Relocate 940 Million Cans From China? Challenge Accepted! 

 When one of our longstanding beverage clients, a heavyweight in beer brewing, entrusted us to help move almost a billion cans from inland factories in China to their brewing facilities in the US as efficiently and quickly as possible, we leapt at the challenge. The task could have been immensely daunting, but we were confident, and, thankfully, able to lean on 175 years of experience in managing supply chains from start to finish! 

Mission go: crunching the numbers 

We calculated that this huge project required: 

- 4,630 trucks to collect 940 Million empty beverage cans from the Chinese production plant to our Hillebrand warehouse facility in Shanghai. Envision 56kms of trucks bumper to bumper... Now imagine that these trucks would unload their cans onto football fields. We would fill 26,000 fields with cans! 

- 125,000 pallets (or 17 football fields full of pallets, since we’re using that as our go-to metric) to package and transport all those cans onto waiting shipping containers. All of the pallets also needed to be individually relabeled at our Shanghai facility. 

- 8,500 shipping containers to ferry those full pallets stateside onboard numerous cargo ships. Quite the challenge in the midst of our current global container shortage crisis, a hot topic in freight that we covered recently on our blog. 

Trusted networks key in overcoming logistical challenges

Apart from the sheer volume of pallets, trucks and freight containers required, the logistical challenges we faced were considerable. Timing and regulating a smooth packing and loading flow of the many trucks in inland China was tough, as was locating the 4,630 trucks in the first place and coordinating their timely arrival to our Shanghai repacking facilities. The trucks had to arrive in a steady staggered order, to establish continuity in receiving the cans at the warehouse. Next, the repacking workflow in Shanghai had to be precise with empty containers ready and waiting for loading. It was crucial to avoid piling up stock at the warehouse, while still always having goods available to load. Not an easy feat with 940 million cans arriving in an unceasing stream, except for a short break during Chinese Lunar New Year! 

Coordinating this seamless end-to-end multi-modal transport was a demanding challenge which we managed successfully through an intense cooperation with the producers and project team at the side of the customer. Obviously, our interconnected global network of transport partners, and our dedicated local teams and warehouses in China played a crucial role. 

Finally, there was substantial customs clearance paperwork to deal with. Thankfully, we have an in-house team of customs experts that makes clearing customs a breeze. 

Your supply chain in safe hands

We’re thrilled to report that the mission is an ongoing success. Not only moving 940 million beverage cans through China, but in taking care of the supply chain by carefully orchestrating and monitoring each stage of inland transportation, repackaging, and loading. 

In managing your supply chain, we strive to be a true logistics partner and not merely a logistics provider. Our operations are transparent, and you can have as much or as little input as you wish. We work around you. If you run a winery, brewery or distillery we are the world leading specialists in transporting bottles, cans and kegs. However, we transport so much more than beverages! 

Secure containers for any cargo

We offer a range of containers for any variety of cargo, liquid or cased goods: dry, refrigerated, temperature-controlled, insulated, ISO tanks, flexitanks, IBCs and drums and kegs. You’ll have extra peace of mind with our end-to-end insurance on top. Not sure which container to choose? Our advanced risk assessment charts and meteorological databases help us forecast the climate on your planned freight route, so we can confidently advise you which container option will fully protect even the most vulnerable or perishable of goods. If you are shipping less than a container full, we operate in more than 120 tradelanes with frequent guaranteed departures, even if disruptions arise during these uncertain times. Just get in touch with our specialists. 


Experts in optimising complex supply chains

Finally, we’re on hand to help in all aspects of even the most complicated supply chains. Our centralised platform, myHillebrand, allows our clients oversee operations and track the movements of their cargo in real time. Our solutions cover demand surge planning, warehousing, control tower management, network design, inventory control, product recall and disposal, and logistics optimisation to shorten your lead time, lower your costs, reduce your supply chain management (SCM) burden and radically streamline your business. 

How can we help your business grow?