CN begins operations at Calgary Logistics Park
Trains have started calling at Canadian National Railway’s (CN) Calgary Logistics Park, the company’s new C$200m ($203m) intermodal terminal located in Conrich, southern Alberta. The terminal will also feature a CN Autoport facility at a later date that will provide services for the regional movement of finished vehicles. First announced in February 2010, the Calgary intermodal park relocates activity from CN's Sarcee Yard in southeast Calgary. Finished vehicle distribution will shift to Sarcee temporarily next month from the Canadian Pacific Railway facility at Calgary, a move CN said will offer customers more efficient deliveries and exchange of electronic shipping data.

“The opening of this intermodal terminal launches our logistics park operation, which will provide seamless transportation solutions to rail customers moving products and commodities into and out of Calgary – one of the fastest growing regional markets in North America,” said Jean-Jacques Ruest, CN executive vice-president and chief marketing officer.

The 275-hectare terminal has 30% more capacity than the previous facility and offers more than 2.5m square feet (232,000 square metres) of warehouse distribution facilities, including a rail-to-truck transload operation and the new CN Autoport facility. There is also space for further expansion.

The rail provider said that four automated in-gates and three automated out-gates will keep truck turnaround times in the terminal to below 45 minutes.

DP hits vehicle record at Jebel Ali
Global marine terminal operator DP World has reported record vehicle throughput at its Jebel Ali Port in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), handling more than 500,000 cars in the first 11 months of 2012. The company said the throughput, which beats the year total for 2008 by around 21,000 vehicles, was equal to one vehicle processed every minute of the day, every day of the week.

“DP World is proud that our flagship Jebel Ali Port continues to play its full role as the premier gateway to the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] region,” said Mohammed Al Muallem, senior vice president and managing director, DP World, UAE Region. “The record number of vehicles that have passed through the port’s facility for roll-on roll-off vehicle carriers reinforces the growth message for the UAE and the wider region that we are hearing from economic commentators such as the IMF.”

“We congratulate the management and employees at the General Cargo Terminal on an excellent job done in handling 500,000 vehicles,” he added.

The general cargo facilities at Jebel Ali include 30 berths and a total storage area of over 1.3m square metres, comprising 1.2m square metres of open storage and 100,000 square metres of covered space.

In addition, DP World is expanding the capacity of Jebel Ali Port, with a brand new Container Terminal 3, and the expansion of Container Terminal 2, which are set to take total capacity of the port to 19m TEUs  by 2014.

In the first nine months of 2012 DP World, UAE Region, handled almost 10m TEUs, 4.6% ahead of the same period last year.

EC won’t budge on sulphur limits
The Association of European Vehicle Logistics (ECG) was back at the European Commission this week to discuss the 0.1% limit on the sulphur content of bunker fuel that will be enforced in 2015 in the so-called sulphur ‘emission control areas’, which include the Baltic and North seas, and the English Channel.

A delegation met with Janez Potocnik, European commissioner in charge of EU Environmental Policy, to discuss issues it said were vital to maritime logistics service providers.

The ECG reported that it once again stated its concerns that meeting the 0.1% sulphur limit poses enormous challenges for the shipping companies operating in the areas, including short sea ro-ro carriers. These challenges included the existing technical ones affecting the use of exhaust gas scrubbers, the “exorbitant” fuel costs and the risk of a transport mode shift from sea to land. Fuel costs could go up by between $350-$400 per tonne, the ECG said in a statement.

Negotiations between the European Parliament, European Council and European Commission in May last year confirmed that legislation will be brought in line with the sulphur limits agreed by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in 2008, which call for 0.5% limits by 2015 in European waters. The stricter 0.1% limits in the sulphur emission control areas will also be imposed at that time (read more here).

Potocnik stuck to this position pointing out that the latest analysis showed that around 420,000 premature deaths were caused by air pollution in the EU in 2010. According to the ECG the commissioner said it was “unrealistic” to change the legislation now because the European industry has known about the limits since 2008.

However, the ECG said the outbound vehicle transport sector could still draw some consolation from the EC’s paper Pollutant emission reduction from maritime transport and the Sustainable Waterbourne Transport Toolbox, which aims to address the environmental challenges the shipping sector is confronted with “in an integrated manner”. The ECG was hopeful that this would contain supporting measures and said it was “reassured that even though no delay or exemptions are likely, the EC will make all efforts to support and assist the maritime industry in achieving the 2015 targets”. What it seems to be hoping for here is fiscal support following the adoption of the Multi Annual Financial Framework that covers the EU budget for 2014 to 2020).

According to the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), which is a division of the EC acting as a secretariat for the port and ship-owner groups, the proposed actions outlined in the ‘Toolbox’ “shall be flexible and neutral, and minimise any possible unwanted effects” as part of the Clean Transport System Initiative.

