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New freight markets?

23 April 2018

In the project NOVIMAR a closer look is taken on how inland waterway transport can expand existing freight markets and, at the same time, is able to become attractive to new freight markets. NOVIMAR develops a vessel train concept that provides opportunities for more flexible and efficient transportation services.

Inland waterway transport (IWT) must provide its services in a highly competitive market. Logistics customers expect a door-to-door transport chain no matter which transport mode is involved. The logistics trend shows a fragmentation of cargo into smaller units, but, at the same time, a significant increase in volume, especially in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) market segment. For waterborne logistics to be competitive, it needs to provide a higher level of flexibility, attractive lead times and full visibility along the complete transport chain. Besides the growth in the FMCG market, there is also a growth in the purchase of raw materials and semi-finished products due to a growing economy.

This is where the new NOVIMAR logistics concept comes into play. To become an integral part of the transport chain, vessels need to be able to carry all types of cargo and loading units. Services must be available when needed, hence, appropriate frequency of services must be offered. As transport on road has to struggle with congestion, IWT can make a difference by providing reliable services in the main transport corridors. The NOVIMAR logistics concept can handle all these requirements by, potentially, bundling cargo from existing and new freight markets in the same vessel train. More frequent transport services between ports closest to the origin and destination can be offered in an economic way. This approach enables the integration of services for new transport markets, mainly FMCG, even if they do not have the same port of loading and unloading as traditional bulk and general cargo in IWT. But the NOVIMAR logistics concept does not end at the quay. Consolidation of the cargo starts well ahead of the loading to the vessel. NOVIMAR will be able to identify loading units and the cargo so that consolidation can be performed at whatever the level needed and vessel trains are used to a high degree.

Initially NOVIMAR works on a test case in the Antwerp-Rhine corridor. A detailed process description has been written to enable management of the complex execution of the logistics service of cargo consolidation, load allocation and vessel train operations.