Trends & Markets 01/19

Desert Convoy through Tunisia

Rhenus Project Logistics completes major project despite obstacles caused by sand

Is it possible to transport heavy items through a desert by truck? It is hard to imagine, but it was not a problem for the experts at Rhenus Project Logistics. The project team in Duisburg completed a transport project involving ten countries and three continents between June 2016 and the end of 2018 – with a final spurt through the Tunisian desert. Overall, Rhenus Project Logistics transported about 450 truckloads in 80 convoys for its customer GIE Streicher Bouchamaoui; they were linked to the construction of a processing plant for natural gas in the Nawara oil and gas field, which is situated in the Ghademes Basin in the extreme south of Tunisia.

Is it possible to transport heavy items through a desert by truck?

“The challenge initially involved organising the individual transport operations from the different production sites in the countries of origin,” says Project Manager, Marcus Janowsky. The international network within the Rhenus Group provided support for the heavy item specialist’s team in Duisburg. Thanks to having its own branches and employees in many of the countries, Rhenus Project Logistics was able to offer almost all the services for planning and completing the project from its own ranks. They included the pre-carriage, the subsequent customs clearance for exports and handling the goods at ports; the items were exported from the countries of origin, which were Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Saudi Arabia, China, South Korea, Portugal and Sweden.

A project spanning the globe
Overall, the following items were delivered to Tunisia: more than 50 large plant sections, each up to 16 metres long, 5.5 metres wide, 6 metres high and weighing as much as 60 tonnes, as well as more than 100 containers on seven heavy-cargo vessels. 35,500 tonnes of freight in all were shipped from Norrköping, Blyth, Hamburg, Antwerp, Vigo, Leixoes, Genoa and Crotone. Then there were about 150 complete truckloads and many groupage freight consignments from all over Europe, as well as about 70 containers shipped by sea from Saudi Arabia, South Korea and China. Seven 40-foot containers with a particularly time-sensitive consignment were transported from Shanghai to Europe by rail; as a result, it was possible to reduce the overall transit time by several weeks. The heavy-cargo vessels headed for the port of Gabès, while the other consignments arrived via Tunis. Rhenus and its partners accepted the goods in Tunisia and then delivered them. The logistics specialist has been operating its own office in Tunis since 2015 and handles transport operations there with local partners. The heavy-duty items were provisionally stored in two external warehouses specially rented for the project at Gabès, which is situated in the south-east of the country, and were then delivered to the building site in line with needs.

A rocky road
“The greatest challenge only came to light after the items had arrived at the ports of Tunis and Gabès,” Marcus Janowsky relates. Planning and selecting suitable routes for bulky, heavy-duty transport operations always means having an eye for minute details. “But the conditions in a desert area require an extra portion of flexibility,” the 39-year-old says; he has been handling projects of this kind at Rhenus Project Logistics for six years. Tarmacked roads are in scarce supply on the almost 400- kilometre route from Gabès to the Nawara gas field, where the processing plant is being installed, and the gravel tracks are often in a poor condition. Sandstorms and floods frequently make the tracks impassable. “Sometimes it was suddenly impossible to use the routes because of what happened during the night and we had to change our plans as quickly as possible to still be able to deliver the goods to their acceptance point on time.”

Correct planning makes the difference
The special skills of the heavy-load professionals paid off here. Rhenus Project Logistics not only provided precise and flexible planning work with regard to the routes, but conducted vibration tests too. This enabled them to precisely calculate the vibrations that would be caused by the transport operation and their effects on the consignment – particularly those sections of the plant that weighed several tonnes, were bulky and were usually extremely sensitive. The selection of trailers and the securing of the loads for the transport operation were then modified accordingly.

A significant project
The project, which lasted for about two years from the planning stage to its completion, was a complete success for Rhenus Project Logistics. Summarising matters, Marcus Janowsky says, “The transport operations went smoothly without any incidents – this was particularly due to the excellent cooperation between the teams in Duisburg and Tunisia, but also the employees at all the Rhenus business sites that were involved, of course.” While the heavy-load transport operations accounted for the lion’s share of the project between June 2017 and May 2018, other smaller shipments were still being transported to Tunisia until the end of 2018. The plant is due to go into service in 2019 and make a significant contribution to Tunisia’s self-sufficiency in terms of gas supplies. The plant is creating 200 jobs locally.

Bild von einer Wüstenlandschaft

Rhenus Project Logistics specialises in planning and completing individual project and heavycargo transport operations using overland and maritime transport services within the Rhenus Group. Formerly known as KOG Worldwide, the company has made a name for itself in the sector for more than 30 years. The project logistics specialist now comprises 24 companies in 20 different countries. It recently opened new business sites in Chicago, Bremen and Tashkent.

Bild von dem Hafen

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