Archives For logistics

Uber-Freight-Truck

Global transportation network company Uber has launched Uber Freight – an online booking application “which aims to empower truck drivers and small trucking companies to run and grow their business”, according to a blog on the new Uber Freight site launched last week.

Uber Freight has its own app, of course, which is available on iOS and Android. There’s a sign-up page for drivers, who will be vetted before they’re allowed to use the Uber Freight. The service “takes guesswork out of finding and booking freight, which is often the most stressful part of a driver’s day,” according to Uber, which says it’s dismantling a process that typically takes “several hours and multiple phone calls.”The blog explains that vetted users download the app, search for a load, and simply tap to book it.

“We send a rate confirmation within seconds, eliminating a common anxiety in trucking about whether or not the load is really confirmed,” said an Uber Freight spokesperson.

Another advantage of the new booking service is Uber Freight is committed to paying within a few days, fee-free, for every single load.

Drivers can browse for nearby available loads, see destination info, distance required and payment upfront and then tap to book.

The idea is to streamline something that used to take hours of back and forth negotiation via phone or other communication, putting it in a simple workflow with confirmation of job acceptance and rates paid within a few seconds.

Uber’s not the only company trying to change the trucking industry. Amazon is working on a similar service that would pair drivers with companies that need goods delivered. Manufacturers big and small are also working on bringing semi-or fully-autonomous technology to long haul trucks.

Uber Freight is currently only available in the United States.

American Shipper

This year’s American Shipper’s benchmark report examines the extent to which freight buyers rely on the art of negotiation versus the technological tools to refine the procurement process. It also looks at the background dynamics confronting procurement professionals to show why investment in technology is so important. Visit AmericanShipper.com – requires registration to download!

It’s not an option for shippers and 3PLs to ignore the data that’s washing over the logistics industry anymore. And respondents to American Shipper’s most recent Transportation Procurement Benchmark Study, The Art and Science of Buying Freight, recognize that as much as anyone.

Only one quarter of freight buyers feel their organizations are above average when it comes to procurement technology. Nearly half admit they are still using predominantly spreadsheets and email to conduct procurement across modes and regions. Two-thirds are still reliant on EDI. Source: americanshipper.com

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Forget increasing the number of Free Trade Zones at and around UK ports, real thought should be given to whether Britain could become a nationwide FTZ, a panel discussion at Multimodal heard today.

The discussion, organised by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, weighed the advantages and disadvantages of setting up more FTZs as Britain’s starts its exit journey from the European Union.

While Geoff Lippitt, business development director at PD Ports, said that there was no “desperation for the traditional type of FTZ”, he conceded that as UK ports enter a new post-EU member era, any method that could improve the competitiveness of the nation’s exports should be considered.

Tony Shally, managing director of Espace Europe, added that FTZs would give the UK a great opportunity to bring manufacturing back to the country.

Bibby International Logistics’ managing director Neil Gould went a step further, calling for the creation of a ‘UK FTZ’, to facilitate a joined up environment in which it is easier to move trade. “We need to think how we work together as an industry and how we join everything up to make the UK more competitive,” he said.

However, Barbara Buczek, director of corporate development at Port of Dover, sounded a word of caution, warning that FTZs could actually be detrimental for ro-ros, an important cargo mode for the south UK port. “It’s a great concept, but we also have to be mindful of the guys on the other side who we have to ‘play’ with,” she said, adding that she is “a bit sceptical” about how an FTZ plan could pan out. Originally published by Port strategy.com

Container_crane_and_spreader

Picture: Wikipedia

The Port of Felixstowe has confirmed that it will offer a container weighing service to ensure UK shippers are able to comply with the new SOLAS regulations that come into effect on 1 July 2016

The new SOLAS Chapter VI regulation requiring the shipper (or other named party in the Bill of Lading – normally a freight forwarder/NVOCC) – to supply the shipping line with a verified gross mass (VGM) declaration before the container can be loaded aboard the ship comes into force on 1st July. As widely reported, there is widespread concern that shippers will not be ready.

