pricing, Ms. Gibbs explained, because we are uniquely able to consolidate orders to be more cost effective.

Whether you’re based in New York or New Zealand, as this episode of “Inside the Blueprint” illustrates, Horizon does whatever it takes every day to ensure that vital equipment and supplies will be delivered to your vessel, because we understand what’s at stake. We also care about you and the safety and efficacy of all your people at sea. Contact us directly to discuss more how we can assist you.

Confronting the Container Imbalance

Procurement managers, technical directors, and purchasing agents are feeling it in high prices and long delays: As the global economy surges back to life, a massive imbalance in shipping container traffic is exacerbating bottlenecks in the supply chain.

Container bookings are hard to find. Delays are long, with many shippers waiting 6-8 weeks for a container. Prices are high — often 3-5 times normal rates — and air freight alternatives are even more expensive.

The container imbalance is impacting all sectors of the global economy. It contributes to inflation, which is on the rise, reducing consumer buying power in the midst of persistent shortages of key consumer goods. Small and medium enterprises are priced out of global trade by the high costs of shipping. Time-sensitive shipments of food are stuck in home ports. Even recovery from wildfires in the U.S. West is slower and more expensive because of the rising costs of building supplies.

What’s Causing the Container Imbalance?

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries around the world went into lockdown. Many factories shut down, reducing supply. Simultaneously, demand for many consumer and business products plummeted.

With many ports closed and crewing complicated by public health restrictions, shipping companies took many container ships offline to wait out the crisis. This left empty back-haul containers stranded, with no ships available to collect and return them to net exporting countries such as China.

Over the past year, as the global economy has come back to life, recovery has been uneven. Many countries in Asia came out of lockdown first but found themselves with a shortage of head-haul containers for export, while continuing restrictions in Europe and the Americas stranded back-haul containers.

With restrictions now loosened, demand in the Americas has rebounded strongly in recent months, amplifying the historic trade imbalance between Asia and the Americas.

This has all prompted aggressive measures by Asian exporters to retrieve any available containers, placing other regions in competition for an insufficient supply.

Throughout the global shipping network, port congestion caused in part by staffing shortages and lockdown regulations continues to further delay any attempt to rebalance container supply.

How Are Container Imbalances Impacting Procurement Managers, Technical Directors, and Purchasing Agents?

“First and foremost, air freight rates right now are through the roof,” says Alex Durante, Horizon’s global sales director, “because there’s limited capacity. In some cases, air freight pricing is 2-4 times higher than what it was pre-COVID. That has led to a fundamental shift toward ocean freight, because ocean freight is much cheaper than air freight. So you have a huge shift of cargo that needs to be moved by sea now because it’s cost-prohibitive to move it by air.”

However, that cargo — including smaller ship spares — that might once have been moved quickly by air must now compete for an insufficient supply of shipping container space. Meanwhile, oversized equipment and bulk supplies that have always been too large or too costly to ship by air are taking longer to deliver by sea, at much higher prices.

Procurement managers, technical directors, and purchasing agents are having to make sometimes impossible choices. Wait 6-8 weeks to ship by container, at 3-5 times normal ocean rates or ship by air, at 10 times what the same shipment would cost by sea?

For critical equipment needed urgently to keep a ship in service, delays can be catastrophic, yet the solutions can quickly exceed a fleet’s budget.

What Is Horizon Doing to Help Customers Keep Their Fleets Running Smoothly Without Exceeding Their Budgets?

“We’re doing the same thing we always do,” says Durante, “but putting in a lot more overtime doing it. All of our attention is focused on finding solutions, because we know that every order is critical.”

Horizon has always managed emergency shipments for our clients, finding ways to move critical parts halfway around the world when every hour counts. We take pride in always finding a way, no matter how hard the ask. However, in the current crisis, even shipments that once would have been routine are requiring the full force of our agents’ experience, creativity, and persistence.

“Whereas in the past we might go to 2-3 steamship lines to find available capacity at a good price and schedule, now we’re going to 10 or more to find the best availability,” says Durante. “We have to move quickly, too, because pricing that was once stable is now changing every day.”

Throughout the crisis, our staff has often pulled rotating 12-hour shifts to find, confirm, and monitor appropriate bookings for every delivery, so that our customers get what they need, where they need it, to keep their fleets safe, able, and sailing.

