From the European Distribution Centre (EDC) in Beringe near Venlo in the south-east of the Netherlands, the Japanese company Kyocera Document Solutions supplies printers and accessories to the whole of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The overseas supply of all these goods mostly runs through Rotterdam. Dimitri Maaten of DHL Global Forwarding explains how, with the help of partners such as European Gateway Services, the containers are moved to Kyocera’s EDC in a constant flow from here.
Every week, large numbers of containers arrive for Kyocera in Rotterdam. On behalf of the Japanese company, DHL Global Forwarding bears responsibility for ensuring that the cargo is always transported to the hinterland as quickly as possible. For approximately 95 percent, the rail and barge connections of European Gateway Services (EGS) are used for this. This transport component of Hutchison Ports ECT Rotterdam connects all the deepsea terminals in the port of Rotterdam with the inland terminal Hutchison Ports Venlo in the south-east of the Netherlands by means of 25 rail connections and 6 barge connections weekly. From Venlo, the transport company CTV takes care of the last-mile delivery by truck to Kyocera’s EDC twenty kilometres down the road.
The high frequency of the rail connections in particular is an important reason why DHL already opted for EGS many years ago. Maaten: “The containers that arrive for Kyocera in Rotterdam must depart again as quickly as possible. In view of the large numbers involved here, a service that offers just one or a couple of departures a week is of little use.” A second advantage of EGS is the option for paperless transport between Rotterdam and Venlo. Transport across a distance of 200 kilometres from deepsea terminal to inland terminal is performed under the customs license (domproc) of ECT. The inland terminal Hutchison Port Venlo serves as an extended gate."As DHL, there is no need for us to already draw up a customs document in the sea port. That saves time and money; furthermore, we do not constantly have to monitor the validity of customs documents.”
On a daily basis, EGS provides DHL with an overview of the Kyocera containers scheduled for transport. Maaten: “If necessary, we can still make adjustments or, if speed is of the absolute essence, decide to use the truck.” Constant coordination is crucial in the logistics chain anyway. Maaten explicitly refers to the various parties involved as partners. “We ourselves coordinate with EGS and Hutchison Ports Venlo; CTV does the same thing with the inland terminal.” As a result, all links seamlessly connect with each other. “Openness to each other prevents communication noise. It also allows you to identify bottlenecks in a timely fashion.”
As it is, there are already plenty of challenges. One example Maaten mentions is the ever-increasing concentration and scaling-up in deepsea transport. The deployment of larger and larger ships of 20,000+ TEU leads to fewer calls in the port and to call sizes of up to 10,000 containers per single visit. “Those peaks cannot be processed on the landside in one go. However, the rules that the deepsea shipping lines apply for demurrage make this necessary in order to prevent additional costs for us as a forwarder - and therefore for the customer.”
In the other direction, those challenges also apply to the return of empty containers. Inland shipping is faced with increasing call sizes as well, with vessels carrying as much cargo as possible for one terminal. Maaten: “Various deepsea shipping lines ask back for their empty containers at empty depots in the Rotterdam city area. These are now often only serviced twice a week, whereas in the past that was daily. There is no rail connection. In the hinterland, that requires even tighter planning. If an empty container misses the boat to Rotterdam there, then this will almost automatically mean having to pay detention costs to deepsea shipping lines for late return delivery.”
These trends are a cause of concert to Maarten. “Sustainability is in DHL’s genes. We greatly support multimodal transport. However, in view of the developments outlined earlier, we are also looking at what new initiatives could possibly mean for us in the future. For example, we participated in tests with platooning in road transport, closely follow the plans with super eco-combi (4-TEU trucks, ed.), etc.”
"EGS continuously thinks along to prevent demurrage and detention,” concludes Maaten. “On both sides, we are constantly working to further improve the collaboration. In the future, we want to continue to be able to transport as many containers as possible by rail and inland shipping.”