Bulk Distributor May/Jun 16 - Page 26

26 BULKDISTRIBUTOR Logistics May/June 2016 Which way to Munich? A recently published whitepaper* from Drewry’s Supply Chain Advisors looking at the ‘best routes’ for containerised imports into South Germany from China found that for some shippers using Mediterranean gateway ports is a viable alternative to the traditional North-West Europe gateways. To establish shippers’ best-route Drewry examined a variety of routes to find the best mix of cost, transit time and the number of service options. Drewry equated South Germany to two Bundesländer – BadenWürttemberg and Bavaria. These länder have a combined population of 23.5 million and contain several logistics clusters with activities in the automotive (Daimler, Audi, Porsche, BMW), mechanical and electrical engineering (Bosch, Siemens), and chemical industries. Firstly, the whitepaper looked at the number of maritime services from Shanghai to South Germany’s so-called northern and southern gateways that were available to the market as of March 2016. Here it was found that there were far more weekly connections to the two major northern gateways of Rotterdam and Hamburg, but while southern ports had fewer services they had the advantage of faster transit times, by virtue of their closer proximity to Shanghai. The paper then looked at the intermodal connections between those gateway ports and five logistics clusters in South Germany. The cheapest option for shippers was via Rotterdam and Hamburg, Which is the best port to serve Munich? Hamburg (left) or Koper (right)? but only by a margin of US$150 and $100, respectively, against Koper in Slovenia, which has a three-day transit time advantage. As such, Drewry believes Shanghai-to-Munich via Koper is a true ‘best route’ contender for shippers with time sensitive cargoes. There are other reasons why Drewry thinks the southern gateways will become more competitive. First, the ocean freight rate differential for cargoes from Asia to North and South European ports is changing; the former has traditionally been cheapest, but in the fourth quarter 2015 the World Container Index reported that exShanghai rates to the Mediterranean were lower than to North Europe in 10 out of 14 weeks. Second, several South European intermodal operators are developing exciting and competitive concepts. These efforts will be boosted with the opening Gotthard Base Tunnel (GBT) between Italy and Switzerland. The GBT will be the world’s longest traffic tunnel and will allow rail operators to improve their efficiency by increasing the length of trains and reducing travel time when crossing the Alps. Once this translates into cheaper rail rates, the area where the southern gateways can compete will expand further north. Away from Munich, however, the picture is more mixed. For the Freiburg/Lörrach logistics cluster, only the northern ports offer competitive connections; likewise for the Stuttgart/Heilbronn region. Coincidentally, Port of Rotterdam commissioned research firm Panteia to look into the sustainability of shipping containers to Southern Germany, the Czech Republic and Poland. That research found that using North European ports was not only cheaper, but had a lower environmental footprint than via South European ports. Welcoming the conclusions Port of Rotterdam Authority CEO Allard Castelein said: “The Northern European ports perform well because many large container vessels call here an d much of the hinterland transport is done by inland shipping and rail. This provides for a relatively small ecological footprint, even though the route is longer.” According to the study, daily emissions of a 20,000 TEU vessel, as measured per container, are far lower than those of a 10,000 TEU vessel. The difference in CO2 emissions can be as high as 50 percent, it states. These large vessels call relatively more frequently at the big North European ports than at their smaller southern peers, because more goods are shipped to and from this region. The use of LNG as a transport fuel in logistics also has a positive effect mainly on inland shipping and coastal shipping. This makes logistics chains more sustainable via ports which have a large percentage of their hinterland transport organised by barges and coastal shipping, which, of course, includes Rotterdam. *A ‘best-route’ market study for containerised imports to South Germany. www.drewry.co.uk