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Editie 8 - April 2017

Zeebrugge: ICO focuses on project cargo

© Thomas Hendrik Schurmans


Paul Feys: new in the captain’s seat

Fernand Huts: “Logistics and industry generate tremendous added value”

EDITORIAL A whole lot of things are about to happen in the months ahead BART TIMPERMAN


he spring of 2017 will be a particularly interesting period for a variety of reasons. Not only because of the sidewalk terraces will be filling up again, but because of the developments in the areas addressed in this magazine, which will probably be the subject of discussion on aforementioned terraces. A whole lot of things are about to happen in the months ahead. For starters, all eyes will be on NxtPort’s new CEO and his plans and future developments. Expectations are high. but the results are not yet available. In some articles, Antwerp is put forward as a potential worldwide trendsetter. Therefore, pressure to communicate and make concrete steps will be immense. One trendsetter at global level will certainly be the Brexit. What will be the tone on both sides of the North Sea at the start? In customs circles and in Zeebrugge, the negotiations will be followed with even more interest than anywhere else. In April we will know whether the Zeeland-Ghent marriage goes ahead. Marriages where tension runs high until D-day continue to be a favourite topic. After all the farreaching commitments made, failure is almost inconceivable. The reputational damage would be enormous. However, as with any marriage of convenience, particular interest

“The honeymoon weeks of Jacques Vandermeiren as the Port Authority’s new CEO are coming to an end” will be paid to the prenuptial agreements. Who will assume which position in the BelgianDutch waterbed? To continue in the same vein: the honeymoon weeks of Jacques Vandermeiren as the Port Authority’s new CEO are coming to an end. The new Port boss has managed to keep a low profile thus far. It appeared, for example, that it was still too early for interview in this magazine. However, no one doubts that things are beginning to move behind the scenes. Sooner or later the marching orders of the Antwerp troops must also become apparent to the outside world. We wonder whether the physical relocation of the Antwerp Port House will be followed by a mental relocation. New bosses often also require a mental switch from all employees. And, finally, above all let us hope Europe will provide the necessary clarity it promised regarding the port labour issue. Preferably accompanied by an armistice and without any unexpected turns. And if we meet on a terrace: cheers!


CONTENTS Edito 1 Fernand Huts ready for a port with more logistics


“SmartPallet is viable and the product proves itself”


Balance of power in breakbulk remains unchanged


Zuidnatie is bulging with ambition and eagerness to grow


Consolidation wave does not  spare multipurpose sector


Zeebrugge: ICO focuses on project cargo


One-stop-shop for breakbulk and project cargo


Martin Verbrugge: “Consolidation is the operative word today”


Ghent hub for breakbulk service ‘Kamsar Express’


New order at sea from April


Philippe De Backer: “If you do not dare to choose, then you should not go into politics”


Reducing CO2 emissions by 60% by 2050: mission (im)possible


Roadworks in Antwerp trigger mobility creativity


Customs boss ushers customs into digital age


“NxtPort soon to announce tangible results”





COLOFON PUBLISHER Havenkoepel vzw, Brouwersvliet 33 – box 8, 2000 Antwerp www.flows.be




Chantal De Clerck

Jon Bogaert, Sofie Brutsaert, Christoph Meeussen

marketing@flows.be veronique.dedecker@flows.be




Bart Timperman





Fernand Huts ready for a port with more logistics “It won’t be long before the State itself organises logistics and e-commerce in the port area” At the entrance to the head office of Katoen Natie stands one of the tattooed pigs by artist Wim Delvoye. It is not a coincidence that one of the most controversial artists has received a prominent place from big boss Fernand Huts, who is no stranger to controversy himself. However, the CEO of Katoen Natie is not the boisterous interlocutor he is sometimes made out to be. Quite the contrary. In the interview, Fernand Huts profiles himself as a professional interlocutor who stays clear of any emotion, although his irony and cynicism are never far away. BART TIMPERMAN

At his New Year’s reception the new port CEO spoke of ‘clans and conservatism in the port’. Was he referring to you?

Also the activities in the port keep changing all the time. They come and go. Some say the Amazons and Alibabas of this world are blowing everything apart.

“As I see it, everything is in constant flux. However, in the port of Antwerp, there is one big , constant central pillar that constitutes the strength of the Belgian economy. That is the industry, and the petrochemical and chemical cluster in particular. This pillar must be cherished, and its future secured by forward-looking investments. Then there are the transshipment companies that load and unload ships. Change must come above all from a third pillar that needs to be developed and that offers great added value.

That pillar is logistics and e-commerce.”

What do you think is needed to enable that change? Is there enough space for it?

“Fly with a helicopter over the port area. You’ll see there is plenty of space. But it’s not primarily a question of space. Electricity, for example, is too expensive here. There are the so-called bullying taxes, and there is a mobility issue. Potential investors consider a number of factors when making a decision. Just tick off the drawbacks of Antwerp. I can only be in favour of the development of Antwerp’s industrial complex. I don’t want to sound condescending about the loading and unloading of ships.

Fernand Huts: “It seems logical to me that companies and people organise themselves on the basis of their profession. Surely there’s nothing wrong with ship’s agents, operators or nations sitting around the table to defend their respective professional interests? Let’s not forget that the maritime world is an ancient world where things are still rooted in the Middle Ages. The name ‘nation’ refers to the guilds in those days. This doesn’t alter the fact that the port must be open to innovation. Everything changes, so does the port of Antwerp.”

As long as I feel good and enjoy the work, I will carry on.



The number of dock workers is not rising and their work will be further automated. I’m not questioning the transshipment business. But it certainly doesn’t create added value or jobs.”

You say the government too should make more futureoriented investments?

“The government works from the same principle as any entrepreneur. Resources are limited. So you have to deploy your resources as optimally as possible. Unloading a container from a ship and loading it onto a truck earns you 100 euros. Aren’t there any activities with greater added value? The Port Authority has an obsession for tonnages. But there’s more than sexy figures. The key word is added value. Logistics and industry generate tremendous added value.”

In other words, more focus on e-commerce?

“It is a gigantic source of employment. Thousands of people are already active in this sector. I call for the further development of e-commerce and logistics in all Flemish ports. When you fly from Dordrecht to Venlo, you can only

try and realise that logistics and e-commerce create both added value and jobs. This simple logic, which I have been advocating for a long time, is being shared by an increasing number of people. If someone like Geert Noels is saying the same thing.... I see a broad consensus emerging. Well, I suppose the necessary measures will come sooner or later.”

But they’re not coming as soon as you would like. Does that make you sad?

“Do I look sad? (Laughs loud) Yeah, well, whatever. I’m an entrepreneur. I have to adapt. It’s more fun to invest in your own region. I’m glad I can employ 4,000 to 5,000 people here. The number would be even far higher if only I was given more space. I wouldn’t hesitate to hire more logistics employees than there are dock workers. That does mean something, right? But I’m an entrepreneur and I adapt. I make investments wherever I can make them. Too bad for this country, this is now mainly in the United States.”

But it clearly affects you?

“Seriously now! “Do I show it? I doesn’t bother me at all. I’m an

“The Port Authority has an obsession for tonnages. But there’s more than sexy figures” see roofs of warehouses. Whey are they there and not here? Because they’re not a priority in our political policy.

You are actually saying that a Saeftinghe dock for container traffic is a meaningless investment?

“My logic is crystal clear. I repeat: the job of the government is to create as much added value as possible with limited resources. Well, then, take care of the indus-


entrepreneur. I see the city here has problems with employing low-skilled workers and immigrants. Let me tell you, I have twenty years’ expertise in working with that target group. I am the largest employer of immigrants in Belgium. Antwerp has over hundred nationalities. Would you like me to take on some more? I’d love to. But I need permission to do so. Despite all the misery and opposition, I remain positive in my offer.”

Do you believe that things will ever turn your way?

“We have already made significant progress. We have come a very long way. Today, I see that CEPA, the Port Authority, VOKA, the majority of ministers and many other parties are agreed that e-commerce and logistics are not port labour. That does mean something, right? I think we’re on the verge of a breakthrough. Bpost will shortly open a gigantic logistics complex in Brussels Sea Port. Mind you, Bpost is a stateowned company. They have no dockworkers or port employees. How wonderful is that? That’s right: Logistics and e-commerce in a port area by a company without any port labour. Now, that’s a wise decision! If that is allowed, we’re where we want to be. Because, if not, it comes very close to ‘self-servicing’ by the State as main shareholder.”

But in respect of e-commerce, we once again hear that giants like Amazon and Alibaba are turning everything on its head.

“But that’s the essence of enterprise, isn’t it? Entrepreneurship is creative destruction. You develop new products and services that often destroy others. Today, this is happening at an ever-increasing rate. The iPhone has destroyed the traditional telephone in a space of ten years. But again, that’s entrepreneurship and you must make sure not to miss the boat. If you care to listen to what your customers want, you won’t. I’ve never had an international strategy. My only concerns are the needs and desires of customers. That has taken me to 38 countries. It’s a strategy that can be applied by any entrepreneur.”

Another topic on everybody’s lips at networking meetings, is the Brexit. That should be a special interest to you?

Brexit is an emotional affair. It was primarily about migra-

tion. Once you know that, you must act like an entrepreneur. It would be unwise for Europe to act tough or to negotiate from emotion. It’s simple. Let them leave the Union and then back in again through an association agreement. Giving them the freedom to pursue their own migration policy. Europe has everything to gain by playing it smart. Each failure adds to the growing discomfort with Europe. Britain has a large economy and the largest army, so you’d better play it smart. They don’t want to get rid of me in Kent any time soon. I’m the vice-chairman of the local cricket club, although I don’t understand anything of the game. Typically British.”

Farther overseas, Trump is causing turmoil.

“When you look at it through European glasses, you cannot understand it. But for Americans, it’s not all that strange. He has touched something in people’s hearts. However, here too, you must act as an entrepreneur. He has been elected and we will have to deal with him. He often shoots from the hip, but mostly about political issues. This will especially be felt abroad. What I see among the American public is actually optimism. He adopts a flexible approach to entrepreneurship. He goes for infrastructure and energy independence. The atmosphere there is one of

enthusiasm and appetite. And that’s what an entrepreneur needs. Sure, there are quite a few contradictions, but the whole thing seems to work.”

Speaking of work, how long are you planning to keep working?

“I’m 66. The 65-year age limit was invented to avoid having to pay out old-age pensions. In those

When CEO Bruyninckx left, it was almost as if your name ran like a thread through the overviews of his career. Will things be better with the new CEO?

“I suppose I’ll just do my best to be very sexy. Look, I’ve always had a good relationship with Eddy. He has a good sense of humour, he loves good food, and he’s a great guy to share a

“They don’t want to get rid of me in Kent any time soon. I’m the vice-chairman of the local cricket club, although I don’t understand anything of the game. Typically British” days there weren’t many who lived that long. Today, this limit is outdated. As long as I feel good and enjoy the work, I will carry on.”

Your son Karl is increasingly coming to the forefront. Is he slowly taking over the reins?

