People usually associate a robot with a humanoid machine that is able to perform a number of functions, but in reality a robot is any programmable machine capable of performing operations autonomously. This is the case with AGV: these autonomous vehicles were already operating inside the workshops and now they go out on the streets outside the factory. The latest technologies in SLAM navigation recognition (simultaneous localisation and mapping), 4G connection and induction electric battery charging are the brains of this unique project in Europe.
A total of eight robots are on the road at the SEAT Martorell factory. Each convoy can carry 10 tonnes and together they transport up to 2,000 parts per day. All without magnetic guidance or cables.
The AGVs are programmed to read their surroundings. In order to know which route to follow, first they are guided, and by means of an integrated camera, they memorise it. Then all they have to do is repeat it: they leave the base, see a two-storey building on their left, then an intersection, there they turn right, one reference point after another until they reach their destination.
“If at any time it loses that reference, because something crosses its path that blocks the map it has memorised, the robot will stop until the reference point becomes visible again,” explained Victor Palacios, a Logistics Engineer at SEAT and the Head of the Project.
In addition to scanning and interpreting everything around them, they are able to communicate with their surroundings thanks to 4G technology. They can also “talk” to each other. “There are eight of them and they’re not all on the move at the same time. When one of them leaves the loading area, it notifies the next one, which is in the waiting area, to take its place. If two of them cross paths, they also communicate with each other to reduce their speed”, added Victor. They even regulate the traffic in their path. They have the right of way, so when they reach an intersection, they change the traffic lights to amber so they can continue on their way.
Driving safety is further enhanced by the safety aspects of the robot itself. Sensors located at the top and at ground level make it stop if it detects any object in its path. “The robots travel at a speed of 1 metre per second, so they are able to come to a complete halt in front of any object or person within a radius of one and a half metres,” said Victor.
This system makes delivery more efficient from an environmental point of view. They are electric and get charged by induction, without the need for cables. Their battery is fully charged in 15 minutes while they are stopped to load parts onto them; clean energy that allows a reduction of 1.5 tons of CO2 per year.
“In recent years SEAT has been incorporating pioneering innovations in the area of logistics and this is yet another example of our commitment to becoming a benchmark of Industry 4.0. Using AGV enables us to optimise production and logistics processes in an efficient, sustainable and connected way,” said SEAT Vice-president for Production and Logistics Dr. Christian Vollmer.
This move undoubtedly strengthens CLdN’s network to and from the Iberian peninsula even further and improves the service level for its valued customers.
CLdN has organised for two of their weekly services from Leixoes to Rotterdam, to have an extra call in Zeebrugge. From the port of Zeebrugge they will, as from now, offer their clients additional through - shipment services to Esbjerg and Gotenborg. As a result, CLdN now has a reliable, cost-efficient and environmentally friendly shortsea connection from the very south to the most northern parts of Europe. To maximise capacity and minimise their carbon footprint as much as possible, the shipping company has chosen to deploy the latest generation of H5 class vessels (carrying up to 450 freight units + 200 new cars per shipment) to the route.
This connection is particularly beneficial to the environment. Compared to road haulage, shortsea is a far cleaner solution for cargo transport, especially for such long trajectories.
A CLdN spokesman explains: “The developments within our network are following each other rapidly. Despite the difficult and uncertain economic situation, we are gearing up to extend our services by adding new ports and new routes to comply with changing customer demand. We are very pleased to have our multimodal solutions at the ready as a quick response to the fluctuation market circumstances. To us, the additional ro-ro connections to Gothenburg (SE) and Esbjerg (DK) from Leixoes (PT) feel like the last piece of the logistics puzzle. We are now offering a complete shortsea trajectory between north and south for all trailers, containers, high and heavy and project cargo."
