It's not unusual for third-party logistics companies (3PLs) and international freight forwarders to specialize in a particular industry or type of service. A little sleuthing quickly turns up niche players that cater to customers in markets like e-commerce, fine art, fresh produce, chemicals, fashion, and others with specific, often unique, logistics requirements.
But none may be as specialized or as unusual as the handful of organizations that devote themselves to managing logistics in the Arctic and Antarctic.
That's right: There are hardy, adventurous logistics professionals who are more likely to deliver freight via airplane, snowmobile, or dog sled than by truck or rail.
Scandinavia seems to be the leader in this area, although one can also find polar logistics specialists based in Canada, South Africa, and elsewhere. Norway, for instance, hosts a nonprofit called the Centre for High North Logistics (www.chnl.no), which is based in the Arctic port of Kirkenes and has a branch in Murmansk, in Russian Siberia. CHNL describes itself as "an international knowledge hub on Arctic transport and logistics for businesses, research institutions, and public authorities," but does not hide the fact that many of its partners are energy and mining companies and the shipping lines that serve them. CHNL's publications, including presentations on the future of Arctic transportation and logistics in an age of climate change, are publicly available on its website.
Other examples of cold-climate logistics specialists include South Africa's Antarctic Logistics Centre International (www.alci.co.za), which offers transportation, warehousing, customs clearance, and freight forwarding, among other services, and Canada's intrepid Arctic Kingdom Polar Logistics (www.polarlogistics.net), which will handle every aspect of planning, outfitting, and managing Arctic and Antarctic expeditions. On its website, the company says it "specializes in getting freight into and eventually out of the most remote polar regions of the world." That includes providing staff in such positions as project leader, operations manager, freight coordinator, and—wait for it—polar bear sentry.