Rob Bagchus has over 25 years of experience in the fields of ports, transport and logistics and at the intersection of government and market. Currently Rob works as Chief Public Affairs & Public Relations Officer at Europe Container Terminals (ECT). ECT is one of Europe’s most advanced and largest container terminal operators. ECT is part of Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH) in Hong Kong, one of the four global container terminal operators. ECT employs around 2,000 people. Following the completion of his studies in Economics at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam he held positions at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, consulting engineers Frederic R. Harris BV, the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Watermanagement, SVZ Port Industries’ Association Rotterdam and Port and Industries’ Association Deltalinqs.
In recent years, the maritime shipping industry is facing new challenges providing new opportunities at the same time. Finding, exploring and exploiting these new opportunities requires new approaches that go beyond usual boundaries : therefore, ECT, as a part of Hutchison Port Holdings, is actively initiating crossovers between business, research and its surrounding (city, society).
Since 2007, global GDP and global transportation growth has declined. Because of changing supply chains, a return to double-digit growth numbers in maritime container throughput is not to be expected in the foreseeable future. At the same time, the emergence of new technologies, and cost-driven consolidation in the shipping industry at large give rise to the development of new network structures. These networks develop across multiple channels, multiple sectors and multiple geographic regions, in essence all crossovers. Participating in such crossovers opens up new markets, new client segments and new ties with clients for a more green logistics system in a circular economy. It allows faster innovation and supports a more flexibility and resilient port-city system. Finally, participating in crossovers is vital for addressing the human factor of employees and citizens and it allows us to give back to the communities in which we operate. In this contribution, we highlight three examples of our active involvement in these new network structures on different levels : the physical transportation network of European Gateway Services, the community network of Smart Port and an emerging business network around innovation.
European Gateway Services
Since 2010 we have developed a unique container transportation network, European Gateway Services (EGS), focused on synchromodal transportation, a big step forward from the traditional setup of single, independent corridors. This crossover between barge, rail and truck operators on multiple corridors connects the Ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp with 20+ city networks in The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. In cooperation with shippers, logistics service providers and transporters, synchromodal transportation offers a flexible framework for efficient planning over all available routes, modes and time slots. For this we developed and employ a state-of-the-art network planning software system that results in much lower costs, and emissions, while it attracts and ties new business to the port and city, providing resilience in the increasingly competitive industry. Nowadays EGS has become independent entity, focused on supply chain collaboration and strong relations with logistics partners and end customers. This does not only result in cost-effective, low-emission, customer-oriented supply chains, it enables a busy port area with high volume transportation close to the Rotterdam metropolitan area.
Research community Smart Port
The conceptual design of EGS was developed in close cooperation with research institutes in the larger Rotterdam region, such as Erasmus University, TU Delft and TNO, and the Port of Rotterdam Authority (PoR). Currently, PoR and the knowledge institutes facilitate these port-city collaborations more structurally in the research enabler “Smart Port”. Through ECT, Hutchison Port Holdings is actively involved in the agenda and effectuation of port-related research in Smart Port. This crossover of businesses, research institutes and young talents at the universities is often challenging but leverages academic knowledge to port applications. Some recent results of this crossover are : a supply chain simulation game (Synchro Mania) with very positive results among clients, partners and students ; and the development of a differentiated portfolio of hinterland transportation, providing a service that is much more oriented on customer needs in order to deliver your goods on time, while at the same time providing a potential for airline inspired revenue management. Other results are expected on the reefer container market and the development of call sizes, due to the arrival of Ultra Large Container Ships. Besides immediate results, the involvement of academic institutions in the logistics industry is vital for finding and binding talent to our company and to the port community. Through early involvement of students in our research and development process, we create an opportunity to show how complex and challenging the logistics industry has become and what career perspectives we can provide to young citizens. With this, we contribute to make Rotterdam a global center for addressing port related challenges. Naturally, we need them for building the port-city system, of the future.
Hutchison Ports Innovation network
Finally, to exploit opportunities of new technologies and services requires strong cooperation within the Hutchison port network and with other businesses. Especially the development of a circular economy require logistics solutions that transcend single business entities. Crossovers with suppliers and adjacent supply chain actors are crucial for such transcending logistics concepts to fulfil customer needs. To stimulate an innovative culture and actions within the Hutchison network, an innovation council has been established of representatives from different business units within the group. Here we share experiences and developments to spread innovations. Generally, one of the business units starts by executing a pilot with new technologies, providing a stage for both existing and start up companies. If the pilot shows promising results, such an innovation can be adopted by other business units. A great example is Box Reload, a system to minimize empty legs of truck transport, which was developed by Hutchison in the UK and is now being rolled out with ECT support in the European mainland. It promotes efficient logistics and efficient use of public infrastructure in the port area and beyond. ECT has enabled many other innovations by third parties or joint ventures that required our support and facilities for development. As for many established companies, creating an innovative business environment is a continuous challenge. We aim for an innovative environment that provides a challenging, pleasurable workplace with huge potential.
Crossovers between cities, societies and ports are inevitable in the light of current developments in maritime logistics. Through ECT, Hutchison Port Holdings is very active in establishing crossovers that provide benefit to our business activities as well as the port-city system. We have provided examples of tree types of crossovers that involve supply chain partners, research institutes, students and emerging businesses. In the near future, we plan to further improve the innovative business climate within our company, and beyond.