Careful vetting of carrier partners is essential in today’s breakbulk and project cargo environment, but a standard evaluative process is likely to remain elusive, according to industry leaders.
The discussion on vetting was among several timely dialogues taking place in conference sessions of Breakbulk Americas, held Oct. 17-19 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.
Ed Bastian, director of global sales at Germany-based worldwide project carrier BBC Chartering, kicked off the panel chat saying he sees recent indications of strong demand and growing trade volumes in a sector that, like containerized cargo shipping, has been impacted for several years by overcapacity, low freight rates, collapse of commodity prices and various econo-political crises.
The currently risk-filled industry environment, with some carriers going out of business and banks pulling vessels, makes a meticulous vetting process all the more imperative, according to Jake Swanson, director of global logistics for The Woodlands, Texas-based energy industry technology and infrastructure provider CB&I’s Engineering and Construction Group.
“The way that shippers are protecting themselves is by not shipping much,” Swanson said with a smile, continuing, “No, that was a bad joke. Actually, we are protecting ourselves by keeping our group of carrier partners to a tight list of those with whom we have longstanding trusted relationships and that have gone through rigorous annual vetting processes.”
Frank Fischer, managing director for tonnage procurement at Houston-based project, breakbulk and heavylift carrier Intermarine LLC, said he believes a “common vetting agreement” between carriers and engineering, procurement and construction companies, known for short as EPCs, would be beneficial, as the process currently is carried out via myriad disparate procedures.
The head of another global specialized carrier in the sector, Ulrich Ulrichs, chief executive officer of Germany-based Rickmers-Line, said he also would like to see a standard model for the vetting process, as the present variety of methods exacts undue costs…
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