Commenting on the new service that Felixstowe will provide, Stephen Abraham, the port’s COO, said: “We have met with many customers and from their feedback it is clear that there is still a lot of uncertainty amongst exporters about the new rules.

“The rules have the potential to cause significant disruption to export supply chains. To help avoid this, we have decided to provide a service where export containers can be weighed at the port before being loaded. We will provide further details about how the weighing service will work in good time to ensure all exporters can be compliant by the time the new rules come into force.”

The service at the port will be available to containers arriving either by road or rail. This is important as, through its railheads, Felixstowe is the UK’s largest intermodal rail terminal; 40% of all laden export containers arrive at the port by rail.

To provide the weighing service, Felixstowe will use a spreader twistlock-based system, although the supplier of the system and the number of RTG and intermodal RMG spreaders that will be equipped with it has not been confirmed.

The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), which is the responsible authority for the VGM as regards UK containerised export shipments, requires all weighing equipment used to provide a VGM, whether by Method 1 or Method 2, to be calibrated to within +/- 0.1% of the true mass of the loaded container (Method 1) or by calcuation based on the sum weights of the individual cargo items being packed and associated dunnage, lashing chains, etc (Method 2).

When, at the end of 2010, the International Chamber of Shipping first launched its campaign for all containers to be weighed before ocean carriage, it was assumed that the weighing would take place in ports – naturally, as ports are where most container lifting equipment is based.

However, port operators – including, and not least, Felixstowe – successfully resisted this, which ultimately resulted in IMO formulating Method 2. While the road to IMO arriving at Method 1 and Method 2 is “history,” the key point is that port operators, freed of a legal obligation to weigh loaded export containers, are thereby free to offer a Method 1 weighing service on a commercial basis.

Irrespective of the technology employed, there are several issues around port weighing. What happens if, for example, when the port [any port, not just Felixstowe] weighs the export container for the purpose of providing the VGM and finds that the weight made the container illegal for road carriage to the port? Does the port have a legal obligation to inform the road traffic authorities [the police in the UK]; or is the onus on the shipping line, whose customer the “offending” shipper/NVOCC is?

That information is also “historic,” in the sense that in order to weigh the overloaded container in the port, it must be assumed that the truck arrived safely at the port, and that particular (unique) illegal truck trip to the export port has gone forever. The remaining problem, however, is that the VGM provided by the port may indicate that the weight of the container makes it illegal for on-carriage by road or rail in the port of unloading.

Asked to comment on this by WorldCargo News, Paul Davey, Head of Corporate Affairs, Hutchison Ports (UK), made a crucial point. “As regards legality for road carriage in all possible overseas destinations, we [at Felixstowe] would not know, for example, whether the container will leave the port of destination or is unstuffed in the port. If it leaves the port [without being unstuffed] we won’t know whether the on-carriage would be by road, rail or any other mode, so there is nothing we could do.”

This is key as it throws the real responsibility for enforcing the VGM on the carriers, who demanded compulsory weighing in the first place. They will be under a legal obligation not to accept a loaded container unless it has VGM documentation.

It follows logically that carriers know the VGM mass of all loaded containers they ship. If, on the way to destination from the port of import, due to gross overloading of the container, the truck jackknifes or overturns, with all the safety risks that entails, the carrier could be liable and open to criminal prosecution.

Thus, there can be no question of “shipper appeasement,” but it could end up in a lawyer’s free-for-all involving anyone providing the VGM if it transpires that the VGM data were incorrect. Suppose, for example, the carrier relied on VGM data provided on a commercial basis by the port of export and it transpired, following a road accident investigation in the country of import that the real weight exceeded the VGM and likely caused the accident.

As to the commercial possibilities for ports providing a VGM service, Felixstowe has not given any information on the price it will charge, but (by way of example) Yarimca in Turkey is advertising US$12 to weigh a container, according to its tariff notice.

Policy responses by port operators will vary enormously according to local context and assessment of risk and benefit. In New York/New Jersey – where loaded containers are mosly imports – Maher Terminals has advised customers that loaded export containers will not be accepted after the July 1st deadline whitout a VGM in advance, as part of the booking process.