One of the key actions outlined is the setting up of a platform gathering the relevant stakeholders who will focus on looking at the concrete technical and operational obstacles to the use of LNG (liquefied natural gas) as an alternative fuel. The use of LNG, however, would require investment in completely new vessels as current ships cannot be retrofitted to use the fuel. As speakers made clear at the RoRoEx conference in Gothenburg in May last year, LNG technology is at a nascent stage and needs years of development, and a lot of investment. It may only ever be a niche product but of it is costly to produce and store, and is not an answer for 2015 as far as ro-ro goes.

Freemans selects TOPS as Fargo moves into FV sector
UK-based vehicle carrier Freemans Autologistics has selected Fargo Systems to provide it with transport management software that trials have shown will improve its fleet management and cost monitoring. The agreement is based on a one-year rolling contract.

Fargo System’s established Transport Operations & Processing Systems (TOPS) suite of tools has been applied to intermodal container management since 2002 and is currently responsible for supporting around 3m container movements a year, but this is the first time that Fargo has offered the solution to the finished vehicle market.

“One of our strengths is the ability to provide tailored solutions to niche markets,” said a spokesperson for the company. “When we first discussed requirements with Freemans, we could visualise the tailoring fitting easily within TOPS with a specific new automotive job wizard [software application].”

Freemans Autologistics handles 4,000 new and used vehicle moves per month with a fleet of 24 trucks and the new tool enables it to define a database of vehicles that includes information on make and model. Registration or VIN numbers can then be entered on the wizard and the relevant make or model selected or added to the database.

“After researching solutions for the automotive sector, we identified a gap for a specialist niche product which could bring many benefits and efficiencies,” continued the spokesperson. “Working with Freemans, we have created a product tailored specifically to service the automotive industry and a great reference site for the rest of the sector. We are very keen to expand further into this market, using our knowledge and expertise to develop our automotive functionality further to customer requirements.”

Alice Hustwait, transport manager of Freemans Autologistics said that the TOPS suite had allowed the company to plan further in advance, “and the fact that we can produce full revenue and cost analysis, direct from the operating platform, means we are in even greater control of the business,” she added.

VW opens engine plant in Mexico
Volkswagen has opened a new $550m engine plant in Silao, central Mexico to supply its Puebla assembly plant, also in Mexico, and its assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The plant is designed for a medium-term annual capacity of 330,000 units and will make the fuel-efficient TSI engine.

At an inauguration ceremony held yesterday Professor Dr Martin Winterkorn, chairman of the Board of Management of VW, was joined by the Mexican president Enrique Peña at the governor of the state of Guanajuato, Michel Marquez.

“The Silao factory is the Volkswagen Groups 100th plant and therefore represents one of the largest and most international production networks in the automotive industry,” said Winterkorn. “Over the next three years the VW Group will be investing more than $5 billion in North America alone. Silao is thus also a strong symbol of our untinterrupted growth trajectory and the groups continuing internationalisation.”

The German carmaker said it is planning sales of 1m vehicles in the US alone by 2018, based on models such as the Jetta, Beetle and US Passat.

VW de México’s CEO, Andreas Hinrichs, pointed to the company’s contribution to the Mexican automotive industry’s growth path in 2012, a year in which it produced more than 600,000 vehicles at the Puebla plant.

Stena meets Black Sea demand
Stena SeaLine has reported an increase in volumes on its Black Sea route between Haydarpasa, Turkey and Illyichevsk, Ukraine and is introducing a second ropax vessel on the service this month.

The Italian-flagged MV Lazio will join the MV Sea Partner, connecting the countries with weekly, scheduled departures.

Stena SeaLine, a joint venture between Stena and Sea Lines Shipping, is expanding its route network across the Black Sea to promote trade in a reange of industries between the countries in the region.

The addition of the port of Derince, well known as a prime hub for high & heavy, project and breakbulk cargoes, will give customers an attractive and reliable regular shipping service between Illyichevsk and Haydarpasa said the company.

Nissan adopts web-invoicing system
Nissan is implementing a new purchasing software system to convert supplier invoicing from paper to electronic format as part of a widespread overhaul of its procurement operations designed to reduce its non-production spend.

Nissan suppliers will now be able to submit invoices electronically using a tool supplied by Wax Digital, a supplier of on-demand payment and e-sourcing software.

According to the company the web3 purchase-to-pay (P2P) system will enable 3,000 Nissan employees to raise orders electronically, ensure they are authorised and approved and to issue approved orders automatically to suppliers. It is expected to handle 600,000 invoices a year.

“We have had an ambition for a number of years now to move all our European operations to a common e-procurement platform that can transform our purchasing and finance processes for both our purchasers and suppliers,” said Barry Wilmer, purchase systems development manager, Nissan Europe.
This project part of the Nissan Power 88 business plan through which the company aims to achieve a global market share of 8% and increase its corporate operating profit to 8% by 2016.