Behind large industrial projects lays a logistical puzzle of complex documents and unforeseen obstacles. Ahlers Projects & Machinery helps companies every step of the way so that each component reaches its destination.
In the often-complex construction projects, the precise timing of the transports is essential. "Time is money: shutting down the construction of a factory is expensive, and the smallest part can slow down the whole process. De Ryck illustrates the fact that often a puzzle with a huge number of pieces must be put together with a concrete project: the relocation of a sulfur recovery unit to Nizhnekamsk in Russia.
This involved transporting 62,000 m3 of cargo from Kuantan in Malaysia and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. 208 units between 5 and 8 meters high, 350 'heavily oversized units', and 170 containers had to be transported by road, sea, and inland waterways. "We had to deal with, among other things, incorrectly specified dimensions, transports that were not ready in time for departure, and cultural differences between the supplier and the importer. Nevertheless, we were able to complete all the transport in 25 weeks, just before the rivers in Russia froze up.
Ahlers' Projects & Machinery department develops tailor-made logistics solutions for the construction of large production facilities worldwide. "There is often a misconception that we only ship gigantic pieces in breakbulk", says department head Jeroen De Ryck. "That's not true: every piece is important, from half a factory plant being shipped entirely to the smallest box of screws. 80% of the parts we ship fit in containers".
Ahlers focuses on Western European clients doing business in the CIS countries (Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, etc.). "We are an Antwerp-based company, but we operate with a global network of experts and offer clients real added value through our regional expertise," says De Ryck. In addition to the CIS countries and Eastern Europe, we also have a strong presence in Asia, where most of the parts are sourced, including our own offices in China, India, and Indonesia and a chartering department in Singapore that specializes in breakbulk". Furthermore, Ahlers is executing many projects in the United States.
Today, Ahlers Projects and Machinery handles many assignments for the metallurgy (steel and aluminum plants) and petrochemicals industries. "Often these are sites that are built almost as an entire city surrounding a steel plant. A lot of things are needed for this. For example, we work for the major builders of these steel plants, but also their suppliers and the end customer". Another important component is the transport of mining machinery in the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the former Soviet Union). These are transported multimodally (by train, barge, or truck) to their destination, using the New Silk Road between China and Europe.
Time is money
Our department provides companies with an end-to-end approach, considering time and planning. We take care of all the necessary documentation and the final transport itself. "It's important that we are involved as early as possible in the process, so that we can take a look at, for example, the maximum size of a component to be transported," says De Ryck. "Or to evaluate whether it is cheaper to remove parts from a machine during transport and reassemble the machine later on-site for example.”
The cherry on the cake
Ahlers makes a difference when it comes to documentation. "An important example of the transport of goods to Russia is the 'Classification Decision'. This system allows all components of an installation to be imported under a single HS code (for customs declarations) and less or no import duties have to be paid. Of course, this saves companies a great deal of time, but the application process is complex, and a lot of documents must be put in order. We are helping with this.
Now that more and more is becoming possible in digitizing transport documents, Ahlers is providing an answer to the digital transformation. Through intuitive dashboards and other IT tools, Ahlers can seamlessly provide transparency in the entire supply chain, but also optimize it and even compare CO2 calculations. However, for whatever reason an approach does not work, or in case of large transports, we send our 'flying teams' on site. Our specialists prepare the documents and oversee the transport. This hands-on approach is central to us: we plan, organize, and transport the most complex projects from A to Z".