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Port of Antwerp moves beyond economics

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Port of Antwerp moves beyond economics

August 06, 2012 - 00:40
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ANTWERP, Belgium, Aug. 6, 2012 (RISI) -The Port of Antwerp opened a surprising strong showing for the first quarter of 2012. In conventional breakbulk, the port handled a total of 2.5 million tons and saw a 9.6% increase for pulp and paper. However, the best news was for the Antwerp container handlers. Overall, the port handled over 46 million tons of freight in the first three months of the year, slightly down 2.2% from the same period in 2011, but container freight expanded by 2.9% to more than 27 million tons.

Container volumes at Antwerp set an alltime record in 2011 and saw an increase in total freight handled. The port handled more than 187 million tons of freight in 2011, representing a 5% increase from 2010. These volumes exceeded the end of the year estimates, boosting the freight figures for the year and raising the 2012 goals. Expressed in terms of tonnage, container volumes were up 2.5% to more than 105 million tons and TEUs increased by 2.3% to more than 8 million, just breaking the previous record set in 2008.

"Even when times were challenging, we stood up and developed, together and with the private port companies, a total plan for a more competitive port, as an answer to the worldwide crisis in 2009," said Eddy Bruyninckx, CEO of the Port of Antwerp, when he received the prestigious World Ports Award in 2012. The award, presented during the World Ports and Trade Summit, recognizes the work Antwerp has achieved over the past 20 years in the fields of business development, port organization, sustainability and corporate social responsibility.

Van Moer Rail

Part of Antwerp's recent success can be attributed to its partnership with Van Moer Rail, a division of the Van Moer Group. Van Moer's warehouse is located on the left bank of Antwerp and specializes in storage and handling facilities, boasting an indoor rail connection and a daily shuttle between the warehouse and Antwerp's 730 terminal. Forest products represent more than 50% of all the cargoes that arrive at the Van Moer Rail terminal. Thanks to a 500-m covered railway, paper products can be handled and stocked safely in the specially designed warehouses in any weather conditions. The biggest benefit of Van Moer Rail is the railway track that goes through the indoor hall and is connected with the storage areas. With the Van Moer Rail locomotive, wagons can move independently on their own 2,500-m long railway.

Forest products represent more than 50% of the cargo handled at the Van Moer Rail terminal and warehouse, which includes a wide range of services, such as onsite paper trimming for rolls damaged in transit.

Dedicated people and specialized equipment are indispensable for Van Moer's wide range of logistics services. Personnel are trained to handle many different types of cargo, from paper and food to steel and more, and a high-quality infrastructure reinforces these services. Trained to use specialized material customized to the variety of products handled, Van Moer has been able to extend its reach at the port.

The terminal includes two halls and six sheds, where Van Moer manages its warehouse activities. Each shed has a surface area of 7,500 m2. Both halls are 216 m long by 54 m wide, which amounts to a total surface area of 24,000 m2. For the whole terminal, this boils down to about 69,000 m2 of warehouses. Almost every shed has the same infrastructural characteristics: Six cargo wharfs with two gates under a shelter. One of the six sheds is an applicationoriented warehouse with three different rack positions.

Each shed gives out to the halls that run across the Van Moer Rail premises. The halls and sheds are specifically designed to meet the stringent conditions for the treatment of forest products imposed by the paper industry. Therefore, cargoes that arrive at the terminal by train can be handled indoor. As a result, trucks can always load and unload in any weather condition. Van Moer Rail also has an open square of approximately 50,000 m2 of outside storage for steel, project loads and other goods that can be considered weather resistant. There is a double line across the field which goods unloaded without additional handling or may be loaded.

Several different types of trucks are used in the Van Moer warehouse to load and discharge specified products. In most instances, Van Moer uses a Joloda system to discharge paper reels. But one customer prefers to discharge its trucks automatically at night. An automatic 20-m Joloda system with a transporter goes under the cargo and lifts everything up, pulling all reels in at once.

Van Moer provides a paper-trimming machine to slit and refurbish paper reels on site. Using a modern reel saw owned by Lannoo Papier, Van Moer can slit reels to size leaving a clean and smooth surface on the edge, without dust or debris. The reel saw can handle all paper types, including coated and uncoated, as well as packaging and corrugated paper. Van Moer is used to working with customers to meet their needs, including trimming damaged reels or old stock at unusual hours or with specific requirements. Without these capabilities, customers would be forced to re-pulp many of the rolls damaged in transit.

Antwerp saw a strong first quarter for 2012, handling a 9.6% increase in forest products, and new all-time record for container handling.

Sustainability Report

The Port of Antwerp is a global player among the world ports. The second largest port in Europe, it boasts a high level of synergy between maritime, logistical and industrial activities and a high cargo-generating capacity. This multifunctionality delivers a high added value to the city, the region and the country. The businesses in the port need highly educated staff, and directly and indirectly create employment for over 147,000 people. The location of the port, approximately 80 km inland, not only places it in one of the busiest consumer centers in Europe, but also makes transport to the European inland routes more efficient and sustainable. In February 2012, the Port of Antwerp released its first Sustainability Report. For more than a year, various workgroups collaborated to produce this report to show how the various companies operating within the port are able to reconcile "people, planet and profit" with their day-to-day activities.

Antwerp is positioning itself as the sustainability leader in the Hamburg-Le Havre range. While in the 20th century the emphasis of port policy was firmly on economic development, in the 21st century Antwerp believes greater importance will be placed on social concerns that affect the port's activities and stakeholder management will be further developed. Significant efforts will be devoted to making inland transport more time-efficient as well as reducing its environmental footprint. In this respect, the Port of Antwerp has a decisive advantage thanks to its geographical location deep inland, as this reduces transport costs while limiting the environmental effects of transport.

The report outlines nine stages for sustainable action at the port, following the route that goods take in reaching their destination via Antwerp. In one stage, Antwerp is a "port that invests". The port has invested not only in infrastructure and superstructure in order to maintain its position, but it also invests in sustainable energy, research and development, and people. This investment in people is sorely needed as no fewer than 4,000 positions will need to be filled by 2013.

Antwerp is "a port for industry and logistics". Industrial and other activities within the port consume energy and water, and produce emissions. Energy consumption rose by 16% during the period 2000-2008, with the biggest consumers being the chemical and refining industries. This increase is partly the result of higher production (up 7%). About 95% of the water consumption is cooling water that is pumped from the docks and the river Scheldt and ultimately returned to them; only minimal use is made of rainwater. Valuable groundwater is seldom used in production processes.

In another stage, Antwerp should be "in harmony with nature and the environment". The port of is a "hot spot" for emissions of particulates and nitrogen oxide. To address this potential problem, an action plan for particulates and NO2 was introduced in 2008 for the port and the surrounding municipalities, with eight concrete initiatives. This has resulted in a clear and systematic improvement in the values measured. In 2010, no excess PM10 concentrations were observed within the port.

The Sustainability Report forms part of the "Total Plan for a More Competitive Port" that was launched in 2010 in response to the global financial crisis. To implement the Total Plan it was decided to draw up a joint vision for sustainability, as all the parties involved are keenly aware that sustainability can become the new competitive advantage of the port. Competitive advantage is no longer limited to the economic sphere. Increasingly it is being sought in a wider social and international context.

This article appeared in the Q2 issue of the IFPTA Journal, the professional journal of the International Forest Products Transport Association. The IFPTA Journal is published by RISI.