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Creating a 360-degree ‘portcentric’ supply chain

Creating a 360-degree ‘portcentric’ supply chain

Handling deepsea and shortsea services, the Port of Tilbury has long been one of the UK’s major container ports in volume terms. But that is only half the story. Tilbury, which is owned by Forth Ports, also handles ro-ro, new vehicles, paper and forest products, grain, cars, recyclables, waste, bulks and general cargo.

And while there have been inevitable headlines about the container services which shifted to neighbouring London Gateway, Tilbury has been busy with a series of developments and announcements of its own.

A long-term partnership with recycling company SITA UK is the latest. Forth Ports has sold Nordic Recycling to SITA, a subsidiary of Suez Environnement, in an agreement that will see the creation of a major recycling and resource management hub at the port. SITA UK will invest in a new alternative fuels waste material processing facility at Tilbury – this will process solid recovered fuel and refuse-derived fuel and will run alongside the materials recovery facility at which Nordic processes 100,000 tonnes of  materials a year. This, and Nordic’s recycling collection business, are now part of SITA UK’s operations.

As Perry Glading, coo of Forth Ports, said recently, Tilbury sits in the middle of a 360-degree “portcentric” network, and far too many people get hung up on the concept that “portcentric” only applies to import containers.

“We believe it is about how you use the port as a centre for both imports and exports,” he said. “Here at Tilbury we are using the concept to support major construction projects, handle recyclable products, and help with the processing and export of waste for energy. Portcentric can be applied to a much broader range of cargoes and supply chains than is generally implied.”

In fact, Tilbury has seen very significant growth in volumes in its non-containerised cargo, which makes up roughly half of its throughput. Tilbury handles about 50% of all the deepsea milling wheat imported into the UK and is also the country’s leading port for forest products.

Container-wise, Tilbury stepped out in front by being the first British port to gain a Motorways of the Sea (MoS) grant from the EC’s TEN-T agency.

Tilbury is partnering with Spain’s port of Bilbao in the IBUK Intermodal Corridor project, which is supported with a EUR7.3m ($9.82m) MoS grant. The project aims to reduce congestion between the Iberian Peninsula and the UK by shifting cargo away from trucks driving through western and southern Europe, primarily to rail and shortsea shipping.

In May, Tilbury held a turf-cutting ceremony to mark the start of construction of its 70-acre London Distribution Park, which is a joint venture with Roxhill Developments. The site is earmarked for more than 940,000 sq ft of distribution facilities, including warehouses from 50,000 sq ft upwards and 17 acres of haulage facilities.

The distribution park is immediately outside the port, where GBP95m ($162m) has been invested in Tilbury’s London Container Terminal.

But back to waste. The new processing facilities are expected to create a good number of new jobs and also enable the South East to divert a significant amount of its waste material from landfill, to be put to good use instead, said SITA UK ceo David Palmer-Jones.
The sale of Nordic Recycling will allow Tilbury to focus on its key port activities, said Forth Ports chief executive Charles Hammond. “And SITA UK’s expansion plans at the port play to our key strengths in the handling and distribution of general cargo and containers. Through our excellent portcentric networks and logistics experience, we will play a significant part in the success of this partnership.”

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