A day in the life of a trainee

Working at ocean freight import operations in Rotterdam. What does that mean? Some would say it is about moving a box from A to B. I would say this definition misses the whole point. 
 
The process starts off with a new booking request, the customer wants to ship an order from somewhere in the world to Rotterdam. For this part of the process you collaborate with Mainfreight offices around the world like China, US, New Zealand or with agents in India or South-Africa. You want to know whether they have found a sailing schedule for the customer. In order to get to this point you need to understand what is happening at the country of origin: 

•    Have they contacted the shipper? 
•    What is the covid situation? 
•    What is the labor situation?

In the current environment, issues are bound to arise. What options can you find for the customer to ship the orders as quickly as possible for a reasonable price? And how do you explain the current market situation to them? 

After the ship departs, I track it. My main question is: has the estimated time of arrival in Rotterdam changed? In this case you need to expect the unexpected:
•    The container gets unloaded at another port instead of Rotterdam,
•    The route of the container changes, 
•    The vessel is in quarantine due to a covid outbreak,
•    Or the vessel gets stuck and blocks the passage for other ships.

Right now only 33% of all vessels arrive within the original estimated time of arrival, so you can imagine all the tracking that needs to be done and all the updates that you need to send to customers. 

After the container finally arrives in Rotterdam, it’s my job to arrange the transport to the customer. Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Well, you can’t pick up the container if you don’t have the right documents or if the customer doesn’t have the right documents to clear the container. Based on the number of demurrage and detention free days you can determine the transport mode. And you need to keep in mind that you container can get selected for a customs inspection. In this process you’re involved with at least four different parties (carrier/co-loader, transport company, customs and your customer).

What happens after we deliver the cargo? Usually I don’t know what happens with the cargo that gets unloaded… unless there is an issue. It is possible that the cargo was damaged at some point in its journey. Then we need to figure out where it happened. Sometimes customers are so happy with the delivery that they send us a picture of what they made with the cargo that we delivered. Those are the good days. 
And then there is the sales aspect of the job. Understanding the needs of you customers, where they are shipping from and how they are shipping their goods is key to your service. You try to think from their perspective and offer advice in order to improve your service. 

At the end of the day, the import operator is the closest contact the customer has and s/he is providing the service. The customers view the operator as Mainfreight. And that’s what makes this job so dynamic and challenging.

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