Logistics: Never a dull moment
The festive season is traditionally a challenging time for logistics and this year was no exception. But as Logistics Manager Ola Holgersson explains, Södra’s considerable flexibility pays off in moments like these.
“The Christmas period is often tough as our mills continue to produce normally but it’s a time when hauliers understandably take time off. It’s also a time of unpredictable weather which can disrupt transport. But this year we were also hit by a strike at the port of Vlissingen making life especially challenging. However, I’m delighted to say that we have navigated the issues with minimal disruption to customers.”
Port handing workers began striking at Vlissingen on 20th December and the port did not return to full capacity until 5th January. “During this time, we managed by finding extra trucks to drive directly from our mills and used other sea routes as we work with a large number of terminals across Europe. Good communication with customers and careful planning were key,” Holgersson says.
There has been little respite for the logistics team, however. No sooner had the strike ended in the Netherlands than adverse weather conditions affected shipments elsewhere.
“It’s not always the transport route that affects logistics, but the conditions at the destination itself,” adds Holgersson. “Every step of the pulp bale’s journey is governed by our detailed Take Care handling policy to ensure that our pulp reaches our customers in pristine condition. For example, the pulp units should avoid getting wet at any point in the journey. We had heavy rains in Spain that made it impossible to discharge and we have had no choice but to delay discharging shipments where the port handlers cannot guarantee protection from rain. It’s no good unloading if the units are subsequently damaged, so the vessels wait. If a customer needs the order urgently, we arrange another option to release pulp from an alternative terminal and move quickly by road. Our team are constantly analysing the weather forecast and responding with new solutions. No one joins the logistics team for a quiet life! It’s all in a day’s work.”