Rhenus Project Logistics – Germany

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Interview with

Mr. Moritz Becker and Mr. Colin D’Abreo
Co-VP Directors

Moritz Becker and Colin D’Abreo portraits

For starters, what can you tell us about the history, origin and ownership of Rhenus?

The Rhenus Group is a leading global logistics solutions provider based in Germany with a history of more than 100 years. With roots in the inland shipping logistics sector, today our portfolio comprises a wide range of services: from warehousing and automotive logistics to truck and rail transport, inland waterway and short-sea shipping, port and terminal operation, last-mile and home delivery, office systems and information logistics, air and ocean freight services as well as specialized offerings, such as project and offshore logistics. 

Within our project logistics activities, Rhenus has a long history going back to our acquisition of the project specialist KOG Worldwide in 2015 and its integration into the Rhenus family, which was completed with the company’s renaming as Rhenus Project Logistics in 2018. Today, with over 40 years of project experience, the strength of Rhenus Project Logistics lies in turnkey solutions for industrial projects, specialized cargo handling services, multimodal transports, chartering, offshore logistics and transport engineering.

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Rhenus is a global player in logistics.  Worldwide, where would you say that you have a, shall we say, stronger market penetration?

In general, the Rhenus Group has a strong footprint in Europe due to its history. This is where our service portfolio is the most diverse, with many subsidiaries specializing in European market offerings and solutions. 

However, Rhenus has long since branched out and established locations in the APAC region and the Americas more than 20 years ago. Certainly, these regions still continue to be developed. Within the APAC region, these developments concentrate on growth across the APAC region, with a special focus on Greater China and India. Specifically, Rhenus aims to develop intra-Asia trade lanes, connecting Asia across the Pacific and to the LATAM region, while also continuing to develop cross-border trucking activities in South-East Asia.

For the Americas, the recent Rhenus acquisition of blu Logistics in 2023 has marked a push for Rhenus to strengthen our presence in South America and complete our customer offerings through a local partner. This is a strategic approach that Rhenus focuses on – working with local partners and market experts while integrating them into the worldwide Rhenus network. This strengthens the global, holistic solutions we can offer our customers at each location.

The recent acquisition enhances the company’s Asia-LATAM trade route and expands air and ocean trade lanes from LATAM to Europe and the USA. While improving intra-Americas services, such as cross-border transport between Canada/USA and Mexico, Rhenus fosters nearshoring trends and strengthens continental links. In Canada, the focus on sustainability and green energy boosts offshore logistics, while project logistics are growing across the Americas.

For Project Logistics especially, Canada is a market where the expertise of working for European offshore projects is currently being implemented to support the offshore sector, which includes both oil and gas as well as renewables such as wind energy. A similar transfer of expertise and market development is being achieved in Taiwan.

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Could you provide us with a few examples of cargoes you have handled recently specifically of project nature and that you are particularly proud of?

In Germany, we recently completed a project for a German offshore wind farm operator where we provided a walk-to-work vessel for the maintenance and repair staff. We organized the crew transports and chartering of the vessel. Within this project, the offshore maintenance for the wind turbines was handled by a Rhenus sister company, XERVON. The cooperation between XERVON and Rhenus Project Logistics as well as the usage of the Rhenus Cuxport terminal as a base port for the operation showcased the value of good cooperation between the companies and the ability to provide our customer with an all-encompassing solution without having to handle three different providers and contacts. 

Another example for successful project logistics execution is the SuedOstLink power line, which will transport electricity from the North to the South of Germany over a length of 780 and 540 kilometres via underground cables; specifically from the grid connection points at Klein Rogahn near Schwerin in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Wolmirstedt in Saxony-Anhalt to a site near Landshut in Bavaria. Rhenus Project Logistics organized the transport of the 280 cable drums, each weighing 85 tonnes, from France to Germany using several transport modes. The challenges of the project included the transport planning, including preparations of the infrastructure for the planned route, chartering, and organizing the availability of the special equipment. Rhenus was able to complete the project in the desired time frame and was able to use the Rhenus Group’s network and diverse portfolio, including own port terminals and barges, to provide an efficient and suitable solution. 

Rhenus Project Logistics Canada recently secured a multi-year contract to support the Newfoundland Aquaculture industry. For this, a dedicated vessel from Norway will be imported and reflagged in order to be able to operate within Canadian waters. Once the process is completed, the vessel will spend its time sailing between mainland Canada and the fish farms in Placentia Bay NL on a continuous loop. This new business for Rhenus Project Logistics Canada is a result of the expansion of Rhenus Offshore Logistics (a specialist subsidiary within Rhenus Project Logistics) to the North American market. Rhenus Project Logistics Canada and Rhenus Offshore Logistics are working hand in hand to further develop this vertical in North America.

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I once visited your terminal in Rotterdam. All the facilities were available, and it was most impressive. Can you give our viewers an overview of your “owned facilities” that Rhenus is running?

The Rhenus Group operates at 1,320 business sites in more than 70 countries. Highlights of such facilities (across all Rhenus divisions) are, for example, our warehouse locations in Tilburg, Wesel and Nuneaton, which rank among the most sustainable industrial facilities within Europe and have been built with PV roofs, rainwater usage systems, EV charging stations and other sustainable means in order to make them not only energy-efficient and CO2-optimised, but also keeping in mind the well-being of our employees. In other areas, such as port logistics, Rhenus has invested in sustainable infrastructure such as electric cranes and an EV truck fleet for short-distance trips at port terminals such as Duisburg. 

We also actively test alternative drive systems within the shipping sector, such as three inland waterway barges that are currently being built and will be powered by electric batteries as well as hydrogen fuel cells – or a coaster vessel that was optimized for methanol fuel usage. 

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Recently, Rhenus has been on a buying spree to expand its market share. Are you still on the look-out? And is, for example, Scandinavia (an area where Rhenus has not been too active) a potential market for you?  Any others in the pipeline?

Over the past years, Rhenus has seen tremendous growth, building on our strategy and the strong dedication of our own people. Our goal to become a major global solutions provider is a long-term view and our recent investments were sound and part of this strategy. For 2024, we will focus on building a stronger network in order to address our customers’ needs on a global scale. We actively monitor the markets and will take a look at what will best serve to complement our existing network as well as our customers’ needs. 

But nothing concrete to communicate as of yet.

What makes Rhenus a strong contender and a go to company for project and related cargoes, in your own words?

As part of the Rhenus Group, our global network and the combination of logistics services and own assets is what clearly sets Rhenus Project Logistics apart from other market players. By working with Rhenus, customers can obtain a versatile portfolio of logistics solutions under one roof – or at a one-stop shop, so to speak. This includes various modes of transport as well as warehousing, value-added services, customs expertise, specialized equipment and niche focus areas and much more. Thanks to our global presence, we are able to provide our customers in most regions of the world with a uniform standard and ensure service quality. For Rhenus Project Logistics especially, this portfolio of services is complemented by our in-house engineering team, which supports our projects with regard to technical challenges and transport planning.

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How is it best for our readers to get in touch with you?

Please get in touch with us through our website: https://www.rhenus.group/contact/ and find more information on Rhenus Project Logistics: https://www.rhenus.group/transport/project-logistics/