“My other sons work here too. And I give them as much rein as they want. As long as I’m healthy and enjoy doing it, I will. (winks) And with Eddy Bruyninckx no longer there to bully me, we’re working in a much calmer environment.”

beer with. But that doesn’t mean we agree on everything. I didn’t agree with his policy, which I thought was based on favouritism. There is no way you can explain to me why one party sees its fine being cancelled and the other party does not. As for his successor? The proof of the pudding is in eating. I know him from his previous life as CEO of Elia, I also know the real reason why he left there. I don’t see him resorting to favouritism. I expect him to take a much more neutral stance. But then again, we’ll have to wait and see. ”

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“SmartPallet is viable and At the end of 2016, SmartPallet, which develops and produces cardboard pallets, won the Start-up of the Year prize. This award of VIB and PICS rewards a promising company within the supply chain. For the winner, this prize is a recognition of its pallet, which is aimed primarily at the air freight, pharma, food and lastmile distribution segments. While a number of cardboard pallets are already on the market, most of them have not yet managed to break through. What makes SmartPallet special? Wiet Vande Velde, founder of the young start-up, tells us all about it. PHILIPPE VAN DOOREN


ardboard is light, robust, sustainable, and also hygienic. I see a great future for cardboard as load carrier,” he says. This conviction led to the launch of the SmartPallet project some five years ago. Together with Slovenian partners,

“In the meantime, the Slovenian partners have withdrawn from the project and the company was renamed SmartPallet. In early 2016, the H.Essers group acquired 50% of the shares. I own 20% and the remaining 30% are in the hands of the

Strong niche solution

Today, the final product is ready and the first large series have been delivered. “We’re certainly not the first company to develop and market cardboard pallets. Many have tried it, but we are the first who are able to implement projects of 15,000 to 40,000 pallets. Our technology is ready, we have the machinery, and we already have some big customers. But habits have very deep roots. I realise that much practical testing remains to be done to convince even more users,” says Vande Velde. Many potential customers are sceptical because they think our intention is to completely replace the wooden pallet by a cardboard pallet. “That’s an exaggeration. The cardboard pallet can only replace a small portion of its wooden counterparts. I would estimate the percentage at 4 to maximum 7%. But in those specific applications, cardboard pallets are by far the best solution. And we want to be the best of class in that segment,” he adds.

Timing is right

“We expect to break even this year. SmartPallet is viable and the product proves itself”

Vande Velde examined an expired US patent, whose concept could serve as basis for further development. We then drew up a two-year plan. But, as is often the case with start-ups, two years became four years and the costs were twice as high,” says Vande Velde.


management and a number of private investors,” he adds. “The contribution of the Limburg logistics group was not only financial. They’ve supported us with ideas from practice, but above all they’ve opened up their network.”

“The timing works to our advantage. It plays a crucial role in the success of an innovative innovation. We have a technological lead, the machinery that we have developed ourselves is operational, the product is ready, we are capable of producing large series, and so on. In other words, we are ready right at the moment that the market is ripe for the product,” says Vande Velde.

Air freight He says that many sectors are taking a great interest in his pro-

the product proves itself”

Wiet Vande Velde: “The cardboard pallet can only replace a small portion - 4 to maximum 7% - of its wooden counterparts. But in specific applications, cardboard pallets are by far the best solution.

face. This allows eight pallets to be loaded, thereby saving some 300 kg,” Vande Velde explains. An

free of bacteria and dust. Wooden pallets can also be used, but they first need to be fumigated

“The time is ripe for the cardboard pallet”

air freight carrier recently ordered a series of 75,000 of such pallets.

Bacteria The pharma industry also shows great interest, for reasons of hygiene. “Cardboard is clean,

and heat treated to remove the moisture,” he explains. The food industry is interested for the same reasons. “In food production, any contact between wooden pallets and food products is prohibited, whereas some types of cardboard are

duct. “In air freight, for example, more wooden pallets are used than you would expect. They have two drawbacks: the weight - a serious handicap in air freight - and the dimensions. An aluminium skid (pallet with a flat bottom, ed.) measuring 240 by 318 cm can in principle hold eight pallets.” “But because they have a 6 cm edge, the net surface area is smaller and only five pallets can be placed,” he continues. “This can be overcome by placing the pallets on wooden beams, but the beams and the wooden pallets quickly weigh around 400 kg.” “We can produce a cardboard pallet whose base is smaller than the 80 by 120 cm bearing sur-



SmartPallet wants to roll out a royalties model, whereby the concept of the pallet and of the production line are franchised.

allowed to come into contact with food,” he says. There are also applications in the logistics chain of supermarkets. “Pallets are often used to stack different products in several layers, the so-called sandwich pallets. The layers are separated by a wooden pallet, which weighs 25 kg. This is not only far from ergonomic for the staff, it is also heavy. Per pallet, these layers add up to an additional weight of 80 kg, thereby increasing the risk of damage to the products. A cardboard pallet as intermediate layer weighs only 4 to 5 kg,” says Vande Velde.

Economic balance The price of a cardboard pallet varies from a few euros to 12 to 14 euros depending on the type, the strength and the quantity. It is designed for single use and can easily be recycled. A wooden Euro pallet, by contrast, costs 9 to 10 euros and is reus-


“For air freight we can produce a cardboard pallet whose base is smaller than the 80 by 120 bearing surface. This allows more pallets to be placed on a skid,” says Vande Velde.

able. “Wood is therefore generally more economical. However, in the applications that we target, the economic balance tilts in favour of cardboard,” adds the initiator. And those fields of application continue to expand. “For single use, some sectors also use polystyrene carriers, for example. These are flammable and harder to recycle. That is why a growing number of shippers prohibit their use.”

New business model

Last year, SmartPallet managed to sell a number of large series and the number of quantities sold is set to further grow significantly this year. These are series of 15,000 to 80,000 pallets for customers including a big Belgian chocolatier, a textile processing firm that exports large volumes to China, an air freight carrier, a French logistics service provider in the Netherlands, a producer

of aerial work platforms, etc. The current annual capacity of the production line in Mechelen is 2 million units. “We expect to break even this year. SmartPallet is viable and the product proves itself. We can now think about the further development of our company,” says Vande Velde. In this respect, he thinks the acquired know how is an asset. “We are not a cardboard producer, but we do have knowledge of the logistics market as well as experience. That’s why we now want to adopt a new business model by developing partnerships with industrial partners worldwide, including, for example, large cardboard producers. The idea is for us to provide the machinery and the concept under a franchise agreement, and for our partners to look after the production in their own factories. In other words, we want to evolve towards a royalties model”, Vande Velde concludes.


“Antwerp, your breakbulk home port”


he Port Authority makes every effort to continue to fully exploit the many years of expertise in the transport of breakbulk. Although the market trend in general cargo transport is slightly downward, Antwerp is still the breakbulk home port in the Hamburg-Le Havre range,” says Wim Dillen of the Antwerp Port Authority. Last year, the Antwerp market share in the HamburgLe Havre range rose by 2-3%, although the general cargo transport volume dropped by some two per cent, says Wim Dillen, Head of Business Development of the Antwerp Port Authority. Other ports recorded greater declines. Conventional dedicated reefer vessels are increasingly being replaced by reefer-containers as a result of advanced stock management in the modern supply chain management. The good news is that those containerized import volumes stay in Antwerp too.

From dock worker to forwarder The Port Authority sees these trends and skilfully responds to them by adapting strategies and shifting budgets. Dillen sees very favourable forecasts for Antwerp in the transport

“It’s thanks to all those excellent companies in the port that we are what we are in breakbulk”

of heavy or oversized items such as steel or rolling stock. „We believe in breakbulk transport and in the broad expertise that is present in the port of Antwerp for specific damagefree breakbulk handling. And this at all levels, because this superior quality extends from the hard work of the dock workers over the state-of-the-art terminals to the expertise of the forwarders. The port of Antwerp is renowned worldwide for its quality. Where else can you count on more than two hundred breakbulk sailings a month? As Port Authority, we keep investing to further consolidate our position as a flexible provider of general cargo handling services. Our sales team, for example, was recently doubled to actively search for new traffic and cargoes.

Large portions of the Port Authority’s marketing budget go to the promotion of Antwerp as a breakbulk port. „We support our port community by participating in the three leading international breakbulk fairs. We have a stand there and companies that want to promote breakbulk transport in Antwerp, can participate together with us. Our ‘breakbulk club’ already counts 180 members who regularly meet, where they can network, share expertise, and reinforce each other’s breakbulk business.”

Investing in knowledge transfer Through its subsidiary Antwerp Port Education Center, the Antwerp Port Authority aims to enhance knowledge of breakbulk transport. „We adopt a highly international approach. We organise seminars and courses for participants from all over the world. In this way, we introduce them to the Antwerp expertise in breakbulk transport. The courses cover both practice and theory.” Ports from other continents that want to use the expertise of the port of Antwerp can contact PAI, Port of Antwerp International. „We provide consultancy services to overseas ports that want to become a gateway. We thus promote traffic to Europe and hopefully also to Antwerp instead of other ports.”

Working together More information about the expertise and services of the Port of Antwerp can be found on our website. „We publish brochures and videos on breakbulk transport. All companies involved in the breakbulk business, big or small, are welcome to contact us. Would you like to participate in one of our corporate videos, or provide a quote or testimonial on why you choose Antwerp, then we would love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact us for a no-obligation conversation. „For it’s thanks to all those excellent companies in the port that we are what we are in breakbulk”, concludes Dillen.



Balance of power in break Antwerp: lowest level ever, but still market leader

Last year, the six ports in the minirange which extends from Dunkirk to Rotterdam, saw a slight decrease in the transhipment of conventional cargo. Antwerp fell together with the market, but retained its market share and again consolidated its lead because rival Zeeland Seaports was hit even harder. Ghent was the only port to set a new record in breakbulk.

Market share in breakbulk within the Dunkirk-Rotterdam range (%)

2000 8,1 23 54,6

3,8 8


2008 20,4



ll combined, general cargo in the six ports in the mini-range (Dunkirk, Zeebrugge, Ghent, Antwerp, Zeeland Seaports and Rotterdam) set a new record with just under 354m tonnes (+1.3%). As such, general cargo traffic grew faster than the total transhipment volume, which amounted to 822m tonnes, i.e. a 0.4% increase, yet another record. This was made possible by the new peak in container handling, which reached 263.22m tonnes (+1.7%). Also the roro traffic recorded its best result ever in the mini-range with 60.78m tonnes (+1.4%).


■ Antwerp ■ Zeebrugge ■ Ghent ■ Dunkirk ■ Rotterdam ■ Zeeland Seaports


19,6 3,9



■ Antwerp ■ Zeebrugge ■ Ghent ■ Dunkirk ■ Rotterdam ■ Zeeland Seaports

2016 26,4



5,0 4,0


■ Antwerp ■ Zeebrugge ■ Ghent ■ Dunkirk ■ Rotterdam ■ Zeeland Seaports


bulk remains unchanged this share had already dropped to 4.8%, even if the volumes with 37.26 million tonnes were not that much lower than eight years earlier. Eight years later, the pie has shrunk considerably, but breakbulk is still managing for how long? - to hover around 30m tonnes.

Antwerp Leader Antwerp remains the market leader, but last year fell to its lowest level ever. Last year,

the Scheldt port loaded and unloaded 9.80m tonnes of conventional cargo, or 2% less than in 2015. In that year Antwerp again climbed just above 10m tonnes, after having failed to do so in 2014 for the first time in many decades. Iron and steel remain the main contributors to these volumes. In Antwerp, breakbulk accounted for only 4.6% of the total transhipment volume in 2016. This is two times less than in 2008 (8.9% with 16.94m

Conventional cargo was unable to repeat its strong performance of 2015, dropping from 30.58 to 29.58m tonnes, or a 1.9% decline. The share of breakbulk in the total transhipment volume thus dropped to 3.6%, the lowest figure ever. The downward trend, to be explained in part by the increasing containerisation and “roro-isation”, thus continues. In 2000, conventional/breakbulk still accounted for 6.5% and 38.11 million tonnes. In 2008,


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This does, however, mean that the Zeeland port maintains its cruising speed of recent years. Compared with 2000, when breakbulk represented only 3.08m tonnes, this is a great leap forward. Compared with 2008, however, the 3.8% increase is significantly less spectacular. In Zeeland Seaports, almost a quarter of the maritime traffic consists of conventional cargo. This is the highest share of all ports. Its market share within the mini-range fell to 26.4%.

Volatile Rotterdam

tonnes) and three times less than in 2000 (15.9% with 20.80m tonnes). Antwerp owes 55.1% of its maritime traffic to containers, roro or breakbulk.Its market share within the mini-range remained unchanged at 32.7%.

Zeeland Seaports at cruising speed

Zeeland Seaports, which in recent years has become the major challenger of Antwerp, suffered more setbacks. Last year, the Vlissingen and Terneuzen tandem saw its breakbulk volume decline by 10.9% as compared to 2015, when cyclical factors had boosted the volume to 8.87m tonnes. Last year the figure dropped again to 7.90m tonnes.


