Friday, July 13, 2018

Maritime and Multimodal Logistics Mash Up of the Week

Some Stories from the World of Freight and Beyond
Shipping News Feature
WORLDWIDE – We travel beyond the usual mix of multimodal logistics stories this week which you may have missed and start with a look at a scheme that offers hope for the future in the current debate over plastic pollution in our oceans, something we have often featured and which has an influence beyond the maritime industry alone. The five great subtropical gyres, the whirlpools of junk circulating in the world's oceans, are under attack from organisations which comprehend the potential devastation should we ignore the problem.

One such outfit is The Ocean Cleanup, a non-profit organisation dedicated to developing advanced technologies such as its ‘passive drifting system’ to rid the seas of plastic. Launched in Delft in the Netherlands in 2013 the company has apparently raised well over $30 million so far and is readying itself to deploy technology to start work clearing the biggest gyre, the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ which lies between Hawaii and California.

After a tendering process, international video technology group Siqura has had its marine dome camera system selected to follow the progress of the 600 metre long clean-up device, assembled in Alameda in the San Francisco Bay Area as it attempts to collect the larger plastic items from the ocean. Ocean Cleanup has ambitions to clear half of the giant gyre in five years’ time. In this short video its founder Boyan Slat explains how they are approaching the problem.

ABU DHABI – Freight and logistics group GAC has achieved free zone status, something the company says will boost benefits to many of its customers. The new status of the office located within Abu Dhabi Airports Free Zone’s (ADAFZ) cargo terminal is also expected to attract new clients. The company has had a presence within the airport since 1994 whilst its air freight business goes back even further, to 1969, when Al Bateen airport first began operations.

The free zone operation means that cargo can now transit and be stored within the Free Zone, and be transferred to any other free zones in the UAE, without GAC’s customers having to pay customs duty. The office offers air freight and customs clearance services whilst comprehensive logistics coverage emanates from the main GAC office at Mina Zayed and branch offices at Ruwais and Sila.

LITHUANIA – NETHERLANDS – At the end of June the MV Floragracht, a vessel of the Dutch owned Spliethoff Group fleet, left the BLRT shipyard in Klaipeda, Lithuania, where she was outfitted with an exhaust gas cleaning system. The company plans for thirty more of its ships to be fitted with such ‘scrubbers’ in a commitment to cleaner shipping and to honour the global 0.5% sulphur cap which comes into force in 2020.

MV Floragracht is already the 24th Spliethoff Group owned vessel outfitted with a scrubber and over the years the company says it has acquired significant experience with this technology. In 2012, Spliethoff Group subsidiary Transfennica started by outfitting their six Con-Ro vessels with scrubbers. In 2014 – 2015 Spliethoff’s fourteen S-type vessels followed and at the same time sister-company Wijnne Barends fitted scrubbers in three of their C-type vessels. In the coming period scrubbers will be installed on thirty more vessels of Spliethoff, BigLift Shipping and Sevenstar Yacht Transport.

HONG KONG – Tigers, the Asian global freight concern opened a new office at Frankfurt Airport, Germany to support the Group’s global freight growth strategy, and to act as a gateway for Europe by creating new air freight consolidation products, starting with the trade lane between Germany and South Africa.

The move follows expansion which has seen the group’s Cologne e-commerce fulfilment centre, as well as its eTigers facility in Rotterdam, double in space in less than a year due to increasing demand, and as the company gears up to the global launch of its online marketplace, the Tigers eShop, which will optimise its e-commerce offering to B2B and B2C customers worldwide.

The Hong Kong headquartered supply chain specialist has opened a number of offices and warehouses worldwide this year, including in Riverside, California and Dallas, Texas, USA and Shanghai, China, and the latest office, headed up by Marc Acksteiner, will offer the full range of Tigers’ core services, including international freight forwarding and Customs brokerage, as well as its new EU-China rail freight service, Tiger Rail.