PSA Antwerp, which is also offering a VGM service, has stated that it may, at its discretion, “strip and restuff a container so that it complies with the SOLAS requirements. The customer will pay an appropriate compensation to PSA for any such stripping/restuffing of a container and/or determining its VGM.”

The new SOLAS Ch VI imposes no obligation on terminals to weigh containers they unload. All the same, as regards imports, PSA Antwerp says: “If PSA loads a container onto a truck, it can never be held liable for additional expenses and/or fines associated with the (excess) weight of the container/truck combination.

“Any such additional expenses and/or fines will never be borne by PSA and the customer will pay an appropriate compensation to PSA for any such additional expenses and/or fines incurred by it and/or for determining the weight of the container/truck combination.” Source: WorldCargoNews

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Port of Singapore [Picture credit - singaporevisablog.wordpress.com]

Port of Singapore [Picture credit – singaporevisablog.wordpress.com]

The Port of Singapore has been named the best seaport in Asia for the 27th time – beating fierce rivals Hong Kong and Shanghai.

The honour was given out at the 2015 Asia Freight, Logistics and Supply Chain Awards (AFLAS) held in Hong Kong here the other day.

The AFLAS awards, organised by freight and logistics publication Asia Cargo News, honour organisations for demonstrating leadership as well as consistency in service quality, innovation, customer relationship management and reliability.

Determined by votes cast by readers of Asia Cargo News, the Port of Singapore clinched the award for its leading performance on a range of criteria, including cost competitiveness, container shipping-friendly fee regime, provision of suitable container shipping-related infrastructure, timely and adequate investment in new infrastructure to meet future demand and the facilitation of ancillary services.

The other finalists in the Asia category this year were the Port of Hong Kong and Port of Shanghai.

Said Mr Andrew Tan, chief executive of Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA): “We will continue to work closely with all our stakeholders to strengthen our competitiveness as a premier global hub port and international maritime centre.

“Singapore will also continue to plan and invest ahead, such as our commissioning of Pasir Panjang Terminal Phases 3 and 4 this week which will increase the overall capacity of Singapore’s port to 50 million TEUs (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units) when fully operational.”

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday officially opened the terminals. When the expansion is fully operational by the end of 2017, Singapore will be able to handle a total of 50 million TEUs of containers annually.

MPA said the Port of Singapore continued to achieve good growth in 2014. Its annual vessel arrival tonnage reached 2.37 billion gross tonnes (GT). Its container throughput hit 33.9 million TEUs, while total cargo tonnage handled reached 580.8 million tonnes.

Its total volume of bunkers remained the highest in the world, at 42.4 million tonnes. The total tonnage of ships under the Singapore Registry of Ships was 82.2 million GT, putting Singapore among the top 10 ship registries in the world.

Kasumbalesa1Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) border post with Zambia, one of Africa’s busiest land frontiers, went high-tech, with a web-based customs system that was meant to improve efficiency and eradicate corruption. It’s not quite working to plan. As officials struggle to get to grips with the new system and DRC’s decrepit phone network groans under the weight of data, the Kasumbalesa border post 300 km (200 miles) north of Lusaka has almost ground to a halt, according to drivers and freight operators. The result is a tailback of trucks stretching at least 20 km into Zambia and a spike in prices in Lubumbashi, impoverished DRC’s second city, which has lost its one proper road link to the outside. The bottleneck is bad even by African standards but it throws into stark relief the problems governments face as they try to remove the numerous bureaucratic and physical barriers to intra-regional trade across the poorest continent.

The Kasumbalesa blockage is being felt 100 km away in Lubumbashi, a bustling mining city of several million who rely on the 450 trucks a day that normally pass through the border laden with everything from biscuits to cement to paraffin. Shop owners are stockpiling and prices of staples such as casava powder – known locally as fufu – have gone up 50 percent in three weeks. “This has already had a big effect. It is causing lots of problems for the population,” Lubumbashi resident Charles Pitchou said.

