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The important port of entry question

Published:  11 August, 2016

When it comes to getting products from A to B, choosing the right point of entry is an important part of ensuring a smooth logistics process.

Steve Basnett, business unit director for transport at British logistics provider Wincanton, says there are various options for companies to consider depending on various factors, including - but not limited to - proximity to your warehouse, customer base and preferred onward method of transport.

This process, he says, must be approached holistically.

"It is important that all elements of the supply chain process are taken into consideration when making these types of decisions," he said.

Often Wincanton advises its clients to choose a port that is close to their warehouse to make transferring the product easier.

But if its customer base is concentrated elsewhere another point of entry may be chosen.

Railheads are often found at larger ports - Wincanton itself recently opened a rail-connected facility in Southampton.

"Companies are likely to forego choosing the port closest to them and instead choose the larger ports with rail access, even if they are further afield," Basnett explained.

David Pollock, head of business development at Uniserve Drinks Logistics, says essential cost and mileage savings can be made when the customer base is near to the port, in which case keeping wine at the port is an effective method of storage.

But making sure the infrastructure is in place is paramount.

"Be sure there are warehouse and distribution facilities nearby that can accommodate your containers and other cargo," he said.

But while some companies make the port of entry choice themselves, others allow their freight forwarder or shipping line to make the decision on their behalf, as in the case of Majestic Wine.

If this is the case, freight forwarders will often choose shipping lines - and therefore the port - according to price, the product's country of origin and other variables. 

With Majestic, the company's freight management provider is responsible for the movement of products from the wine producer right through to delivery at Majestic's central warehouse in Hemel Hempstead.

This includes liaising with the producer, delivery to the port of exit, customs clearance at the port of entry and transport to the warehouse.

Whatever method is chosen to bring in the wine - and whether companies rely on their own expertise or that of a forwarder - the right decision about the port must be made in order to maintain an effective supply chain.

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