YUNLIN BLOG – Transport logistics
08 Oct 2020 – Solving the puzzle of Yunlin’s transport logistics
Being Jumbo’s Manager Commerce Shipping, Laurens Govers was heavily involved in the project execution of the Yunlin offshore wind farm. In this third blog, he highlights the various aspects that Jumbo coordinated in order to carry out its transport logistics plan with success.
The Yunlin Blog has already covered the engineering scope of Yunlin transport. How would you describe the logistics behind this process?
It is like a very large puzzle – and it was our job to get all the right pieces in the right place, at the right time. Matching the cargo readiness dates with the requirement on-site dates was a key piece.
When we started transport from Nordenham [the production location in Germany] in November, the first monopiles were required on site in April. We had a lot of flexibility and a large transport window. But as time goes on, because of the logistics of steel production, that window of transport gets smaller and smaller.
And what about the logistics of the saddles?
This was another important point. We designed the saddles to be project-specific; we tried to keep the cost as low as possible for the project by optimising the design for HLVs and Deck Carriers as much as possible. Therefore, because some saddles were en route to Taiwan, or some were coming back, compiling the batches of monopiles meant planning saddle logistics too. As having a transport solution available, but not the required saddles means you do not have the right solution at hand. Again, it’s one big puzzle.
Yunlin is Jumbo’s biggest job to date. Why and when did you decide to subcontract some of the transport scope to competitor carriers?
It's quite a simple principle: if we would only work on the Yunlin contract, then we would be sold out for almost eight months for all our other clients who count on us for handling their super heavies in their key projects. Neptune, Duqm refinery, Bapco and Thaioil, for example. Therefore, we had to find the right balance between carrying out the Yunlin contract and continuing our regular services to other clients.
With that in mind, we started contacting competing deck carriers during the budgeting phase of Yunlin. Having the responsibility of chartering vessels adds to the logistics. We had to select the right vessel for the given circumstances, addressing issues about acceleration forces, deck strength and service speed. And questions like: Is the vessel capable of side loading? Is the berth suitable for side offloading? Do the schedules match?
2019 & 2020 has been a period of intense cooperation for Jumbo. Do you still think of your competitors as competitors? Or do you now call them your business partners?
If a contract is in the marketplace, then we are competitors. But if someone has won that contract, and it is off the market, then we are colleagues. This cooperation can be very valuable – it is the strategic alliance that the marketplace demands. You see that carriers are more open and looking for ways to cooperate with other carriers. This is also fuelled by our customers seeking more of a ‘one-stop-shop’ logistical service provider. The customer prefers to talk to the party that controls the assets. In order to meet this requirement, Jumbo has formed successful alliances in the past to provide ‘best for project’ proposals to their customers.
How much impact did COVID-19 have?
In March, we had a nice planned schedule… and then the lockdown came. We were not allowed to do crew changes, not able to send out port captains, there was delayed fabrication because of closed factories. The pandemic was unprecedented; nobody had any experience. We made sure that we had open and supportive conversations with our partners to find mutual solutions. And despite a very tumultuous time very happy to say we managed to keep all the eggs in the basket and provide our customers with the required flexibility on sailing dates fitting our mutual interests. It’s times like these that strengthens your relationships.
How do you see Jumbo moving forward after Yunlin is completed?
We are now seeing other EPIC companies inviting us to bid on their wind farm foundation installation projects. This is because not every carrier is willing to handle the engineering side of a project, whereas we do everything in-house. Our capability in mastering a project like Yunlin has definitely not gone unnoticed. Combining project management, engineering and QHSE skills – this strengthens our ambition to become the carrier of choice.
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