German materials manufacturer Covestro will from now on ship its plastic precursors on ships of Tailwind Shipping Lines, a subsidiary of German food retailer Lidl. Since this year, the discount giant has been developing its own capacity in sea freight due to the continuing difficulties of large shipping companies on the busy sea routes between Europe and Asia.
Currently, two of its own ships and two additional chartered ships belong to Tailwind Shipping Lines. In addition to the non-food products from and for Lidl, Tailwind offers space on these ships also for interested companies. Covestro uses this now to also become more independent from the busy main routes and shipping companies and to increase the speed and punctuality of its own deliveries.
“Ocean shipments have been severely disrupted since the pandemic began, and the scheduling accuracy of large shipowners has fallen from 70 to 20 percent,” says Sucheta Govil, Chief Commercial Officer at Covestro. “To increase our reliability and punctuality, we are therefore actively looking for alternatives. With Tailwind, we have found a partner to navigate the direct route from Asia to Europe with its ships – and who is therefore exactly where it helps us.”
Smaller vessels, more flexibility and punctuality
The Tailwind ships have a capacity of around 5,000 “Twenty Foot Equivalent Units”, or TEU, per month. TEU is a standard measure for shipping containers. Large ships from the big shipping companies can hold three to five times more. However, those mega ships can also only discharge at large ports and travel rather fixed routes with pre-determined stops, which increases the susceptibility to delays.
“We now determine the route ourselves. And because our ships are smaller, we can also have them sail to and discharge at smaller ports. This gives us a great advantage in terms of flexibility, speed and thus also punctuality,” says Wolf Tiedemann, CEO of Sales, Logistics and Central Divisions of Lidl Stiftung & Co. KG. “This allows us to import our own goods reliably from Asia – but at the same time we still have room that we can offer. We are pleased to have found a first interested customer and partner with Covestro and hope to be able to expand the cooperation further and find other interested parties.”
A first container of Covestro materials successfully completed the route from the company’s largest production site near Shanghai to Europe. Currently Covestro ships a good 8,000 containers a year on that route alone. How many of these will be transported by Tailwind in the future is currently being negotiated.
By Covestro, Press Release
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