Market Updates

How Supply Chains are Flexing to Meet COVID-19 Demands

Logistics of the COVID-19 Response 

How shippers are adapting their supply chains to get critical supplies to people in need

As COVID-19 spreads across America, hospitals around the country are overwhelmed and running out of critical equipment to protect healthcare workers. With the CDC now recommending that Americans wear face masks when going to grocery stores or other public places to prevent the spread of the infection, there is a huge demand for personal protective equipment and other medical supplies.

Several of our shippers saw the opportunity to lend a helping hand and sprang into action. This is how we helped them succeed in getting critical supplies to the front lines of the pandemic.

Getting face masks from Asia to essential workers in the U.S.

Helping shippers import new products into the U.S. for the first time

Service Spotlight: Ocean Freight, Importing, & Customs House Brokerage

An importer in New York received an urgent request for face masks to supply essential workers. They searched until they were able to locate a supplier in China who could provide the products. This was the first time they had ever tried to import face masks.

The shipper knew they had several hurdles to cross to bring this time-sensitive shipment into the U.S. from China: The face masks would need to clear U.S. Customs, and possibly the FDA, before they could be delivered to the workers in need. They reached out to UWL for assistance.

"The face masks were not medical grade, so we confirmed that they would not need to go through the FDA," explained UWL Director of Compliance, Shannon Dillinger, LCB, CCS, "We were then able to help our client navigate through Customs to move this shipment from China to the U.S. successfully."

Although they were not medical grade for use in hospitals, the face masks can be used by essential workers like warehouse employees, cashiers, and delivery drivers to help curb the spread of infection.

facemasks (1)

"We're fully prepared to assist with importing both medical and non-medical grade face masks," Dillinger said. "Recently, the FDA and CDC have worked together to simplify the process for importing medical grade masks to help reduce the shortage that we're currently facing."

The agencies have released guidance that expands the availability of general use face masks for the public and respirators for health care professionals in the pandemic. They've also adjusted import screening procedures to expedite imports of critical products and increased monitoring to prevent and mitigate potential issues.

"This importer has continued to bring in more masks, equipping front line workers with the protection they need to do their jobs safely," said Dillinger.

But the help doesn't stop there. "We've had several other importers reach out to do the same. We're working on air freight shipments of face masks with another shipper that will be on their way soon," Dillinger shared. "It's great to see businesses coming together to help our essential workers."


Critical medical supplies delivered fast to the front lines

Transloading helps a medical supply company achieve faster speed to critical areas

Service Spotlight: DC Bypass, Transloading, & Expedited Delivery

In the face of the COVID-19 crisis, a health product company needed to adapt their supply chain to get critical medical supplies delivered to their customers as quickly as possible.

The surging demand, caused by an increase in COVID-19 cases, meant their Distribution Center (DC) in Charlotte was overflowing. They needed a solution to bypass the busy DC and get these hot import shipments of medical gloves to healthcare facilities faster.

Working in conjunction with their supplier, they were able to pinpoint when the containers of medical gloves were arriving to the U.S. and divert them to the Port of Charleston. We then immediately pulled the containers out of the pier, palletized the freight, and loaded the goods into a truck to be delivered directly to the doctors' offices and medical facilities.


"We came in to assist with the help of our warehouse in Charleston," said Jason Strickland, Domestic Pricing Manager. "This  gets products into the hands of the people that desperately need them that much quicker," Strickland explained, "We're now handling up to 5 containers of gloves a day for this client."

"We're proud to be a part of the supply chain that equips our medical community with gloves to keep them safe during the crisis," he said.


Supply Chain Pivots for the Greater Good

The logistics industry continues to adapt to help people in need

Each day, we're learning new ways that the supply chain industry is adapting to facilitate COVID-19 relief efforts. From passenger aircraft turned into cargo carriers, to shipping containers transformed into modular medical units, we are amazed and excited by the ingenuity we're seeing from the industry.

A special thank you to our customers who are a part of the effort. We're proud to assist you through these unprecedented times, and proud to be your partner in helping our communities fight this pandemic.

If you have any questions or need a helping hand, contact us at 440-356-5353 or visit 

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