Already some years ago, Rotterdam lost its second place in the breakbulk standings to Zeeland Seaports. Since then the Dutch mainport port has continued on a rather volatile course in this market segment. Last year, Rotterdam recorded a transhipment volume of 5.88m tonnes in conventional cargo. This was 3% more than the previous year, but by no means a top performance. The Dutch mainport still had a volume of 7.29m tonnes in 2008 and of 8.75m tonnes in 2000. Only 1.3% of the Rotterdam maritime transhipment volume falls under the header of “breakbulk�. In the mini-range, Rotterdam accounted for 19.6% of the breakbulk volume.

Best of class: Ghent Taking all proportions into account, Ghent produced the best report in 2016. The Flemish port was the only one to set a new breakbulk record, the second in a row. The new record stands at 3.70m tonnes, i.e. 3.8% more than the 3.56m tonnes of the previous year. One in every eight tonnes of maritime traffic, 12.7% to be precise, is conventionally loaded or unloaded in Ghent. Only Zeeland Seaports does better. The share of Ghent within the range thus rose to 12.3%, the best result ever.


growth spurt Zeebrugge staged a recovery and saw its breakbulk volumes jump from 1.17 to 1.50m tonnes after two sluggish years. This 27.4% increase was by far the largest in the mini-range. Although the Belgian coastal port did not quite reach the 1.67m tonnes of its 2013 record year, it is clearly back on the growth path. Last year, conventional cargo represented some 4% of the freight traffic in Zeebrugge. This is more than ever before, but is also partly due to the decline in the total transhipment volume. In the range, the Belgian port accounted for 5% of the breakbulk total.


in last place With the recovery of Zeebrugge, Dunkirk was again relegated to last place within the range. The northern French port recorded a loss of 4.6% in conventional cargo, reaching a total of 1.2m tonnes. This represents 2.6% of the total maritime volume and 4% of all breakbulk within the mini-range. The balance of power within the mini-range therefore remained more or loss unchanged in 2016. Thanks to the strong performance of both Ghent and Zeebrugge, the share of the Belgian sea ports went up from 48.2% to 50%. This occurred at the expense of the two Dutch ports, whose share fell from 47.7% to 46%. This national border may in future no longer be relevant. If Zeeland Seaports and Ghent merge and add their breakbulk volumes together, a whole new situation will emerge. Based on last year’s figures, the new entity would then be the new market leader with a total of 11.6m tonnes and a market share of 38.7%. A title which they will certainly want to claim.


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praktijkgerichte masterclass nu al voor de vierde keer. Slechts twintig personen kunnen deelnemen. De groep is bewust klein om de interactie in de groep zo groot mogelijk te houden”, aldus Weynen.

Transport van breakbulk

Sales manager Jef Scheynen volgde voor MACS Benelux in 2014 de Masterclass Breakbulk: Albert Weynen, “Zelfs na 31 jaar werkerprogramma manager varing in de sector heb ik Masterclass Breakbulk hier nog veel bijgeleerd van de vele experten die vanuit de praktijk passioneel kwamen vertellen. Ook de interactie tussen cursisten en specialisten, hoe zij verschil-

Breakbulkladingen zijn geen ladingen die makkelijk stapelen zoals bij containers eerder het geval is. Denk hierbij aan staal, project cargo, etc. Het is alles wat individueel vervoerd wordt op pallets, in rollen, ‘big bags’ of bundels. Ook omvangrijke en zware objecten zoals generatoren, transformatoren, windturbines, industriële componenten en investeringsgoederen behoren tot dit marktsegment. “Het transport van stukgoederen - of ‘breakbulk’ zoals dit ook genoemd wordt - vereist een heel gespecialiseerde kennis”, stelt Albert Weynen, programma manager van de Masterclass Breakbulk. “In deze masterclass leren we de deelnemers de risico’s van breakbulktransport beter te begrijpen. Door met verschillende thema’s te werken, maken we hen bewust van de positie en rol van de diverse betrokken partijen in het gehele proces. We benadrukken de adviserende en operationele rol hierin en kaderen alles binnen een veranderende context, bijvoorbeeld de breakbulklijnvaart die aan belang inboet en het toenemend belang van niet-lijnvaart, RORO en containerlijnvaart voor breakbulktransport.”

“U krijgt in deze Masterclass een diverse opleiding van ervaren experten. Zo zorgen we er samen voor dat de breakbulk expertise in onze haven blijft bestaan.” lende standpunten hadden over een onderwerp, maakt het zeer interessant. Ik pak nu nog regelmatig de cursus erbij.”

Ervaring uitwisselen in groep

Puzzelstukken plaatsen

Deze zeer gespecialiseerde opleiding bundelt de theoretische kennis en praktische ervaring van twintig specialisten in het vak. “Het is van essentieel belang dat deze kennis niet verloren gaat. Op vraag van de bedrijven organiseren we deze

De opleiding richt zich naar iedereen die al werkt met transport van breakbulk en zich er verder in wil verdiepen, hierin een leidinggevende functie bekleedt of naar een leidinggevende functie wil doorgroeien. Komt u enkel met deelaspecten van breakbulk in aanraking, dan is het ook interessant om eraan deel te nemen. Ex-deelnemer Dave Adams heeft dagelijks te maken met breakbulk bij Bolloré Logistics. “De opleiding is heel divers. Het gaat van hoe de codex juist in mekaar steekt tot en met het schetsen van het juridisch kader. De Masterclass leerde me alle puzzelstukken op de juiste plaats te leggen voor de zaken die belangrijk zijn bij de behandeling van stukgoed.”


De Masterclass Breakbulk omvat 70 lesuren, verdeeld over halve dagsessies van november 2017 tot juni 2018.


CEPA, Brouwersvliet 33 te Antwerpen.


Surf naar www.portilog.be voor het volledige studieprogramma, de lesdata en inschrijfvoorwaarden.


Zuidnatie is bulging with eagerness to grow Paul Feys: the first mate who moved up to the captain’s seat At the end of 2016 Marcel Dubourg announced his departure from Zuidnatie. Co-partner Paul Feys took over his shares and has since been running the Antwerp-based company. But reinforcement has arrived. Daughter Stéphanie is ready to join him at the helm. She is the only one of Paul Feys’s offspring that is interested in working at the Port. BART TIMPERMAN

Being the sole person at the helm must have taken some getting used to?

Paul Feys: “Our dock workers are the envy of the whole of Europe. For general cargo/ breakbulk, we have the know-how and the most efficient dock workers in the world.”


“Marcel wanted to quit and you must respect that. I have never thought of quitting myself. I’m 57 years old and still enjoy the work. Perhaps I might have considered selling my shares as well if I had received some monster bid from a third party, but there wasn’t any such bid. Moreover, my daughter Stéphanie is ready to take my place with lots of enthusiasm. She will do so together with our management which is also actively involved in the policy-making process. All these aspects have obviously been an important factor in my decision.” “Marcel and myself always had a clear task division. He was responsible for finance, human resources and the external representation of our organisation in interest groups. I was in charge of sales and the foreign representation of Zuidnatie. Stéphanie will be back in March after her pregnancy leave and will then take over

Marcel’s duties. I won’t deny that I’m happy with that. I’m much more into the relational and commercial side of things.”

Does the new generation also come with renewed ambition?

“The company is running well. Initially, we will continue to expand. But we will also look at new opportunities within the port. We certainly want to keep growing. That’s why we also tendered for the ‘ninth’, but sadly we weren’t awarded the contract. We still don’t know why. I was not involved in the talks with the Antwerp Port Authority (APA), but I gathered from my ex-partner that we stood a very good chance. We had a very concrete project. But apparently they decided otherwise.”

But you accept defeat in silence, while others would howl?

Accepting defeat and focusing on a next win, is the best reaction. We had really counted on it. There was an oral commitment,

ambition and so we assumed we would also be awarded the contract. At the end of November 2016 it became clear that preference would be given to a 40 million tonne liquid project. However tough such a decision may sound, it cannot be made undone. Throughout its history Zuidnatie has had to rely on takeovers or on building something from scratch. This time, too, we weren’t awarded anything by the APA.

Your activity was apparently considered less valuable than the oil scenario. Is this a feeling that pervades the entire breakbulk sector? That the sector is slightly less trendy?

“I suppose that’s true, sadly. However, it’s breakbulk that creates the greatest added value. Breakbulk creates jobs. Not many dock workers are needed to open an oil valve. They focus only on volumes.”

In the meantime, you are left with the project that you had prepared for the Delwaide dock. Have you been offered any other perspectives?

preneur, to a company where the decisions are made abroad. Apart from the price, that is an important argument to choose for us. It’s also important not to underestimate the relational as-

“Not many dock workers are needed to open an oil valve” evident to accommodate such a project at the two terminals that we have. The streets are already full. Our negotiating partners at the APA try to help us for they too realise that we cannot afford to lose this project... I wish to emphasise that the collaboration with the commercial department of the APA is excellent and that those people are doing everything they can.”

Standing your ground as a local company among all the big boys with more powerful contacts, is not evident. What is your formula?

“Create added value. Offer our customers a dedicated service. These are shipping companies, logistics partners, and other companies. We provide customised services and also have the know-how. Luckily for us, there are breakbulk customers who prefer to entrust their business to an Antwerp-based player. Our customers prefer a company in Antwerp where decisions are made by an independent entre-

pect in the breakbulk sector. In contrast to the container sector, it’s more difficult to find a player who is active worldwide. You will probably find one who is active in seven ports, but not in fifty. I’ve also always consciously visited customers and sought personal contact. That way, you can anticipate on the collaboration and that is often a decisive factor in keeping the customer on board. Customer relations and service are the keys.”

There is also the discussion about the wage handicap and port labour...

“We’re slowly reaching a consensus on port labour. Sooner or later, everything logistics-related must come under a separate regime. No one will deny that discharging and loading ships - and all operations carried out within 100m along the water - is port labour. But a warehouse at one kilometre from a dock, even if it is located within the port belt, is something quite different. The social partners must also realise this, for it is clear: we’re

“There have been talks on alternatives, but we haven’t received any answer yet. Our dossier is apparently being handled at a higher level. So we just keep on going. We try to make the most of our capacity by covering up everything as far as possible. “At present, we are working on filling up the barge dock at quay 118-120. We have also completed the takeover of the Blockmans

warehouse at quay 468. The 300,000 tonne project for the ‘ninth’ will now be rolled out at quay 480. This does, however, present us with some practical problems on our site. It is not



losing all purely logistics-related projects.”

But a consensus is not the same thing as a new regulation?

“Sooner or later, something has got to give. If we don’t do it ourselves, it will from somewhere else. What if European Commissioner Bulc does not give her approval? I’m afraid of that. Then we’re even farther from home. There should be an initiative quickly. Everyone knows that a regulation for logistics will not result in job losses in the general contingent of port workers. Those jobs will, however, disap-

to it. Everywhere employees are on the phone all day in search of information. If we can save this time and use it for other things, that would also be a source of income. We have every confidence in it and will certainly support it. Suppose that Antwerp would be the first in the world to pull this off. That would provide us with a tremendous competitive edge.”

On the other hand, there is the widespread fear of digitalisation. The Amazons of this world are taking everything over.

“I’m not afraid of that. Breakbulk is too labour intensive and

“Customer relations and service are the keys” pear if you prefer a liquid project to breakbulk. Our social partners should give this careful consideration.

specialised. I think that port companies as a whole should not be afraid. I do understand the fear of the forwarders.”

There also seems to be a consensus on the approach to digitalisation. Do you support it?

As the father of a daughter who has a whole career in front of her, what are you afraid of? What threats do you foresee?

