A quick review of the Astec website reveals that every country in the world has an assigned Astec sales representative, and managing the logistics of sending equipment to literally every corner of the globe falls to the International Logistics department. International Logistics is a very specialized endeavor. Based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, they are charged with handling much of the company’s freight forwarding needs. Serving as the “travel agents” for Astec’s exports, they find the best routes and best prices for each shipment.
PART OF THE TEAM
In the simplest terms, Astec Logistics is an extension of every International Sales and Traffic department of Astec Industries, specializing in the exporting area of international documentation, banking, and transportation.
“We are a very cooperative team in the international freight movement,” said Johnnie VanGelderen, director of international logistics at Astec, Inc. “I can’t say that International Logistics does it all, because we are part of a team. We would be nothing without the support of those people we assist in sales and, of course, the people out loading the cargo.”
Logistics works closely with all of Astec Industries’ companies, complementing each individual company’s international sales coordinators and the people in traffic, who are the actual facilitators of bringing in the trucks to load the cargo.
VITAL TO SALES
International Logistics has a long history and, with its myriad duties and destinations, a long learning curve. The department is associated mostly with sales and traffic, and works with the sales department from the very beginning of a sale.
VanGelderen noted that coordinating information from shipping to sales is important not just for the company, but for the customer: “When a sales representative comes in and has a sales quotation that he or she is making overseas, we provide the freight rates that are included in the initial quotation to the customer. When Astec customers see the quotation, they know right away what their landed cost is going to be for that piece of equipment.”
Freight is not the only responsibility for International Logistics. VanGelderen added, “We handle the shipment, but our other focus is ensuring payment from our international customers and that all documentation is provided so that when the shipment arrives it does not become hung up in red tape to clear it from customs. Many times we are paid by letters of credit, and we prepare all the documentation for the letters of credit and work with the banks to ensure a smooth payment process for both ourselves and our customers.”
VITAL TO THE CUSTOMER
International Logistics goes above and beyond every day in trying to obtain economy in shipping volume with the steamship lines, combining all of Astec’s companies in this effort by consolidating shipping requirements. Through consolidation, Astec can command better shipping rates, passing those savings on to the customer.
“One of the challenges that we have,” continued VanGelderen, “is that with volume Astec Industries can become important to the steamship lines as a customer and that allows us to obtain not only good shipping rates, but also the best service for our company and our product. And that allows us to give our customer value as well.”
It’s not uncommon that a typical plant going out of Astec Inc. can be from 3,000 cubic meters upwards to 6,000 cubic meters of cargo. This presents the International Logistics department with the challenge of ensuring safe passage for this enormous cargo.
“Most of our cargo is project cargo here at Astec, Inc. We’re shipping what they call ‘high, wide, and heavy’ cargo in the trade,” explained VanGelderen. “This includes plant equipment, the drum, the control centers—essentially an entire plant. The ships of choice for us are ‘car carriers’ where you drive the cargo onto the ship, rather than a crane lifting the equipment off the dock and loading it to the cargo ship. The same ships that carry our cargo are the same ones carrying Cadillacs and BMWs—right there, side by side.”
These vessels, that are akin to large buildings, allow Astec to know that its equipment is fully protected under-deck. Then, equipment is ready to move off the ship and has been protected all through its travel toward its destination, wherever on the globe that may be.
SERVING A GLOBAL MARKET
Astec Industries is developing new business in more and more global territories. Wherever there is oil being discovered, equipment for roads and infrastructure needs are being brought in. The companies exploring new areas for natural resources and their partners need roads to support their efforts, but they aren’t always suitable in more remote parts of the world. Astec’s ability to provide plants to a global marketplace is helping make the world a smaller place.BACK TO ISSUE