Friday, March 2, 2018

Weekly Look at Some of the Smaller Road Haulage, Freight Forwarding and Logistics Stories

Some Slices of News from Around the Industry You May Have Missed
Shipping News Feature
UK – With a blanket of snow and ice covering Britain the suggestion from the Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon that road freight firms should keep trucks off the country's trunk roads, was met with derision by Road Haulage Association (RHA) chief executive Richard Burnett, who pointed out that, due to the very nature of the logistics industry, many of the HGVs on the road will be half way through a 3-4 day journey and have no alternative but to press on until they reach their delivery destination.

He went on to say that this issue simply highlighted the shocking lack of facilities on the trunk road system where drivers can rest safely, a subject long a bone of contention, concluding:

“In many cases, particularly in isolated areas, an HGV will be the only vehicle with the capability of getting through. The drivers of these vehicles should be applauded – not pilloried.”

UK – WORLDWIDE – The British International Freight Association (BIFA) has issued yet another warning to the industry of the dangers of cyber attacks. The organisation has urged all its members to conduct a review of security in light of the horrendous cost of the attacks last year on industry giants Maersk and Clarkson’s along with other institutions. The Maersk attack alone is estimated to have resulted in costs to the group exceeding $300 million. Robert Keen, director general of BIFA said:

"With businesses continuing to push for digitisation and connected systems, it is impossible to deny the rising importance of cyber security for global supply chains. BIFA takes advice from various experts on this matter and we believe it would be prudent for members to review their IT-related security processes, with a view to identifying and remedying any obvious weaknesses.

“We are encouraging our members to contact a reputable IT supplier with expertise in cyber security to discuss this matter. BIFA has found that some insurers – especially those providing business interruption insurance policies – can also provide assistance.”

WORLDWIDE – Date analysis firm WorldACD, which looks at the global air cargo situation, reports that in 2017 the average worldwide yield for special cargo (excl. perishables) was 45% higher than for general cargo; a year earlier, the difference was 50%. General cargo grew with 11% as against 7% growth for other cargo categories; the figures for 2016 were 3% and 5% respectively. High tech, flowers and pharmaceuticals showed the highest absolute growth of all special cargo.

2018 would seem to be off to a very good start but only February figures can confirm this, with virtually all airlines recording January revenue growth, more than one third of all reporting airlines realised volume increases from 10 - 50%, and worldwide volume was up by 8.5% (from Europe and Latin America by more than 11%). Africa saw a dip of 6.7% year on year, but it was also the only region showing a positive $ yield change month-over-month of 1.8%. All other origin regions recorded $ yield drops from 1 - 10% month on month, bringing them back from the lofty peaks they reached towards the end of 2017.

WORLDWIDE – Union group the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) met in Manila with the Joint Negotiating Group (JNG) last month to thrash out a the final negotiations for the creation of the new International Bargaining Forum (IBF) Framework Agreement 2019-2022. The JNG comprises maritime employers from around the globe to present a coordinated view to the unions.

The terms arrived at were latterly agreed by the ITF’s expanded Fair Practices Committee Steering Group which particularly highlighted the new terms appertaining to the ‘Dockers Clause’. This clarifies the dockers’ right to carry out lashing and other cargo handling services in ports, a bone of contention in recent times with some ship owners preferring crew to attend to securing containers and the like.Main points of the new framework can be seen here which include the re-grading of waters off the coast of Somalia up to a ‘war risk’ area.

ETHIOPIA – SOMALILAND – The DP World operated Port of Berbera in Somaliland has seen shares in the facility redistributed under a new agreement signed this month. The port will now see DP World hold a 51% stake in the project, Somaliland 30% and Ethiopia the remaining 19%. The government of Ethiopia will also invest in infrastructure to develop the Berbera Corridor as a trade gateway for the inland country, which is now seen as one of the fastest growing countries in the world.

There are also plans to construct an additional berth at the Port of Berbera, in line with the Berbera master plan, which DP World has already started implementing, while adding new equipment to further improve efficiencies and productivity. The first cranes are scheduled to arrive later this year.

US – The Port of Oakland is awaiting planning permission for a major project which will see a ‘landmark logistics campus’ developed in the port’s long-anticipated Seaport Logistics Complex. The port authorities consider this complex as a linchpin of the port’s future, a distribution hub driving additional containerised cargo across the Oakland docks.

Port officials met with developer CenterPoint Properties board members last month to tour the 27-acre building site. Both sides have since expressed hope for a mid-year start to construction. Industrial real estate giant CenterPoint is building a 440,000-square-foot facility at the Port. It will be adjacent to the Port’s new $100 million railyard. Marine terminals will be just across the street.

