Less assembly on site mean transporting project cargo on the limit of technical possibilities
Over the last couple of years a number of trends could be observed, with a shift in the supply chains being one and the fluctuations in freight rates being the obvious other. Comments from within the industry were that sourcing for projects has changed significantly with developers sourcing closer to development sites or sourcing from multiple locations to ensure project cargo gets delivered rather than opting for a cheaper option.
Speaking to Project Cargo Journal, Franco Ravazzolo, head of project & break bulk at Gebrüder Weiss, confirmed the shift adding that there is also an increase in imports to Europe and a growing demand for cross trades, i.e. for project transports where loading and receiving points take place outside the country in which the customer is based. In addition, transport decisions are increasingly being made outside Europe.
Another trend that can be seen is towards larger construction components, resulting in less assembly requirements on site, even in far-away regions, which subsequently results in technical possibilities of a transport being pushed to the limit.
Budgeting is a challenge
Clients are opting for cost-effective and fast solutions, often depending on the project. However, budgeting for a project at an early stage is becoming a challenge especially in the medium to long-term, Ravazzolo said, with adjustments during a project being only partially possible.
“During the past 24 months, freight rates for a 40-foot container on the China – Europe route rose from $2,500 to $16,000 and fell back to $1,000,” Ravazzolo said.
On top of these fluctuations there is the geopolitical factor that is becoming more and more prominent. “A significant part of our work involves collecting and analysing background information on, for example, political developments, socio-economic factors, and climate data. Such information is indispensable so that we can identify any problems as early as possible,” he said.
Diversifying supply sources is quickly becoming a must, however, the options are limited to certain sectors and it is hard to compete with the manufacturing power of the likes of China. According to Ravazzolo, for some sectors of heavy industries, some alternatives are already on the horizon, such as India, Thailand and Brazil, while for some light industrial products, some African countries could make their mark.
Gebrüder Weiss making their mark in the United States
“Since 2010, GW has built a reputation in Europe as a quality project forwarder. With the appointment of Michael Rüdiger, we are showing that we can develop the US market in the same way,” Ravazzolo said
The company recently appointed Michael Rüdiger as director of Industrial Projects and Energy Transport Solutions in the Americas. In his new position, Michael will lead a team of highly specialised experts in break bulk and complicated cargo projects, including everything from engineering and procurement to construction.
Ravazzolo added that the company’s targets in the United States are the mining, renewable energy, automotive and the oil and gas sectors. In its true nature of being a melting pot, the United States also embodies the world market.
Global shipments to and from Europe and Asia head to the United States with the countries of Latin America also playing a significant role.
Gearing for growth
Gebrüder Weiss posted a turnover of €3.01 billion for fiscal year 2022, a year-on-year gain of 18 percent and according to Ravazzolo, the company expects to continue on a similar trajectory.
“We expect a strong year in 2023 and stable growth in the following years 2024 and 2025. As a relatively young player, we have more scope for growth than some other competitors who have been established for longer,” he said.
The company expects industrial sectors such as renewable energies and mining to support its growth.