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No limits for breakbulk in Rotterdam

Traditionally, the port of Rotterdam has been strong in breakbulk. In 2019 6.6 million tonnes were shipped via Rotterdam, and breakbulk is still one of the important pillars for the seaport. Moreover, it is a growth market, as Twan Romeijn, Business Manager Breakbulk and Offshore Industry at Port of Rotterdam, knows. 'From and to the hinterland, steel, forest products, non-ferrous metals and HLPC - Heavy Lift and Project Cargo - are increasingly finding their way to Rotterdam,' he sees. One of those success stories is that of the 150-tonne crystallizer that recently left the seaport on its way to the Middle East. 'A unique project that proves that there are no limits in Rotterdam,' says Romeijn.

Heavy Lift Centre

The crystallizer was assembled on behalf of GBT from the German town of Marl at Broekman Logistics' Heavy Lift Centre on the Heijplaat in Rotterdam. The full-service logistics organisation specialises in ocean, road, rail, air, and multimodal transport and is particularly strong in processing and storing complex and heavy products and transporting them through smart solutions.

'Our Heavy Lift Centre was an absolute usp in this project', says Joep Hoogsteden, Sales Representative at Broekman Logistics. Broekman Logistics has four indoor halls in Rotterdam, with a floor space ranging up to 16,000 m2, a maximum passage of 25 metres and heights of up to 17 metres. Hoogsteden: 'Here we can lift up to 700 tonnes. Furthermore, the Heavy Lift Centre is directly connected to a quay that is specifically designed for offshore and heavy lift cargo. The spacious basins of this port ensure that even the largest ships can enter and depart here 24 hours a day. Ideal for transporting complex and heavy cargo to and from locations all over the world.'

Crystallizer at Broekman Logistics Port of Rotterdam

‘Strategic consideration’

'The size and location of the Heavy Lift Centre were absolutely key to our choice', Avdi Alicki, responsible for Purchasing at the GBT-Group, agrees. After an extensive market analysis, the GBT-Group examined all available alternatives. The choice for Broekman and Rotterdam was based on strategic considerations, Alicki knows: 'An excellent port connection, sufficient space, availability of the necessary crane capacity with corresponding crane heights, the agreement to be able to carry out all the work - from steel construction, blasting and painting to rubber coating and vulcanization - in the hall, as well as the local proximity of the GBT yard were the main drivers for us'.

A total of twelve components for the crystallizer were delivered via barge and road transport. The assembly took three months, after which the colossus was transported by Mammoet to the adjacent quay using a 14 axle Schreurle K25 self-propelled conventional trailer. There it was lifted onto a vessel of shipping company SAL Heavy Lift to continue its journey to the end customer in Jordan.

'The project was complex and technically demanding but was carried out according to plan. This is partly thanks to Broekman's attitude and service; fast, flexible and uncomplicated,' says Avdi Alicki.

Excellent cluster

According to Romeijn, the extensive network of supply chain players offers absolute added value. 'Characteristic for the breakbulk segment is the large number of supply chain players needed to complete a project. Rotterdam has an excellent cluster, in which skills and knowledge are distinctive. That know-how and craftsmanship are crucial; after all, it often involves high-quality products,' explains the Business Manager.

In addition, the hinterland connections, by road as well as by inland shipping and rail, are optimal and Port of Rotterdam continuously invests in new technologies, such as digitalisation to make the supply chain more transparent and efficient. Or in solutions that make the chain more sustainable. 'Our ambition is to become the largest and most important breakbulk port in Europe,' says Twan Romeijn. 'We distinguish ourselves from other seaports with our no-nonsense mentality. A deal really is a deal in Rotterdam, and we are prepared to always think that one step further. ‘Bigger Better Breakbulk’ is what we call it.'

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