Container Shipping Static but Bulk Freight and Multimodal Logistics Brighter for Some Firms

2013 Reports in from Different Sectors of the Supply Chain

EUROPE – JAPAN – This is the time of year when companies, whether connected to the freight industry or not, like to review their progress, assuming of course things have gone well for them in the past twelve months. Results have seemingly been mixed with container shipping lacking any obvious high spots but energy projects seemingly more worthwhile. Menlo Worldwide Logistics, a subsidiary of US firm Con-way Inc, the road haulage and multimodal group, says that its cost-saving focus and ‘Lean’ principles of continuous improvement are behind a successful increase in its European customer base during 2013.

The company increased its continental warehouse portfolio by a further 50,000 m² and added a total of eight major new projects for both new and existing customers, meaning full time staff employment increased by over a thousand at the company’s seventeen facilities through Western and Eastern Europe. In Europe, Menlo maintains dedicated and multi-client logistics centres located in the Netherlands, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany and the United Kingdom with a network which can serve as a pan-European distribution solution for a range of customers.

Companies using Menlo’s services range from high tech, through industrial equipment to life sciences, life style and e-commerce and Tony Gunn, Menlo’s Managing Director, Europe commented:

“Our growth strategy is not over-ambitious as far as volumes are concerned. We concentrate on the development of long-term customer relationships, seeking to grow with our partners; continually reducing costs and improving efficiencies throughout their supply chains. In what remains challenging economic conditions for manufacturers and retailers, I’m pleased to say our collaborative approach has had considerable appeal amongst new customers as well as existing ones throughout 2013”.

Japanese shipping group Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) meanwhile report nothing really notable in the container shipping sector unless you count the commencement of the Trans Pacific G6 alliance and its commitment to expand elsewhere, or the sinking of the MOL Comfort and its ramifications.

Elsewhere however there was certainly more movement with the transfer of sales and vessel operations to Singapore of the group’s entire dry bulker fleet (over 130 vessels) and the commencement of several energy related contracts involving newbuild orders for several LNG and methanol carriers and participation in various deepwater and ultra-deepwater projects off the coasts of Africa and South America.

MOL continues to demonstrate its commitment to cleaner shipping and environmental and social matters with various ballast water treatment and NOx-reducing Selective Catalytic Reduction projects ongoing and its support for the Philippines following the recent Typhoon Haiyan strike.

Photo: Reminder of the foundering of the MOL Comfort as the stern section struggles to stay afloat before eventually sinking.