Ask The Expert: Fleet Line Shipping Services

ASC Guest Columnist , February 6th, 2011

Question: How strong is the demand for ‘out of gauge’ cargo transportation in the Middle East region?

A standard definition for the term ‘out of gauge’ cargo
Any cargo exceeding the internal dimensions of a standard container is considered as out of gauge, or OOG. This cargo can still be loaded onto container ships by using special equipment, such as flat rack, open top containers, but requires special handling devises in addition to the standard quay / gantry crane, together with manual intervention at the time of stowage.

The importance of specialist experience in this market
Potential demand for OOG cargo services is huge in the Middle East, especially from the oil and gas and construction industries. Customers want a partner that understands the complexities of OOG cargo, whether it’s arranging the space on a container ship, stuffing and lashing, or securing a police escort and suitable truck for road transportation. However, the number of logistics companies that actually specialise in this niche market is quite limited.

The experience of fleet line shipping in OOG logistics
Over the past six years, Fleet Line Shipping Services has become synonymous with out of gauge and project cargo movements. We commenced operations as a Dubai-based NVOCC operator with a range of specialised equipment, while also partnering with a number of feeder operators and shipping lines for slot arrangements. Since this time, customers have approached our company for additional value-added services, including road transportation, stuffing and lashing, customs clearance, and chartering ships for heavy lift cargo. Today, around 70% of our customers are freight forwarders, while the rest are direct shippers or consignees from oil and gas, construction, and earth moving equipment companies.

Why Ethical business operations will lead to long-term success
Fleet Line Shipping has adopted an ethical approach to business, which is well-known to the industry. To maintain a good synergy with our freight forwarding clients, we will never approach their customers, even on occasions when we are contacted by them.

Growth potential for the OGG market in Middle East countries
We predict that demand will continue to rise for OOG movements in the Middle East, especially in Qatar due to massive infrastructure developments for their world cup preparations. At the moment, a limited number of mother vessels are calling at Doha ports, which means that freight will be routed through Jebel Ali port in Dubai. Another potential market is Saudi Arabia, which is currently under-served in terms of world-class providers of OOG cargo services.

The irrelevance of size when selecting a logistics partner
Personally, I cannot understand the reasoning that logistics companies must have large premises or offices in several locations to stand out in their area of expertise. Our experience has shown that customers are comfortable with small service providers for being valued. The big ones will often take longer time to arrive at decisions. We choose hand picked agents everywhere, who know all about project cargo and how to get the work done. To give an example, Fleet Line Shipping recently moved 120 tonnes of oil field equipment with a height of seven metres to Uzbekistan. We had to take permission for temporarily removing the electricity wires in a couple of places in order for the freight to reach its final destination. Our people managed to complete the job with ease without having to bother the receiver much.

Beating competition from other providers of OGG cargo services
Fleet Line Shipping has many advantages. For starters, we can quote a rate instantly to containerised OGG customers. This is possible because we know the bay plan a vessel operator can make, thus we know how many slot killings it can be on a container. Additionally, by providing us dimensions and weight with a photograph of the cargo, we will be able to quote the stuffing and lashing charges, while even advising on the centre of gravity and lifting requirements. While our competitors take a couple of days for these things, we can take a few minutes.

The benefits of an established network of reliable carriers
For the heavy lift cargo, our advantage is finding the suitable ship at a minimum time frame to worldwide destinations, even to some of the shallow draft ports such as East Timor (Dili), Khorramshahr and many islands in South East Asia and Far East. We choose efficient and reliable carriers to avoid any delays, ensuring that freight moves in and out in the most effective manner.

This column was written by Peter K. Mathew, managing director, Fleet Line Shipping Services

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