Kasumbalesa – at the heart of the relatively prosperous and developed Copperbelt – was meant to be an example of how to do it properly, a frontier handed over to a private firm to make customs run like clockwork.

In one of the first public-private partnerships on African borders, an Israeli-run firm called Baran Trade and Investments won a 20-year concession in 2009 to build a “one-stop” customs post and operate it for 20 years. (Makes one wonder why the countries have a Customs authority in the first place?) With $5 million of Baran’s own money and a $20 million loan from the Development Bank of Southern Africa, the Zambia Border Crossing Company (ZBCC), as the subsidiary was known, had a streamlined Kasumbalesa up and running in 2011. Local media reports suggested much-reduced crossing times. However, Lusaka canceled ZBCC’s contract in late 2011 when President Rupiah Banda lost an election and his successor, Michael Sata, ordered investigations into a slew of state deals struck by his predecessor. TheBaran deal never went out to public tender and the fees charged to trucks – $19 per axle – were too high. It also said giving control of the border to an outside concessionaire was a threat to national security and that the reduction in waiting times was not as dramatic as the firm said. Baran’s chief executive, contacted via ZBCC’s website, did not respond to requests for comment.

With Baran gone, the state-run border posts muddled through until September, when DRC upgraded its systems from ‘Sydonia++’, a set-up widely used in the 1990s, to a web-based successor called ‘Sydonia World’, freight operators and regional trade experts said. Although UNCTAD was pushing use of ‘Sydonia World’ as far back as 2002, the data burden was too much for DRC’s computer networks, which crashed.

“The system is very good but if you don’t have a decent Internet connection, it doesn’t work,” said Mike Fitzmaurice, a South African logistics consultant and editor of online trade journal Freight Into Africa. National government spokesman Lambert Mende said a vice finance minister had been despatched from Kinshasa, 1,500 km away, to resolve the problem.

Zambia too is pulling out the stops to get the border moving again in a region important to its economy. “We need to have a normal flow of goods and services because this affects the entire region,” deputy trade minister Miles Sampa told Reuters. One stop-gap solution has been to scan documents in low-resolution black-and-white, rather than full color, to ease the data burden. But even if the two sides iron out the immediate snafu, the fiasco has provided another example of the dream of a seamless, integrated African border crossing falling short of reality.

Zimbabwe and Zambia upgraded their Chirundu border to a one-stop frontier in 2009 but crossing times have only dropped from 38 hours before to 35 now, according to Fitzmaurice, who compiles weekly records on delays. By contrast, customs clearance within the 114-year-old Southern African Customs Union (SACU) – South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland – can be as little as 30 minutes. “Once you go north of SACU, into Zimbabwe, Zambia, wherever, there’s no such thing as a ‘good’ border post,” Fitzmaurice said. “The concept behind all these systems is good but the implementation just falls down every time.” Source: Lusaka Voice

The United States has the world’s longest railway network, followed by China and Russia. Railway-technology.com profiles the 10 largest railway networks in the world based on total operating length. For full details of this analysis visit – www.rail-technology.com

WB-South Africa-Export CompetitivenessThe report, South Africa Economic Update 5: Focus on Export Competitiveness, examines the performance of South Africa’s export firms against that of peers in other emerging markets— and analyzes the challenges. It assesses South Africa’s economic prospects in the context of the global economic environment and prospects.

With this Economic Update, we hope to enrich the on-going debate on growing a sector critical for South Africa’s economic growth. As with previous editions, this report is intended not to be prescriptive but to offer evidence-based analysis that will help bring South Africa’s policymakers, researchers, and export stakeholders closer to finding innovative and sustainable ways to grow the sector. The report highlights opportunities for growth, particularly with Sub-Saharan Africa being the largest market for non-mineral exports. It also explores strategic directions that can ignite export growth and help South Africa realize its goals of creating jobs and reducing poverty and inequality.

