Friday, June 20, 2014

Container Freight and Bulk Cargo Developments at Thames Side Port

New Cranes and Increased Feeder Traffic Bode Well for Tilbury
Shipping News Feature

UK – When the deep water port development which is the DP World London Gateway container project was announced many in the shipping world must have wondered what lie in store upstream in future at the Port of Tilbury. From news emanating from there in recent weeks it seems any fears may have been unfounded. As can be seen from our dramatic photograph of the offloading of freight from the Samskip vessel, Henrike Schepers, the London Container Terminal has just seen the first of its two panamax ship to shore cranes go fully operational.

Spanish company, Paceco Espana S.A., were awarded the contract for two cranes in 2013 which brings the number of Paceco ship to shore cranes at Tilbury to 10, six of which are from Paceco Espana. Tilbury has four post-panamax cranes, two built in 2001 and two built in 2004. The two new ship to shore cranes, capable of handling boxes stacked thirteen wide, are both now fully operational.

Tilbury aims at the feeder market and the Paceco cranes are designed and purpose built to handle exactly this type of traffic. A clearance of 17 metres between the legs allows efficient handling of 45ft containers whilst the cranes are designed to handle heavily laden containers and can lift 40 tonnes under a single lift spreader or up to 57 tonnes under the headblock or 45 tonnes under a twin-lift spreader. Perry Glading, Chief Operating Officer of Forth Ports (owners of London Container Terminal), said:

“It’s great to see our new Paceco ship to shore cranes fully operational this week and already delivering an excellent service for our customers in the short sea and Mediterranean markets. With this investment we continue to secure Tilbury’s position as a key shipping and distribution location with unrivalled access to London and the South East of England.

“Tilbury handles in excess of half a million containers per year, and is the only UK port truly servicing both deep sea and short sea customers. LCT is now recognised as the one of the most efficient UK port for the handling of containers, bringing benefits to our customers with improved turnover of vessels and road side trucks. Over the past 3 years we have been delivering a multi-million pound investment programme for London Container Terminal to integrate container handling across both the deep sea and short sea operations at Tilbury.”

In addition to the two Paceco ship-to-shore and other new cranes, LCT have also recently invested in a Liebherr 550 mobile crane, 14 new Kalmar straddle carriers, a single reception gate covering both security and container processing, a bespoke ICT system and surfacing work. Altogether Forth Ports’ investment programme at London Container Terminal comes to around £20 million in total.

The investment programme has been aided by the Motorway of the Sea grant, awarded to the Port of Tilbury and Port of Bilbao in 2012. The grant is for the 'IBUK – Intermodal Corridor' project, which aims to reduce congestion between the Iberian Peninsula and the UK by moving trucks off the road and onto a more efficient multi-modal logistics corridor. The British and Spanish ports have been collaborating since 2009 to receive funding for the project through the EU’s Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) programme. The Port of Tilbury is the first port in the UK to receive funding from the TEN-T programme.

Last month saw the London Container Terminal, which is owned by Forth Ports Limited and Amsterdam based SCS Multiport which operates in the UK with CWT, expand their current service from three calls to five calls per week at Tilbury. The market-driven decision to increase the service to five calls per week will see volumes of building bricks and stone being imported from their own Amsterdam depot to Tilbury for the UK housing market whilst CWT will create a new depot for their bulk services in Tilbury giving them depots on site at both Ports.

The increase in business brings the addition of the Fiorano vessel to partner the existing Vantage vessel on the Amsterdam – Tilbury rotation. The service also carries high volumes of the UK’s export waste to the Amsterdam power plants, helping to keep the lights on for the city. Anton van Hattem, Director of SCS Multiport said:

“We have seen an increase in demand for our service and this has led to this expansion from three to five calls each week to Tilbury. Tilbury is our ‘home port’ in the UK and we receive an excellent service from the team at London Container Terminal. The port offers us an additional advantage of warehousing space which allows us to centralise all of our activities in one convenient place.”

Staying in May, Tilbury’s London Paper Terminal signed off on a new deal with Hemisphere Freight to handle over 20,000 tonnes of directories from Spain. Following the relocation of European shipping line, OPDR to Tilbury (announced in December), a number of Tilbury’s key clients have explored the benefits of reducing road miles and using existing warehousing within the Port. Independent NVOCC, Hemisphere Freight have been amongst the first to switch operations to Tilbury from Felixstowe.

On behalf of Hemisphere, OPDR containers from Bilbao are now unstuffed at the newly created London Paper Terminal immediately adjacent to the Ports container facility. As a result, shunting and handling have been minimised and LCT says the operation has been very successful with all parties working together to ensure a smooth and highly efficient supply chain. Andy Davis, General Manager of Hemisphere commented:

“This is the first time I have worked with the Port of Tilbury and I have been very impressed with the commitment of the entire team to ensure the relocation has been so easy. The cooperation and standard of service has been first class.”

The Port of Tilbury, one the UK’s largest ports, handling over 3 million tonnes of forest products, announced the launch of London Paper Terminal (LPT) with industry giants UPM and Zappi in March. The 36-acre terminal which is located within the port estate, includes 700,000 square feet of covered storage and is a centre of excellence for paper and packaging handling and is strategically located offering rapid, easy access to the UK’s largest concentration of consumers.