Transformation in progress
Multimodal terminals operate under their own laws. The signs of the times point to a reduction in the volume of classic goods, such as coal and steel. They are being displaced by a range of products, including temperature-controlled services, recycled building materials or plant construction equipment, as CEO Martin Ticks and CCO Roger Löffler pointed out on site to Christian Doepgen recently.
Mr Ticks, Mr Löffler, your business model is in a state of flux. Where do you currently see the biggest changes?
Martin Ticks (MT): Traditional commodities such as coal are declining in importance, in the face of the energy revolution. We’re also feeling the changes in the automotive industry relating to steel throughput in our hub – but thanks to Swiss manufacturing industry, 2019 brought good volume growth in this sector. Our biggest asset is the space we have available – 50,000 m² on land and 50,000 m² at the waterside.
How is Birsterminal positioned today?
RL: We’re converting facilities in order to carry out new tasks in existing storage halls and will also build new ones.
MT: Our equipment will also be adapted accordingly. For example, we’ve replaced a gantry crane that was damaged in a storm with mobile equipment, including material grabbers. This increases our flexibility with regard to cargo.
Which segment is most promising?
MT: It’s all about overall concepts. For Swiss imports from China we’ve garnered a role as an intermodal provider for covered transhipment solutions, coordination and interim storage options – alongside shippers, shipowners and seaports.
RL: Shippers tend to concentrate more on their core activities today, which generates demand for covered as well as insulated storage space.
Where do you add most value?
RL: As an ‘extended workbench’, Birsterminal enables producers to pre-assemble systems on our premises for export.
MT: Temperature-controlled transports are on the upswing, so we’ve increased the number of reefer connections, both on ships as well as in the terminal, amongst other things (including 24 / 7 monitoring).
Do customers see these advantages?
MT: We stand out through quality; this allows us to hold our own.
How do you see the future?
MT: The port of Birsfelden’s vision for the future – called ‘2040+’ – includes commitments to our hub and its industrial development zone from local authorities, the canton and the Swiss Rhine ports. Further promotion and expansion is at hand.
RL: We’re happy to discuss the options we offer on site. We’re looking forward to 24 April, when we’ll welcome customers, partners and public officials for an event.