4 (Dublin-Holyhead)

Issue 7 2020 - FBJ Ireland

Smooth sailing for Stena

Stena Line’s new vessels, Stena Estrid


Stena Edda (Belfast-Liverpool) both had a seamless introduction into their respective routes, says the operator. Feedback from customers to date has been extremely positive in terms of increased freight capacity, level and quality of passenger facilities

and reliability. The enhanced Truckers

Lounge facilities provided by both vessels have been particularly welcomed by the freight industry as has the faster embarkation and disembarkation afforded by the design of the vessels. Given the severe restrictions on non-essential travel currently

Coping with the Covid crisis

Syncreon’s business in Ireland has come through the Covid crisis well, although there is naturally some uncertainty as to the future of the Irish freight market, says commercial director (transport and forwarding), Alan Murnane. During the crisis, the company

focused on cash flow as nobody knew at that time what was really going to happen. At the moment, says Murnane,

“we are doing fine, but going forward depends on whether there is a second wave of Covid and whether certain countries place restrictions or lockdowns again.” Some industries saw a reduction

in volume. Companies moving medical devices into Europe saw a decline where countries prioritised Covid patients over surgery, but that has picked up in the last few months as lockdowns were liſted. Syncreon in Ireland adhered to

Government advice on measures to ensure staff safety. “This is still work in progress as rules change and where possible staff are still working from home,” Murnane adds. He adds: “We saw a swing in

how product was moved and whilst the traditional business to consumer route reduced, business to business (B2B) volume went through the roof. B2B has continued to be busy with some pick-up of traditional routings and deliveries into distribution centres.”

As for the future of the freight

market: “It is hard to say but a lot may depend on Government payment schemes or loan deferrals. If there is a further reduction in available cash within the economy that would surely have a knock-on on purchasing and on what moves,” says Murnane. Syncreon’s facility in Limerick

is the control tower of the business in Ireland, serving some of the logistics provider’s high tech clients’ work in Europe. Syncreon offers mainly full

trailer load services in the Irish market for blue chip, medical and foodstuffs customers. At the Dublin facility, most staff

are IT and finance professionals that service European and in some instances global operations. Dublin also houses transport operations and a 22,000sq ſt warehouse. The company is currently

seeking new sub-tenants for this site, which offers a height of 8 metres, three loading docks and two ground level doors, racking and ground storage, a gated high security compound, a full alarm and access control system and TAPA FSR certification. The Cork site comprises an

office with a transport team and also some key clients. Between Dublin and Cork, Syncreon now runs a fleet of 150 trailers and 110 trucks, following upgrades in the past three years.

in place in the UK and Ireland, it is slightly disappointing – but inevitable - that more passengers haven’t been able to experience the enhanced guest facilities on the new vessels but for those that have used them to date, it’s quite clear that the new vessels have helped to deliver a ‘step change’ in the level of comfort, space and facilities on board. Stena Line is the largest ferry

operator on the Irish Sea, with routes including combined passenger and freight services from Belfast to Cairnryan and Liverpool, Dublin to Holyhead,

and Rosslare to Fishguard routes as well as a freight-only route from Dublin to Heysham. It also offers a direct service from Rosslare to Cherbourg with three return crossings a week. Stena Line says it remains

committed to supporting the freight industry, as it has done throughout the Coronavirus pandemic to date, helping to keep vital supply lines open for the delivery of key medical and food supplies. Despite the ravages of the pandemic on business across the UK and Ireland, Stena Line says it is continuing with its plan to


introduce the third new vessel in the current series of new tonnage on the Irish Sea, Stena Embla in early 2021. Stena Embla will be deployed alongside Stena Edda providing a choice of 26 weekly crossings on the increasingly popular Belfast-Liverpool service. Despite the unprecedented

impact of the pandemic on its volumes and its customers’ business, Stena Line remains confident that as the situation improves into 2021, as the largest operator on the Irish Sea, it will benefit from the predicted rise in business and travel volumes.