The report identifies three areas that present opportunities to promote the competitiveness and spur the growth in South Africa’s export sector:

  • Boosting domestic competition would increase efficiency and productivity. By opening local markets to domestic and foreign entry, South Africa would enable new, more productive firms to enter and place downward pressure on high markups. This would lower input costs and tip incentives in favor of exporting by reducing excess returns in domestic markets. Competition would also stimulate investment in innovation and, over time, condition the market to ensure that firms entering competitive global markets have reached the productivity threshold to support their survival and growth.
  • Alleviating infrastructure bottlenecks, especially in power, and removing distortions in access to and pricing of trade logistics in rail, port, and information and communication technologies would reduce overall domestic prices and further enhance competitiveness. It would be especially beneficial for small and medium-size exporters and non-traditional export sectors, which these costs tend to hit harder.
  • Promoting deeper regional integration in goods and services within Africa would generate the right conditions for the emergence of Factory Southern Africa, a regional value chain that could feed into global production networks. South Africa could play a central role in such a chain, leveraging the scale of the regional market, exploiting sources of comparative advantage across Africa to reduce production costs, and providing other countries in the region a  platform for reaching global markets. Progress on all three fronts would help catapult South Africa toward faster-growing exports, allowing it to realize the higher, more inclusive, job-intensive growth articulated in the National Development Plan.

Source: World Bank

Liege Trilogiport is scheduled to open for business in the final half of 2015 (Picture: Liege Ports Authority)

Liege Trilogiport is scheduled to open for business in the final half of 2015 (Picture: Liege Ports Authority)

Work is underway on a major multimodal logistics hub project in Belgium. Piloted by the inland port of Liège, it is designed to serve as an “extended gateway” to the seaports of Rotterdam, Antwerp and Zeebrugge.

The project will attract around €45 million of public funding from the Belgian authorities and the European Union to finance infrastructure requirements, while initial investment from the private sector is estimated at approximately €115 million.

Located on a 120 hectare site on the banks of the Canal Albert, the Trilogiport project is scheduled to be operational in the second half of 2015. It is expected to create more than 2,000 direct or indirect jobs.

Described as “a tri-modal (river, rail and road) logistics village,” it will comprise a 15ha container terminal, with 1,850 metres of quayside, operated by Luxembourg-based Euroports and its partner, DP World.

Provision is made too to build a rail freight terminal with 700 metres of track to connect Trilogiport with the national rail network. Construction of a road bridge is also planned to provide access to the motorway system around Liège.

Trilogiport will also incorporate 200,000 sq metres of warehousing and distribution space at full build-out. Source: Porttechnology.com

 

FTW - Gauteng Edition Sept 2013The latest Freight & Trade Weekly (FTW) [Gauteng special edition] publication reminds me of a very interesting article I read a few months back – refer to my post “What are surfaces?” of 23 June 2013. The article dealt with the question of surfaces (i.e. land and sea) in relation to the multimodal movement of containers and envisioned by the logistics and supply-chain management practices.

I bewailed the fact that the actual dissertation would set me back a US$1000 but remained intrigued by the content which such dissertation would contain given the very interesting abstract I had just read. Given the high cost of such, obviously acknowledging the expertise, knowledge and resourcefulness which often goes into the preparation such papers therefore puts them beyond the reach of most.

To my amazement, a few days later I received an email from a fellow blogger – an expert in supply chain logistics – who was happy to share with me his copy of the paper.  The paper is titled “Shipping container mobilities, seamless compatibility, and the global surface of logistical integration”, published by Environment and Planning (EPA) volume 45 (2013). The author, a Dr. Craig Martin has delivered a masterpiece (my view) which considers the subject matter way beyond what I, as a Customs and Trade specialist, would consider or envision. I thoroughly enjoyed his bringing together of historical and current concepts and principles (attributed to many experts and peers) in the matter of intermodal containerisation.

Understanding the supply chain is a critical pre-requisite in the international Customs and Trade arena, at least since 9/11. In addition to the various WCO guides and standards, one needs to locate and digest papers such as this – and here I refer also to the many other websites, reference portals and publications of international experts in the global logistics and supply chain field.

Some of the more salient statements contained in the  Dr. Martin’s paper confirms that the ‘ideology of containerisation emanates out of a wider body of reasoning based on the notion of integration.’

