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Editor in chief: Angelo Scorza
02/09/19 12:09

Chemical Express to pivot on sustainable intermodalism

The Naples-based logistics operator dealing with transport of chemicals since 40 years is expanding business and geographical boundaries, as well as increasing its fleet and staff

Chemical Express Srl closed financial year 2018 with a 33,500,000 euro turnover, thus recording a +15% growth compared to 2017.

The Naples-based company handled some 500,000 tons of chemicals (30% of which hazardous) with over 25,000 shipments made across Europe, especially to Germany, France, Benelux, Spain, with the left towards Northern and Eastern countries, UK, Portugal, Greece, Turkey and Russia.

The increase in the volume handled was supported by an increase in the fleet, now boasting: 150 tractors, 150 road tanks, 1,700 container tanks and 450 lightweight chassis.

“Our customers are the major international chemical producers and traders, as well as several Italian companies specialized in petrochemicals (solvents, lubricants, petrolatums) and highly specialized products for any industrial or domestic use”, Account Manager Francesco Mattozzi explained. “Besides chemicals we transport also liquid industrial waste, products of animal origin (category 1) and food products”.

In 2018 and in the first months of 2019, the company increased also the number of employees: “Our management is proud to grant many young people the chance to be hired after a stage. We invest in human capital, constantly looking for talents to raise up for several roles”, Mattozzi continued, stressing that Chemical Express is entering into agreements with technical institutes in order to attract young people to the logistics and transport sector, thus training future generations of logistics operators to work in trade, customer service or technical offices.

Further to the headquarters in the Naples surrounding, the company has a site in Trecate (Novara) with parking lot and commercial office, and Valencia (Spain), parking lot and traffic office.

The short and long-term project provides for an expansion in Europe, first through the opening of commercial offices, and then of branches.

“We are making significant investments also in social responsibility and sustainable development applied to business through transparent and ethical behaviour, the care for workers' health and compliance with international regulations. The evaluation carried out by a third party (namely Ecovadis), to which we submitted by joining the association named Together for Sustainability (T.F.S.), confirms our commitment and efforts in this respect. The certifications held by Chemical Express, namely ISO: 9001 – 14001 – 18001 – 39001, ensure our great concern for the quality of our services, respect for the environment, protection of workers' health and road safety”.

The market poses new challenges and provides new opportunities, as Chemical Express is well aware.

“Problems for transport operators remained unsolved: the lack of harmonization of several EU regulations (the sanctions governing weekly rest for drivers introduced only by some countries); the difference in salaries for Eastern operators compared to the rest of the EU, granting them advantages compared to other operators; the inadequate conditions of several intermodal infrastructures (ports, railway terminals) for operational needs (insufficient space for temporary storage, impossibility of storing dangerous goods), which create problems and imply additional costs for transport operators” the company’s spokeperson noted.

Chemical Express was established in 1979 by Salvatore Romano.

The top management recently celebrated the 40th anniversary to be regarded as a new starting point which, thanks to the daily commitment of all employees, to its customers' confidence and to the support of its suppliers, will allow to achieve new goals and to overcome new challenges.

“Our winning formula – allowing us to become one of the major operators within a complex sector such as transport of chemicals in tanks, both in Italy and in Europe – is based on the combination of customers' requirements, protection of the environment and of safety, as well as advantageous economic conditions” Mattozzi pinpointed. “Already in the early Nineties the company started investing in intermodal transport, implying the use of a mixed railway+road or maritime+road system, granting several advantages: increase in transportable weight of goods compared to road transport; overall containment of costs compared to road transport; increased safety, reducing the number of heavy vehicles on the roads; significant reductions in Co2 emissions in the atmosphere”.

The fact that they invested significantly in such issues already 30 years ago proves its foresight and vision.

“In the transport industry, the chemical sector is the most specialized one”, Mattozzi continued. “Great technical competence is needed, in particular for dangerous goods. Moreover, customers' needs – being increasingly focused on the optimization of timings, on the containment of costs and especially on compliance with safety requirements – imply a constant technological upgrading of units, a speeding-up of the digitalization process and the maintaining of maximum safety standards during all transport stages and for all the operators involved. To that end, we modernize our fleet on a regular basis in order to provide customers with technically state-of-the-art units, respecting the environment and being equipped with the most modern safety systems, with regards to both tractors and road tanks and container tanks, with devices aiming at increasing safety conditions”.

In particular, the ‘ground operator’, i.e. a valve in the lower side of the unit – rather than in its upper side – allows to achieve the appropriate pressure for the tank without the need for drivers to get on the units so as to avoid falls (although Chemical Express trains its personnel with regards to safety risks, and consequently to working at heights or using individual protection devices).

Moreover, several units are equipped with fall-arrest allowing drivers to anchor the sling to the fall-arrest on the tank in order to ensure that operations at heights are carried out with the utmost safety.

Sometimes transporting chemicals requires specific measures, such as in the case of those at controlled temperature, requiring a verification and resetting of the desired temperature by way of heating the product by induction through hot water or vapour put inside channels placed on the units' surface.

To that end, the company makes use of certified heating and washing stations operating across Europe. In fact Chemical Express joined the “Responsible Care” program sponsored by the European Chemical Transport Association ECTA (of which it is a member since several years) which, in agreement with the European Chemical Industry Council CEFIC, launched several initiatives such as the measurement of Co2 emissions related to transport activities and their consequent reduction, the efficient use of resources and fuels, and the collaboration with governmental and international institutions.

“In particular, Co2 emissions can be reduced both by using EURO 6 vehicles, and by preferring intermodal transport over road transport. This allows for a reduction of up to 80% of Co2 emissions in the atmosphere for a long distance (average 800 Km) compared to road transport. However, in order to achieve this goal, the intermodal system logistics infrastructure must be able to compete with the road system by providing competitive services in terms of both timings and costs”.

For this reason, when in October 2016 the ro-ro and container shipping company Grimaldi created the Italian Logistics Association of Sustainable Intermodalism ALIS, Chemical Express identified with its values and supported the newly established association by becoming one of its founding members.

The association currently boasts some 1,400 member companies amounting to 152,000 employees, to a fleet of over 106,000 vehicles and to 22 billion euro of aggregated turnover, and so it is a forum of permanent meeting among members.

Angelo Scorza

TAG : Road haulage