Welcome to our first newsletter for 2014 and from all of us at FleetWatch, here’s wishing you a successful 2014. May it bring you everything you wish yourself – plus a whole lot more.
To kick off the year, we thought we’d have a bit of fun by highlighting some of the more strange and quirky deliveries made by one company, DHL Express, during 2013.
Certainly we all know the essential role that trucks and other transport modes play in the movement of goods around the world. We know, for example, that trucks carry the bricks and cement necessary to build our houses; that they carry manufactured products to the harbours for export; and agricultural products to the mills. But what about human eyes and butterfly larvae? Yep, transport also plays a role here.
Sumesh Rahavendra, head of marketing for DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa, says there’s been an increase in “strange” delivery requests and it has become an interesting exercise to pin-point which deliveries stand out above the rest.
In Kenya, for example, live human eyes are transported on a regular basis. Understandably, the cornea – the transparent, dome-shaped window covering the front of the eye which has more nerve endings than anywhere else in the body – has an extremely short life span and is therefore highly perishable. This poses a significant challenge to DHL and what adds to the complexity is the fact that the recipient is booked and prepped for surgery while the cornea is in transit.
“The success of these deliveries relies on prior customs releases, dedicated delivery vehicles and a passionate team of certified international specialists on the ground. When there is no margin for error and the result could affect another person’s opportunity for sight, every stop is pulled out from pick-up to delivery,” says Rahavendra.
Also on the medical front was the transportation of a specific heart internal defibrillator into Cameroon on a Sunday afternoon which was urgently needed for a surgery scheduled on the Monday, and was conducted by a surgeon who was also flown in from South Africa. This delivery was organised in a few short hours after the request was received on the Sunday morning.
Then there are those who want their parties and events to be extra special and a shipment to mention here was a 32kg consignment of Haggis which was moved from the UK to Tanzania. “The Scottish delicacy was swiftly transported through customs and delivered in time for the event,” he says.
For those not accustomed to the ways of the Scottish, Haggis is a savoury pudding containing sheep’s pluck – heart, liver and lungs – which is minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices and salt all mixed with stock. And here comes the really nice bit. All of this is traditionally served enclosed in the animal’s stomach lining after being simmered for around three hours.
I have tasted Haggis and, with due apologies to my Scottish friends, it is horrible. Their whiskey is much better. Mind you, I doubt whether our Mopani worms would go down very well in Edinburgh.
And can you believe this one? Another unusual ‘personal’ delivery was for a customer who shipped his laundry from the United Kingdom to a Southern African country – for dry cleaning.
For many people, a wedding is one of the most important and special days of their lives and the price of one’s happiness on ‘the big day’ is immeasurable. In light of this, 1.7 tons of fresh flowers were sent from Johannesburg to Douala in Cameroon for such an occasion.
“This personal request came from a customer whose two sons were getting married on the same day,” says Rahavendra.
On the conservation front, an interesting delivery in Kenya included the transport of butterfly larvae. “Any delay in the transport process would have resulted in the premature hatching of the butterflies and they would not have survived. Following a similar operational process as the transport of the eye corneas, another unique delivery was completed.”
That’s on the smaller side. Going bigger, DHL undertook some really unusual deliveries during 2013 one being in June when a family of nine silverback gorillas were transported 9 000 kilometres from Kent in the UK to Gabon’s Batéké Plateau National Park.
“The gorillas, with a combined weight of 620 kg and no less than 1 200 kg of food and vets’ equipment, were transported from the UK to Brussels and flown in a specially equipped Boeing 767 to Lagos, Nigeria, and then onto Franceville, Gabon, recalls Hennie Heymans, managing director of DHL Express of South Africa.
For the final leg of the journey they were flown in a helicopter to the national park in collaboration with the Gabonese authorities.
Other unique deliveries included transporting the Webb Ellis trophy for the Rugby World Cup 2015 partnership announcement tour, as well as Manchester United artifacts in support of the Barclays Premier League trophy tour.
The Webb Ellis trophy was transported over three continents and five countries; namely New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, England and Ireland, while the Barclays Premier League trophy tour, which began on the 30 October 2013, will be transported from the Old Trafford Museum to 31 destinations globally over a five month period.
Heymans adds that one of the largest shipments DHL delivered in 2013 was the transportation of Formula 1 race cars and equipment to various F1 tracks across the world.
He says that another highlight for the company in 2013 was when the company was recognised in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest pizza delivery in history.
“DHL Express, along with Pizzas 4 Patriots, delivered 30 000 Chicago-style deep-dish pizzas from Chicago to U.S. troops serving in Kandahar, Bagram and Camp Bastion in Afghanistan. The delivery covered a distance of over 11 000km within 36 hours.”
And here’s an interesting bit. According to Heymans, the top three outbound destination lanes during 2013 included Botswana, China and Germany while the top three inbound origin lanes were China, France and Germany, followed by Hong Kong and India.
So who says transport isn’t interesting. From eye corneas to Scottish Haggis, from gorillas to presidential documents, it’s all in a day’s work for a company like DHL which, by the way, delivers two million packages across the globe on a daily basis.
FleetWatch uses this story to salute the transport industry for the year ahead. You are all simply the best!