The Need and Logic of Integration

Integration focuses on interactions between various aspects of a supply chain and is defined as “a systems approach to viewing the supply chain as a whole, and to managing the total flow of goods inventory from the supplier to the ultimate customer”.

From the late 1950s, management theory began to emphasize the importance of “how industrial company success depends on the interaction between the flows of information, materials, money, manpower, and capital equipment”.

By the 1980s, the emphasis of the logistics sector’s control of company functions, including materials management, transport, storage, and information management, highlighted the importance and process of integration.

During the mid-1990s, the notion of integration extended even further with the move towards supply chain management (SCM), where aspects of supply, materials management, distribution, and retail functions were placed under the control of a single company. The overarching ideology of logistics and SCM are systemic completeness and the management of flow.

The movement of containerised cargo is a critical component of SCM, as it accentuates surface control through the integration of land and sea transport. As far back as the 1960’s, experts opined that “most types of liquids and solids may someday be moved in sealed containers interchangeable among road, rail, air, and marine transport. Advantages would include reduction in damage and loss in the time and cost of loading and unloading. Containers may prove to be the catalyst that integrates the various components of the transport sector which are now being independently planned, financed, and operated” – and this is exactly what is happening today.

Standardisation towards Intermodal Integration

In 1953 Malcolm McLean developed the idea of transporting truck trailers on ships rather than on the congested highways of the US East Coast. His rationale was to overcome congestion by consolidating the transport system: at this time the truck and ship industries were entirely separate. He is ultimately credited for the invention of the modern cellular container we have today.

Vital to structural integration was the standardized nature of infrastructure itself – enabling the coupling of a container with a variety of nodes. These include the design of container-cell vessels, the redesign of road haulage vehicles and railway rolling stock, the design of container handling vehicles in ports, the construction of large-scale dockside gantry cranes, the design of spreader bars, and not to forget the design of the container corner fittings – these are standardized across all of the equipment related above.

It can therefore correctly be asserted that “the container links land and sea transport in an almost seamless and profoundly international continuum” (Broeze 2002)

So I guess what I’m trying to emphasize is that close on 70 years of continuous harmonization and integration in the supply chain logistics industry, specifically in regard to multimodal (door-to-door) containerized transport, as well as the substantive facilitation support accorded thereto by both the WTO and WCO, the basis of containerisation must surely be a consideration when applying regulatory control measures whether it be in the export leg or import leg of an international supply chain movement.

The key enabler in a modern Customs environment is undoubtedly automated processing and no less automated risk assessment. Facilitation on the other hand is a tool whereby, in combination with risk assessment, Customs focuses on entities and patterns rather than transnational intervention. Unreasonable (and mandatory) termination of a multimodal movement destroys the benefits of containerization and will add costs and loss of competitiveness for traders. Our beautiful country can ill-afford this given burgeoning competition from our neighbours up north. Finally, The matter of regional integration is another aspect which needs in-depth consideration. As we enthuse and wallow in our new found technological state, physical borders remain the biggest inhibitors to trade. More on this another time.

Recommended Link

waterwaysforward-wordpress-com_SnapseedThe European Commission (EC) has announced new measures to get more freight onto Europe’s rivers and canals.

It underlines that barges are amongst the most climate-friendly and energy efficient forms of transport but currently they only carry about 6% of European cargo each year.

The new proposals intend to realise the “unused potential” of Europe’s 37,000 km of inland waterways, enabling freight to move more easily and lead to further greening of the sector, as well as encouraging innovation and improving job opportunities.

“We already send 500 million tonnes of freight along our rivers and canals each year. That’s the equivalent of 25 million trucks. But it’s not enough. We need to help the waterway transport industry develop over the longer term into a high quality sector. We need to remove the bottlenecks holding it back, and to invest in the skills of its workforce,” said the EC’s Vice President, Transport, Siim Kallas.

The Commission is proposing to remove significant bottlenecks in the form of inadequately dimensioned locks, bridges or fairways and missing links such as the connection between the Seine and the Scheldt river systems which are hampering the sector’s full development potential.

