THE logistics skills of C.H. Robinson have come to the fore in helping supply the state of Victoria with personal protective equipment during the pandemic.

Health Purchasing Victoria undertook the first step of finding manufacturers able to produce the required PPE and then called for help in moving millions of dollars’ worth of PPE, weighing hundreds of tonnes, to safe storage in Victoria.

Contracted by HPV, C.H. Robinson Oceania had the task of collecting gloves, masks, swabs, face shields and gowns from manufacturers and distributors in China and Malaysia.

“Our client had done the hard work in securing PPE that met required clinical standards, and needed to get it to Melbourne without delay,” said C.H. Robinson vice-president Oceania Andrew Coldrey.


“C.H. Robinson representatives were on hand to guide every shipment from the manufacturer to the State Supply Chain store, through airports, customs and across borders.”

An initial shipment from Shanghai, occurred via a specially-chartered Boeing 747-400, with 650 cubic metres of PPE landing safely in Melbourne at the start of May.

“The queues to get into Shanghai Airport were 72 hours long at peak; three days of trucks creeping forward to meet a pre-determined timeslot for the aircraft,” Mr Coldrey said.

“Slots were so tightly controlled, with 300 charters a day leaving Shanghai, any delays could mean that the plane left empty. C.H. Robinson was happy to execute successful flights 100%.”

A total of 13 flights from Shanghai via Hong Kong between the end of April and the start of June are to deliver enough PPE to build stockpiles in Melbourne.

These deliveries are to be boosted by additional chartered flights from Kuala Lumpur.

“Initially, chartering flights was crucial to ensure essential stockpiles were replenished quickly,” Mr Coldrey said.

“We are now looking to a combination of air and sea freight to bring in more PPE over the coming weeks.”