Ford to close Genk plant in restructure of Euro operations
Ford is has said it will close its Genk plant in Belgium at the end of 2014 and move Mondeo, S-Max and Galaxy minivan production to its Valencia plant in Spain pending the outcome of a consultation process. The company may move production of the C-MAX and Grand C-MAX compact multi-purpose vehicles from Valencia to Saarlouis, Germany in 2014 under the proposed plan.

Ford said the plan would help to address manufacturing overcapacity stemming from a more than 20% drop in total industry vehicle demand in Western Europe since 2007. New vehicle sales in the region have reached a nearly 20-year low this year and are expected to remain flat or fall further next year.

“The proposed restructuring of our European manufacturing operations is a fundamental part of our plan to strengthen Ford’s business in Europe and to return to profitable growth,” said Stephen Odell, chairman and CEO, Ford of Europe.

“We understand the impact this potential action would have on our work force in Genk, their families, our suppliers and the local communities. We fully recognise and accept our social responsibilities in this difficult situation and, if the restructuring plan is confirmed, we will ensure that we put in place measures and support to lessen the impact for all employees affected,” Odell said.

EC objects to UPS-TNT Express merger
The European Commission has challenged the intended merger between UPS and TNT Express that was announced in March this year on the grounds of its effect on competition in Europe.

In an official statement the EC said that its preliminary investigation indicated potential concerns for competition in the markets for small parcel delivery services (typical package weights of between 5-7kg), in particular international express services, in numerous member states, where the TNT Express and UPS would have “very high combined market shares”. While unlikely to have any significant impact on automotive parts shipments, there could be marginal consequences for expedited deliveries.

TNT Express and UPS are two of only integrated logistics providers controlling a comprehensive air and road small package delivery network throughout Europe, the others being DHL and FedEx.

The integration, which includes TNT Express' European road freight network, will expand UPS's logistics offering in Europe, including for the automotive industry, and rival DHL's 17.6% share of the market.

“The small package delivery sector is of strategic importance for various other industries in Europe,” said Commission vice president in charge of competition policy, Joaquín Almunia. “The proposed acquisition could in particular reduce competition for the provision of the fastest express delivery services, to the detriment of direct customers and ultimately of European consumers. The Commission needs to make sure that customers continue to have access to these services at competitive conditions."

TNT Express and UPS released a joint statement in which they confirmed having received a Statement of Objections from the EC, describing it as “a normal step in a second phase merger procedure” that would “not prejudge the final outcome of the case”.

“UPS and TNT Express believe competition in Europe continues to be significant, coming from multiple players who offer similar services,” said the companies’ statement. “The combined company will help create a more efficient logistics market, thereby improving the competitiveness of Europe and the solutions offered to businesses and consumers.”

However, the EC said that the reduction of the number of integrators competing in Europe from four to three would significantly reduce the competitive constraint on the merged company and would lead to a highly concentrated market for domestic and international express delivery services.

NYK orders PCTCs on positive outlook
Japanese logistics provider NYK has announced an order for four post-Panamax pure car and truck carriers (PCTCs) in anticipation of an expansion in worldwide demand for PCTC transport. They are the first new-build orders the company has made since the market downturn in 2008 and are scheduled to be complete between 2014 and 2015.

The company said that, as post-Panamax vessels, they will be capable of transiting the Panama Canal when the third lane of locks, larger than the current two, becomes operational in the autumn of 2014.

These new vessels will be 2-3 metres wider than current PCTCs and able to carry approximately 7,000 vehicles, a 10% increase in capacity on current vessels. They will also be equipped with the latest energy-saving technology, improving fuel performance by about 30% per unit according to the company.

Two of the vessels will be built by Imabari Shipbuilding at its factory in Marugame city in Kagawa prefecture, Japan, with technical assistance being provided by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The other two vessels will be built by Shin Kurushima Dockyard at its Onishi Shipyard in Ehime prefecture.