Much against the tendency to cancel sailings and shipping routes due to today's challenging economic climate , CLdN has decided to expand its network without relying on the ferry subsidy schemes put in place in various countries. As a dedicated cargo carrier focusing on unaccompanied freight transport and not relying on income from passenger transport or driver accompanied freight transport, their operations are less impacted by the Covid19 measures. They did, however, issue a temporary restriction on accompanied transport (no lorry drivers onboard for the time being) to help keep their crews safe and their lead-times in check.
With high demand for rail from China and the majority of trains terminating in Germany, GEFCO worked closely with rail operators and terminal owners to coordinate the shipment and agree a dedicated block train directly to France.
GEFCO provided a door-to-door solution, including all necessary pre and post-carriage arrangements for road and rail, the loading of the containers at supplier plants in Shanghai and Chengdu, custom procedures and warehousing in France.
The 41 containers arrived at Lille Dourges Container Terminal in Dourges, North of France 19 days after collection on 21 April 2020, following a 10,000km route across seven countries: China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany and finally France.
GEFCO provided contactless procedures at terminals as part of strict safety procedures in light of COVID-19 and, by moving the parts by rail over three-weeks in a sealed solution, ensured there was no risk of the virus being carried.
Rail logistics is an important service in the GEFCO portfolio, providing a cheaper solution to air transport and significant CO² reductions. This particular block train from China to Europe ensured a 4500 ton reduction in CO² emissions compared to an air solution.
Alice Defranoux, Global Rail Manager, GEFCO commented: “Securing the first block train from Wuhan to France marked a significant milestone for GEFCO amid the global challenges of the COVID-19 crisis. In this challenging time, our rail solution is demonstrating its value as a sustainable, cost-effective, time-efficient and reliable proposition.
“We’re pleased to see restrictions begin to lift as countries work towards recovery. I am very proud to be part of the GEFCO team where colleagues continue to show agility and excellence for our customers, working with them to be fully engaged and united to go the extra mile.”
With car plants ceasing activity across Europe, GEFCO has found solutions to store the parts in local warehouses to ensure fast access for clients as soon as production resumes. To aid manufacturers further in restarting their production, GEFCO has shipped over two million masks to ensure the health and safety of the customers’ employees when sites reopen, primarily by air but now also via rail.
On Tuesday evening the SIEM CONFUCIUS with more than 4,800 vehicles for North America left Emden for Veracruz in the Gulf of Mexico. The LNG drive reduces carbon dioxide emissions by up to 25%, nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 30%, soot particles by up to 60% and sulphur oxide emissions by up to 100%.
"We are proud to put the world's first LNG vehicle transporter of this size into service. This is an important part of our decarbonisation strategy," emphasised Thomas Zernechel, Head of Volkswagen Group Logistics. By 2025, in accordance with the environmental mission statement "goTOzero", the company aims to reduce its total net CO2 emissions by 30% and be get CO2-neutral in 2050. All transports - by water, road and rail - must be climate-friendly to achieve this.
"We have to take action now, because ships like the LNG freighter SIEM CONFUCIUS and soon its sister ship SIEM ARISTOTLE will be in service for many years," said Zernechel.
Like her sister ship, which is expected to enter service this year, the technologically ultramodern SIEM CONFUCIUS, which is 200 metres long and 38 metres wide, has 13 car decks and a capacity of 7,500 CEU (Car Equivalent Units), which corresponds to around 4,800 vehicles in the Volkswagen Group model mix from passenger cars to light commercial vehicles.
The ships are powered by 12,600 kW dual-fuel marine engines with direct injection and exhaust gas after treatment from MAN Energy Solutions. In eco-speed mode they travel at a speed of 16.5 knots (30.6 km/h). The two tanks in each ship, each holding 1,800 cubic metres, are sufficient to cover the entire distance with the fuel stowed in Europe. In addition to liquid, deep-frozen natural gas, the car carriers could also be operated with biogas or E-gas from regenerative sources.