“It’s essential that NxtPort succeeds. Personally I think that each company benefits from it and should therefore also contribute

“The great challenge will be to secure the breakbulk cargo volumes. We must avoid that eve-

Paul Feys


rything gets “containerised”. We can only do this by increasingly offering greater added value. Otherwise it will be cheaper for the customer to switch to containers wherever possible. On the other hand, I think the container shipping companies will be raising their freight rates. They are now running with such great losses that their survival is threatened. If this continues, Hanjin will not be the only one to capsize. Another threat, of course, are the policies of the ports. Is reality driving customers to the competition in Vlissingen or Moerdijk or Rotterdam? “I personally wonder where the interests of the APA lie. Are they looking at the revenue per tonne? Or at the total picture, factoring in the added value and employment? Again, the commercial department shows a great deal of goodwill. And, finally, let’s not forget to point at one big objective advantage of Antwerp. Our dock workers are the best in the world. For general cargo/breakbulk, we have the most qualified and efficient teams with know-how, for which we are envied by the whole of Europe. Unfortunately, they are also the most expensive teams due to the archaic shift system, which puts us at a competitive disadvantage.”

One more question about the future. One of the big mysteries is the waste recovery project with ERS, the Saudi Arabian company. An investment of nearly 4 billion. You were in the camp of the believers?

We are still in contact and I think the investigation in terms of engineering is still ongoing and that everything is also technically correct. But we’ve also been waiting for an answer since April 2016. So I cannot deny that the communication is difficult. Until the end of last year I really believed that a breakthrough could be achieved at the start of the year. But time passes by, and doubt creeps in. I am curious.”

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Consolidation wave does not Operators under pressure to cut costs and increase scale The recent takeover of Rickmers by Zeaborn did not go unnoticed. It is the latest development in a consolidation process that has been going on for some time in the breakbulk/ multipurpose segment. This trend continued unabated last year. JEAN-LOUIS VANDEVOORDE


n containerised liner shipping or maritime transport of dry and wet bulk, mergers, takeovers and alliances are almost daily news items. Farther away from the spotlight, the same phenomenon can be observed in the multipurpose market, as revealed by Dynamar’s latest analysis. The reason is not hard to find: the breakbulk shipping market, just as the larger shipping sectors, is not in fine fettle. The golden

Turbulent year “2016 was a turbulent year in this respect,” the Dutch consultant is keen to emphasise. “No fewer than sixteen operators and

ten non-operating owners were involved in mergers, takeovers or similar scenarios. Four others went bankrupt or decided to withdraw from the breakbulk business.” Last year, rarely a month went by without some realignment of the multipurpose market. It started already in the last days of 2015 with the capsizing of two Belgian players: project cargo and heavy lift shipping line OXL and its parent company Flamar. This was followed in 2016 by the takeover of Safmarine MPV, another Belgian operator, by NileDutch, which sealed the exit of Maersk Line from the multipurpose segment. In June,

“The golden years of the previous decade are becoming a distant memory” years of the previous decade are becoming a distant memory. The slower economic growth, the aftermath of the financial crisis, the reduced demand from large clients such as gas and oil extraction, the concentration that took place among their subcontractors, these are all factors that put operators under pressure to cut their costs or to increase their scales.


With the takeover of Rickmers by Zeaborn, 2017 looks set to become another year of consolidation in the breakbulk sector.

spare multipurpose sector Nordana Project & Chartering was taken over by Rickmers. In September, Danish Thorco and German Unite Heavy Lift (UHL) joined forces in Thorco Projects. Gearbulk and Grieg combined 130 ships in a joint venture. The year ended as it had begun, with the demise of Dutch operator Flinter.

Growing fleet Despite the difficult economic situation, the shipping lines in the breakbulk shipping top ten considerably expanded their multipurpose fleet last year. Together they entered the year with 460 ships, representing a

total carrying capacity of 7.99m DWT, or respectively 10% and 9% more than the figures in Dynamar’s latest report. This

also by the delivery of new build tonnage. Four of these operators placed new build orders for 27 ships and

“Last year almost no month went by without some realignment of the multi-purpose market” is again to be explained partially by the sustained concentration in the sector, and admittedly

435,000 DWT. Intermarine has the largest order book with fifteen ships and 177,000 DWT.


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Een bruisende, dynamische sector tot uw dienst


Zeebrugge: ICO focuses o Yamal project to serve as flagship project ICO has in recent years contributed significantly to the development of Zeebrugge as a hub for worldwide new car traffics. The company is also reinforcing its profile in the breakbulk business. With the contract for Yamal, it has won a large-scale project for Zeebrugge. JEAN-LOUIS VANDEVOORDE


his is not completely new for us,” recalls Marc Adriansens, managing director of ICO Terminals. “As CTO we started out as a general cargo terminal and as such we have built up considerable know-how in the conventional business. It was


only in the previous decade that the focus increasingly began to shift to the car sector. But even then we continued our project handling activities, for example, for the deployment of offshore wind farms. In recent years, these have again gained in importance,

Adriansens readily admits. “The recent crisis has in fact temporarily slowed down growth in car traffics. We are again becoming more active in the general cargo market, also when cargo is involved that requires lift on/lift off operations or is carried out by heavy load ships.”

Heavy load ships transport the modules for Yamal to the Hanze Terminal in the back port of Zeebrugge...

n project cargo In fact, as a RoRo handler, the fully owned daughter of NYK already sees a lot of rolling high&heavies and breakbulk or project cargo passing on MAFIs. “All car carrier operators carry this type of cargo on their main deck and we obviously have the necessary equipment to deal with it.”

Antwerp and Zeebrugge

Hanze Terminal In the meantime, ICO has further reinforced itself to enable it to manage breakbulk and project cargo, in all of their various forms. In terms of equipment, this was reflected in the purchase of a large mobile harbour crane from Gottwald. This crane can lift up to 100 tonnes. At the Hanze Terminal in the south-east corner of the back port, the freight handler has also invested in a terminal where very heavy loads can be brought ashore or put on board of ships. “There we have an area of fifteen hectares with a maximum floor loading capacity

Volumes of this type of traffic are bigger in Antwerp than in Zeebrugge. The Scheldt port benefits from its further inland location for distribution and from its cargo generating capacity. However,

volumes at the coastal port are also going up, both on shortsea and on deepsea routes, especially in the case of transhipment. “There is no specialisation and task division between Antwerp and Zeebrugge. We offer these two solutions together and all shipping companies constantly combine both options. We want to preserve this interaction and have therefore more or less pooled our knowledge of that segment. Lashing and securing of this type of cargo requires highly specific expertise that was present mainly in Antwerp. We have set up a team that can be deployed at any of the terminals involved.



of 50 tonnes per square metre, and which can now be accessed via a brand new quay wall. This provides an enormous asset for the future.”

Yamal ICO is already fully playing this card, for the area serves as an intermediate station for modules to be transited to Siberia for the large project on the Yamal

port has been selected as the logistics hub for the deployment of the plants to be erected in the high north of Russia. The most impressive part relates to the transit of modules which can be up to 45m high and weigh 6 to 7,000 tonnes each. ICO has already handled twenty or so of these giant constructions, with several tens of them still to go. In addition, it handles a significant volume of other conven-

“For large projects combining RoRo and LoLo cargo there is no better node than Zeebrugge”

peninsula. Yamal will in the medium term be responsible for a sharp rise in LNG volumes in Zeebrugge, but in the meantime it already generates substantial conventional traffic because the

tional general cargo that is linked to the Yamal project. “These are a wide variety of components and accessories, from conventional breakbulk, often in large crates, to large outsized parts

…where they tower high above the cars that have made ICO the biggest car handler in Zeebrugge.


that require a heavy lift,” says Helmut Walgraeve, Yamal project manager at ICO.

Joint venture “For handling, we operate within a joint venture with two specialised partners - Iemants, an Antwerp-based steel construction company, and Abnormal Load Engineering, a British heavy load carrier,” explains Walgraeve. This traffic came on stream last year and will continue into the next year. The modules come mainly from Asia and are discharged in Zeebrugge to continue their route to the High North aboard ice-reinforced heavy load ships. Shipping from the Belgian coastal port takes place on a just in sequence basis according to the construction of the gas extraction and processing plants in Yamal. Loading and unloading is done with SPMTs (self-propelled modular transporters).

New projects ICO hopes that the Yamal project will lead to follow-on projects. “It is a very challenging sector and we’ve gone through a tremendous learning curve. Moreover, competition, from France to Norway and the UK, is fierce. But we now have the equipment, the space, the facilities and the know-how. We’re planning to fully exploit the 10m euros of investments that we’ve made,” emphasises Marc Adriansens. “The Yamal project serves as a flagship project and is proof that we can handle this type of contracts. We look which segment suits us best, but we think our location allows us to offer a flexible solution for big projects, especially when RoRo and LoLo are combined. In that case there is no better node than Zeebrugge. The shortsea inks get you to nearly all European countries and estuarine barges take you from Zeebrugge to deep into the continent,” adds Helmut Walgraeve.

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One-stop-shop for break “Last mile remains biggest challenge” A combination of barge/sea/rail/road transport, its own network of inland terminals, and holdings in partner companies, allows integrated logistics service provider Van Moer Logistics to provide a one-stop-shop service for breakbulk and project cargo. The company is systematically expanding these activities. KOEN HEINEN


n its new site in Puurs, along the BrusselsScheldt Maritime Canal, Van Moer has since last year been operating a terminal with a water depth of 9m for storage and transhipment of bulk and cargo via barge and shortsea. “The terminal receives small coasters with a deadweight capacity of 2,000 to 7,000 tonnes, sailing from the UK, Ireland and the Baltic Sea directly into the Maritime Canal. They come there to load pallet cargo, coils, steel wire and other steel products, and to unload wood products. To this end, Van Moer Logistics works with a number of partners such as shortsea operator Fast Lines and Boeckmans. They have a solid reputation as far as Europe is concerned,” explains Dennie Lockefeer, CCO of Van Moer Logistics. With the terminal, the group wants to specialise in the field of breakbulk, although it also handles project cargo for customers including crane company Sarens. Loading or unloading takes place not only at the terminal in Puurs, but also on various other quays, sometimes also on-site on the customer’s quay. A mo-


bile team of the group assists in the handling of the ships. “They move around in a van and assist with the loading where necessary. They are responsible for such operations as lashing and securing cargo, both on the Maritime Canal and on the Albert Canal,” says Lockefeer.

iBarge To round out its offer of waterbound transport, the group has, in addition to a terminal network, its own barge fleet. In 2015, iBarge was created for this purpose. iBarge is managed by Olivier De Smedt, founder and CEO of the company. A fourth ship went into service at the start of this year. “With iBarge we transport mainly containers, but also project cargo. In the autumn, iBarge will unload project cargo via water for Umicore in Hoboken,” says Lockefeer. In 2014, Van Moer concluded a partnership with Umicore, which had a quay built along the Scheldt for a modal shift from road to water transport. Van Moer is responsible for the supply of raw materials in containers by barge from the Port of Antwerp and for handling the containers on the quay.

Cranes Through a stake in Olen-based transhipment company D. Buermans, Van Moer also added loading and unloading of ships to its portfolio of activities. Originally set up as a crane company, the Olen-based company later specialised in the loading and unloading of barges and push boats. “Buermans has a fleet of 27 cranes and handles around 10 million tonnes annually. This represents some 9,000 ships on an annual basis,” says Lockefeer. In February, Buermans had a breakbulk handing crane for Van Moer Logistics brought in from Vlissingen. “iBarge transported the crane using a pontoon and a tug. The crane has a reach of 27m and a lifting capacity of 22 tonnes. It enables us to handle larger vessels. The crane will be used in Puurs and later at the Blue Gate Antwerp terminal along the Scheldt.”

bulk and project cargo Buermans had a breakbulk handling crane for Van Moer Logistics brought in from Vlissingen.

Building materials village

In early 2016, Van Moer, together with consortium DEME, BOPRO, logistics real estate

group Montea and city distribution specialist CityDepot, was awarded the concession for the logistics part of Blue Gate Antwerp. Van Moer will be responsible, among other things, for handling at the terminal along the Scheldt and for storage and distribution in the downstream logistics area. It will also develop a building materials hub on the site in collaboration with a partner. The first pallets and big-bags of building materials will be handled in April. Van Moer has already partnered up with building materials producer Wienerberger to shift more building materials on pallets from road to water.

