Flexport Helps Rensair Clear the Air During Global Pandemic
reduction in logistics related emails
carbon neutral goal progressed through move from air to ocean freight
saved in quarterly freight spend
As Covid-19 spread around the world, demand for Rensair’s hospital-grade air purification system rocketed as shippers and carriers faced a severe capacity squeeze. For Rensair to continue to deliver to customers, it needed to have visibility on their supply chain and a pro-active problem solving approach from its freight forwarder. By working with Flexport, Rensair gained full transparency of moving inventory, a simplified booking process, reliable execution and support on the journey to carbon neutrality.
Rensair’s air purifier was developed over 20 years ago by Henrik Hendriksen, a Danish engineer and inventor who helped set the standard for truly clean air. Today, Henrik’s sons Frederik and Christian Hendriksen continue to manufacture and distribute the technology worldwide, while also driving innovation across Rensair’s product portfolio.
Originally developed for Danish hospitals, the system’s effectiveness has been validated by independent laboratories, and the contrast between Rensair’s product and typical air filtration systems is stark. With its hospital-grade standards and ability to catch and destroy airborne bacteria, Rensair’s portable air purifiers are now being used across the world, not only by health services like the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), but also across the corporate space.
The last 12 months have been a critical growth period for Rensair. As COVID-19 began to spread, it became apparent that airborne transmissions of the virus were the biggest risk to public safety. With its ability to remove a minimum of 99.97% of airborne viruses and pollutants, including coronavirus, Rensair’s product demand surged.
As Rensair’s product quickly moved from a niche to mass market, responding to intense demand for its products while fulfilling tight deadlines was not a simple task.
Countries had shut their borders, meaning that travel and transportation were severely restricted - all having an impact on logistics costs and lead times. Whereas typically Rensair had been able to manage longer lead times, the business was now being approached by schools, construction sites and other sectors that remained operational through the pandemic but needed to ensure safety of customers, students, employees and patients.
“Traditionally lead times weren’t an issue - we were shipping high value goods and negotiating with clients when they would arrive,” explains Christian Hendriksen, Co-Founder and CEO of Rensair. “In the pandemic environment, that completely changed and we were being asked to fulfil orders within a few days, sometimes even by the next day.”
Clearing the Air for Global Shipments
Ghislain Liabeuf, Operations and Logistics Director at Rensair, joined the business in November 2020 during a time of increasing complexity: “The first decision I made with Christian was to switch from air to ocean freight. As we started scaling up, we were dealing with international shipping during the worst times we’d seen. We were relying on flying in all our goods from Asia to get products to clients as soon as possible. This was both an extremely expensive and unsustainable strategy.”
“One of the most challenging situations we faced during this time was working with a different forwarder when we needed to get a product from China to the UK within days - instead it took several weeks. This was the wake-up call we needed to realise something had to change,” said Hendriksen.
To enable Rensair to start shipping more goods via ocean, maintaining visibility of the supply chain to manage customer expectations was key. Through Flexport Platform’s advanced technology and data analytics and the support of a dedicated team of operations and data experts, Rensair is able to get deeper visibility into its deliveries - from pick-up at port to empty return, and real-time tracking during the shipment. This visibility, and the knowledge the Flexport team has on shipping timeframes, also allows Rensair to easily switch back to air freight when they have urgent delivery deadlines to meet which don’t meet with regular ocean lead times.
In addition to switching from air to ocean freight, Rensair took the early decision to build up stock, filling its warehouses with inventory so it was confident it could meet future customer demand. This provided more resilience across its supply chain and ensured flexibility with lead times, meaning the company was able to avoid challenges to global trade as its stock was sitting closer to its customers and could avoid any significant bottlenecks such as the Suez canal crisis.
“Now we know we can deliver by next day in the UK and within a few days for Continental Europe. We are carrying more inventory closer to clients and there is always stock ready to go,” says Liabeuf.
Communication as a Key Success Factor
With its manufacturing partner based in Asia, prior to working with Flexport, there were a lot of difficulties around communication.
“There was a real lack of transparency around where goods were in the shipping journey. The freight forwarders we were working with had very old fashioned processes, so I was sending multiple emails or making numerous phone calls to try and reach the right person and get the information I needed,” explains Hendriksen.
By switching to Flexport, Rensair immediately had the Flexport team at its service - a specialised team of dedicated operations, customs and data experts - to manage shipments every step of the way. Each member of Rensair's Flexport team handles all its ocean shipments end-to-end, proactively solves problems, constantly identifies new cost and productivity efficiencies and ensures products reach their destination as quickly as possible.
The platform also allows Rensair to benefit from improved communication with its supplier, with features such as exception escalation, centralized shipment communication, documentation, and shipment data in one place – cutting down the email, spreadsheet, and phone call back and forth typically required in shipment management.
“I had worked with Flexport before and knew we would have access to specialist people that would proactively keep us informed and guide us through the process,” says Liabeuf. “The platform itself also helped alleviate any communication challenges we previously faced. Every shipment had just one reference attached to it and I was easily able to see which documents were needed to ensure customs clearance would always happen in time.”
With Flexport’s user-friendly interface, all parties now have full transparency into inventory stock positions from origin to local warehouses. The booking process has also been made a lot simpler, and Rensair’s team is able to set structured rules and approval flows to ensure bookings are made on time, relative to pre-determined cargo ready dates, and that there is increased transparency and accuracy around landing costs.
In addition to the cost benefits of shifting from air to ocean freight, Rensair was motivated by the opportunities to lower their carbon footprint through more sustainable transportation modes.
“Our business is built on providing clean air for everyone, so we have a wider focus on ensuring we are contributing as much as we can to solving the global climate crisis,” says Hendriksen.
“We have ambitious goals in place to help us do that, including our pledge to become carbon neutral in the near future and also to ensure our supply chain is completely carbon neutral. Being able to ship our goods via ocean while offsetting carbon at the same time is a key benefit for us.”
Flexport.org enables Rensair to offset 100% of its shipping-related emissions for a small donation per shipment, providing an affordable, easy, and high-impact way to meet sustainability goals alongside its business goals.
Vision for Future Supply Chain
“Having a transparent supply chain, coupled with reliable execution, gives us confidence to keep innovating throughout the crisis.” notes Hendriksen.
“One of the things we’re looking at doing is moving part of our manufacturing closer to our end clients, increasing our focus on more locally sourced products and moving individual components rather than fully developed products. We will also continue to develop our product range and look at different applications for our technology. None of this would be possible without having Flexport’s hands-on approach and strategic guidance along the way.”
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