Heavylift / Breakbulk
Know-how instead of size
In project and heavylift logistics, clocks tick differently than in the other areas of transport. Wolfgang Karau, the director of Quality Cargo Networks (QCN), spoke with Christian Doepgen about the three networks WWPC, CEE and Priority Cargo Network.
Mr Karau, via QCN you orchestrate and accompany three networks. Can you explain the relevant orientation of these connections?
The Worldwide Project Consortium (WWPC) consists of forwarders working in project logistics who work without any assets. Cargo Equipment Experts (CEE) is designed for asset-based providers and dealers of heavylift equipment. The Priority Cargo Network (PCN), finally, is made up of forwarders who are general service providers. The networks all consist of independent firms and focus on quality when choosing members. WWPC, for instance, is the only forwarding network in the Baltic Exchange.
What is the philosophy behind the WWPC network?
We aren’t interested in size or covering countries at any price. With WWPC our members, for instance, represent their country of origin, which means that we carefully select amongst the few experts for the project logistics business in a particular country. But we’re proud that nearly 80% of the companies that are members of the network have been involved since its inception in 1999 / 2000.
What business area interests you most?
Our members participate in invitations to tenders for major projects with terms of more than one year and with freight in the size of often several thousand cbm. Thanks to our reputation we receive many requests directly from industry and commerce, due to extensive word of mouth propaganda. We immediately pass these on to our members for quotation processing.
What benefit does a loader have who contacts the WWPC?
The customer accesses of pool of international experts who can handle projects on a global scale. He will have the certainty that his high-quality and complex cargo will reach its destination at the desired time. The latter sounds banal, but is by no means a matter of course in major construction projects with international suppliers under today’s just-in-time conditions, for instance.
Can the major groups, as full-service providers, offer more than the members of a network, for instance?
Many loaders involve major forwarding companies for invitations to tender, for instance for insurance reasons. It can certainly happen that a forwarder signs a ruinous agreement under which contractual penalties or financial requirements or expenses are accepted, resulting in a concrete risk for the goods to be transported. The pleasant trend of the major freight forwarders increasingly commissioning our members as subcontractor is continuing.
How did the establishment of WWPC come about in 1999?
The task kind of just fell into my lap. Many of today’s member companies were looking for a network at the time, which we then managed to mould into the solid form of a not-for-profit organisation by 2000. Since 2007, Stuart Murdoch and I have been in office as the two directors. My personal career path went from more than eleven years at sea as a deck boy to the captain’s licence, the close cooperation with a shipping broker in London through to the establishment of two freight forwarders in Finland, of which Procargo is a WWPC member.
Cargo Equipment Experts (CEE), established in 2009, is a network of suppliers. What are its strengths?
Many members are active in the energy and construction sectors, in wind farms, offshore projects and power plants. When making our selection we attached importance to the companies leadership roles in their sectors.
In the Priority Cargo Network (PCN) forwarders aim for success in international business. Do you see growth beyond the 18 current destinations?
The selection of suitable, reliable companies as members continues to be crucial. In light of a large number of networks in the market, we have seen slow growth so far, but we believe in the future.
How are members selected?
For the WWPC, a consultation committee of four, which is elected by the members, makes the selection, together with the directors. For CEE, the network’s management needs the approval of the members in the region to admit a new member.
What benefits do members have?
The networks are a marketing platform of many partners, which makes winning orders easier. The members of the WWPC and CEE also benefit from numerous marketing activities, apart from mailings. The organisation of trade fair presences or our periodical «Heavy Cargo News», for instance.
The economic crisis has also hit business in project logistics. What is your forecast for 2014?
I don’t have a crystal ball either, but in shipping we’re used to cycles of ten good years turning into cycles of ten bad years. This development may continue.