Heavylift / Breakbulk
Anything but standard
For Geodis Wilson the oil and gas industry is one sector with great potential for growth. In order to get closer to its customers, the company is now expanding its network of branches in the energy industry’s prime locations. Geodis is also aiming to set new standards thanks to its new IT programme, which is tailored to meet its customers’ individual requirements.
For Steen Christensen, global head of oil and gas activities in Geodis Wilson’s industrial projects department, one thing is clear: «The oil and gas sector is booming – and we would like to make the best of this opportunity to further expand our business.»
Opening branches in prime oil and gas locations is at the core of this project. Geodis set itself the objective of establishing a presence in the oil and gas segment’s four major hubs in 2014. The plan is going well: new offices in Houston, Singapore and Antwerp are fully operational, with a branch in Dubai expected to be ready for action by the end of the year. In addition, the corporation also has a presence in Vitrolles, in the south of France. «We are the only logistics provider to serve the North African oil and gas sector directly from this centre, with Algeria representing a particularly important market for us there,» says Christensen.
The same language as the customer
The logistics enterprise emphasises that direct customer contact is extremely important. Geodis has therefore decided to employ specialists at these strategic hubs who not only «speak the same language as our customers» but who also have a wealth of oil and gas experience. This is the only way to make sure that we give every client comprehensive advice. Christensen is delighted to report that «so far this year, we have already been able to gain two major new customers. But the business entails many a challenge, as the oil industry frequently requires special services. That’s what we concentrate on».
This includes a particular service for shipments arriving in Houston, for example. «We have to open every individual box there, to check and record the quantity and condition of the contents. This is one of the idiosyncrasies of the segment.»
Geodis’s IT systems are another important aspect. In this context the company is aiming to set itself apart from the competition by delivering services which are tailored to its customers’ individual requirements. «Flexibility plays an important role in our business. Although many companies have adopted this buzzword, only very few act on it. On the contrary, many firms focus mainly on standardisation. With us, it’s just the opposite.» Christensen explains the concept as follows: «Logistics service providers generally only supply standard products, which also means that they can only provide standard solutions. With us, 80% of our offerings are standardised, with the remaining 20% tailored to the customer’s individual requirements.» This is possible because the specialists in charge of this task are integrated directly into Geodis’s oil and gas department. So requests for a change to the logistics options can be implemented in a short time.
One advantage of the company’s relative recent entry into the sector, according to Christensen, is that it can easily offer the latest software solutions and technologies for the oil and gas industry, unencumbered by obsolete IT systems.
Geodis is planning to expand its existing oil and gas hubs to include two more locations in the coming year. Shanghai has a great deal of potential, because many oil and gas segment equipment and accessories manufacturers are based there.
In addition, the programme also includes a new branch in Cape Town, from where the corporation will serve various parts of Eastern Africa. «Many countries in this region have discovered oil and gas reserves. It is our intention to be among the first logistics firms to establish a presence there,» is how Christensen explains the decision. He is very optimistic about the prospects, expecting business there to grow by 50% next year.