CDS, not Brexit, is forwarders’ biggest challenge


The word on every Scottish BIFA member’s lips is CDS, not Brexit, says Len Hobbs, regional consultant for Scotland and the borders.

“CDS is the big thing

at the moment, while Brexit is too much of an unknown,” he explains. There are still unknowns

about HMRC’s new CDS customs computer system too. However, he believes that the Customs team “is getting there” although with such a major change, it will take time for freight forwarders to get their heads around everything. BIFA’s members

will have to educate their own customers about what will be required of them under the new regime. The pain is necessary, though.

Hobbs is adamant “that Chief cannot carry on” and the new CDS system will offer hugely enhanced capabilities, as well as being more flexible. There have been plenty

of other issues to exercise the minds of

members, including DFDS’s decision to axe the Zeebrugge- Rosyth freight ferry following the fire that put the vessel out of

Added value services mean a bigger cake for Dundee

There’s a lot more to running a successful port business these days than just loading and unloading ships. The port of Dundee is involved in a whole range

of different activities

which, while they mostly involve seaborne cargo, go well beyond simple cargo handling. As Dundee port manager

David Webster explains, even a relatively simple cargo like fertilizer can involve bagging in port at the very least. But fertilizer comes in different nutrient levels so it must all be stored in different bays. Farmers turn up at the port with their tractors and trailers and transport it direct to the farm. Until recently, all fertilizer used

in Scotland was the solid variety, but Omex has recently opened a £3 million liquid fertilizer plant in the port that is, essentially, a mini factory. Liquid fertilizer has to be blended with liquid sulphur and water, in varying proportions, before it can be used, so the port stores the materials in different tanks. When the truck arrives, the requisite blend is made up by the plant and piped into the vehicle – in effect a fertilizer filling-station. For barley, sampling for level of

germination and water content is carried out. The grain is then dried on site and put into flat stores from where it is fed by truck to local

Construction is another major

sector for Dundee, he continues. The timber import terminal in Dundee is now owned by Södra; material comes in by ship and is treated and processed, while all the necessary paperwork completed. Dundee also carries out the paperwork for timber arriving in the nearby port of Methil, also part of the Forth Ports Group. Cement too requires careful

handling. Dundee’s state-of-the- art terminal, opened about two years ago, blows the dry cement

It means turning an area of the

port into, effectively, a production line for the turbines, taking in imported components, sorting them, assembling the unit and shipping them out again to the offshore field. Webster adds: “In fact, most

ports in England are not well set up for this type of operation. You need 140,000sq m of land and a lot of quayside, and UK port capacity is not great relative to the amount of work that’s coming up. The nearest alternatives are in Denmark.”

users. Grain activity peaks during the

summer harvest period when the port hires in extra temporary labour and works round the clock. Other big agri traffics for

Dundee include Quaker oats and oilseed rape, says Webster.

BIFA’s Scottish

Issue 5 2018 - Freight Business Journal

action. While there have been press reports that an alternative service might be revived, most members are however resigned to its loss, says Hobbs. “In fact, while there may have been a few major companies who put business on it, very few of our members said they used it.” The alternatives via Teesport or Grangemouth will probably more than adequately soak up the Rosyth traffic, he believes. It is possible that Brexit will

put extra pressure on services through Dover and that in turn might revive interest in direct ferry links to the North, but that remains to be seen. Prestwick Airport is another

powder off the ship direct into the sheds. That way, the cargo is kept completely dry, and it completely eliminates the dust that used to be associated with this traffic. But it is offshore wind that perhaps requires

the most

sophistication and involvement by the port. Webster explains: “Dundee is one of only two ports in Scotland that is able to carry out marshalling of turbine components, because of the amount of land and quayside required, together with proximity to the offshore windfarm sites.”

symbolic totem of the Scottish freight industry, but again it has to be questioned how many forwarders now actually use it, given the availability of bellyhold capacity to alternative gateways north and south of the Border. Prestwick used to be the freighter operator’s

Scottish airport of

choice when IBM, Compaq and others moves large quantities of freight in and out of Scotland but those days are largely over. Cargolux and Air France KLM maintain freighter flights, but these days the majority of freight is trucked to and from the south to Manchester, Heathrow or East Midlands. Outwith the freight business, has