Road transport Jo Van Moer, founder and owner of Van Moer Logistics, started his own transport company with a single truck, more than 26 years ago. Today, the integrated logistics service provider has a truck fleet of 250 trucks, including a number of vehicles for exceptional loads. “Exceptional traffic is used for the on-carriage of project cargo and heavy lift cargo. The last mile in this type of transport is the biggest challenge,” Lockefeer adds. “We are significantly expanding our exceptional transport fleet. Our largest trailer is a modular trailer consisting of 12 axle lines which allows us to transport cargoes of up to 145 tonnes. Apart from these heavy combinations, we have several ‘euro’ flatbed trailers/semi-flatbeds and open flatbed trailers with which we can offer large projects,” he concludes.

Exceptional traffic is used for the on-carriage of project cargo and heavy lift cargo.



Martin Verbrugge: “Cons operative word today” In fifteen years time, Verbrugge Terminals has put Vlissingen on the map as the main competitor of Antwerp in the breakbulk market. Two years ago, the Zeeland-based group also settled in Zeebrugge. CEO Martin Verbrugge makes a state of affairs. JEAN-LOUIS VANDEVOORDE

How has the breakbulk market developed last year?

Martin Verbrugge: “We see that world trade is slowing and globalisation is decelerating. That has an impact on the volumes. It means that the pressure on

prices and contracts is increasing. We live in testing times. Never a dull moment.”

Last year Zeeland Seaports saw its conventional general cargo traffic decline.

Martin Verbrugge, CEO of Verbrugge Terminals.


How did that affect Verbrugge?

“Paper and wood pulp are central to our activities, but the decline was mainly felt in metals. We knew, of course, that the rise we’ve seen from 2010-2011 would not last forever. The peak was reached in 2015. Last year we suffered a slight decline.”

Does this mean there will not be any further expansions in Vlissingen?

“We have invested very heavily these past few years. The Scaldia harbour is now complete. We still have significant potential there and we can also further expand if necessary. At our multipurpose

olidation is the terminal at the Quarles harbour, we have built additional warehouses and we are busy developing new projects.” “Our approach is to develop niches on top of the commodities that we do. Tobacco is one of them, two others are concentrates and offshore. We have made Vlissingen a springboard to the North Sea for the deployment of wind farms. That’s a growing business for us. In this way, we reduce our dependence on our basic traffics, which are subject to cycles.”

In Zeebrugge, Verbrugge wanted to focus on the interaction with the container.

Verbrugge was planning to construct its own container terminal at the Quarles harbour. Is that still on the table?

don’t regret my decision to gain a foothold in Zeebrugge. It’s precisely in the past two years that a large part of the deepsea container has pulled out of Zeebrugge. That was a cold shower.” “From April there will again be a direct call of an Asia service. From then on we can start growing again. We actually see large volumes of wood pulp coming from South America which

“The biggest threat remains the container. An enormous amount of breakbulk goes into containers” tion. I am, however, convinced that Zeebrugge will come into the picture again.

How much traffic do you handle in Zeebrugge?

“Last year we handled around 200,000 tonnes. That’s not enough for the two warehouses we have there. They should each have around 300,000 tonnes per year. Additional warehouse

“We’re still busy extending the quay, but a large-scale container terminal is probably no longer relevant due to the market developments in liner shipping, which also have an impact on Zeebrugge.”

“The results thus far are disappointing, although I absolutely

are then loaded into containers leaving for the Middle East or the Far East. It’s these containers that we now load onto ships in Antwerp. That was not the inten-


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pened in Brazil these past few years, we have put our plans there on hold. On this side of the Atlantic, we are looking first of all in the direction of Southern Europe. There is no point in being located too close to each other, except in Zeebrugge because of the container and the interaction with Vlissingen. I don’t see us starting anything in Rotterdam, Amsterdam or Antwerp.”

What are the risks and the biggest opportunities for a group like Verbrugge?

capacity is therefore not an immediate priority.”

Ghent and Zeeland Seaports will soon be merging. How are you looking forward to that?

“With great interest. Ghent and Zeeland Seaports are complementary and I have always been a strong supporter of collaboration between these ports and Zeebrugge. In a world of economies of scale, there are

have for us. Developing a joint strategic plan, increasing penetration of the world market, streamlining a number of things... they all make your ports stronger, but neighbouring ports are of course also each other’s competitors.”

Is it conceivable that Verbrugge Terminals takes a concession at the Kluizen dock in Ghent?

“That is conceivable. Although I tend to move towards the sea,

“The fall of the container traffic in Zeebrugge was a cold shower for us”

many positive aspects to such collaboration. Mainports are not ideal partners. They pull everything towards them.” “But that doesn’t alter the fact that we may remain critical. To date, we have not received a clear answer to the question what positive effects such a merger could


as we did in Vlissingen and Zeebrugge, rather than being located behind locks.”

Are you considering expansions in other ports? At one time there was talk of Brazil.

“Our overseas projects are still alive, but with what has hap-

“The biggest opportunities are the further expansion of our services to our strategic customers. Their loyalty depends on our capacity to offer them greater added value. But those customers must also want it. You cannot force it upon them. “The biggest threat remains the container. A tremendous amount of breakbulk and also bulk goes into the container. With the repositioning of empty containers, you sometimes get rates that turn the existing logistics chain upside down. We experience this daily, even though we try to collaborate with the container shipping companies.”

What are the next steps in your group strategy?

“The market trend is not upward. Shipping itself is at a nadir and our partners in the sector are not happy. Planning expansions with unhappy partners is difficult. We have to be realistic in this matter. “For the time being, consolidation is the operative word, making our organisation more efficient and sharper, improving margins, and ensuring that the new generation of managers is ready, for this kind of transitions are important turning points for family-run businesses that have their own corporate culture. My son, Anton, third generation, has been on board for one year. Getting young people from your own ranks ready to take over, is a crucial challenge.”

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Ghent hub for breakbulk ser African mining activities open up opportunities Lalemant and Stukwerkers are further developing the breakbulk service between Ghent and Kamsar in West African Guinea that has been operational for three years. The purpose is to attract new customers and to service additional ports under the header ‘Kamsar Express’. JEAN-LOUIS VANDEVOORDE


n maritime shipping, Lalemant is mainly known for its dry bulk operations, but we have also been active in the chartering of general cargo vessels for the past forty years,” says Dag De Bondt, head of chartering at Lalemant. “The port activity in Kamsar primarily focuses on the bauxite mines in the immediate vicinity. A tremendous amount of equipment is needed for the extraction of this raw material, the expansion of the mines, the maintenance of the installations, etc. We bring that equipment to Guinea.”

The general cargo vessels carry all varieties of cargo towards Kamsar, Guinea.


vice ‘Kamsar Express’ From Antwerp to Ghent

Growing volumes The call frequency varies according to the projects being carried out in the region by the mine operators, their subcontractors

But volumes have grown in recent years. “We have for years been working mainly for the Guinean state mine. In the meantime, the West African country has also granted concessions to groups from China, Russia and the United Arab Emirates. They have started up their own projects which require additional equipment. Lalemant Chartering

“‘Kamsar Express’ aims to service additional ports in West Africa if there is sufficient demand for cargo” and other contractors (such as Belgian dredging groups). The price of bauxite on the world market also plays a role. In times of strong economic growth, one ship arrives at Ghent every three weeks or so. If the market is in a downward trend, the interval between two ships may amount to double that period of time.

has begun to charter separate vessels for these newcomers. Our target now is to have one departure every four to five weeks,” says De Bondt. Due to the restrictions in terms of nautical accessibility in Kamsar, the multipurpose ships used - in many case tweendeckers - are of relatively limited tonnage.

Until three years ago, Antwerp was the base for this traffic. Following the repurposing of the sites in the Scheldt port used for this activity, Lalemant was forced to find a new location. “That is when Stukwerkers appeared on the horizon. For the consolidation of shipments towards Kamsar, we moved to Ghent. Since then, everything has been running perfectly.” At its terminal at the Grootdok, the Ghent-based stevedore is responsible for interim storage on quay or in warehouse and for loading the ships. Cargo includes steel products, crates, large tyres for site vehicles, pipes, machinery, cranes, bulldozers, dump trucks and even tugs. Containers, often including reefers, can usually be carried on deck. In this context, Lalemant operates mainly on behalf of forwarders who provide themselves for the pre-carriage. A large portion of the cargo originates from France. Heavier

equipment is often dismantled prior to shipment, also because discharging in Kamsar is done with the ship’s own cranes.

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Lalemant deploys smaller multipurpose ships that are geared to the restrictions in the Guinean port. An average ship can carry around 3,500 freight tonnes.

Kamsar Express Lalemant aims to further develop this breakbulk service

around these base traffics under the commercial name of ‘Kamsar Express’. To this end, the Ghent-based group concluded a partnership with AMA Guinea, a major local player in port-related activities and land transport.

The objective is to attract volumes and customers, and in the case of sufficient cargo supply, serve additional ports in West Africa. Nouadhibou in Mauritania is one of them. The port activity there mainly revolves around iron ore extraction in the hinterland. “We can deal with that very flexibly, although we do not necessarily intend to sail any further than Guinea. The ships we use for Kamsar are too small to offer sufficient economies of scale there,” emphasises De Bondt. “Our ships can carry return freight to Europe. This traffic is also growing. An example is the repositioning of site equipment. On the return journey, there is, as a rule, less time pressure, so that we can easily unload cargo at other ports along the way. “This would be an opportunity for Ghent to attract more breakbulk to West Africa,” agrees Johan De Raeve, managing director of Stukwerkers. “It is a niche market that may not generate gigantic volumes, but in which we want to invest further in Ghent.

BREAKBULK IN THE LIFT AT STUKWERKERS Last year, the port of Ghent set a new record in conventional general cargo. As the leading cargo handler in this segment, Stukwerkers significantly contributed to this result,” says managing director Johan De Raeve. “For steel, we have managed to improve our score. This traffic now accounts for almost half of our total breakbulk volume. In addition, we remain active in timber and paper, both in conventional cargo and in containers which we strip here for subsequent distribution of the goods. We also load heavy or outsize cargo on ships or on shore, such as the wind turbine blades coming from Brazil to Ghent. For timber, Stukwerkers managed to land a major new customer. “Thanks to the joint efforts of the Port Authority, shipping agent, railways, and dock workers, we have succeeded in attracting a regular tree trunk traffic in very sharp competition with the inland ports. All protagonists have come to realise that cooperation can generate more work for everyone,” stresses De Raeve. In recent years, Stukwerkers has invested in Liebherr cranes capable of lifting up to 144 tonnes. The load bearing capacity of quay floors has been increased and with the reorganisation of the activities over the group’s various terminals, the operational efficiency of the group has increased as well. “We look with confidence to the future of breakbulk,” concludes the CEO of Stukwerkers. The group handles not only breakbulk but also dry bulk and containers. Last year, a total cargo volume of some 3m tonnes was handled.


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New order at sea from A © Foto Hapag-Lloyd

New mega alliances: all FAQs answered

The 13,169 TEU ‘Antwerpen Express’ will in future be sailing for THE Alliance in a service on the Transpacific.

1 April: an important day for the liner shipping industry Two new mega alliances of container shipping lines launch operations. The number of alliances on the big east-west routes drops from four to three. Flows Magazine has compiled a list of all shifts. STEFAN VERBERCKMOES

How did the four old mega alliances came into being?

The current liner shipping landscape was created when Danish Maersk Line decided in 2014 to partner up with Swiss MSC and French carrier CMA CGM as the P3 Network. China saw such a big European block of the three largest container shipping lines as a threat to the national carriers, and blocked the plans. Subsequently, Maersk and MSC continued without CMA CGM and announced the 2M Vessel Sharing Agreement. Apart from Maersk, Evergreen also decided to discontinue its


solo operations and to join the CKYH Alliance. The Japanese “K” Line and the Taiwanese shipping company Yang Ming have been long-time partners and in 1997 they were joined by the Chinese carrier Cosco (CKY), and later also by Hanjin, now bankrupt. Another historical tandem is that of Hapag-Lloyd and NYK. This German-Japanese duo were member of the same Trio consortium already in the 1970s, and later they formed the Grand Alliance together with OOCL from Hong Kong. When it became clear that Maersk Line would partner up with

MSC, the Grand Alliance joined forces with the Global Alliance of APL from Singapore, Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) from South Korea, and MOL from Japan. The six partners decided to continue under the name of G6 Alliance. The fourth group is Ocean Three. Strictly speaking, this is not an actual alliance, but a series of slot agreements between CMA CGM, China Shipping, and UASC. The group was created when CMA CGM fell out of the P3 boat and had no other option but to collaborate with the remaining partners. When Hamburg Süd decided to

pril enter the large east-west routes, it decided in favour of partnerships with UASC and CMA CGM.

