Project cargo is one of the most challenging logistics operations; considering the size, shape, and characteristic of the cargo. Logistics providers taking care of a project cargo must have a thoroughly organized plan and operate under the most secure conditions, not to mention the time constraints which are always a concern with this type of logistics operation.
As such, shippers and owners of project cargo must carefully select a reliable provider with industry experience to handle such high-value logistics projects.
An example of one these successful massive project cargo operations is that of the complex transportation of cargo into the middle of the Indian Ocean. Specifically, the cargo was delivered to a famous resort destination in the Maldives, named the ‘CROSSROADS’ Estate project.
Developed and managed by Singha Estate Public Company Limited, a leading Thailand-based real-estate developer, the CROSSROADS project is a multi-island integrated leisure and recreation destination resort concept. The development of the CROSSROADS project is set to redefine the Maldives vacation experience as the country’s first integrated leisure and recreation destination that will attract and captivate the international family-leisure markets.
Big Project, Small Environmental Impact
Such a challenging operation is solid proof of an operator’s proficiency and industry experience. The project’s destination currently has no commercial port and has no facility to facilitate any sizable cargo vessels, not to mention the local inexperience and lack of standardized practice in shipping and terminal operations. The continually altering natural environment was another risk factor, and also importantly is the fact that the Maldives is one of the most famous tourist destinations in the world, and the impact to marine life was one of the highest concerns that the operator had to carefully handle.
The project’s destination was even more challenging due to the fact that it is located in the center of a rich natural reef with a physical appearance of ‘ATOLL’. An ATOLL is a ring-shaped coral reef including a coral rim that encircles a lagoon. The seabed level at the destination is naturally varied, making construction more challenging and more concerning for the effect on marine life and the natural landscape. In order to limit construction wastewater from mixing concrete, the developer decided to employ pre-fabricated concrete components from Thailand. The components were cast in Thailand and then shipped to the destination.
Overcoming the Odds
The challenges of this project required an adept, agile and flexible logistics operator and RCL Logistics was the selected for possessing all these qualities. RCL Logistics is a leading logistics provider with years of industry experience, providing a comprehensive service with specialized veteran staff.
This project was assigned entirely to RCL Logistics to manage the logistical operations of 18,000 tonnes of cargo from upstream to delivery. This included a variety of overweight and oversized cargo, including precast concrete components, precast concrete tables, cranes, tools and equipment; each being very delicate and having a high value, and were to be delivered to the destination safely and in perfect condition.
The logistics process was planned holistically with an integrated total solution, beginning from the planning of packing and wrapping cargo, lifting, handling and latching both into a container and onboard the vessel. Moreover, the constraint of delivering these goods on-schedule was another challenge for the project.
Venturing to A New Destination
Transportation for the construction of the ‘CROSSROADS’ Estate project began by first choosing a charter vessel which would be able to berth at a terminal close to coral reef and not impact the nature of the local marine environment. The ship routing, berthing and off-loading of the cargo were planned in detail. The ship’s captain and crew were hand-picked to ensure the efficiency and smoothness of the operation.
Mr. Prin Silpakit, RCL’s Project Executive, said: “After RCL was appointed to the CROSSROADS project, we organized a meeting and planned every step in detail to ensure that everything was in order and to be ready for any unintended incidents that might happen. The challenge of this project not only lies in the size and the weight of the cargo, but also the time constraints. There was no room for any mistakes, not even a minor one.”
He continued, “We synchronized and weaved together every RCL Group operation team into the supply chain to achieve the most effective result. We set up a ‘Single Point of Contact’ team which worked closely with the customer, sharing cargo data analysis, design and planned every step of the operation efficiently. From seeking the right type of container to fit each cargo’s special characteristics, to selecting the most suitable supporting materials, picking the right tools to handle cargo movement and designing the most effective way to latch and tie the cargo to prevent any damages from transportation-both inland and over the ocean.”
Mr. Phichet Pongam, RCL’s Operations Manager said: “Most of the cargo under this operation was Out-Of-Gauge (OOG). Loading and positioning of each piece of cargo on to the vessel needed to be designed and calculated properly. Each process needed extra care to ensure the safety of the crew, the cargo, and for the vessel itself. We also had to contend with the coral reef and plan around it for every movement. The process began by calculating the total weight the ship could handle. Next was to plan and lay out each piece of unique cargo, ensuring the ship is balanced during its journey. Lastly, we needed to lash securely to make sure that the ship could sail through the choppy waters of the Indian Ocean safely.”
He continued, “Not only that, we had to understand and cooperate efficiently between all operating teams as effective and efficient time management was critical. For example, trucks had to transport the shipment to the loading port precisely at the same time the ship arrived. Loading had to conclude on schedule, to ensure we set sail during the high-tide window of the Chao Phraya River. Any failure or delay would have had affected the construction timeline, meaning an extra cost to the client.”
The vessel chosen for this operation was also special, as Mr. Pongam explained: “RCL Logistics selected the vessel ‘Supa Bhum’ for this project. The ship has the capacity to fit the cargo, and the draught was also right to dock at the destination’s water depth. The Supa Bhum is also equipped with cranes to accommodate the off-loading operation at the destination, which is an isle. With the ability to avoid fuel top offs and the right seafaring speed, made her the most cost-optimized choice for the operation.”
Unconventional Berthing Challenge
With an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean as the destination and the fact that the location is close to a rich natural reef, RCL Logistics had to carefully explore the ship’s routing in advance and select the right time window to avoid disturbances during the monsoon season. The vessel journeyed to the destination safely, amid the high winds and wavy seas of the Indian Ocean. Having arrived at the destination, the next challenge was waiting for RCL Logistics.
“The dock was purposely built to support our project and the limitation of such infrastructure made it more challenging compared to a standard terminal. We arrived during the night, adding another challenging factor to the operation. Careful operations with responsive improvisation were conducted, ensuring not to cause any damage to the destination’s marine ecosystem.”
“The berthing operation was tightly orchestrated amongst the involved teams. The first step was to evaluate and test to ensure the safety of the actual operation. The first journey was the most challenging and nuanced, as everything is new. The following deliveries became easier as we gained more experience. Another challenge, as I mentioned earlier, was the limitation of lighting due to the nightfall arrival. The operation is considered the most challenging one ever for RCL” said, Mr. Pongam.
Integrated Total Solutions
Even though the operation was very challenging with plenty of obstacles to overcome, RCL Logistics was able to succeed with their specialized operations, service flexibility, and through a thorough understanding of project management and careful planning. Mr. Silpakit said “One of the most important strengths of RCL is our comprehensive network of services. We did not only provide sea freight services but utilized complete integrated logistics solutions. Our flexibility makes RCL Logistics able to tailor almost any kind of solutions to suit the need of our customers, and most importantly under the clients’ desired budget.
The success in the recent ‘Mega Project’ was a major step for RCL Logistics towards becoming a leading logistics provider in Asia. They aim to serve their customers with comprehensive solutions with a work process to respond to all types of needs across industries, especially for expanding international ventures.
Regular Service to the Maldives
Other than their specialized project cargo services, RCL Logistics offers a regular liner service to the Republic of Maldives. Operating in cooperation with Alliance Shipping Lines, the service provides transportation to Asia and South Asian countries. Originating from Bangkok, Laem Chabang, and Songkhla toward Port of Male in the Maldives via Colombo, the service operates 4 times per week, with 36 hours’ transit time from Colombo to Male. Taking advantage of the frequent trips from the originating port, the transit time is shortened, and port operations are more effective. The service is fast and convenient, to best suit the needs of their customers.