Saturday, July 28, 2012

Another Tricky Project Freight Forwarding Job for Manchester Logistics Team

Heavy Lift Vessel Waits Out the Storm
Shipping News Feature

CHINA – NETHERLANDS – UK – The project freight forwarding team from Manchester based logistics group Tuscor Lloyds faced another big challenge recently when faced with the problem of an urgently required offshore crane due to be fitted out aboard their clients jack up rig. With the largest piece weighing in at 126 tonnes the company arranged to charter a heavy lift vessel to transfer the 6.7 metre long and 7 metre high piece, which measured over 23 metres long, together with the balance of the shipment, from Xiamen, China to Rotterdam as quickly as practical.

As with all such shipments a lot of planning was needed and Tuscor Lloyds flew out two members of their project team to China to prepare the ground work prior to the vessels arrival. The team put together meetings with the cargo manufacturer, port authorities, stevedores, supercargoes, vessel owners and marine surveyors putting everyone in the same room to discuss the total shipment from factory to ships hold. Tuscor’s international sales manager, Nick Rodriguez, takes up the story:

“Along with the client we put together various budgets and scenarios offering alternative methods of carriage several months prior to the shipment, however when the cargo was finally ready for shipment the necessity for its arrival in Holland became paramount and our client favoured an option with a fast dedicated transit above a more economical route. The knowledge and experience we have in this sector put us at an advantage to provide the client with the service they wanted with a budget that suited them.

“We always insist with shipments of this nature that a clear communication channel is opened, something from which we’ve found everyone benefits in the long run, it’s definitely worth the time invested. On this occasion we had the client come along towards the closing of the meeting and it allowed them to avoid the intrinsic bridge-building but able to review the final working plan with an opportunity to ask questions or challenge any key points.

“To my surprise the client confided in me later that they had never had this done for them before, in fact on previous shipments they had not even had the travelling support of their previous project forwarder. For my part, with a project this size when you have a client investing large amounts of capital on a new piece of machinery, it’s vital you are with them walking them through stage by stage to explain details or ready to answer any questions they may have. It’s the normal level of service we give but for a concerned client it’s a vital ‘hand-holding exercise’. We even stay in the same hotel as them so they can knock on our door at any time so we really are available 24/7 on these jobs.

“The loading itself took place late June in Southern China, typhoon season was just underway and with the vessel due to report to the pilot station within a few hours the whole port was closed at the orders of the harbour master pending the threat of Typhoon Tamil. Now, as the client had opted for a fast dedicated charter any time lost either to weather or port hold ups is going to result in a major headache, each day lost at sea is a day lost in the fit out of their new crane.

“Faced with a frustrated customer the only thing a good project forwarder who has no influence over the weather can do is keep their client updated, explain the situation and illustrate the various scenarios, whilst ensuring our ship is top of the list to berth once the port opens (and yes, ours was top of the list and working as soon as the port opened).

“It’s always the little things that can make the difference, just a simple appointment by ourselves to ensure we had a translator with us at all times proved essential for the ships Chief Mate as we put the translator at his disposal to assist with the shore-side labour. It took just under 24 hours from berthing to have the cargo loaded, secured and the ship away,but even during this period problems inevitably occur. It’s fair to say the shore-side labour in China was not the most regimented nor as prompt as you would expect in say, Northern Europe, so yours truly doubled up as the ships agent and like a sheep dog rounded up the stray labour, getting them back on the job when their skills were required. “