Prestwick also struggled

following the defection of low- cost passenger carrier Ryanair to other airports. That

said, says Hobbs: “Prestwick is a great airport, and


it remained open when the Beast from the East shut all the others.” Perhaps Prestwick’s salvation

lies beyond Earth. It has applied for a licence to become a Spaceport - in which case it might be easier to reach the Moon from there than London Heathrow. Meanwhile, Edinburgh airport has been pulling in long-haul bellyhold carriers including Emirates and Tianjin Airlines, although Qatar has dropped out. Scotland is quite well served

for container liner services, albeit feeder services via other Continental of UK hubs to and from Grangemouth or Greenock. Hobbs says: “The investment that Forth Ports is putting into Grangemouth, and also that Peel Ports is putting into Liverpool (the hub port that Greenock feeds in and out of) is encouraging, as is the new rail link from Liverpool to Mossend.”

One other issue that is

concerning BIFA members involved in the oil and gas business are the changes due to come into force on 31 July to the customs regime under the Union Customs Code for the duty suspension regime for goods imported into the UK for use in the offshore oil and gas industry. If HMRC cannot find a suitable tweak, it could mean the UK oil and gas industry being saddled with a £145 million unreclaimable duty bill, just at the point where it was getting back on its feet again aſter the downturn of the past few years. In theory, Brexit would allow

the UK to reformulate the rules aſter the UK leaves the EU, but how long will it be before the UK is in a position to start drawing up new legislation, given the massive task of transposing EU into UK law, Hobbs asks.

Grangemouth port set to become Scotland’s Logistics Central

Forth Ports is nearing completion of its third new major warehouse development in Grangemouth in the past few years as the east coast location emerges as the logistics location of choice for the Scottish central belt. Due to open at the end

of October, the £4 million, 100,000sq ſt building will be available for a range of different commodities including food, chemicals or building materials and will further increase Grangemouth’s port centric logistics offering. It will allow companies to devan or stuff containers in the port area, and use cheaper and more flexible curtainsided truck capacity to make collections and deliveries in the central belt, cutting out empty miles by specialist container transport. It’s also tapping into an

increasing demand for warehouse space in the locality, says port manager, Derek Knox. “All our current warehousing is full,” he explains. “We have no spare space.” Many companies are looking for accommodation in the Falkirk and Grangemouth areas, he points out. While there is some space available to the

south of Glasgow, much of what is available isn’t to the highest standards, he argues. Knox’s hunch is that Brexit will

also increase demand for storage in the short term as companies seek to stockpile goods in case supply chains are disrupted, putting further pressure on available warehousing in Scotland. Grangemouth,


sometimes seen as an ‘east coast’ Scottish port is in fact equidistant between Edinburgh and Glasgow. “Oſten, you can get to central Glasgow from here quicker than you can from Greenock” (the traditional port for Glasgow, to the west of the city). Going north towards Aberdeen is easier than coming from the south and having to fight the congestion in and around Glasgow. Also, Knox says, some firms have even started to serve the north-east of England from a base in Grangemouth, as road links to the south are relatively free-flowing. The new centre will be a multi-

user site. “It’s not contract-backed, but we are pretty confident that we will fill it very quickly,” Knox adds. So much so, that

he is already having thoughts about where the next phase of Grangemouth’s warehouse development could take place. “Within the next 3-5 years, I would hope to see another one, if not two, which would double our existing warehouse capacity.” Grangemouth port has quite

a sizeable landbank that would fulfil its warehousing needs into the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, plenty of work

is going on on the ground and behind the scenes to ensure that Grangemouth can maintain its container capacity. In early June, Grangemouth

implemented the first phase of a new IPOS 5 terminal operating system

developed implemented in by TCS,

Forth Ports’ soſtware supplier since 2003. It will also later be


and, ultimately, the rest of the Forth Ports group. A second phase for Grangemouth will be implemented later this year which will automate the landside operation and integrate


with the port’s vehicle booking system. The container terminal itself

was in the middle of a £2 million

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