ACL books innovative con-ro vessels
Atlantic Container Lines, the Grimaldi-owned north-Atlantic ocean forwarder, has signed a contract with Chinese state-owned Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding for the delivery of five container/ro-ro (con-ro) vessels that, when completed by 2015, will be the largest vessels of their kind in the world, according to the company. They are also lauded as being the first of their type ever built and will have a new design by International Maritime Advisors (IMA) of Dragoer, Denmark, that will solve the problem of high ballast on con-ro vessels.

The fourth-generation (G4) vessels will replace ACL's existing fleet of G3 con-ros operating in the company's transatlantic service. They will be able to carry 3,800 TEUs and provide 28,900 square meters of ro-ro space, with a car capacity of 1,307 vehicles.

Con-ro vessels normally stow containers on deck and lighter ro-ro cargo below deck with the result that the denser stowage of containers on top of the vessel means most of the weight rides high on the vessel. This requires a great deal of ballast for stability.

IMA has developed the concept of putting all the ro-ro cargo midships, and stowing the containers in cells fore and aft of the ro-ro section. This results in cargo replacing ballast and much more efficient use of vessel space, according to ACL.

Bill Kearns, ACL’s executive vice president, noted that the company had been forced to put many of its customers on allocations for years because it wasn’t able to grow with the market. “It will be satisfying to be able to accept all the cargo that our customers offer us, instead of being constrained by space limitations," he said.

Bremerhaven Auto Terminal secures certification upgrade
BLG Logistics has announced that its technical centres at the BLG Auto Terminal in Bremerhaven have now been certified ISO/TS 16949:2009, an upgrade on the existing quality and environmental standards ISO 9001 and 14001.

“Through the more extensive certification BLG wants to further boost confidence in its technical system and process quality – as an extended work bench of the manufacturers and with respect to vehicle finishing work via modifications,” said the company in a statement. “The ISO/TS certificate is proof of the highest level of system and process quality.”

In 2011 a total of 480,000 passenger cars and commercial vehicles were dewaxed, cleaned and inspected at the technical centers of the Bremerhaven Auto Terminal. Pre-delivery inspection is supplemented by modifications, including installation of extras such as infotainment systems and glass roofs. Europe’s largest car workshop also performs special paintwork or retrofitting work for special series.

During the first six months this year the number of vehicles handled at BLG´s Auto Terminal in Bremerhaven rose by 8.1% to 1.05m units compared with the same period of the previous year.

UTS buys Linc Logistics
Universal Truckload Services is to buy Linc Logistics, which provides logistics services to the automotive and manufacturing industries in North America, for $335m, including debt. The purchase brings together two companies controlled by trucking magnate Manuel Moroun.

Universal is a non-asset based provider of transport services to shippers throughout the US and in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec. The company’s trucking services include both flatbed and dry van operations. It also provides rail-truck and ship-truck intermodal support services.

Linc is an asset-light provider of third-party logistics services and provides its services at 43 locations throughout the US, Mexico, and Canada

"The combination of Universal and Linc creates one of the largest full-service, asset-light logistics platforms in North America and significantly enhances our long-term growth profile," said Universal CEO Donald Cochran.

US dealerships show rise in throughput
Global retail consulting firm Urban Science has released its automotive Franchise Activity Report (FAR), which projects the average number of sales per dealership in the US, or throughput, will rise to 805 vehicles per year, up on the previous record of 784, based on 17 million unit sales in 2005.

"The first six months of the year have been very strong for automotive retailers," said John Frith, vice president, retail channel solutions, Urban Science. "Automakers have kept their networks relatively flat, giving existing dealerships the opportunity to take advantage of increased sales volume. By doing this, and in turn achieving record throughput levels, dealers are making a profit for the first time in more than three years without having to rely on their service departments to do so."

At the end of June there were 17,770 dealerships in the US, a 0.02% increase from January 2012, with forecasts across the nation's dealership network aimed at a second straight annual store increase after growing by 0.6% in 2011.

Urban Science data shows that in the long term, the network typically experiences a 2% decline per year making a slight increase significant.

The three states that added the most stores in the first six months of 2012 were California (13), Iowa (eight) and Florida (eight).

Ceva celebrates a decade in Dordon
Ceva Logistics has celebrated 10 years of operations at Volkswagen aftermarket parts facility at Dordon in the UK.

Ceva handles around 115,000 different parts for the Volkswagen at the 64,000 square-metre factility near Tamworth and dispatches over 500,000 individual items each week to over 800 dealerships nationwide, averaging a delivery rate of 2,000 roll cages each night.

Ceva also provides express delivery and dealer returns services dealer.

Kevin Lucas, Senior General Manager at CEVA, said: “We are delighted to celebrate 10 years of operations at Dordon and we take pride in the constant improvements we make to our operation each year. We have been credited by Volkswagen Group for our environmental innovation for things such as installing energy saving lighting – reducing our energy consumption by half, and fitting solar panels to the roof of the site.”