GM confirms closure of Antwerp
Despite speculation last week that GM Europe was in talks with China’s Geely over the future of its Opel plant in Antwerp, the company confirmed this week that the plant will close and that there will be no further negotiations for vehicle assembly there beyond the end of the year.
The company will now try to find a buyer from another sector for the site as well as the room it uses for storage and processing at the port of Antwerp. Under the terms of the contract GM signed the company taking over the facility will also have to take over the land used at the port and guarantee industrial use or sell it to the port authority
“Antwerp Port Authority has a right of option and a right of sale for the GM land,” said the authority in a statement. “As regards the use to be made of the site, the Port Authority will join the discussions with the Flemish government with a view to setting up an industrial project. However, the site could also be used for logistics purposes.”
Renault-Nissan awards logistics operators
The Renault-Nissan Alliance held a ceremony during its Transporters Convention in Paris on October 6 to recognise the winners of its Outbound Logistics Europe Awards.
The prizes were given by Colin McDonald, vice president of Alliance Logistics Europe in the following categories:
Quality Management
Nominees: Sintax, CAT Group, Koopman
Winner: CAT Group. Recipient: Pascal Louvigny, director France
Maritime Efficiency 
Nominees : Neptune Lines, Höegh Autoliners, NMCC
Winner: Neptune Lines. Recipient: Nikolaos Travlos, CEO
Inland Operations Efficiency 
Nominees: Russian Transport Lines, Sintax, Koopman
Winner: RTL. Recipient: Konstantin Skovoroda – general director
Renault also recently awarded one of its logistics providers at the Supplier Quality Awards held at the Paris Motor Show. DS Smith Kaysersberg, which delivers module kits for the French carmaker, was commended with the award for meeting all technical and commercial specifications and turning in zero quality defects on over 100 kits.
Jean-Pierre Vallaude, senior vice president, Quality, and Christian Vandenhende, senior vice president, Purchasing, and managing director of the Renault-Nissan Purchasing Organization, presented the awards to eleven suppliers of parts and services.
NYK boosts express service between Duisburg and Rotterdam
NYK has increased the frequency of its Duisburg Rail Express (DRX) service that includes the movement of containerized automotive parts between the German city of Duisburg and the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The company is now operating a total of six cycles per week along the 200km route between the two cities with trains running on the service every day.
The DRX block-train service is intermodal and connects the Rhine/Ruhr region of Germany with Rotterdam by way of NYK's inland container terminal – Duisburg Trimodal Terminal (D3T).
The terminal recently handled its 125,000th container since opening in 2008.
Klaus-Peter Barth, managing director, NYK Line (Deutschland) said: "By handling its 125,000th container after only two-and-a-half years, we can be optimistic about the future of our inland container terminal in Duisburg. Our expectations for the D3T as a key hub for the hinterland are now fully realised. The positive feedback from our customers praises the terminal's high service quality and its fast turnaround of boxes. We expect growing throughput figures over the coming years."
Turnaround times are around 20 minutes per box.
BMW installs hydrogen units at US plant
BMW Manufacturing has installed fuel-cells on a fleet of 86 pallet trucks used for material handling at its Greer plant in South Carolina, US. The GenDrive units, provided by Plug Power, were chosen over lead-acid and fast charge batteries for the trucks because they are reported to reduce operational costs and greenhouse emissions, being powered by hydrogen.
Linde North America is supplying the indoor hydrogen fuelling system to power the trucks and they can be refuelled by drivers in three minutes compared to the 20 minutes taken to change a depleted lead-acid battery.
“With proven benefits to BMW’s business and an existing hydrogen infrastructure in place, there is a high potential to convert the entire campus to GenDrive-powered material handling vehicles over the next three years,” said Andy Marsh, Plug Power’s CEO.
The lift trucks are manufactured by The Raymond Corporation and Crown Equipment Corporation
BMW is increasing annual production at its nearby Spartanburg plant by 50% to 240,000 vehicles starting in 2011 in response to ongoing worldwide demand for its SUVs.
Breakthrough on world’s longest rail tunnel
An improved freight link through the Swiss Alps has taken a further step forward with last week’s final breakthrough on the Gotthard base tunnel – now officially the longest rail tunnel in the world.
The 57km tunnel traverses the Alps, connecting the north portal in Erstfeld (Canton Uri) with the south portal in Bodio (Canton Ticino). It will favour the shift of north-south freight traffic from road to rail, and shorten the journey time from Zurich to Milan from 3 hours 40 minutes to 2 hours 50 minutes.
The rail connection is planned to become operational by the end of 2017 and in the meantime interior work must be completed including mechanical and electromechanical installations such as doors, gates, and ventilation. The plan is to have all the tubes and shafts lined and the concreting finished by 2014.
With a rock overburden of up to 2500m, the Gotthard base tunnel is also the most deeply set rail tunnel in the world.