Despite a Q1 downturn in car handling activity at the Port of Zeebrugge of 46.2%, two logistics service providers have made significant investments for long-term growth at the world’s biggest automotive port.
Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL) has opened a 7,600m² vehicle processing centre (VPC) at Belgian port, which will offer a range of services from cleaning and inspection of vehicles to more complex technical services covering repairs, fitting of accessories and modifications to cars, agricultural machinery and construction equipment.
The ISO-certified facility was opened by Joachim Coens, Chairman and Managing Director of the Port of Zeebrugge Authority (pictured left with Werner van Dessel, Managing Director, Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics Benelux).
“Fluctuations in the market will happen…but in the long run, Zeebrugge’s capacity will keep growing significantly,” said Ruben Declercq, Manager Technical Services, Region Europe, WWL, Belgium. “The port is expanding and Zeebrugge has enough strategic advantages…to make this happen,” he told Automotive Logistics.
Around 90 specialist technicians will work in the centre, which incorporates a body shop, vehicle modification area, car wash and administrative offices.
This is the second investment WWL has made at Zeebrugge in the last two years and is supported by a dedicated facility for handling high and heavy ro-ro equipment. That facility incorporates a multi-flexible paint booth, conducts pre-delivery inspection (PDI) work on agricultural and construction equipment, as well as tailor-made customer modifications to machinery prior to delivery to the dealer.
The combined investment equals €8.5 million ($11.2m).
“WWL’s planned investment in VPC facilities is to ensure that we can offer our customers specific solutions for automotive [and] high and heavy ro-ro equipment,” said Declercq.
The company reports 400 sailings a year to and from Zeebrugge with more than 300,000 units handled annually.
In a separate development outlined at the recent Automotive Logistics China conference, Mosolf Group has entered into a joint venture with International Car Operators (ICO) to set up a 30-hectare compound at Zeebrugge due to be complete in 2010. The new development will handle global movements and plans include a European central compound for Asian customers, highlighting the importance of that market for the port. The compound is being designed to consolidate Asian business in the West into a single point of entry and will offer transport links to dealer networks in Europe by rail, barge and truck. Rail connection will be set up via Toyota’s adjacent terminal.