What Can Procurement Managers and Purchasing Agents Do to Secure the Best Available Shipping Options for Their Fleet’s Equipment and Supplies?

In short, two things: plan ahead, and confirm quickly.

Planning ahead is good practice even in the best of times, but it’s really essential while the container imbalance persists. As much as you can, anticipate what your ships will need in two months, then go ahead and order it now rather than waiting until the last minute. The more lead team you give us, the better we’re able to find solutions that balance costs with your deadlines.

Whether you order with plenty of lead time or need a last-minute shipment because of an unexpected emergency, we’ll work hard to find available container capacity that meets your timeline and won’t bust your budget.

When we present you with a good option, please confirm it with us as quickly as you can. Because of the intense demand for container space right now, that available space may disappear hours later. If it’s still available the next day, the price may have gone up.

The sooner you confirm a price and schedule with us, the sooner we can go back to the steamship line and lock in that space for you.

When and How Will the Container Marketplace Rebalance?

The short answer: we don’t know. But, with current container shipping delays averaging between 45 and 60 days, we know this will continue for many months at the least.

“I think this is going to go on for at least another year,” says Durante. “The port congestion alone is not letting up anytime soon. That paired with the labor shortages that we’re experiencing, there’s not enough hands, there’s not enough equipment to conduct regular operations. Just think of a traffic jam where they’re not clearing the accident from the road.”

However long the crisis lasts, we’ll do whatever it takes to deliver to our customers, door to deck, on budget and on time. Despite all the challenges, ships will keep moving the world, and we’ll be by their side, ready and able to help.

The container imbalance is complicating shipping, but we love a challenge. Give us a call. We’ll get you what you need, where you need it, on budget, with our industry leading 99% on-time delivery.

Keeping Fleets Shipshape for 50 Years

Featured in “Inside Marine” (M47 issue, August 2021)

Celebrating 50 years of operations, marine logistics firm Horizon Air Freight (HAF) continues to keep the world’s shipping fleets equipped and supplied, serving more than 3,000 ships around the globe.

Daniel Barnes asked HAF’s Director of Sales, Alex Durante, about the company’s longevity, the importance of proximity, the growing impetus of digitalization within the shipping industry, and, of course, how best to operate during a global pandemic.  

Horizon Air Freight (HAF) has reached its milestone 50 year anniversary. I imagine celebrating the company’s 50-year anniversary during a global pandemic wasn’t what you initially had in mind?!

Certainly not! However, we approached and invited this unexpected challenge to further demonstrate to our customers why HAF has been one of the global leaders in marine logistics for the past 50 years. We went above and beyond the call of duty to serve our customers, ensuring their business operations were minimally affected by all the issues that plagued the transportation industry.

There were days when most of our staff rotated 12-hour shifts to ensure our clients’ critical spares were delivered on board and on time. We thrive on these types of challenges by finding a way, any way, to always get the job done.

Horizon has reported a 99% on-time delivery rate, even through a pandemic – how did you accomplish that?

Maritime logistics is a very niche industry. Transportation providers like Horizon must have very unique skill sets to ensure the success of our clients’ missions. We execute with extreme diligence and have a wealth of experience, all of which our clients greatly depend on.

With global flight capacities cut by over 60%, getting space onboard commercial aircrafts was incredibly challenging. However, Horizon is aligned with the best partners globally, allowing us to be highly successful in accomplishing all that we do.

Horizon offers onboard delivery in over 350 ports globally, many of which are in some of the most remote and hardest to reach areas. Servicing these inaccessible ports naturally comes with a great deal of complexity and sizable obstacles, which, unlike most last-mile agents, Horizon is able to overcome.

From working with the world’s most reliable airlines to partnering with the world’s most expedited customs brokers, all of our partners are superb at what they do to ensure the job gets done, door-to-deck, on budget, and on time!

Female Horizon Air Freight working on computer

What steps has the company taken to ensure the business is as COVID-secure as possible?

The lagging effects of COVID-19 continue to cause a tremendous amount of transportation delays. These delays require advanced planning on our part when putting together transport solutions for our clients’ air and sea freight shipments.

One of the many value-added complimentary services we provide is global management of our clients’ fleet maintenance schedules. Our clients trust us to make the best economical decisions for consolidation and delivery of their global spares. This allows us to get ahead of these unavoidable transportation delays so that such burdens do not fall on our clients. Having a partner like Horizon to efficiently execute this type of fleet maintenance logistics management is invaluable.

