Santos Brasil and Schaeffler sign distribution agreement
Terminal operator Santos Brasil has signed a five-year contract with the German engineering multinational Schaeffler, which has a manufacturing plant in the Brazilian city of Sorocaba, from where it supplies the entire domestic and export automotive production sector with a range of drivetrain components..    

As part of the agreement, Santos Brasil will use its distribution centre on the banks of the Pinheiros River in São Paulo state to both store and prepare for transport output from the Schaeffer plant for customers in both Brazil and wider South America.

To accommodate the new business, the terminal operator has hired 91 additional employees and invested $1m in staff training and new warehouse control systems based on barcode technology that will eventually boost productivity by around 35%.
Originally a container terminal operator, Santos Brasil has increasingly moved into integrated logistics, distribution and storage, including of finished vehicles. Explaining the move, Angelo Dias, commercial director, noted: "We provide customer service support throughout the supply chain, which is essential for major industries that have sought to focus on their core business, leaving the logistics to industry experts."

APS start operations at Portland terminal
APS Stevedoring has taken charge of an additional car terminal facility at the port of Portland in Oregon and discharged its first delivery of imported vehicles, which included 976 Hyundai vehicles, delivered by Eukor Car Carriers’ M/V Ryujin. APS also loaded almost 200 Ford models back onto the vessel for export.

The company has appointed Ben Thamert as manager for its Portland operations.

Hyundai uses the terminal to import an estimated 80,000 units per year, with an average discharge rate of 1,500 vehicles.

Eukor is one of two major car carriers using the Portland terminal (Terminal 6 – Berth 601 auto terminal), the other being Glovis. K-Line and MOL also have occasional space charters.

In addition, APS will also be taking over the terminal side of operations at Berth 607 in June this year for Honda, who leases that terminal from the port. The company already has operations at the port of Richmond in California supporting Subaru, Honda, MOL, Act Maritime, K Line and NYK. The company said it had plans to expand operations throughout the US West Coast.

APS has extended capabilities and services through its relationship with AWC (Auto Warehousing Company), reputedly North America’s largest vehicle processing company, with operations at 22 port, plant and rail locations in the US and Canada.

ECG re-elects president amid difficult economic climate
The Association of European Vehicle Logistics (ECG) re-elected its president, vice president and board members during its annual assembly last week aboard a DFDS vessel between Oslo and Copenhagen, while citing rising cost and declining profit for members admits a poor economic climate.

Although re-elected last year, changes in the associations statues required ECG members to re-elect Costantino Baldissara, from the Grimaldi Group, as president and Wolfgang Göbel, from Horst Mosolf, as vice president for another two-year term.

The association also elected two new board members: Omer Gursoy, from Turkey’s Gursoy Group, and Frank Lehner, from BLG Automobile Logistics. Three current board members have decided to step down: Eduardo Estévez, from Spain’s Berge; Ilhan Cetinkaya from Turkey’s Ilçe and Veli-Matti Pärssinen from Finland’s Autolink Group.

Baldissara pointed to a worrying scenario for the European vehicle logistics sector, with rising operating costs, low investment and a poor outlook for vehicle sales in much of the European market. The ECG’s quarterly trend survey found that 36% of members were pessimistic about prospects for the next six months.

Around 62% reported an increase to their financing cost over the last year, with 66% reported a greater than 10% rise in fuel costs.

Baldissara also pointed to a worrying trend in declining profitability for the sector.

While in 2010, the latest year for which figures are available, ECG’s members generated a combined turnover of around €21 billion ($26.7 billion), about €3 billion more than in 2009, costs rose faster than turnover, with profit margins slipping from 3.1% to a 2.9%.

Excluding members with an annual turnover in excess of €1.9 billion, however, the average profit margin in 2010 fell to just 2%, a level Baldissara described as “anaemic”.

“This does not mean simply that our companies’ profits are disappearing,” Baldissara said. “It also spells danger for European growth and European jobs.

Vehnet to unveil Cloud-based yard management system at FVL NA
Software specialist Vehnet will be unveiling what is claims is the automotive industry’s first Cloud-based yard management system, called Car Yard Manager, at next week’s Finished Vehicle Logistics North America conference in Newport Beach, California.
The company said the system is appropriate for less complex yards and removes the associated costs of installing and hosting software because it is accessible via an internet browser operating on a pay-as-you-go pricing structure based on volumes, with no minimum contract.

“We constantly hear of finished vehicle operators who need better control over their business, but cannot find a suitable off-the-shelf product that fits with their individual business requirements,” said Steve Jones, managing director of Vehnet. “While customers with large, complex operations depend on the flexibility and depth of our Advance product range, Car Yard Manager will satisfy those many operators with simpler requirements, who aspire to a system of the quality and pedigree of the Advance Yard Manager, but cannot afford the infrastructure costs associated with operating in-house software.”

Currently Vehnet is looking for yard operators to sign up for the Beta release of the system. Those registering that are selected will have the opportunity to preview the software, have input into its further development and even use the system free of charge.

Further details on next week’s FVL North America conference can be found here

Ceva inaugurates first control tower in Turkey 
Ceva Logistics has opened a new information hub, or control tower, in Istanbul which it said will provide customers moving goods in Turkey with improved supply chain efficiency through greater visibility of operations, optimised transport and cost improvements.

In a statement the company said the control tower enables the monitoring of all operations throughout the supply chain in the country from a single point using 600 cameras connected to it, making it possible to identify problems more quickly and prepare real-time reporting for all processes covering 1,200 trucks per day.

Aslan Uzun, managing director of Ceva in Turkey and the Balkans, explained that 60,000 truck trips each month and all Ceva’s home delivery services across Turkey are managed through the hub in Istanbul.

“This Control Tower represents a breakthrough in Turkey in our approach to become the strategic logistics partner of choice, since it guarantees superior services to customers, while increasing our ability to optimise costs, volume utilization and route planning,” said Uzun.

Ceva has already implemented similar towers in Italy and Spain with colour-designated areas dedicated to specific tasks: a ‘red area’ for monitoring overall transport optimization; a ‘blue area’ for planning and flow optimization; and a ‘grey area’ composed of two team tasked with security-related functions, one monitoring the movement of critical parts and high volume shipments and another responsible for full truck load GPS monitoring and alarm systems responding to such things as theft, accidents or route changes.
MAN everywoman award winners revealed
Ceva has also had some success at this year’s winners of the MAN everywoman in Transport & Logistics Awards, which were announced last week.
The Industry Trainer of the Year Award went to Joanne Griffiths, senior general manager, Training and Quality at Ceva Logistics, while the company’s environmental advisor, Stephanie Unitt took the Green Champion Award.

In other categories, TNT UK’s general manager Samantha Deane was recognised as Team Leader of the Year, while Wincanton’s general manager, Lynne Watson, took the Woman of the Year award.

The awards are now in their fifth year and are designed raise the profile of women working in the transport and logistics sector, and demonstrate that it offers opportunities for ambitious and committed women who are looking for a challenging and rewarding career.

“It is widely acknowledged that a more diverse workforce is beneficial for the UK economy, whatever the sector,” said Maxine Benson MBE, co-founder of everywoman, a membership organisation, dedicated to bringing together women in business. “By raising awareness of the achievements of these women who are leading the way, we hope to show others what varied opportunities there are in transport and logistics, and encourage the industry to nurture its female talent.”

The full list of winners and finalists can be seen here