Broekman Logistics moves project cargo out of Shanghai during Covid-19 lockdown
Moving project cargo is a multimodal operation in the majority of instances. It requires piecing together the first, the last mile and everything in between. However, current market conditions have added another layer of complexity to every link in the project logistics chain for the likes of Broekman Logistics.
In its recent operation, Rotterdam-headquartered Broekman Logistics had to call on the local expertise of its units in India and China to move 1,400 cubic metres of cargo from a factory in Shandong Province to Conakry Port in Guinea, West Africa. The company was tagged to move power transformers, weighing 88 mt, 68 mt and 42 mt, respectively, during March and April.
However, the project hit a first roadblock as the Shanghai local government imposed a new lockdown at the end of March due to a new outbreak of Covid-19 infections. “The lockdown came during the project execution process, which meant that all means of transportation were restricted. The company had to understand the new circumstances and act accordingly, coming up with a truly custom solution,” says deputy general manager – Projects at Broekman Logistics, Suresh S.
This hampered the delivery of the cargo from the factory to the port of loading. Broekman Logistics called upon the expertise of its offices in India and China to find a transport company that could operate under strict protocols set in place. Although Shanghai’s terminal did continue to work, Broekman Logistics was able to suggest a transporter that operated through the Pudong area.
“We instructed drivers to operate the trailers with a copy of EIR and negative PCR test along with health code and travel code,” Suresh said.
The restrictions also negatively affected the availability of trailers, traffic patterns on the road as well as the load plan on the job site. “It took nearly 25 days to replan and re-route the cargo so the vessel could be connected,” he added.
The advantage of having local knowledge came in handy as Broekman Logistics China coordinated the delivery and made sure it was done right on time to connect to the vessel following all Covid protocols.
“All checklists were verified to understand the feasibility of loading and maintaining safety standards. A clear roadmap was established and the necessary procedures were put in place,” Suresh said.
Broekman Logistics partnering with CMA CGM
In normal circumstances, such cargo would be loaded on an MPP vessel. In the initial plans, Broekman Logistics opted for tramp operators as there was no liner call from Shanghai to Conakry.
Additionally, the war in Ukraine coupled with the Covid-19 restrictions, pushed the freight rates up to $2 million for this particular parcel, which further restricted the budget. It made it difficult to find a heavy lift carrier with a no-inducement call.
“Then we tried to load this parcel on the RORO vessel but unfortunately we could not get enough MAFI trailers to handle such static cargo,” Suresh said.
Ultimately, the company managed to partner with CMA CGM that were able to provide enough space for the parcel onboard APL Singapura that would ferry it to West Africa.
The cooperation came about only after a number of reputed carriers declined interest in transporting such cargo, and Broekman Logistics officials came across a video of CMA CGM handling a 70 mt transformer in Mozambique.
Despite all the challenges, and by using ingenuity and all the possible tools at hand, Broekman Logistics managed to get the cargo to its destination, on time and on budget.