Horizon has introduced proprietary shipment tracking software called WorldTrack. How did that software get developed, how does it work?

Without giving away our secret sauce, I can share that, at Horizon, purchase order (PO) transparency is one of our main goals. Horizon’s WorldTrack software includes a homegrown global PO management system and a state-of-the-art shipment tracking portal.

Our goal was to empower ship owners with as much information as possible, so they have the utmost visibility into all aspects of their purchase orders and shipments. WorldTrack provides clients with complete tracking from the time a purchase order is issued to their vendor until delivery is made onboard their vessel. For every single PO issued, Horizon documents each milestone of the PO process in real-time.

Although our primary business is logistics, in many ways we become an extension of our clients’ purchasing department, at no additional cost. Many of the value-added features that our system provides our customers are designed to resolve all the day-to-day headaches that purchasing departments encounter. PO monitoring, vendor follow-up, managing past due orders, access to supplier documents, vendor compliance reports, financial reporting, etc, are just some of the ways that our system goes above and beyond what other logistics companies provide.

Male Horizon Air Freight working on computer with multiple screens

With global transportation costs at all-time highs, what has Horizon done to help its clients stay within budget and mitigate their operating expenses?

Horizon has over 30 warehouses for spares consolidation worldwide. This strategic investment has allowed our clients to consolidate their spares globally more than ever before. Our spares consolidation model allows shipowners to reduce the number of shipments to their vessels and most importantly, cut their logistics costs drastically.

Consolidation of spares is the most efficient way for a shipowner to operate compared to allowing their worldwide vendors to ship their orders to destinations individually. Our warehouses are located in proximity to all global areas of spare parts supply. In addition, our WorldTrack software is connected to all Horizon locations so clients receive a global snapshot of their spares inventory with just a single click.

With many companies adopting a work from home policy, how did Horizon adjust during the past 18 months? What worked well and what was implemented to help support Horizon’s clients’ requirements?

Horizon Air Freight teamWorking from home due to COVID-19 has definitely caused many disruptions in our customers’ day-to-day internal operations. These disruptions have resulted in our customers relying on Horizon’s value-added services more than ever.

Services such as PO expediting, electronic data interfacing, and inventory controls have all helped fill the huge voids from not being in the office. All of the services, software, and technology we offer shipowners cater specifically to their unique business requirements. In many ways, as I’ve stated previously, we become a complimentary extension of their purchasing and technical departments.

All of HAF’s value-added services were designed particularly to reduce the redundant, manual, and tedious tasks that purchasing and technical departments encounter. By automating solutions to these tasks electronically, we saw a huge uptick in the usage of our value-added services. I am happy to say our clients were beyond grateful and ecstatic that we had such accommodating services available to ease the burden of COVID-19 and support their business during such a tough time.

What does the post-COVID industry look like for the maritime industry? In what ways do you feel COVID-19 has forced ship owners to operate more efficiently?

It’s no secret that COVID-19 has forced ship owners to implement many changes in how they operate. Labor shortages, port congestion and rising transportation costs have caused many obstacles in their day-to-day operating procedures. One of the many ways HAF combats these obstacles and differentiates itself from other marine logistics providers is by interfacing electronically with our customers, also known as electronic data interfacing (EDI).

Our complimentary EDI services allow us to upload up-to-the-minute PO statuses, shipment tracking updates, documentation, and financial reports directly into our customers’ internal systems. Horizon’s EDI service allows for the instantaneous exchange of data between HAF’s system and our clients’ internal system so that all pertinent information is transferred and available for them in real-time. Simply put: one system, one world, one Horizon.

You’ve had a successful and interesting 50-year history — where do you see the next 50 years going for Horizon Air Freight?

Our vision for the future is the same vision that our CEO’s father initially built this company with – to always have a “We Care” mentality. At HAF, we always go above and beyond the call of duty for our customers. Our clients’ success is our number one priority. By always being there for our customers, it reassures them that they can sleep with both eyes shut at night.

As the world grows ever more connected, the importance of commercial fleets will only increase, and so will the complexity of keeping those fleets supplied and running. At Horizon, this is what we thrive on. Shipowners trust us with the critical equipment needed to keep their fleets safe, able, and sailing, and we take that trust very seriously. Ships keep moving the world, and we’ll be by their side, ready and able to help! Reach out to us directly to let us know how we can serve you best.