At the recent Cool Logistics event, held in Rotterdam, Joris Tenhagen, of Seacon Logistics, stated that not only is re-using containers very important nowadays to remain profitable, but also connectivity, “as is the case in the fruit and vegetable cluster, which combines all the different activities together. This makes you stronger and allows for higher profits across the supply chain.”

He explains that Seacon Logistics has the IT, knowledge and a strong presence in a network of deep sea ports. Intermodal logistics represents 80% of its activities. “For us, it’s very important to invest in connecting the network, in innovation and collaboration with universities. You should also share this intelligence with the supply chain.”

In terms of market developments, Joris affirms that the West is still very strong, although most of the growth will be in the East. He also points to the importance of focusing on the hinterland. “If you can find a location where you can combine imports with a good local production, it becomes easier to re-use containers, as long as you have good connections.”

In Venlo’s case, where Seacon is based, its position as cluster is also relevant due to its proximity to retailers, whose demand for high quality produce is constantly growing. “You basically need good and frequent connections by rail and road,” says Joris.

“You often hear that intermodal is unreliable, that it takes a lot of time, but our services are very competitive. We made, for instance, comparisons between intermodal and truck, and by using depots and tracking technology the operation can be just as efficient. It also allows for less congestion and high reliability,” concludes Joris Tenhagen.

For his part, Jan Koolen, of UNIT 45, a company devoted to the production of diesel-electric reefer tanks and of the introduction of an 800 litre unit, explains that there is currently a great move towards the inland in China due to high costs by the sea, which are up to 7 times higher.

“A lot of people want to improve their productivity by moving to the inland, so they realised they had to invest in rail applications,” affirms Jan.

He states that “to make this possible, it is essential to have a desk tracking system, which means that you are able to communicate from your desk to the unit. You can see exactly how many litres of diesel are left, do geofencing, change the setpoint remotely, and much more. Having that kind of application is absolutely vital.”