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Editor in chief: Angelo Scorza
05/11/18 10:26

Even the automotive logistics operators are concerned from the Sulphur Cap

The Association of European Vehicle Logistics ECG gathered in Mainz to discuss the few challenges to the sector that create a complex environment for the maritime industry

The Association of European Vehicle Logistics ECG’s Annual Conference entitled “Riding the wave – Staying ahead in our fast moving world”, held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Mainz, Germany, featured attendance of 300 delegates to break all previous records.

The largest gathering of professionals from the finished vehicle logistics industry anywhere in Europe - that included keynote speaker Astrid Schlewing, Head of Sector Logistics, Maritime Transport & Logistics Unit, DG MOVE, European Commission,  who spoke on the Mobility Package -  focused on the numerous challenges to the sector that create a complex environment for the industry.

Among these, on the first rank stands for sure the Global Sulphur Cap 2020; the IMO standard of 0.5% for sulphur limits outside SECAs will be mandatory for all vessels trading globally as of 1st January 2020, which is a reduction from the previous 3.5% limit that has been in place since 2012. In Mainz from the debate it resulted that there is a great deal of uncertainty related to enforcement of the new laws and availability of low sulphur fuel.

Alternative solutions include the use of exhaust gas cleaning systems, so-called ‘scrubbers’. However, it is already too late to fit scrubbers before 1st January 2020 due to the high demand. Other solutions such as alternative fuel (LNG) are really only applicable to new build vessels.

In any case, all solutions will result in significant increased costs for shipping companies to comply with these strict environmental regulations, it was said at the German conference.

The automotive and commercial vehicle industry relies heavily on global ro-ro shipping to move finished vehicles to markets around the world. ECG represents all transport modes at EU level – road, rail, fluvial and maritime – and its members operate 460 ships, so that they will be greatly affected by these new requirements.

“The global sulphur cap, setting a maximum of 0.5%, will be a game-changer for our industry. Not only does it represent cost challenges regardless of compliance method, but also operational challenges” said Bjorn Svenningsen, Vice-President ECG and Director, Sales & Marketing UECC.

Safe, secure parking for Drivers is also an ongoing priority for European vehicle logistics sector.

“ECG is committed to the well-being of its members’ drivers and to achieving secure parking for the vehicle logistics sector” stated President Wolfgang Göbel who once again stressed the urgent necessity for safe, secure parking for drivers. “Our sector is faced with a skilled labour shortage in general, and in particular a severe driver shortage. The latter can only be rectified by improving driver conditions to encourage more young people to join the profession. Whilst the Association is multimodal 70% of ECG members provide road transport services and the wellbeing of their drivers is paramount. ECG is currently identifying how it can support its members in making employment in the finished vehicle logistics more attractive in general to young workers”

Göbel announced that the Association is prioritising the issue of safe parking through the work of its Digitalisation Working Group which is in the process of creating a smart phone application specifically for ECG drivers to allow drivers to share practical information and recommendations with each other on a variety of issues including safe parking and sanitary facilities.

“It will offer a sense of community amongst drivers and facilitate peer to peer support” he added.

The Association is also investigating the possibility to create a network of member compounds, close to main traffic routes, which would be open to all ECG Member drivers and would provide secure parking as well as food and sanitary facilities.

ECG has been outspoken on this important issue for some time; the need for secure parking was also the theme, earlier this year, of its Annual Dinner Debate in the European Parliament on 20th March, hosted by MEP Wim van de Camp (EPP, NL).  On this occasion four drivers addressed a 140-strong audience of EU Lawmakers, Logistics Service Providers, Car manufacturers and other stakeholders to share their experiences and perspective of daily life on EU roads.

Europe's transport sector provides 10 million jobs in Europe and accounts for 5% cent of GDP. Over 100,000 Europeans are employed directly by the vehicle logistics industry and an additional 253,000 are indirectly employed in the sector.

Germany is the largest transport country in the EU and 43% of trucks on German roads at any given time are from other European countries. The country lacks 14,000 truck parking spaces.

Current EU legislation on drivers’ rest times is meaningless without sufficient, secure parking to allow drivers to leave or rest in their trucks in safety.

Angelo Scorza

TAG : Logistics