Port Commissioners approved a long-term lease for CenterPoint last December. The deal followed two years of negotiations. It culminated years of planning by the Port to develop land once used as an Army supply depot. The project is the first phase of a planned Seaport Logistics Complex that could eventually encompass 180 acres to distribute freight in and around the port. Port officials said no other US port has the land to duplicate Oakland’s marriage of transportation and logistics capabilities.

GREECE – The box ship group Diana Containerships has, through two separate wholly-owned subsidiaries, has signed an agreement to sell to an unaffiliated third party the MV Sagitta and the MV Centaurus, each built in 2010, for US$12.3 million each. The company expects the vessels to be delivered to the buyer at the latest by April 27, 2018.

Upon completion of this new sale and the previously announced sales of two Post-Panamax container vessels and one Panamax container vessel, Diana Containerships Inc.’s fleet will consist of 6 container vessels (4 Post-Panamax and 2 Panamax).

UK – DK Fulfilment (DKF) Ltd and Intelligent Robots have been awarded an Innovate UK grant to begin trials of an intralogistics robot transport system at DKF’s dedicated fulfilment facility in Coventry. The trials are scheduled to begin in June and will see DKF install a fleet of Intelligent Robots’ RPUCK autonomous mobile conveyor robots at its 165,000 square foot site.

The RPUCK model is described as ‘the world’s simplest conveyor robot’ and has been designed to reduce the time that order picking staff spend pushing trolley loads around a store. In simple terms, with RPUCK workers pick orders directly on to a trolley within a designated picking zone and, once a trolley is full, a robot delivers an empty trolley to the picker and takes the full load directly to the packing and dispatch area of the store. Mark Elward, managing director of DK Fulfilment, commented:

“Third party logistics (3PL) warehouses have traditionally been manually driven, but with the growth in online retail and the well-documented warehouse labour shortages, more and more 3PLs simply must consider automation as a way of improving operational efficiency, so we are delighted to be working with Intelligent Robots on this exciting trial.”

Unlike other systems, RPUCK technology is simple to install and requires no laser or magnetic guidance methods. Innovate UK is the operating name of the Technology Strategy Board, the UK's innovation agency. It award grants to help UK businesses realise the potential of new technologies, develop ideas and make them a commercial success. Zheng Lin, CEO, of Intelligent Robots, said:

“So far robotic solutions have been technology rather than process driven, which we believe explains the lack of adoption we have seen - particularly in logistics. We want to turn this on its head by taking a fundamentally holistic approach to tackling business and technology challenges.

“The Innovate UK grant not only gives us the opportunity to validate that our approach is valuable for a wide range of businesses, but, under the guidance of DK Fulfilment, we believe the trial will support our belief that our product is a genuinely innovative solution.”

US – The French owned ground handling company Worldwide Flight Services’ (WFS) says its North American operations have made a successful start to 2018 by winning and renewing cargo handling, ramp and passenger services contracts with airline customers at eight US stations. At Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, WFS won the freighter handling contract for Turkish Airlines’ new twice-weekly flights to Istanbul. The agreement extends WFS’ existing relationship with the airline.

New cargo handling contracts have also been awarded to WFS by Aer Lingus in Seattle for its new four times weekly flights to Dublin, starting in May, while, in Miami, Ethiopian Airlines has chosen to partner with WFS to support its new route from Addis Ababa. WFS expects to handle some 5,200 tonnes of freight per annum for the airline. DHL Air has also renewed contracts with WFS in both Kansas City and St. Louis.

Meanwhile three new ramp handling contracts have been awarded to WFS since the start of the year in Newark. All three-year contracts, these see WFS now serving Austrian Airlines, Primera Air and Swiss International Air Lines at the airport. Swiss currently operates seven services a week to and from Newark, while Austrian operates five. Primera Air is also launching seven services per week in April and it’s not just in the US where WFS is enjoying new contract success. In neighbouring Canada, it has signed a three-year contract with Lufthansa to handle some 6,000 tonnes a year onboard its services from Frankfurt.

INDIA – Maersk Supply Service has successfully completed the first contract for one of its Stingray-class new-build subsea support vessels, Maersk Installer, with McDermott. Maersk joined the project off the eastern Indian coast in January as part of an ongoing development by the country’s largest energy production operation the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation.

The contract utilised the Stingray’s capabilities to work in challenging conditions using its 400 tonne active heave compensation (AHC) crane to load and install rigid jumpers which connect subsea structures.