Stena Line is chartering the ro

ro vessel Panorama to help boost freight capacity on its Belfast to Liverpool and Belfast to Heysham routes. During the summer, it has seen an increase in freight demand and anticipates that extra capacity will be required for the traditionally busy autumn period as well as the expected increase in pre-Brexit trade activity. Stena Line trade director (Irish

Sea), Paul Grant, said: “Adding a seventh ship to our Belfast operations will help us increase frequency, capacity and give us greater operational flexibility. “

The first stage of the port of Rosslare’s ambitious expansion plan is under way with owner Irish Rail’s scheme to build a new access gate for trucks.

This is in line with the

requirements for post-Brexit trade as well as future expansion at the port in the south-east of the country. It will also facilitate the Europort Business Park that Dutch-owned project freight management company Xellz is developing, said the latter’s president and chief executive Peter Bouwhuis. In the meantime, the port’s

master plan has been approved by Wexford County Council, as part of a plan to develop Rosslare as a major base for offshore work. Bouwhuis explains: “To make

Rosslare the centre of the Irish and Celtic Sea offshore wind development, it is important that the port and the Business Park are one Freezone area. The approval for that is 90% done and we are basically waiting for the final rubber stamp to be given, which we hope will be before the end of the year.” While the EU takes a cautious granting

stance over freezone

status in member states, it will be important for Ireland and Rosslare area in particular, “as this will benefit the offshore wind industry in operating outside the customs zone whether in Ireland or the UK. It means that the companies can install, operate and maintain the offshore wind farms much more

flexibly and only pay the tax and duties when the material and equipment is being installed or used.” It will of course require a very

meticulous checking system to keep track of the whereabouts of all freight. Bouwhuis says that Xellz is developing a state of the art system that will monitor the entire port and business park area as well as the offshore wind farms themselves. Freight will be tracked

Excellence will be a shared facility, making it the centre of such activity in Ireland, complete with a helicopter port for crew change and rapid response. Naturally, Covid-19 has disrupted

plans, as it has every other activity in Ireland, “but we also see that governments are taking the situation in hand as this is one of the main industries that will help with the recovery of their economy,” Bouwhuis explains. “There is a lot

harder to have meetings and to discuss certain aspects when the team should be together and work out many details. Online meetings are not new to Xellz as we have been doing this for many years but there are certain planning session meetings that cannot easily be done online and for that we need to have the team in one room and work a few days almost non-stop. This is where the real work is being done and decisions are taken quickly. Xellz is a project logistics management and consultancy company and we need to come up with many solutions for capital intensive projects.” The offshore development in

to an accuracy of 5cm whether inside buildings or outside storage. “It will become one of the most technological freezones ever developed,” he predicts. He adds that the Freezone is particularly of interest for operations and maintenance (O&M) where many spare parts and equipment have to be kept until they are needed. In a freezone these do not need to be customs cleared and will remain that way until they are used, a big saving for companies because there is more flexibility and no up-front payment of tax or duties. The Europort O&M Centre of

of money invested in this industry because it will generate a new economy and lots of jobs. For the Rosslare area it is estimated that some 2,500 jobs will be added to the region which will boost the rest of the regional economy as well.” The Port of Rosslare itself


investing close to €30 million while Xellz is looking at investing over €50 million in the Europort Business Park and with further plans which could bring this to €75 million. Covid has slowed down some of

the preliminary work, “but overall we will be catching up on that later this year,” Bouwhuis adds. “It’s

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Rosslare will not have any effect on normal operations in the port, given the latest changes Xellz and Irish Rail have made to the Master Plan he continues. “We have ensured that all offshore wind related transports are routed north of the normal truck routes which means that the two will operate separately from each other in the port. This is important as any transport of blades of turbines will disrupt normal traffic if this were shared on one road and would mean that ferries would be constantly be delayed - which is not what we and the port want to do.” Xellz is already looking at other parts in Ireland to develop further facilities and operations for the renewable energy industry. In most cases these operations are managed by its sister company, 24shore SBS. Plans are at a very early stage of development but more will be revealed next year.

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