Why the shifts?

Because the two largest container shipping lines already collaborate with other, the numbers three and four also decided to join forces. CMA CGM and Cosco form the axis of a new alliance,

partners. The quartet began operations under the name of Ocean Alliance. The launch of this new alliance meant that Hapag-Lloyd, MOL, NYK and HMM saw two members leaving their G6 Alliance. Also

“As a result of the recent consolidation wave, several shipping companies became member of two mega alliances, which is prohibited by the competition authorities” for which the Chinese found it important to form a big Chinese front with OOCL from Hong Kong and Evergreen from Taiwan as

“K” Line, Yang Ming and Hanjin Shipping saw their two largest partners move to another alliance. All these shipping com▲

As a result of the recent consolidation wave in liner shipping, several shipping companies became member of two mega alliances, which is prohibited by the competition authorities. China merged its two large national shipping companies, Cosco and China Shipping, whereby the new Cosco Shipping Lines temporarily became member of CKYHE and Ocean Three. CMA CGM (Ocean Three) took over APL (G6 Alliance) and therefore also had to make a choice. The same applies for Hapag-Lloyd (G6 Alliance) which acquired Arab carrier UASC (Ocean Three). Maersk Line, in turn, is in the process of taking over Hamburg Süd.

Who is partnering with who?

OOCL from Hong Kong exits the G6 Alliance to join the new Franco-Chinese Ocean Alliance which also includes CMA CGM, Cosco and Evergreen.



© Alphaliner

combine their container operations by April 2018. Maersk Line and MSC assured their customers that 2M would not change, whereas all other carriers have to redrawn their networks. However, they, too are revising their offering because they are joined

panies were in fact dependent on one another to form one strong group. The financial health of the Korean shippers, however, was a

admitted, but applied for credit protection at the end of August last year and subsequently went bankrupt. THE Alliance thus has

“The Hanjin ship sank before the THE Alliance was launched” problem. HMM was refused by the partners from the new THE Alliance (Transport High Efficiency Alliance). Hanjin, by contrast, was

38 6

five members: Hapag-Lloyd (including UASC), Yang Ming and the three large Japanese shippers, NYK, MOL and “K” Line, which will

by two co-loaders. HMM and Hamburg Süd buy slots from 2M without membership card. Hamburg Süd will no longer deploy its own ships on east-west routes and HMM will offer only its own service on the Transpacific. According to HMM, the three-year ‘2M+HMM’ agreement offers the same advantages as membership of an alliance. Maersk Line underlines that the Korean carrier is a ‘passenger’ who was picked up at the bus stop where HMM had been dropped off by the other carriers.

Which alliance will be the greatest?

The specific weight of the alliances differs from one route to the other. On the largest route in terms of capacity, the trade between the Far East and North America, the Ocean Alliance will be the greatest with 21 weekly


services. THE Alliance and 2M offer respectively sixteen and ten services there. Both 2M and the Ocean Alliance will each operate six weekly services between the Far East and Northern Europe. Maersk Line and MSC have, however, a much greater average ship size. THE Alliance will offer five loops.

calculated that total capacity on all big east-west routes will increase even further after April 1. Even compared with the period when Hanjin was still active, there will still be more capacity. In other words, all the capacity of Hanjin

“Maersk Line underlines that the Korean carrier is a ‘passenger’ who was picked up at the bus stop where HMM had been dropped off by the other carriers” has already been replaced. Maersk and MSC are the new charterers of the nine largest 13,102 TEU ships that used to be operated by Hanjin and also the 10,000 TEU ships previously chartered by the defunct South Korean carrier, make their return in new alliance services offered by, amongst others, Cosco, OOCL and Hapag-Lloyd.

Will the launch of the new alliances lead to rationalisations?

Based on the new schedules, Alphaliner, the French database,

again weekly receive the largest vessels of CMA CGM from the FAL1 Service on the Far East route. These vessels up to 17.859 TEU will be handled by APM Terminals Zeebrugge, in which Cosco Shipping Ports has a stake.

What will change for the Flemish sea ports?

The Ocean Alliance and THE Alliance had to redraw their networks, so that the Flemish sea ports could lose existing services or win new ones. Zeebrugge will

For Antwerp, the number of calls on both the Far East route (ten per week) and the Transatlantic route (nine) remains unchanged. Within Antwerp, one Far East loop will move from the North Sea terminal to Antwerp Gateway following the move of OOCL and Evergreen. In other services the fleet will actually change: Hapag-Lloyd, for example, will no longer send its own 13,169 TEU ships (including the ‘Antwerpen Express’) to Northern Europe and the PSA North Sea terminal will in future also regularly receive 14,993 TEU units (UASC).



Philippe De Backer: “If you do then you should not go into p

The secretary of state wants to see fewer seat checks and more ro

The career of Philippe De Backer (Open Vld - Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats) is moving fast. A little more than a year ago still a member of the European Parliament, then a federal Secretary of State, and since recently also the man who will be defending the liberal colours in the battle for the mayor’s post in the city of Antwerp. The Secretary of State nevertheless found time to make a round-up of his dossiers on social fraud and the North Sea. BART TIMPERMAN

A notable decision of yours was to reduce the number of social inspection services from eight to four. When will we be seeing the results in the field?

“This decision has been in the making for twenty years. It is therefore by no means an evident step. The decision was made in November. We are now in the rollout phase. Normally, everything should be operational by July 1st. We are moving towards a much lighter structure that will enable us to monitor everything more efficiently and respond much more flexibly. It’s especially important that we will be able to focus sharply on the field with no fewer

40 6

than 100 extra inspectors. For the transport sector, this primarily involves the approach to social dumping. The reform also covers cooperation with other public authorities. We will be able to work in a more coordinated manner and to take much more targeted action. In the transport sector, for example, there will be fewer seat checks but more road checks.

Administrations are often small islands, sometimes small kingdoms. Are they sympathetic to the reform?

“This reform was necessary. Most people are actually aware of the added value of this cooperation.

Philippe De Backer in his office at the Brussels finance tower.


not dare to choose, olitics”

 ad checks in the transport sector They don’t want any double checks either. They want to achieve better results. They realise that we must create the conditions for fair competition. The reform will help us with that.”

checks. Last year, revenue from anti-fraud measures amounted to almost 200 million euros, a record.”

“I believe there is some confusion about what social dumping is. There are European rules, and then there are Belgian rules. Anyone who deliberately circumvents or ignores these rules, engages in social dumping. We track down those companies by means of targeted

The sector sees that notwithstanding Europe each country is devising its own transport measures.

“We are in a European market - with all the bene-

fits that entails. We are discussing this trend with France and Germany. Who do they actually target? Are they aiming for fraudsters or do they only want to make it harder for foreign companies to penetrate their own market? Surely, that cannot be the intention. Our minimum wage is higher than theirs. So where is the

You regularly announced targeted checks on transport, also to combat social

dumping. What effect will that have?

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lematic that I am trying to safeguard opportunities for Belgian jobs or to create such opportunities? I just don’t understand that.”

Let’s switch from the road to the water. You attach great importance to a new Marine Spatial Plan. Why this emphasis?

Philippe De Backer social dumping? If we want to combat fraud, we must do so at European level and ensure a level playing field for everyone. Other-

Those are the rules. I think we’ve already lost part of the battle for long-haul transport. We must ensure that no dodgy players are active

“It keeps surprising me how easily people confuse wages and wage costs. The high wage cost, the overall picture, is a problem for

“I hope to have all the texts finalised before the summer recess. I want this to be a feather in my cap” wise the sector will become unsustainable. If you have to fill out different forms, first for France and then for Germany, the system is no longer workable, especially in an international sector such as the transport sector.

Does the actual unfair competition not come from Eastern Europe?

“Yes, it does. There’s competition from Eastern Europe because it has lower wages and social charges. Companies have adapted and made use of the internal market.

42 6

in the sector. We cannot tolerate inhuman conditions, with truckers being forced to live in their cabs for weeks or months on end. However, I also see a return to Belgian hauliers. There are more players with valuable cargo that they don’t want to entrust to just anyone. This requires specialised Belgian drivers.”

Another important step was your announcement to reduce costs on labour, which was met with a furious response from the trade unions.

labour-intensive sectors. That’s why the government is taking measures that should allow us to compete better with neighbouring countries. With the tax shift, we made an effort of 8.5 billion euros. I see that, despite all these efforts, Belgium is still among the countries with the highest wage costs. That is why I want to bring down the wage cost for these sectors, in compliance with European rules and without touching at the actual wages. Why do the trade unions find it prob-

“We are the first country in Europe to have develo-ped such a plan, and it has proved its worth. The current plan will expire in 2020, so I’ve already started to prepare the new one. I aim to have it ready by the 2019 elections, so that it can be rolled out by the new go-vern-ment. It’s extremely important to carefully consider such a plan. That way, we ensure that our North Sea is handled with care, with respect for all parties concerned - and there are quite a few of them. Not only the shipping and fishing industries, but also the investors in offshore energy, companies that are interested in the construction of artificial islands or oyster farming, for example. I think it’s important that give this careful thought and consideration. Spatial planning in Flanders is not exactly an example of how things should be done. My ambition is to do better at sea.”

The revision of the maritime code appears to be equally important. What’s the state of play there?

“We have examined how Belgian interests can best be served and how this is organised in other countries. These texts were the subject of a broad consultation, which has now been completed. We are now finalising the texts which will then go to parliament for further debate.”

VEA made a widely noticed appeal against what they call the ‘immunity of terminal operators’.

“We are still busy studying the issue. The question is who is responsible when you transfer goods and who isn’t. We must see how this is handled internationally and whether there are any reasons to depart from this practice. We must do this right. For here, too, we have a pioneering role. The whole of Europe is watching us because we are the first to modernise the rules. We have to examine and reconcile many different interests. My job is to look at the bigger picture.”

As a candidate in the upcoming Antwerp elections, it would be best not to wait too long, as you will always have to

make decisions that will not please everyone in the port community.

“I hope to have all the texts finalised before the

in Europe. They know that I often go out into the field, so they will also accept me making an informed choice. If you do not dare to choose,

also promised that a solution for the demand for more flexible rules on estuarine navigation

“Moreover, everyone in Antwerp knows that the port has been in my heart for a long time” summer recess. I want this to be a feather in my cap. Laying down clear and transparent rules for the whole maritime logistics chain is actually also modernising the sector. It has nothing to do with municipal policy. Moreover, everyone in Antwerp knows that the port has been in my heart for a long time. They were my also my main dossiers

then you should not go into politics. As a scientist, because that’s what I am, I will look carefully, then analyse, and finally choose. I dare assume that people appreciate this, especially if the decision is well-founded.

Speaking in Zeebrugge in February, the Flemish Minister President

would be available in April. Do you follow that timing?

“That’s not an evident story. There are both Flemish and federal elements. My focus at the federal level is on safety, which is of vital importance. Suppose we take a wrong decision resulting in an accident with long-term nuisance for the whole shipping sector. We have a good working relationship. I hope we’ll be making progress. But I won’t commit to a timing. That’s seldom a good idea for a politician. Again, we all want to move ahead.”

That means there’s still plenty of work to do. Not to mention the upcoming 2018 election campaign. Will you be able to sleep at all?

