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ANALYSIS | SHIPPERS & FORWARDERS


them down to one number and put that in the system. By meeting certain supplier qualifications, it is understood that we are all on the same level. And that is not true. “Some of our competitors are much more experienced in


certain parts of the world or with certain types of cargo than we are – and the other way around – we all have different strengths. Tis system ends up with prices going down and margins are under pressure for forwarders.”


Going direct Stehle said the trend for shippers to go direct to the carriers and equipment companies started in North America and has since spread into Europe and Asia. For deugro, the answer has been to restructure the company and acquire assets itself. “We realised we have to change as a company or face difficult times going forward. Tat is why the group acquired our own ships under d.ship Carriers, and set up d.haulage, which owns and operates 250 heavy haul axle lines and other equipment based all over the world,” he explained. “Te strategy for our haulage division is not to compete


with large players in traditional geographical markets, but to go to remote areas where there is no equipment or only sub- standard equipment is available. Tis is the future,” Stehle argued. “We listened to the clients and this is what they want. Te market is changing and project forwarders have to come up with creative solutions that offer more value to clients. We still offer a one-stop shop – now with assets. We do whatever it takes to stay attractive as a valued service partner to clients.” Juan Madsen, chief executive, Coordinadora Internacional de Cargas, agreed. “One trend I have noted is that some large


12 | HLPFI10


project forwarders are starting to own their own equipment. For me this is a natural evolution of things. Some large forwarders own their own heavy haulage equipment and some are even arranging a closer collaboration with shipowners through long-term chartering agreements, or even some sort of joint ventures.” Wolfgang Karau of the Worldwide Project Consortium


(WWPC) and Cargo Equipment Experts (CEE) is also of the opinion that forwarders need to acquire assets and get their own equipment in order to compete for the business. “Or at least partner – or merge – with an equipment company,” he said. “Otherwise both shippers/manufacturers and equipment suppliers may hire their own forwarding people and the forwarding company would get squeezed out.” Others believe the additional services that forwarders offer


are enough to keep them in business, even if the contractual arrangements are changing.


Problem solving Forwarders have increasingly needed to demonstrate how they can add value if they want to keep and win business, according to Tomas Bek, global director, oil, gas and industrial projects at Blue Water Shipping (BWS). “If the cargo owners are going direct to the shipping line or the haulier, one of the ways we can ensure that we will keep their business is to show how working with us will be a better option overall,” he explains. “We have a dialogue about what we are adding – such as engineering, supercargoes supervision, robust IT systems and dedicated project management teams – and what those specialised services are


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