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Expanding timber exports at Sweden's Port of Varberg

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Expanding timber exports at Sweden's Port of Varberg

February 05, 2012 - 14:41
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Varberg, Sweden, Feb. 6, 2012 (RISI) -Timberbridge is a new collaborative venture in Varberg which aims to create a more integrated service for shippers exporting via the port.

Located on the Swedish West Coast, Varberg is Sweden's largest timber port, a position it has held for many years. In 2010 it exported 700,000 cbm, down from previous highs of 900,000, but this still represents only 6% of the 12 million cbm of softwood exported by Sweden. So there is plenty of room for Varberg to expand its share of the Swedish market, and Timberbridge is a step towards this.

The participants in Timberbridge are the Port of Varberg, Magnusson Shipping, and Woodtec.

Port of Varberg

The modern port of Varberg started its development in 1849. The port has deep water (11 m draft) and a short approach channel of just one nautical mile. It is also generally icefree in the winter. Combine this with efficient loading and unloading, plus long working hours, and the time that a vessel spends in port is kept to a minimum.

There are extensive outside and undercover storage areas, and there is a rail-linked. The Port of Varberg is continuing to investing heavily - a new port extension is underway which will create a further 400 m of quay space. The port has also purchased four MultiDocker hydraulic cranes which allow for rapid loading of timber to vessel.

The Port of Varberg is continuing to investing heavily - a new port extension is underway which will create a further 400 m of quay space.

Magnusson Shipping has been established in Varberg for more than 100 years. It works with an extensive base of sawmills, and this provides them with the flexibility to link shipments together into full vessel loads. All timber coming into the port is inspected and logged, and then sorted for its export route. This gives sawmills the ability to send in a truckload of timber into Varberg for a mixture of final destinations.

Varberg has regular scheduled services to the UK and Ireland, the Med, North Africa, and the US. The port also loads timber into containers for deep-sea export. Scotline is the largest shipper from Varberg and has been operating out of the port since 1979. Last year it shipped more than 400,000 cbm to UK and Ireland.

Much of the timber exported from Varberg requires pressure treatment. Woodtec operates state-of-the-art impregnation plants treating to standards prevailing in Sweden, the UK and Ireland, the US and Asia. The facilities operate around-the-clock and close cooperation between Woodtec and Magnusson Shipping allows material to be treated as required before shipment, often at short notice.

What Timberbridge provides is a simplified service for the sawmill operator. Traditionally the sawmiller would have to contact different people in the port to arrange sorting, treatment, and short notice changes. Many of the problems that arise in logistics today are in the interfaces between entities in the supply chain - now it only needs one contact with the Timberbridge team.

This point has not gone unnoticed by the academic world. Karolina Boholm, Transport Policy Director at the Swedish Forest Industries Association says: "‘Timberbridge is a service concept which facilitates efficiency in the supply chain for sawmills. Timberbridge is an excellent example of how shippers and service providers can join forces to create benefit for all parties."

Much of the timber exported from Varberg receives pressure treatment, often at short notice, to meet export requriements.

More collaboration

The relationship with the academic world has been further strengthened by Timberbridge's collaboration with Campus Varberg on a planned university course in logistics aimed at the forest industry. This was announced at the Logistik and Transport Exhibition held in Gothenburg, May 25-27, 2011. Timberbridge also took part in a panel debate about the importance of co-operation in the supply chain to secure Sweden's position as one of the biggest supplying countries in the global market of forest products.

The Logistik and Transport Exhibition is the largest of its kind in Scandinavia, and Timberbridge's stand was the most visited on the first day of the event with significant trade press coverage.

As well as extending and integrating what it offers, Varberg is also increasing its catchment area because of its well developed and competitively priced road and rail transport. A spokesman from Scotline comments: "We are finding that we are increasingly able to use Varberg to capture timber from Mid-Sweden and East Coast Sweden as Varberg's overland transport costs have become so competitive. Also the port is such an efficient place our vessels are in and out very quickly indeed."

This article orginally appeared in the IFPTA Journal, the professional journal of the International Forest Products Transport Association. For more information about the IFPTA Journal and the IFPTA,