In August last year, Lloyd’s Loading List reported that a multi-billion euro project, the Seine-Nord Europe (SNE) Canal, to build a 106km, 54-metre wide canal to link the Seine and Scheldt rivers by the end of the decade, had suffered a serious setback, with doubts cast over private investment in the project.

The French government continues to support the SNE Canal despite the conclusions of an audit into its financial feasibility which recommended that it be postponed indefinitely.

It commissioned the over-hauling project which could be presented to the European Commission in its new form in the first quarter of 2014, the aim being to secure greater EU funding than that granted under the initial plans.

The Commission is also proposing action to encourage investment in low emission technologies and to support research and innovation. Source: Lloyds.com

Proposed Durban-Free State-Gauteng Logistics and Industrial Corridor Plan (SIP2)

Proposed Durban-Free State-Gauteng Logistics and Industrial Corridor Plan (SIP2)

Notwithstanding on-going discontent amongst industry operators in regard to proposed legislative measures mandating customs clearance at first port of entry, the South African government (GCIS) reports that work has already commenced on a massive logistics corridor stretching between Durban and the central provinces of the Free State and Gauteng. Most of the projects that form part of the second Strategic Infrastructure Project (SIP 2), also known as the Durban-Free State-Johannesburg Logistics and Industrial Corridor, are still in the concept or pre-feasibility stage, but construction has already started on several projects.

These include:

  • the building of a R2,3 billion container terminal at City Deep
  • a R3,9 billion project to upgrade Pier 2 at the Port of Durban
  • R14,9 billion procurement of rolling stock for the rail line which will service the corridor.

Work has also started on the R250 million Harrismith logistics hub development to set up a fuel distribution depot, as well as on phase one of the new multi-product pipeline which will run between Johannesburg and Durban and transport petrol, diesel, jet fuel and gas.

The aim of these projects and others which form part of SIP 2, is to strengthen the logistics and transport corridor between South Africa’s main industrial hubs and to improve access to Durban’s export and import facilities. It is estimated that 135 000 jobs will be created in the construction of projects in the corridor. Once the projects are completed a further 85 000 jobs are expected to be created by those businesses that use the new facilities. Source: SA Government Information Service

Interested in more details regarding South Africa’s infrastructure development plan? Click here!

What are surfaces?

June 13, 2013 — 1 Comment

containerThis is the theme of peer review group –  Environment and Planning’s latest edition to its journal. Once I got past the verbage of seeming unconnected academic diatribe, I stumbled on a paragraph which provoked immediate interest, particularly given that I’m fanatical about multimodal transportation especially the ‘container’. It goes like this –

The question posed by this thematic issue is one with considerable intellectual heritage. Surfaces have held a long-standing fascination for science, social science, and humanities scholars, whether figured as material interfaces,(1) natural structures, aesthetic phenomena, geometric projections, or fetishistic distractions. Surfaces may be sculpted, calculated, smoothed, camouflaged, magnified, represented, sensed, or commodified. They may be revered for their beauty, clarity, texture, accessibility, and biodiversity, or criticised for their opacity, ugliness, or for obscuring ‘underlying’ relations and processes. Indeed, while certain disciplinary, philosophical, and scientific traditions are (or have been) concerned with understanding and apprehending surfaces, many scholars—most recently Divya Tolia-Kelly (2013)—emphasise the importance of getting beyond the surface, uncovering underlying meanings, motivations, power relations, ‘feelings’, and processes of production: pushing beyond boundaries, scratching beneath surfaces. The academic inquirer is urged to undertake sub-surface investigations, functioning as an explorer, fisherman, or miner who trawls, excavates, or pioneers new depths.

“So much of life occurs at the surface that, as students of the human scene, we are obliged to pay far more attention to its character (subtlety, variety, and density) than we have done. The scholar’s neglect and suspicion of surface phenomena is a consequence of a dichotomy in western thought between surface and depth, sensory appreciation and intellectual understanding, with bias against the first of the two terms.” Tuan (1989)

The six individual papers in this theme issue provide conceptually diverse and empirically specific responses to the central question posed: ‘What are surfaces?’