Volkswagen Group Logistics organises, coordinates and is responsible for around 7,700 ship departures worldwide every year. Several hundred liners and eleven car freighter charter ships, two of which are now being replaced by the LNG units, sail the world's oceans for the Group every day. They ship 2.8 million new cars a year.
The steel cutting ceremony for UECC’s second LNG Battery Hybrid powered PCTC took place at Jiangnan Shipyard,Shanghai, China on 20th of May 2020. Given the current Covid-19 crises, the official Steel Cutting Ceremony was somewhat subdued. However, UECC’s CEO Glenn Edvardsen, stated “It pleases me tremendously that UECC is able to push ahead with this significant fleet renewal program, despite all the Covid-19 related challenges facing our industry”.
As Mr. Edvardsen has stated before, “the LNG /Battery/Hybrid installation will be a pioneering design and will take UECC beyond the IMO target of 40% reduction in carbon intensity by 2030.” He concluded that “UECC’s parent companies, NYK and Wallenius Lines, have sustainability in their DNA and It is an honour to be able to take UECC to the next level of clean shipping with their support.”
"Overall, we more than achieved our goal of maintaining a constant level of sales revenue in all three divisions Automobile, Contract and Container.“ This was the conclusion of the CEO of BLG, Frank Dreeke, in his report on the 2019 business year to the 140th general shareholders meeting of BREMER LAGERHAUS-GESELLSCHAFT -Aktiengesellschaft von 1877. It was the first virtual general shareholders meeting of BLG Logistics. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting was held without the physical presence of the shareholders.
Automobile was the strongest division in terms of sales, generating sales of €603.7 million ($682.18 million) in 2019. Sales revenue grew significantly compared to the previous year by €50.6 million ($57.18 million) or 9.1%. Furthermore, EBT increased by €15.5 million ($17.52 million) to €19.3 million ($21.81 million). That is an increase of 24.4%. The EBT margin increased to 3.2%.
Sales revenue in the Contract division amounted to €563.9 million ($637.21 million). Compared to the previous year, EBT increased by €178,000 ($201,140) to €7.4 million ($8.36 million). Similarly, the company succeeded in increasing the EBT margin by 8.3% to 1.3%.
Sales revenue in the Container division amounted to €282.3 million ($319 million), corresponding with the 50% share of BLG Logistics in EUROGATE. This represents a decrease of 6.5% (€19.7 million ($22.26 million)). Earnings by the Container division, at €23.7 million ($26.78 million), were below the previous year's level of €37.4 million ($42.26 million).
Overall, the sales growth in the Automobile division more than made up for the slight declines in the Contract and Container divisions.
The company remains committed to strategically important goals such as its sustainability policy and digitalisation drive. In 2019, BLG Logistics already achieved the climate protection goal it had set itself for 2020. At the same time, BLG Logistics also reduced sales-based emissions by 29.6% instead of the planned 20%.
The company aims to be climate neutral by 2030. This involves cutting 30% of absolute CO2 emissions in the company. The measures designed to achieve this goal are energy efficiency improvements, own electricity generation, and the purchase of green electricity.
On July 1, 2020, Ulrike Riedel will join the Board of Management of BLG Logistics as the Labour Relations Director. She introduced herself to the shareholders during the general shareholders meeting.
The CEO Frank Dreeke expects a high impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Currently, a reliable forecast of business development of the BLG Group in 2020 is not possible. But the CEO anticipates that the original expectations will not be met. However, he emphasised that BLG Logistics has a solid financial basis, is robust, and is in a position to be able to weather the storm.
The general shareholders meeting voted by 98.39% for Dr. Claudia Schilling and by 99.29% for Dietmar Strehl to join the Supervisory Board. Dr. Claudia Schilling and Dietmar Strehl succeeded Karoline Linnert and Martin Günthner. The general shareholders meeting represented 86% of the share capital. With a large majority, it discharged the Supervisory Board and the CEO and also agreed with all their proposed resolutions. This includes the utilization of the net profit and payment of a dividend of 40 cents per share.