What you need to know heading into Breakbulk Europe 2024

As the breakbulk industry gathers for the third consecutive year in Rotterdam, Netherlands, the Breakbulk Europe conference comes at a time where shippers, cargo owners, carriers, ports continue to manage disruptions related to capacity constraints and geopolitical events. Though there are equally many opportunities surrounding more sustainable and efficient services, which can create a feeling of optimism for conference attendees and the rest of the breakbulk industry around the world.

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A resilient industry

The breakbulk industry continues to face challenges impacting other supply chains. Whether it be port congestion creating vessel bunching, safety risk in the Red Sea causing longer transit times as vessels sail around Africa, or droughts reducing the number of bookings through the Panama Canal, breakbulk shippers and carriers have embraced adaptability and flexibility. As the demand for RoRo capacity continues to be outpaced by available supply, these disruptions further reduce space for additional tonnage.

“We have been energized by how our breakbulk partners have embraced all of the different disruptions,” says Jesper Lagerbäck – Acting Head of Global Industrial Account Development. “The collective energy and commitment has motivated us to go above and beyond to find alternative solution for our customers even when capacity remains tight.”

Embracing net-zero solutions

Even with the challenges, there have been significant innovations to reduce the carbon emissions from global supply chains. Wallenius Wilhelmsen has set its own targets to be net zero by 2040 and to develop a zero emission end-to-end service by 2027. This includes investing in 8 new Shaper Class vessels that will be ammonia-ready and can run on biofuel.

“We’ve seen a lot of customer interest in reducing their emissions as they set their own targets and work to comply with regulatory requirement,” says Carsten Wendt – Senior Manager High & Heavy and Breakbulk Sales, Germany. “Our reduced carbon service allows customers to reduce their scope 3 emissions by 20-25 percent compared to using traditional fuel oil. In addition to testing and sourcing the biofuel, we’ve developed a strong methodology to capture, verify and allocate the emission reductions through a mass balance system.”

RoRo maintains its place for Breakbulk shipments

Despite capacity constraints and other industry-wide disruptions that are impacting global supply chains, Wallenius Wilhelmsen’s technical team continues to refine and deliver proven handling solutions for transformers, railcars, windmill components, rotors and other breakbulk cargo. “Securing space is just the first step,” says Jesper. “We need to develop and execute on a plan to secure the cargo to the equipment, teach the local stevedores how to load and unload the cargo from the vessel, and ensure the safety of all people and cargo involved throughout the process.”

Jesper adds that the focus on safety gives customers with an increased sense of assurance despite industry-wide disruptions. With many shippers needing to wait for equipment or capacity to become available, they cannot afford any additional delays or costs incurred during transit. “This gives us the opportunity to provide value beyond just a transportation solution, but to work directly with our forwarding partners and the cargo owners directly to advise on how cargo should be packed and prepped for transport on a RoRo vessel,” says Jepser.

Join us in Rotterdam!

Wallenius Wilhelmsen is excited to be back with the rest of the Breakbulk industry in Rotterdam, and the conference promises to be full of discussing new opportunities and partnerships.

You can also hear from our own Jørgen Thorsen – Senior Sustainability Manager – and Carsten as part of the conference program. Jørgen will be part of the session “Decarbonization Strategies: Solutions for Implementing EU ETS” on May 22 from 13:40-14:25 CET.

Carsten will be moderating a session earlier in the day titled “Capacity & Contingency Planning: Maintaining an Agile Supply Chain” from 10:55-11:25 CET.