Philippe De Backer

“I sleep very well, thank you. And luckily I don’t need much sleep. I don’t see any problem, really. It won’t adversely affect my job here. I’m in Antwerp every day, as a father and as a citizen. I have daily contacts with the people in Antwerp. I do know what’s going on there. Both the many nice and the notso-nice things. I’m therefore conducting a natural campaign. I’m enthusiastic about doing it right, and I want to keep doing it.”



The question as to whether we should resolutely opt for electricity – and invest billions in ‘electrical roads’ - or go for a technology-neutral policy, is difficult to answer.

Reducing CO2 emissions mission (im)possible “Vehicle technology alone will not suffice” The European Union wants to drastically reduce CO2 emissions from the carriage of goods by road in two steps, by 2030 and 2050. A recent report from a think tank shows that it will be virtually impossible to achieve the 2050 target with vehicle technology alone. Renewable energy sources such as biogas and biofuels must be made available in sufficient quantity. The legislation and the mentality need to change. We have some difficult choices ahead of us. PHILIPPE VAN DOOREN


n 2014, the road transport sector voluntarily supported the intention of the European Union to reduce its CO2 footprint by 2030 by 30% as compared to 2005. Very soon, however, it became clear that a complete overhaul of the transport system would


be needed to achieve this target. What should we focus on then? To answer this crucial question, the IRU created a think tank with participants from research institutes, public authorities, companies and other stakeholders such as green lobby groups.

The first results of this reflection were presented in the report “Commercial Vehicle of the Future”, together with consultancy Transport & Mobility Leuven (TML). The report also contains a roadmap to achieve the second target of the EU: reduce CO2 emissions by 2050 by at least 60% as compared to 1990, the ultimate goal being ‘zero emissions’ in transport. Based on current knowledge, the second horizon especially is going to require an enormous amount of work. We will have to work on different fronts simultaneously. Not only on the technological, but also on the legal and social fronts.

Platooning It would be incorrect to say that the real work is only starting. It has in fact been going on

for years. In contrast to what green lobby group Transport & Environment claims, diesel consumption of trucks - and therefore also CO2 emissions has fallen by approximately 10% over the past twenty years. It is clear, however, that efforts will have to be stepped up considerably to reduce emissions by 30% by 2030. This became evident during a debate following the publication of the report. Nikolaus Steiniger, responsible for ‘Climate Action’ at DG GROW (the EU Directorate-General for Industry), quotes the example of platooning. “Trucks

be available to replace fossil fuels. Examples are biomethane and latest generation biofuels, which spare crops and are produced from waste. However, they are needed in such great quantities that the supply will not be enough.” He thinks we should rather be focusing on electrical transport. He refers to electrical roads, with wires suspended over the motorway and a trolley system for long distance transport, and batterypowered trucks for short hauls. Even though he admits that the water is still deep. Electrical roads cost at least 2 million euros per

to achieve the objectives. “Natural gas is a fossil fuel, but it can still be used advantageously. Hydrogen also offers opportunities. And even conventional fuels allow for CO2 gains. We could further improve the aerodynamics. Longer vehicles have also a bigger potential. Let’s work on that first, instead of opting right away for more expensive solutions.” However, if it is up to Transport & Environment, that will not happen. According to director William Todts, we must already start working today on the solutions for 2050. “The report shows

by 60% by 2050: driving closely behind each other in a convoy, experience 20% less aerodynamic drag, whereby fuel consumption is reduced by 12 to 15%. This is only half of the specified target, and in addition, a considerable amount of legal work remains to be done: the trucks must be interoperable and be able to communicate with each other. Suitable standards will have to be developed. We will also need tools to enable ad hoc platooning. In other words, there is still plenty of work to do.”

After 2030

Conventional fuels

“The benefits of electrification should not be exaggerated,”

that we can meet the 2030 targets with more efficient vehicles and a revised organisation of logistics operations. However, it also shows that the 2050 targets cannot be met if we keep focusing on renewable fuels such as biogas or biofuels. The supply will also remain insufficient in

“To cut CO2 emissions by 60% by 2050, more fundamental measures will be needed” says Martin Schuckert, emission expert of Daimler and advisor to ACEA, the European Automotive Telecom Alliance. He thinks there are alternative solutions

the future. These fuels will be used more efficiently in static applications, not in mobile ones. So, we should decide now to immediately focus on a long-

“It will already be extremely difficult to reduce CO2 emissions by 30% by 2030. A 60% reduction will require even more fundamental measures,” says Steiniger. “By 2050 a sufficient amount of renewable energy sources must

kilometre and the most advanced batteries give the trucks a range of maximum 200 km.



According to Transport & Environment, we must choose already today for electricity. Natural gas is a useless intermediate step, says the interest group. term solution and that solution is electricity,” he says.

Technologyneutral? According to Todts, the bottom line is that we have to choose now for electricity. By contrast, Steiniger and above all Schuckert say that the choices

cannot invest in everything. That is why it’s important to make a number of decisions now and to go for a preferential choice,” says Philip Greening, director of the British Centre for Sustainable Road Freight. Schuckert doubts this statement. “It’s way too early to choose. These are long-term solutions, and developing these takes time.

“Trucks driving closely behind each other in a convoy, experience 20% less aerodynamic drag, whereby fuel consumption is reduced by 12 to 15%” must be technology-neutral. Roughly summarised, he says: “Give us a target and we will make sure that it is reached.” Instinctively, one could argue that the second choice is the most logical one. But that is not necessarily the case. Sometimes a choice has to be made upfront. We will have to implement a whole new infrastructure and that will be expensive. You


Suppose we were to go down the road of electrical roads, investing billions in them, only to find that engineers have in the meantime developed something completely different that produces the same results at the fraction of the cost. You then run the risk of wasting a lot of money.” The disastrous European policy on biofuels proves that such a risk is real. The choice of

the European Union soon turned out to be less sustainable than expected.

Monetize carbon emissions

2050 may seem a long way off, but it’s the choices we make today that will determine our future. The question as to whether we should resolutely opt for electricity or go for a technology-neutral policy, is therefore a difficult one. “Let the hauliers decide. They expect solutions, not debates. That is why they believe in a technological mix. They will choose the technological solutions that make the most sense economically. It’s therefore important that we look for solutions with an open mind. Pigeonholing is out of question,” says Florence Berthelot, chairperson of IRU’s Freight Transport. However, this statement is probably too optimistic. “We cannot afford to miss the 2050 target. It’s more than just technological choices. We also need to change our behaviour, so we will have to monetize carbon emissions and tax them. This is the only way to reach the specified target,” concludes Greening.

Logistiek, dat is iets voor jou! Ben je professional en kijk je uit naar een nieuwe wending in jouw carrière? Ben je starter of laatstejaars student? En wil je ontdekken wat de boeiende wereld van logistiek voor jou in petto heeft? Kom dan op 22 april naar Topjobs@Logistics, dé job- en stagebeurs voor een droom-carrière in de logistiek en internationale handel.

Wanneer 22 april van 10 uur tot 14 uur Waar Blue Point Antwerpen Filip Williotstraat 9 2600 Antwerpen (vlotte bereikbaarheid met de auto en/of het openbaar vervoer vanuit het nabijgelegen station Antwerpen-Berchem)



Roadworks in Antwerp tr

Shuttle bus and mobility manager help in keeping companies acce

The Shuttle Bus, since 2010 an established name for port workers, is expanding to the Right Bank. The Maatschappij Linkerscheldeoever (MLSO), the Antwerp Port Authority and non-profit association Max Mobiel are ready to go well before the start of the roadworks. The accessibility and mobility manager of the Voka Chamber of Commerce AntwerpWaasland informs companies about the works and helps them with a modal shift. KOEN HEINEN


ome 250 people daily use the Left Bank Shuttle. This success was reason enough for the MLSO and the Antwerp Port Authority to roll out the project on a wider scale, with the support of the Flemish Minister for Mobility, Ben Weyts. The forthcoming roadworks in the area were an additional driver. The result is

the Port of Antwerp Shuttle Bus. “Non-profit association Max Mobiel was appointed as transport organiser and project coordinator. They are responsible for the start-up of the various routes and the project monitoring. Via a tender, Zwijndrecht Cars and De Polder were selected as carriers for the Left Bank and the Right Bank respectively. In addition

to expanding the service on the Left Bank, Max Mobiel is doing a painstaking job in convincing companies on the Right Bank to join the project,” say Peter Van de Putte, director of MLSO, Chris Coeck, mobility manager of the Port Authority, and Bob Kussé, project coordinator of Max Mobiel.

Dual purpose “The project not only contributes to solving the congestion problem, it has also a social dimension. Some destinations in the port area have no or only limited public transport facilities. With the Shuttle Bus we provide a sound alternative, also for workers without a car,” Coeck explains. “The Shuttle Bus receives financial support from minister Weyts. This should enable the start-up and persuade companies,” he and Kussé emphasise. As the driving forces behind the initiative, the Port Authority and MLSO take on the financial responsibility. “We are the project owner and cover any possible losses. MLSO for the Left Bank and the Port Authority for the Right Bank. Together with Max Mobiel, we are trying to establish the best possible rates, taking into account subsidies and payments from companies,” says Van de Putte.

No empty rides

The Shuttle Bus was given its own look & feel.


“The employer can declare up to 120% of the invoice for tax deduction purposes as employer organised collective transport. As soon as a company has identi-

igger mobility creativity

 ssible fied a potential number of passengers, we examine whether they can be fitted into existing routes. If not, we examine whether a new route is financially feasible. The Shuttle Bus is tailor made but it remains collective transport, meaning that it is open to all companies,” say the organisers. Places on the bus are reserved online. If there are no reservations, there is no shuttle. In other words, no empty rides. Passengers can reserve a place the day before until 23:59 for one day, one week, or one month. The number of reservations determines the size of the bus. Applicants are allowed to ride for free.

Shuttle to the Noorderlaan

Last year the Shuttle Bus carried already 65,904 employees of fifty or so companies. This is an increase by more than 55% in comparison with 2015.

Accessibility manager

Since February 2016, the Voka Chamber of Commerce Antwerp-

“The project not only contributes to solving the congestion problem, it has also a social dimension” With the upcoming works on the Scheldelaan, demand for the Shuttle Bus is growing. Also local authorities from adjoining municipalities have expressed their interest. “We make sure that our service offer is ready when it is needed,” the initiators conclude.

Waasland has an accessibility and mobility manager. Steven Roeland: “As part of the mobility developments in Antwerp, the Chamber felt that a link was needed between the numerous infrastructure managers and authorities on the one hand, and the companies on the other

“Several companies on the Noorderlaan wanted a shuttle bus that leaves from the Havana park & ride and then runs in a loop with stops at the various companies. The potential and the interest are there. As soon as

we have to go-signal from a couple of companies and the park & ride is ready, we will run a bus every 15 to 25 minutes during morning and evening peaks. Because these passengers have a different profile and often are in administrative jobs with flexible hours, the concept here differs from that on the existing routes,” Coeck explains.


Changing habits

Steven Roeland: “We have many years of continuous infrastructure works ahead of us.”

hand. There is need for a liaison officer to get the information to the companies and, vice versa, to advocate the concerns of the companies with the appropriate competent authorities. Together with the Flemish government, it

Many companies, for example, lose the overview due to the multitude of roadworks. “Our digital initiative ‘www. Antwerpen-Waaslandmobiel. be’ provides an answer to this problem.

“The Shuttle Bus is tailor made but it remains collective transport, meaning that it is open to all companies” was decided to appoint an accessibility manager,” says Roeland. His task is threefold. “In addition to providing accessibility information, I inform companies of the available opportunities to achieve a sustainable modal shift. Finally, I am the contact for entrepreneurs in their search for an interlocutor with the road authorities. I advocate their concerns about infrastructure or mobility with working groups and public bodies.


On the website, the entrepreneur finds an overview of all planned events in the Antwerp and Waasland region. There are links to the source info of various road authorities. We send out geographically defined mailings to companies with mobility news tailored to their needs. In addition, we organise, together with various authorities, meetings with companies and encourage them to look for alternatives,” says Roeland.

