Zeebrugge: The electric vehicle gateway
Take a closer look at the Port of Zeebrugge, where new investment has made Wallenius Wilhelmsen Solutions an even more attractive partner for electric vehicle manufacturers shipping cars to and from Europe.
Investments in charging stations and improved processes for handling electric vehicles (EVs) have cemented Wallenius Wilhelmsen Solutions (WW Solutions) as a preferred partner for the world’s biggest EV OEMs. Understanding the unique needs of EV logistics has been the key to success.
New EV infrastructure at Zeebrugge
At its Zeebrugge Vehicle Processing Centre (VPC), WW Solutions has invested in 10 current-generation wall battery charging units that can charge up to 20 vehicles simultaneously.
The charging points come complete with a display showing the current charge level, meaning cars don’t have to be opened, which speeds up operations and reduces risk of damage.
Each charging point has a power output of up to 22kW, like the rapid chargers that can be found at motorway service stations. The chargers provide a driving range of up to 125km per hour.
Tackling the challenge of battery drain
Managing power loss is constantly on the minds of OEMs when shipping their EVs around the world. Ocean transport, dwell time at terminals, and inland transport at both ends can add up to a long transit time.
Even though battery technology is constantly improving, batteries lose a few kilometres of range every day that the car is not moving.
“The ability to give the cars a boost when they arrive in Zeebrugge, while not always required, is essential to avoid the cars arriving at their destination with flat batteries, which can be costly,” explains Jens Norgaard, Head of Technical Services at WW Solutions.
Safety first with electric vehicle services
Should a vehicle’s battery run low or completely drain, it can be nearly impossible to get access to the vehicle, which can disrupt the workflow aboard a vessel or at the terminal.
WW Solutions has invested in trailers that enable the vehicle to be transported to a safe location for charging or other maintenance work, minimising the risk of damage to the vehicle and disruption to schedules. As part of WW Solutions’ pre-delivery inspection (PDI) service, EVs have their liquids replenished, including the cooling agent for the battery.
At a port with the scale of Zeebrugge, driving near-silent electric vehicles presents an obvious risk. This risk is minimised by effective additions to the process for anyone driving a vehicle on site, such as a low speed limit of 30kph. Additionally, whenever a car is started for any reason, the driver must sound the horn to alert anyone nearby.
Vehicle processing specialists
WW Solutions’ 7,600-square-metre VPC in Zeebrugge already contains an automated car wash, repair preparation zones, paint booths, ramps, a parts warehouse, modification hall and a fuelling station. Jens believes new charging points and processes adapted to handle electric vehicles have made the VPC even more attractive as an electric vehicle hub in Europe.
“WW Ocean vessels arrive at Zeebrugge from both coasts of the USA, Asia, South Africa and Australia, while a network of feeder vessels run to important EV markets such as Scandinavia. We arrange and optimise onward short-sea transport and we also arrange onward rail or truck transport on behalf of our clients,” he explains.
WW Solutions’ 7,600-square-metre VPC in Zeebrugge already contains an automated car wash, repair preparation zones, paint booths, ramps, a parts warehouse, modification hall and a fuelling station.
Why Zeebrugge matters
As Europe’s largest RoRo port, Zeebrugge handles more than 50 million tonnes of cargo a year. Its location on the North Sea, the busiest sea in the world, along with its deep-water draught in the approaches and at the berths, has made Zeebrugge of critical importance to many customers around the world.
“With these investments we have answered the strong customer demand for electric vehicle infrastructure at the port,” explains Victoria Prokopp, responsible for inland transport and special projects at WW Solutions EMEA. “Zeebrugge was the obvious choice because of the super connections available to major EV markets by road, rail, and sea,” she adds.
Committed to Zeebrugge
The WW Solutions investment at Zeebrugge is not just limited to electric vehicle capability. Work is now underway on a major expansion to the terminal, which will significantly increase the capacity and the range of services on offer.
Now, a USD $40million investment will see WW Solutions develop 49 hectares of land in the inner port, almost doubling its total footprint.
Since beginning its relationship with the Port of Zeebrugge in 1999, WW Solutions has expanded its operations at the port to include vehicle processing, technical services for heavy equipment, and yard management services.