Friday, March 5, 2021

A Weekly Look at Some Shipping and Logistics News You Might Have Missed

Some of the Smaller Stories from Another Virus Tinged Week
Shipping News Feature

UK – Rail freight grew by 2.1% in Q3 of 2020-21, according to official statistics issued on 4 March by Office of Rail and Road (ORR). This was driven by a growth in construction materials moved by train, up 6.1%, intermodal, up 2.3% and steel and metals, which increased by 12.3%. This was partly offset by reductions in movement of petroleum products which remained suppressed by ongoing travel restrictions, and coal reflecting the ongoing trend to renewable generation.

The period between October and December 2020 covered both the second UK lockdown and the run-up to the end of the Brexit transition period. Maggie Simpson OBE, Rail Freight Group (RFG) Director-General, commented:

"Delivery growth during one of the most economically challenging periods is a real measure of rail freight’s success. Customers are committed to increasing their sustainable transport and consigning more by rail, and this is reflected in these results."

UK - Commercial property specialist Onward Holdings says it is open to offers for a refurbished warehouse the Yorkshire-based company recently acquired at the sought-after logistics hub of Cross Green Industrial Estate in Leeds. Family-run business Onward is initially investing up to £500,000 upgrading the facility, located just over a mile from Leeds city centre, to create a modern dedicated distribution unit with offices within easy reach of the motorway network.

Available for immediate occupation, the property offers approximately 73,238 square feet of secure warehouse space, 12 metres to the eaves, a 12-dock loading and despatch area with 15 trailer parking bays. It has capacity for storage of up to 10,000 pallets in block stack or rack configuration. Being close to the city centre this unit may be of interest for last mile electric vehicle deliveries, significant office accommodation could be also available on a stand-alone basis.

UK – XPO Logistics, has renewed its contract with plastic pipe systems manufacturer Wavin, a partnership begun in 2018. XPO manages Wavin products' delivery from plants in Chippenham (Wiltshire), Doncaster (South Yorkshire) and Crow Edge (South Yorkshire) to destinations throughout the UK. Three services are integrated on XPO's technology platform as a single solution: dedicated truckload transport, less-than-truckload pallet transport and a bespoke parcel delivery service.

EUROPE – UTA, a provider of fuel and service cards in Europe, has connected four more European countries to its UTA One® interoperable tolling solution. In addition to Belgium (plus Liefkenshoektunnel), Germany, France, Italy, Austria, Poland (A4), Portugal and Spain, tolling systems in Norway (ferries and motorway bridges), Sweden (bridges), Denmark (bridges) and Switzerland (including Liechtenstein) are now supported. With this extension, UTA One now covers 13 toll contexts in 12 European countries, claiming it is the most comprehensive European Electronic Toll Service (EETS) solution on the market today.

KENYA – Hapag-Lloyd has opened a new office in Nairobi to add to its main facility in Mombasa. Hapag-Lloyd mainly transports agricultural goods out of Kenya, especially tea, coffee, fruits and textiles. The imports primarily consist of chemicals, foodstuffs and a wide range of goods made of plastic or rubber.

Hapag-Lloyd also serves landlocked East African countries such as Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan, with regular inland connections to and from Mombasa. As part of its growth strategy, the shipping company will endeavour to develop inland connections to Somalia, Southern Ethiopia and Northern Tanzania.

CHINA – SWEDEN – FRANCE – Polestar, the independent Swedish premium electric performance car brand founded by Volvo Cars and Geely Holding in 2017, has appointed automotive logistics specialist GEFCO to deliver electric cars to individual customers in Shanghai and Beijing. The new relationship will be led by Moveecar, a GEFCO brand focusing on in-life vehicle management.

GEFCO has mobilised a range of trucks to provide home delivery of Polestar’s electric cars in the two cities. With full track-and-trace capabilities, customers are alerted in real time on when they can expect delivery. The logistics outfit is also working with Polestar to manage short-term finished vehicle compound management. This new contract builds on GEFCO’s relationship with Volvo since 2016 to transport finished vehicles from Europe to China.

US – UK – SWEDEN – Ocean Infinity, a specialist marine robotics company begun in 2017 and based in Texas and Southampton has acquired Swedish outfit MMT which will continue to operate under its own brand name. MMT began life in 1976 and operates high-resolution marine surveys, asset integrity and construction support services concentrating on developing and improving these for the Renewables, Oil & Gas, and Interconnector industries.

The pair say their combination is best placed to maximise the potential of Ocean Infinity’s fleet of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs), and the soon to be launched Armada fleet of un-crewed, low-emission, robotic ships, aiming at a market including energy, subsea cables, government and defence contracts.

EUROPE – AUSTRALIA – Wholesale by Vels, launched in the Netherlands last year and Australian wholesaler Consol Alliance have entered into a strategic partnership to develop trade air cargo business on the Europe-Australia route. Initially, the new alliance will operate weekly, trade-only unitised airfreight consolidations from Amsterdam Schiphol to major Australian airports, utilizing premium carriers. The service frequency is expected to increase over the coming months, and import services from Australia to Europe are also on the agenda.

Receiving and build-up facilities have been set up by Wholesale by Vels in Amsterdam, while Consol Alliance will use its own handling centres to break bulk in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, for local release or transfer of cargo to its other regional stations in Adelaide and Fremantle. Forwarders will have the option of using the service’s master air waybill, or their own individual air waybills. The service caters for general cargo, dangerous goods and e-commerce.

SWEDEN – WORLDWIDE – Nordic corporate bank SEB has joined the Responsible Ship Recycling Standards (RSRS), a joint bank initiative for ensuring environmentally and socially responsible dismantling and recycling of ships. RSRS is aligned with the 2010 Hong Kong Convention, which establishes a minimum standard for the recycling of ships. In addition, the EU has formulated further requirements that apply to all vessels sailing under one of the EU Member States’ flags.

SEB becomes the twelfth member of the initiative which was started by a group of European banks active within shipping. The other banks that are part of the RSRS initiative are ABN AMRO, Danske Bank, DNB, Eksportkreditt, Hamburg Commercial Bank, ING, KfW IPEX-Bank, NIBC, Nordea, Sparebank SR-Bank and Sparebanken Vest.

Photo: UK rail freight tonnages rose despite the pandemic.