Monday, May 28, 2012

Freight Forwarding Group in the Middle of a Chain Reaction

Tuscor Lloyds Link Up China to the North Sea
Shipping News Feature

CHINA – EUROPE – International freight and logistics group Tuscor Lloyds includes project forwarding in its arsenal and has just completed the shipment of a large and heavy consignment of anchor chain. As even small boat owners will acknowledge this commodity can be amongst the most complicated and difficult to manage cargo and when the shipment is destined for one of the large deep sea oil rigs in the North Sea, having to travel half the globe from Shanghai first, the complexity is easy to imagine.

The shipment comprised of a 1.1 kilometre length of heavy chain weighing 645 metric tonnes. The chain was segmented into three bundles of 215 tonnes each. From the beginning of the job in Shanghai’s Luojiing terminal, the shipment was closely followed by the management team at Tuscor Lloyds every step of the way, in fact a representative was present at every key stage of its long journey from Shanghai via Antwerp and finally to Aberdeen.

This type of cargo requires specific skills in handling and transportation with only the most knowledgeable and experienced personnel able to attempt a shipment of this nature. The inclusion of a transhipment in Europe onto a short sea full charter only added to the complications. Tuscor Lloyds dedicated a team of project managers to the job, who worked tirelessly across time zones to ensure the successful loading, and reloading of the cargo in the various ports of entry and transfer. The company provided on-site management in each of the ports to oversee and advise on operations.

The first of many challenges presented itself immediately on presentation of the cargo in Shanghai. The shipper brought a barge alongside the mother vessel ready for transhipping at the designated time. The mother vessel was hired on a part charter basis which meant as soon as the loading operation was started, the meter was running, and the owners of mother vessel allowed only six hours to complete the tricky job.

The chain presented to the mother vessel was totally mixed up and jumbled in the barge, with all three bundles placed on top of each other in no discernible order. After a great deal of trial and error the vessel’s stevedores managed to work out the order of the chain and began slowly lifting the cargo from the barge into the main hold of the ship. Tuscor Lloyds had commissioned a new vessel fitted with 2 x 450 tonnes cranes which were more than able to lift each bundle.

Once the complication of the bundles had been fully understood, the loading went smoothly but all the same took longer than anticipated. With a manager stationed on board the vessel, Tuscor Lloyds provided the necessary support to the loading team, the shipper and the consignee, and, despite the loading over running, the vessel arrived in Antwerp a day early.

Tuscor Lloyds once again provided on-site coordination of the transfer of the chain from the mother vessel to the short sea barge in Antwerp. This time the experience and attention given to the job in Shanghai paid off, with the full operation completed ahead of time and the barge loaded on schedule finally making it to Aberdeen 2 days later ensuring the chains were delivered to the end user well ahead of schedule and in time for the completion of the rig out to sea off the coast of Scotland.

The critical timescale and limited budget available to Tuscor Lloyds to complete this shipment demanded diligent management and high level skills in cargo handling and port operations. The company needed to hire two vessels on both full and part charters, and look after trans-loading operations in two overseas ports.

This type of cargo is by no means easy to move under any circumstances, let alone under the highly pressured requirements of this particular customer. The fact that the shipment was completed on time, within budget and with very few problems along the way meant slaps on the backs all round to celebrate the expertise and tenacity of the Tuscor Lloyds specialist project cargo team.

Photo: One giant bundle successfully undergoing a barge transfer.