With care and Cathay Expert attention

Cathay Cargo has refreshed its Cathay Expert solution, bringing extra care and attention for out of gauge shipments or those requiring extra care

Cathay Cargo has refreshed its Cathay Expert special-handling solution. This is the solution for shipments that are odd sized, heavy, fragile or sensitive to vibrations. Think everything from helicopters to the stepper machines that print silicon wafers for the IT industry. These shipments require additional care and loading and an almost custom-designed experience. Last year, Cathay Cargo transported more than 5,000 of these shipments, each enjoying a bespoke experience.

‘Essentially, our refreshed Cathay Expert solution is for any shipment that’s out of gauge or requires a bit more planning and attention,’ says Siddhant Iyer, Head of Cargo Markets and Customer Solutions. ‘It could also be something that’s high value and needs extra care, for example, a supercar like a Ferrari, aircraft engines, artworks, all the way through to large plant and machinery.’

Cathay Expert ensures that out of gauge shipments can be skilfully accommodated
Cathay Expert ensures that out of gauge shipments can be skilfully accommodated

Even if shipments are within gauge, they could have special requirements that Cathay Expert can deliver for extra assurance. ‘There may also be shipments that occupy standard positions on the aircraft, but that are highly sensitive in terms of how you move and handle them,’ adds Iyer. ‘That’s at the heart of the bespoke nature of the Cathay Expert solution. We are with you from the initial discussions and planning all the way through to handling and transporting the shipment, to offer the right level of care, supervision and assurance.’

Each shipment starts with a consultation

The Cathay Expert journey starts at the very outset with a consultation with the Cathay Cargo sales team. The idea is to get a comprehensive picture of the nature of the shipment and its requirements. This covers the basics like destination, weight, the space it will occupy, plus considerations to the nature of the commodity, with any handling and loading sensitivities, and packaging to ensure shipments are compliant – and protected.

Siddhant Iyer, Head of Cargo Markets and Customer Solutions
Siddhant Iyer, Head of Cargo Markets and Customer Solutions

‘We want to ensure that we get a thorough understanding of the shipment requirement, and if that requires a site visit to see, measure and assess packaging options for a potential shipment, we are happy to accommodate that,’ says Iyer. ‘The sales and operations teams work together with the customer, and then come up with a plan.’

This was a service that Mike Lu, Operations Manager at the Shanghai branch of CTS International Logistics Corporation Limited, used. ‘We had to ship an 18,600kg gas turbine that was not only very heavy but also odd-sized,’ he says. ‘Cathay Cargo’s sales team worked closely with us to arrange a three-hour in-person examination, after which they understood this complex cargo and came back swiftly with a detailed shipping solution.’

While the planning stage is exhaustive, part of Cathay Cargo’s shipment care programme has seen some digitalisation of processes, which means that the decision to accept big or heavy shipments in consultation with the Operations Control Centre in Hong Kong, which operates 24/7, is now quicker.

Max Mak, Cargo Operation Control Manager, says this has accelerated the approval process for Cathay Cargo teams at outports entering shipment requirements, so that they in turn can get back to potential Cathay Expert customers quicker. By entering size and weight of the shipment in a new digital process, the system automatically calculates the feasibility of any shipment and the restraints required for securing it to the aircraft. ‘This speeds up the approval time for shipments from nine hours to five hours for floating positions and one hour for standard positions,’ says Mak. ‘This is a much faster turnaround for customers.’

A plan for shipment success

With a green light from the consultation phase, it’s time to work out a detailed plan to make sure the shipment can travel without a hitch on the day. That means booking the shipment on flights as per customer requirements, taking precise measurements of the packed shipment and ensuring all the ground equipment and facilities are available at the ports of origin, transit and destination. The team will prepare a clear load plan that takes into account sufficient time for loading, unloading and tie-down requirements to securely fasten the shipment.

‘We work with ground handling agents (GHAs) at many ports across the network,’ says Iyer. ‘We work in a collaborative manner with them and brief them to be ready with any special equipment that’s needed.’ Some shipments can be very long and may require nose-loading on the Boeing 747 freighter. ‘In some of the instances you may also need to work with airport authorities as well to ensure there is space for that in the aircraft’s parking bay,’ says Iyer.

Close supervision on the day

Come flight time, every step of the process is closely supervised by an expert team to ensure that the handling and loading goes to plan, and that the shipment is secured and tied down successfully in a safe and compliant manner.

Cathay Cargo’s teams and ground-handling agents are skilled at securing unusual shipments
Cathay Cargo’s teams and ground-handling agents are skilled at securing unusual shipments

‘Our teams are very knowledgeable and skilful handlers,’ says Iyer. ‘It’s vital to have the right people with the right skills, and with the experience to adapt to new challenges. They also undergo periodic training to keep their skills honed.’

The same experience and skill await at the destination. The sales team always make a point of following up with customers to evaluate the shipment journey and to continuously improve the quality of service. ‘We learn from feedback,’ says Iyer. ‘It helps us to improve and deliver a better service for our customers.’

5 steps to Cathay Expert success

1. In-depth consultation
2. Comprehensive planning
3. Constant supervision
4. Prompt delivery
5. Dedicated follow-up