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INDUSTRY FOCUSPROJECT FORWARDER NETWORKS


Coalitions of the willing


There is much more to project freight forwarder networks than simply a list of names. The concept has developed into a sophisticated business platform, writes Chris Lewis.


W


ith more than 15 networks dedicated to the project logistics sector, there can be little doubt that face-to-face networking, lead sharing and


access to value-added services are welcomed by small and medium-sized project freight forwarders. “To be connected globally with


like-minded, independent companies gives an advantage when competing with global freight forwarders,” said Wolfgang Karau, director of the Worldwide Project Consortium (WWPC) and Cargo Equipment Experts (CEE) networks. Gary Dale Cearley, executive director of


XLProjects (XLP) likened a network to going to a shopping mall versus going to a standalone store. “There are more options and variety available in a group than there will ever be alone. Members help you gain business you would not be able to touch otherwise.”


Financial protection At WCA Projects, Bruce Cutillo – general manager projects, dangerous goods, and relocation – pointed out that, as well as gaining exposure to new methods and practices, the benefits of joining a network include financial protection, easier credit access, insurance, banking and dispute resolution services. But, as XLP’s Cearley observed, there is a


huge amount of competition among project networks. “Whenever you see the term ‘fastest growing’ you know they are focused on offering free membership to get market share. And all of these fastest-growing networks claim somehow to be unique because they do one or two things


110 January/February 2019


differently, while at the same time they go after the membership of the existing groups so that they look like everyone else.” Luzius Haffter, executive director of


Global Project Logistics Network (GPLN), sees virtue in stability and exclusivity, stating that as one of the oldest established project networks (set up in 2004), “we add far fewer new members than new networks because no other network vets aspiring members as thoroughly”. Nonetheless, competition between


project freight forwarder networks has encouraged the development and implementation of value-added services. Learning the specialised skills to safely


coordinate the delivery of project cargoes has


been a longstanding theme covered in HLPFI. A number of networks have introduced bespoke training programmes to foster the development of human capital in the sector. The Project Cargo Network (PCN)


offers its members access to its bespoke eLearning platform with, to date, over 140 people signing up. This has been very well received, especially outside the USA and Europe, said Rachel Humphrey, president and ceo of the network. PCN also offers a staff exchange programme designed to enhance global awareness and encourage cross-cultural perspectives. Meanwhile, the Project Professionals


Group (PPG) has also developed a two-day professional development course, the Project Cargo Forwarding Certificate, and has recently partnered with AntwerpXL to hold these courses in conjunction with project cargo exhibitions in Antwerp from May 2019. Peter Bouwhuis, managing director of


Project Freight Network (PFN), said his network has, to date, provided training to more than 1,150 people in the sector. The Atlas Breakbulk Alliance (ABA) also offers a heavy lifting training programme and is also looking to introduce a tutorial on charter parties.


Insurance solutions Myriad other services are delivered to network members. PFN, for example, offers insurance solutions and loss control management through its affiliated member XELLZ Insurance Group. “We also offer an online project logistics management IT platform which is unique in the industry and has been developed internally,” said Bouwhuis. Albert Pegg, managing director of ABA,


said his network offers its own bill of lading (BoL) and charter party. The former is fully accepted by all banks and is bonded by the Federal Maritime Commission and other bodies throughout the world making it, in his opinion, superior to a typical NVOCC BoL. ABA also has a ‘network payment system’


To be connected globally with like-minded, independent companies gives an advantage when competing with global freight forwarders.


–Wolfgang Karau, WWPC


that allows members to make payments to each other securely without involving banks and their heavy charges. In addition, there is a container exchange system to allow loads to be matched with empty equipment, particularly the more specialised units such as flatracks. ABA also offers free arbitration in the


event of a dispute between members. In the event of one member refusing to pay even after arbitration, the amount can be covered by insurance, though ABA has never had to


www.heavyliftpfi.com


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