INDONESIA – The popular island of Bali was blighted this week by a huge fire to the west of Benoa Port in Denpasar on Monday which is reported to have destroyed up to 40 fishing boats. The blaze began in the early hours of the morning and, as yet, there are no reported casualties and, besides some small local cargo vessels, larger maritime craft, including those using the cruise liner terminal to the east of the port, are unaffected. Twenty five fire engines took several hours to dampen down the flames

GERMANY – Bremen-based shipping company Harren & Partner has acquired the offshore construction vessel, MV Blue Giant for an undisclosed price from the English operator, OIG Group. The group’s Offshore Department, headed by Robert Fowler will be responsible for managing the vessel. Founder and Managing Director, Peter Harren explained the strategy behind the purchase, saying:

“Although the oil markets are currently still recovering, we have deliberately opted for this investment despite its counter-cyclical nature. Alongside our classic offshore activities, we also wish to further strengthen our position in attractive niche markets such as the salvage business, where this vessel also has possibilities for deployment.”

JAPAN – Following the recent torrential rain damage in the country, container shipping group Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K Line) has announced that it will provide a monetary donation in the amount of 5 million yen toward relief efforts. The company has expressed its deep sympathy for those caught up in the event and is now organising further fund-raising activities among its officers and employees.

EUROPE –Cargo carried on the North Sea - Mediterranean rail freight corridor (RFC North Sea - Med) saw a rise of 18% in traffic volume from 2016 to 2017.This means train numbers since the system began in 2013 were up 38% in the four years. The jump is the biggest annual rise since operations started. The 5,500 kilometres of track is one of the continent’s nine core network routes and links the UK, Benelux, France and Switzerland with connections into Europe’s major ports and other RFC’s from the Rhine to the Baltic.

WORLDWIDE – This week saw the Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) accepted for consultative status by the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) governing body, the IMO Council. WISTA campaigns for female executives in the maritime industry, and the granting of the applications was warmly received by WISTA International President Despina Panayiotou Theodosiou, who explained:

“Consultative status gives us the opportunity to promote diversity, inclusion and women’s empowerment, which are our main aims. We can now formally contribute to the discussion for increasing capacity in our industry, a critical component of which is promoting women in the industry, both shore side and shipboard. WISTA’s efforts support the overarching principles in IMO’s Strategic Plan, especially the promotion of Gender Equality and the empowerment of women.”

US – The tragic tale of the accident involving the USS Fitzgerald and the APX Crystal a year ago seems set to continue. The incident saw seven navy crewmen die and charges brought against some staff. Whilst the charge of negligent homicide has been dropped against Commander Bryce Benson he has chosen to plead not guilty to further lesser accusations of negligence and hazarding a vessel.

The US Navy position seems to be that the accident was in part the responsibility of the commander as insufficient protocols were in place, these being contributory factors. The Commander on the other hand will doubtless claim he was asleep in his bunk at the time. This was evidenced as he was apparently found hanging outside the hull after crew members broke into his room and were forced to rescue him using a makeshift harness fashioned from a belt before he was medevaced to hospital.

CHILE – Hardly a week passes without it seems that Kuehne + Nagel extends its pharma and healthcare interests and now it is the turn of Santiago where the freight forwarder will operate a new logistics hub as from August. The new hub will use clean energy via a geothermal system to keep the temperature of its general area between 15 to 25°C. By occupying the air that circulates through the subfloor a significant reduction of energy consumption will be achieved.

While eco-friendly built and equipped, the facility complies with the highest security standards and state-of-the-art technology to increase current operational capacities. It will provide an area of 17,600 m2 for storage and distribution of temperature-sensitive products, which can be extended to 23,300 m2. A cold chamber to handle temperature requirements of 15 to 25°C and 2 to 8°C plus a laboratory for quality control allows customers to comply with the regulatory requirement to carry out local analysis of imported pharmaceutical products. Additionally, GMP compliant repackaging and re-labelling areas following Chilean and international specifications will be available as value added services.

NIGERIA – After drivers at the Port of Apapa stopped work in June following a change in policy regarding returned containers and a backlog developed, we now hear that protestors have closed roads to and from the port as a result of an ongoing strike by truckers. The action stopped loaded vehicles exiting the port and road haulage operators are demanding suspension of demurrage charges whilst the delays continue. The port authority says that work inside the port continues to be unaffected.

Photo: Firefighters battle to dampen down the raging blaze in the harbour of Benoa Port, Bali on Monday.