Heavylift / Breakbulk
Those fiddly little details
The complexity of project cargo is not only underestimated in the mechanical engineering industry, but often among shippers too. Günther Jocher, from Group7 in Munich, spoke to the ITJ about time windows, customs, coverage amounts and other challenges.
In the project business – when shipping all kinds of machinery around the world, for instance – the devil is in the details. «We’ve been following the growing project cargo market with great interest over the past few years, and have now acquired some customers in that area too,» says Günther Jocher, explaining the strategic alignment of Group7. Jocher is the managing director of the company, which is headquartered in Munich.
Bottlenecks in every project
Some of the growth regions in the machinery project cargo business, according to Jocher, include the USA, with its rapidly growing oil and gas industry; the BRIC countries; and the states of the Persian Gulf region. In connection with the global business dealings of its customers, the company also offers cross trades and places a special emphasis on extremely thorough risk management. Insurers have to cover every aspect of the services performed in the scope of complex projects, from pick-up to final delivery at a recipient’s location.
The handling teams of a project cargo shipments know all about the fiddly details. Packing 36 open-top containers in synch with the dismantling of complex machinery, which for customs reasons has to arrive on the same ship; an upward adjustment of insurance coverage; adapting five traffic islands for a road transport to a port – it is all in a day’s work in the project business, because every job is planned individually.
Finding the most efficient solution
Special equipment is a key pre-requisite. Even in choosing the means of transport, Group7 taps into the full spectrum of options. Road transport with a low-bed trailer, trains, barges, maritime ships, ro-ro ships, and freighter aircraft – they all come into play. «Three years ago we even put three bulk cargo cars on a railway track and attached them to a train, rather than transporting them on low-bed vehicles. Our creativity has brought in quite a bit of business,» adds Jocher.
But ultimately, every piece of equipment is only as good as its operator. «We work out the most efficient solution together, in our project teams. We also involve colleagues from other branches by telephone, to draw on their experience,» says Nuremberg branch manager Volker Tomandel, describing the approach to his last project shipment of 13 crates with excess widths and excess lengths of up to 10.2 m from Germany to the USA.
Over the past two months, Group7 has shipped hundreds of tonnes of machinery to South America, North America, Asia, and other destinations. The company had to plan, organise and carry out eight rather large projects which involved no less than five branch offices simultaneously recently.