If we are to resolve the traffic congestion problem, workers need to change their habits. “With the website ‘www. bereikbaarwerk.be’ we provide companies with initiatives for a modal shift. We promote the facilities provided by various authorities. Examples are the employer’s approach of Slim naar Antwerpen, the subsidies of the Shuttle Fund, cycle and telework allowances, solutions that can be provided by De Lijn, the NMBS, Velo or car sharing,” continues Roeland. “Together with Slim naar Antwerpen, the Port Authority, the Provincial Mobility Point or other partners, we aim to initiate projects that can make the difference,” he stresses. “From the Chamber we try to let companies inspire each other. Our magazine ‘Ondernemers’ each month highlights a good practice of a company that invest in mobility efforts.”


infrastructure In the field of advocacy, Roeland addresses authorities on the subject of infrastructure. Some examples: “Incentives to encourage bicycle use are important but only sustainable if an appropriate infrastructure is available. Or, to prevent the collective transport from also ending up in the traffic jams during the works on the Scheldelaan, we have been granted a bus lane. When asked whether his job will cease to exist at the end of the works, his answer is telling: “We have many years of continuous infrastructure works ahead of us. Mobility plays an increasingly important role in any organisation’s policy. It will be a long-term project.”

www.Antwerpen-Waaslandmobiel.be www.bereikbaarwerk.be



CULTUUR, HANDEL EN COMPLIANCE De Iraanse markt wordt meer en meer bereikbaar voor westerse bedrijven. Vooralsnog is het aantal aanbieders beperkt en dat biedt kansen voor de logistieke sector. Daarom vindt op vrijdag 5 mei het Logistiek Congres Iran plaats. – Veel praktijkcases van vervoerders. – Inzicht in cultuur (van zaken doen). – Compliance begrijpelijk uitgelegd voor uw dagelijkse praktijk. – Douaneregels in- en export. FLOWS, NT EN PORT OF ANTWERP

Ontmoet collega-professionals uit de logistiek: beleidsmakers, juridisch adviseurs, cultureel experts en meer. Uiteraard is er veel ruimte voor de beantwoording van uw specifieke vragen. Dit congres wordt georganiseerd in een uniek samenwerkingsverband tussen Nieuwsblad Transport en Flows. Bovendien wordt dit congres gesteund door Port of Antwerp. Lezers van Flows ontvangen korting! Meld u aan met de code LCIB17MA



Customs boss ushers cu

“The prejudice was as follows: ‘A manager from the private s Customs boss Vanderwaeren rigorously looks back on his first year, although his plan did not proceed as expected.


he term “customs” evokes the cliché of dusty offices or high level officialspeak. Wrong, the customs boss was quick to conclude after his introductory tour. “I came across many qualified and competent people,” says Kristian Vanderwaeren. “People who wanted to get ahead and were enthusiastic about improvement. This made it far more easier than expected. That goodwill, together with the support from the chairman and the minister, made things a lot easier.

You had to optimise operations in a context of a shrinking workforce. No easy matter.

Following an impressive career in the private sector, having worked at Ernst&Young, Wolters Kluwer and Moore Stephens, Kristian Vanderwaeren was appointed as director general of the administration of customs and excise, at the start of 2016. The new customs boss made an impression with drastic change processes and decisions. “If it were not for the attacks of 22 March, we would have made much more progress,” he says. BART TIMPERMAN


“I originate from the private sector. There, too, following the 9/11 events, it was a question of consolidation and workforce cutbacks. So that did not come as a surprise. The vision at the outset was clear. Customs must facilitate and assess logistics processes. And it must do so as efficiently as possible. In fact, customs should be invisible in the whole logistics process, except for everything that has to do with fraud. This is only possible if we use technology that enables us to monitor not the actual goods, but the related data. Proper data analysis should enable us to immediately detect any abnormalities.”

stoms into digital age

 ector knows nothing about customs’” But then came the attacks in Brussels.

“On 22 March I was contacted immediately by my minister. That’s understandable, because customs is still one of the three armed government bodies. We were ordered to provide counterterrorism assistance in the field. Border controls, at the airports... you name it. Clearly this had a severe impact on the reform process. All of the sudden the focus was no longer on the goods flow, but on people. This not only required a great deal of energy but also had a great impact on investments. I had to deal with social actions as well, since the sudden turnaround caused dissatisfaction. Fortunately, we don’t have a heavy trade union culture and everything could be sorted out through consultation. In summary: 22 March turned the whole process upside down.”

Such a crisis situation did, however, provide you with the opportunity to profile yourself as manager?

new culture of consultation and transparency is taking hold. This is being received favourably within the private sector. Why this choice?

“In nearly all contacts I noticed that the existing structure did not function as it was meant to. Both the internal staff and the

“The 22/3 attacks caused a change in focus and had an impact on the reform I had planned”

with good results, and without many accidents. You could call it an accelerated entrance exam. This episode also taught me that the foundations of the organisation are quite solid.”

One year later the new structure stands and a

companies were unanimous in that. I knew that structure had been two years in the making. Nevertheless, I decided to go no further with it, based on the farming saying ‘if the mayonnaise doesn’t thicken, then you just start over’. For the new structure, I started from the need for


Organised by EASYFAIRS


“That’s right. You know what everyone thinks: ‘a manager from

the private sector knows nothing about customs’. The terrorist crisis suddenly required me take very swift action and make numerous decisions. Also, the social aspect was immediately brought into play. Thanks to the good team and with the necessary support, I managed to do a reasonable job. We managed to get the job done,

INTERESSE? www.transport-logistics.be véronique.lietaer@easyfairs.com


transparency and contacts for the companies. This brought me to the system of the region manager who manages the entire region and becomes the sole point of contact. The underlying central services must facilitate this operation with support such as IT, policy work such as the international contacts, legislative work, etcetera. The region managers will, so to speak, be my COOs .”

new code. The matter itself is already quite complex, so it would be unwise not to take into account the experience and advice from the people in the field. This may take some time, but the results will be guaranteed to work. And that is what it is all about. I must make our services more efficient. We can achieve this by searching the best methods in consultation with our customers.

Why regional? The legislation on customs and excise is national or even European. Surely, that cannot be interpreted regionally?

How do you keep in touch with the reality of the customs officer?

“Of course, this legislation is the same everywhere. However, there are considerable regional differences in practice. The province of Limburg, for example,

“By making frequent on-site visits and really opening up to the people. During one of my recent visits I was addressed by an officer who told me there was a problem with giving change. There appeared to be a form for

“A properly functioning customs service should attract investors” has no international airport. The province of Antwerp receives a gigantic multiple of containers. That requires a regional organisation tailored to the specific situation. A ship loaded with bananas in Antwerp calls for a different approach than a ship with cars in Zeebrugge. I like to compare it with a multinational. I am the CEO who sets the objectives and provides the resources. It is the responsibility of the COO of the branches to achieve the objectives assigned to them. They must organise their work accordingly.”

You opt not only for regionalisation, but also for consultation?

“There is a new European customs code. But that still needs to be translated put into practice. I wanted to talk on equal footing with the private sector about the concrete implementation of the


which the customer had to pay 3 cents. Three cents! When that customer pays with a 50 euro bill, the officer has a problem. Of course, the same applies for the customer. I focus on dealing with that sort of things. In this case, the entire payment process, with receipt and associated paperwork, appeared to be far more expensive than printing the form. Then why not just abolish it! By acting this way, I am gaining the respect of people at all levels.”

Did this philosophy also lead to the breakthrough in the direct representation issue? The sigh of relief of the customs agents must have been audible as far as Brussels.

“Sometimes you need to step on the gas. I felt that progress had to be made in this issue. And progress has been made. I hope we can thus continue in

the right direction. The national forum is tasked with analysing the entire supply chain in terms of who is responsible for what. I believe we will get there through consultation.”

What are the to-do’s for the future?

“There are plenty of them. The biggest project is IT. There is a large-scale European ICT project that is necessary to fully roll out the new European code. That is not coming along too well. I do not wish to hide behind this. It is easy to say: ‘I am all for it, but Europe…’. I am not into that game. That is why we in Belgium take the lead in handling it. It is not ‘the problem of the European Commission’. It is our problem. In addition, we need to further fine-tune our organisation. In fact, a properly functioning customs service should be an argument to attract investors to the country. It is my ambition to do our job so well that in this respect we become an interesting country for the Tesla’s of this world.”

The list is long...

“I could continue for a while. We must fine-tune the results of our inspections, there is general law on customs and excises that needs to be rewritten, we must learn to better manage and use the stream of big data. There is still work on the transparency of our prosecution policy. We must further refine our role in the fight against terrorism. And so on.”

To conclude, you’re sitting here in uniform. And that for a manager with a private sector background. Or is it just for the photograph?

“I often consciously choose to wear that uniform. My basic principle is: ‘Walk the talk’. Set the example that you want others to follow. If you want your people to be in uniform when they come out, you must do so yourself. That is why.”


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“NxtPort soon to announce tangible results” On March 1st, Daniël Lievens, the new CEO of the new NxtPort, enthusiastically embarked on a clear but extremely challenging mission: ‘Turning a great deal of good will and a load of questions into an answer to the need for digital innovation in the world of freight transport’. But Daniël Lievens is full of confidence. “We will present the first concrete applications in a few months time.” BART TIMPERMAN


Daniël Lievens: “NxtPort must be a matchmaker.”


xtPort has become a well-known name. NxtPort is set to become the central data platform where all players in the supply chain in and around the port of Antwerp share their data. These data can then be matched with that those of other players with a view to optimising the organisation of the entire goods flow. The assignment of Daniël Lievens is meant to translate this beautiful dream into concrete and practicable applications. “NxtPort should become a sort of matchmaker,” says the CEO to describe his vision. “Our job is to gather people around the table. Early adopters who, on the basis of their data, are prepared to search for concrete solutions to optimise their procedures. We have selected four or five cases on which we want to get started. As a matchmaker we must bring the right parties together and facilitate their dialogue. We must identify not only the users but also the right providers. Our task is not to build the concrete apps, but to prepare the road leading to them.”

Daniël Lievens is convinced that NxtPort will be able to show the first tangible results just before or after the summer. “We certainly need those results,” he acknowledges. “There is more than enough enthusiasm and good will. But at the same time it is important to achieve successes in the relatively short term to foster and strengthen that confidence. I am absolutely confident that we will succeed.” In any case, Daniël Lievens brings a wealth of experience to the table. He was one of the founders of Kiala, which developed in 15 years into a European leading player in last mile and e-commerce logistics. “I am someone who likes to build things,” he says about himself. “The more creativity is needed to build something, the greater the challenge and the more fun I derive from it. I already reached the crossroads of technical innovation and logistic innovation. NxtPort gives me the opportunity to exploit that expertise and to do what I like doing most of all: creative building.” Newcomers in the maritime sector are often given the wellmeant warning that the maritime sector is a special world. A world within itself that is difficult to fathom. However, the new CEO cannot confirm this. “I originate from the world of parcel distribution, but in the last months before NxtPort I was active in the field of transport management and freight brokering as well. This already brought me closer to what goes on in the port. But apart from that, I see little evidence of its supposedly closed character. In fact, I meet only very intelligent and committed people who welcome me with open arms.”

Wij brengen het nieuws uit de wereld van trade facilitation, shipping,

BrengT logistiek in beweging

transport en logistiek. Laat deze stroom van kennis en kansen niet aan u voorbijgaan. Kies voor FLOWS, dĂŠ referentie voor wie wil bijblijven in de snel draaiende wereld van logistiek en transport.

Ontdek onze nieuwe communicatie en abonnementsformules! Contacteer VĂŠronique Dedecker - marketing@flows.be - +32 486 04 64 50


Antwerp, your breakbulk home port The Port of Antwerp is not your average transport partner. Every challenge you bring drives us to serve you even better. By constantly adapting to your needs we achieve faster distribution, smarter logistics, smoother customs, greener activities and clearer processes. Improved solutions that keep inspiring you. At the Port of Antwerp standing still is no option. Moving is. Challenge us at customerservice@portofantwerp.com Follow us at www.portofantwerp.com/en/breakbulk #portofantwerp

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Magazine april 2017 (en)  

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