DHL Global Forwarding introduces new multi-modal service between China and Japan

This new offering uses ferries, rail, and trucks transporting 12-foot containers, with goods picked up from one of several China-based locations

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DHL Global Forwarding recently rolled out a new multi-modal service between China and Japan.

Company officials said this new offering uses ferries, rail, and trucks transporting 12-foot containers, with goods picked up from one of several China-based locations, including Shanghai, Ningbo, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Nantong, Wuxi, Nanjing, Hefei and Wuhan, which are then brought to Shanghai by truck, taken across to Hakata in Japan by ferry and then transported across Japan via Japan Rail. At that point, in Japan, pick-up and delivery is done through Japan Rail—the country’s most extensive rail network—and taken across to Shanghai by ferry, with final delivery to destinations in China done by truck.

DHL added that this service was made possible due to the fact that the company was recently licensed by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism to use railway cargo for transportation in Japan. And they also said that this service reduces costs by up to 60 percent compared to air freight and reduces transit times by up to 3 days compared to using ocean service only, coupled with vowing to emit up to 92 percent less CO2 compared to air freight.

“The China-Japan trade lane is one of the most important Intra-Asia trade lanes,” said Daigo Seki, General Manager, Ocean Freight Japan, DHL Global Forwarding Japan, in an interview. “The launch of the service was due to a need for a cost-competitive, speedy and eco-friendly transportation mode that could offer different value propositions compared to airfreight and ocean freight.”

Saki said planning for this service started mid-2010, and the rail permit applications to the authorities were made in Q1 2011. Approval came through mid-2011.

The 12-foot rail containers being used are owned by JR Freight. Saki said this type of container was first introduced in 1971 for domestic use in Japan.

“This container is particularly good for small lots of fast-moving commodities,” he noted.

And DHL said that these types of containers cut handling and transit times and also reduce the potential for damaged goods as there is no need to move goods from one type of container to another to match up with each transport mode, as well as enable shippers to ship in smaller amounts in order to more effectively control inventory management processes.

In terms of the competitive advantages this provides from a company perspective, Saki said DHL has an extensive footprint in China and we can provide Japanese customers with this service nationwide in China, coupled with customers in China that can also benefit from its comprehensive service into Japan. And combined with DHL’s global network, he said shippers can enjoy a wider range of services with excellent service quality.

“The U.S. was Japan’s top trading partner until 2007 when China took over as its biggest import and export partner,” said Kelvin Leung, CEO, Asia Pacific, DHL Global Forwarding, in a statement. “While we can ship just about anything to and from China on this multi-modal service starting with electronics, the next big potential we see is from the fashion and apparel sector—the biggest mover of goods from China to Japan—and the automotive sector, a key sector moving goods in both directions. The next step for us is to introduce a less-than-container-load (LCL) option into this service, something small and medium enterprises especially can look forward to.”


About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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