Geodis STVA secures two-year contract at Tanger Med port
Geodis STVA Tanger Med (GSTM), the subsidiary of French logistics providers STVA and Geodis based in Morocco, has been awarded a two-year contract to manage the handling of the multi user terminal at the port of Tanger Med, following a tender issued by the Tanger Med Port Authority (TMPA).

This award constitutes a major development for GSTM, which is already responsible for the management of the terminal dedicated to the Renault activities in Morocco. The new multi user terminal is located directly adjacent to the Renault terminal.

The multi-user terminal, recently developed by TMPA, measures 6 hectares and is designed to receive all kind of makes and rolling stock according to STVA. It can also be operated via three berths at the same time and can accommodate the most recent ro-ro carriers.

The terminal has storage capacity for 3,000 vehicles in storage and is fully equipped with PDI facilities and a dedicated loading/unloading area for trailers.

In other news, Geodis Calberson has won a contract to manage the warehousing and UK and Ireland distribution of Sogefi automotive filter products at its Magna Park logistics site. Sogefi is a global supplier of original and aftermarket parts for the automotive industry.

Sogefi has two plants in Wales producing air, fuel, oil and cabin filters. Geodis Calberson receives products from the Sogefi’s plants in Wales and from central stock in Europe and manages stock-holding and same day order picking and dispatch.

Ceva’s supplier awards include HCL and Jungheinrich
Ceva Logistics recently announced the winners of its second annual Supplier of the Year awards at an event held in Ontigola, Spain.

HCL Technologies, a leading provider of IT and engineering services, was winner of the Technology category and nominated Global Supplier of the Year in recognition of the support it has provided in the delivery of three of Ceva’s five strategic priorities in the last 12 months.

“Over the past years that we have partnered with HCL, they have shown relentless passion and dedication to service excellence,” said Peter Dew, Ceva’s chief information officer. “Not only do they provide integrated IT support for CEVA on a global basis, they have demonstrated value in other areas of our business which has resulted in HCL recently being awarded a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) contract with Ceva in the U.S. Congratulations to the HCL team.”

Amongst the other winners was materials handling provider Jungheinrich, which received the award for Northern Europe Supplier of the Year in recognition of its high standard of service and support across the region.

Jonathan Morris, Jungheinrich UK’s sales director for corporate accounts said the company had received the award because its account management approach and structure had allowed Ceva to benefit from the same high levels of service and customer support across international boundaries.

“We are able to provide this because Jungheinrich has a well established direct network of International key account teams offering high-quality products and processes globally.
The full list of winners is as follows:

Americas Supplier of the Year – Crown Equipment
Asia Pacific Supplier of the Year – Shinpack
Northern Europe Supplier of the Year – Jungheinrich
Southern Europe, Middle East and Africa Supplier of the Year – Modulblok
Air Supplier of the Year – Cathay Pacific
Ocean Supplier of the Year – Vanguard Logistics
Road Supplier of the Year – TNT.

In other news, Jungheinrich was also a winner in the 2012 Annual Awards for Excellence presented by the Chartered Institute for Logistics and Training (CILT UK), held in London recently. Jungheinrich took the award in the category of Warehouse and Materials Handling.

Acumen opens Halewood facility 
UK-based Acumen Distribution has leased a new warehouse in Halewood near Liverpool for the handing of bulk inbound seating components for breakdown, selection and just-in-time delivery to what the company describes as "a major automotive customer". A spokesperson for the company would not confirm which company but said it was not Jaguar Land Rover.

The new investment includes the purchase of five forklift trucks and delivery vehicles.  The new warehouse will be operated by a combined team of 13, which includes the appointment of 10 new members of staff. 

"The new warehouse is part of our operational focus on providing the automotive manufacturing industry with a fast, first-rate service combined with a strong operational knowledge of the automotive industry,” Chris Doughty, Acumen’s managing director. “This new warehouse will enable us to meet our high growth targets and reinforces Acumen Logistics Group’s position as a leading logistics service provider”.