Tanks for the Memories

Tanks for the Memories

While technologies have improved and developed across the supply chain for oversized chemical tanks, pressure vessels and industrial cylinders, for breakbulk professionals handling their movements, compliance and cooperation remain keys.

“Compliance is what we focus our attention on,” said Andrew Zhang, head of logistics procurement, BASF China, during a panel session at Breakbulk China in Shanghai. As the industry develops a range of custom-made tanks with increasing complexities, Zhang’s company chooses suppliers based on their qualifications, their logistics plan, and their ability to control costs and risks.

“As a logistics service provider, a first customer inquiry may be to calculate costs,” said Bi Rong, manager, Tianjin branch, China Great Logistics, a Chinese 3PL. “They may need to consider all these factors at once – transport, logistics, loading and unloading, and calculate the ability to handle the equipment – beforehand to lower cost and risk.”

Rong said it’s important to choose a logistics service provider in line with a shipper’s enterprise development strategy.

“It goes hand-in-hand with fine production and fine development,” said Sean Zhang, purchasing and supply chain manager, Salvay Asia Pacific, a multi-specialty chemical company. He acknowledged that while container logistics service scale and capacity have changed dramatically in China over the past 10 years, they still lag western countries.

“We’re not only looking for transportation, we want logistics services that comply with our smart development strategy,” he said. “We employ new technologies, data flows, procedure optimization, as well as environmental protection.” In 2011, Salvay initiated a sustainable development program that has seen membership rise from six to 10 companies.

With large, highly complex projects requiring heavy-lift, BASF China’s Zhang acknowledged that often no single company is equipped with the resources to undertake an entire project. Therefore, choosing a logistics partner requires a reliance on subcontractors, as well as port selection, choices of transport, whether type of vessel and carrier, inland land or water options, equipment providers, route planning and permitting.

Photo: Albert Wang of Bewellcn Shanghai Industrial answers a question while Breakbulk China panelists listen.