For Craig Martin (2013) surfaces exist first as logistical accomplishments, and are to be understood as physical phenomena crucial to the reshaped global geographies of commercial hipping and freight transport. Martin’s concern is with the advent of an intermodal, logistical system based on the standardisation of heavy-duty, corrugated metal boxes; otherwise known as the shipping container. This object, in which so many ordinary spatial interdependencies are invested, is arguably as close to a universal, surficial fix as global powers have got. The containers’ vital statistics and carrying capacities scale up to a planetary surface where integration is paramount, between materialities (of land and sea), mobilities (nautical and terrestrial), and sovereignties (political and legal). By these means, the specificities of earthly surfaces have been transformed into a commerce-driven sameness of sorts.

So now I think….how long it will take me to save up £1000 to purchase a year’s subscription to this journal – perhaps just for this one article?

Source: Environment and Planning  

container-trackingThe US Patent and Trademark Office has granted Internet search giant Google a patent on a system for securing, monitoring and tracking containers. According to United States Patent 8284045, it describes a two-way communication system, supported by an electronic bolt seal, a network gateway, a web-based platform, and a mobile device, that allows containers to be networked for the transfer of data. Shipping containers are networked for transferring data between the shipping containers. The shipping containers include sensors for detecting conditions associated with the shipping containers. The conditions sensed by any shipping container whether transported by rail or ship is transmitted from an ad hoc network, via a gateway configured for satellite or cellular communications for example, to a container-tracking application server or equivalent computer system. The computer system is remotely located to the shipping container for central compilation, analysis, and/or display of data regarding the shipping containers.

The system describes an environmental sensor that can travel with a product within a carrier’s logistics network. The environmental sensor being configured to sense an environmental condition capable of affecting the product to generate product environment data. The system includes a scanner configured to read product environment data from the environmental sensor. The system also includes a hub control unit configured to communicate with the scanner and receive the product environment data from the scanner and determines whether the product environment data transcends a limit of exposure of the product to an environmental condition. The hub control unit is also configured to generate a transporting instruction to redirect transport of the product to an alternate destination different from its original destination if the hub control unit determines that the product environment data indicates the environmental condition of the product has transcended the limit of exposure. What a mouthful! I dare say that there are people out there that can decipher the patent content and relate to its various diagrams. If you are interested in this topic, please visit the following link – http://www.archpatent.com/patents/8284045. Also visit the Patent Buddy for similar information. Hopefully as the business case for this patent unfolds things may become a bit more clearer – and perhaps a little sinister too for some!

The 8th Annual State of Logistics Survey, a joint project by Imperial Logistics, the University and Stellenbosch and the CSIR reveals good news for South Africa. Logistics costs – as a percentage of GDP – have dropped to the lowest level ever at 12.7%. The in-depth report, which is available online at http://www.csir.co.za/sol/, provides some fascinating insights from some of the industry’s logistics thought leaders.

Transport costs are singled out as the most significant factor impacting the country’s logistics costs, comprising 53.2% of the logistics bill. “The marked impact of the 11% fuel price increase between 2009 and 2010 is no surprise considering the fuel price is the primary transport cost driver,” says Zane Simpson of the University of Stellenbosch. “Had the fuel price remained as it was in 2009, total transport costs in 2010 would have been R5.8billion less, consequently putting logistics costs as a percentage of GDP at an even more favourable 12.5%.” Transport costs as a percentage of total logistics costs would then have been 52% instead of 53%.

Globally, transport costs as a percentage of logistics costs are less than 40% which makes South Africa’s percentage relatively high. “For logistics to become a competitive weapon for South Africa, change is required,” said Cobus Rossouw, chief integration officer of Imperial Logistics. “South Africa is a leader in complex, dynamic logistics and has achieved success despite geographical impediments, severe skills shortages and lack of economies of scale “South Africans need to recognise that we are and can be counted among the best in logistics. And while we will always have much to learn from others, we need to recognise that we also have a lot to offer.” Source: CargoInfo.co.za