In April, logistics provider CF&S shipped fifty Sampo-Rosenlew harvesters from the manufacturer’s factory in Pori, Finland, to Shirvan, Azerbaijan. The job required that specialized trucks transport the harvesters to Paldiski, in Estonia, where they were loaded onto special rolling stock, owned by CF&S, then transported by rail to Shirvan.
For CF&S, this project was only the latest in a series of moves transporting oversized farm equipment to destinations in Central Asia: Tractors to Uzbekistan, combine harvesters to Kazakhstan, tractors to Turkmenistan. They underscore the Estonia-based transport and logistic group’s success in an unusual niche: project cargo from Europe to Russia as well as to some of the far-flung countries that made up the old Soviet Union.
“Our volume is quite significant,” said CF&S CEO Tiit Arus, in an email. “You could call us [the] service provider to Central Asia countries.”
Project cargo-related logistics now constitutes about 20% of the company’s revenue, which in 2017 totaled 49 million Euros. Founded in 1997, CF&S is now part of the Baltic Marine Logistics Group, which includes Hansa Shipping. Last year, the group turned in revenue of 143 million Euros.
According to Arus, CF&S began to service Central Asia about 15 years ago, but first, only with container transport. As the region began to develop, the logistics company started to transport oversized cargo, primarily agricultural, construction and mining equipment. CF&S has also transported brewery equipment to Uzbekistan, wind blades to Azerbaijan and wind generators to Kazakhstan.
In the beginning, CF&S transported its oversized cargo on standard 18-meters platforms. But as business developed, “we understood that a bigger amount of agricultural and construction machines can be carried more efficiently on 24-meters platforms,” said Arus. And, the longer platforms allow transport of bigger cargo.
In 2011, the company began to order the building of its own fleet of 24-meters platforms from various factories in Russia and Ukraine. Today, the company has 140 24-meters platforms, each capable of carrying 69 tons of cargo. That capacity would allow the company to ship “560 normal-sized tractors at once,” Arus said.
The Sampo tractors shipment demonstrates another aspect of transport CF&S believes to be advantageous: the use of Estonia’s Paldiski port as a transshipment center. Arus cited two main benefits of using the port: He called it the best ro-ro port in all three Baltic states, with regular service from ports in Germany, Belgium, Britain and elsewhere. It’s common for CF&S to receive oversized cargo via ships – either ro-ro or conventional—from countries where the equipment is manufactured and then transship them by rail to Central Asia and Russia.
Another advantage of Paldiski: CF&S can utilize Esteve Terminal, which is part of BMLG, and whose workers can load the railcars.
Sampo could have transported its tractors by rail all the way from Finland. However, it was less expensive to ship via Estonia, said the logistics provider, as Finland doesn’t allow private platforms.
“Transporting via Estonia is becoming more and more competitive compared to direct railage from Finland,” said CF&S sales director Daimar Truija, in a press release.
CF&S is part of several networks, including the WCA, Project Cargo Network and Multiport Ship Agencies Network.
According to Arus, “most of our customers are European freight forwarders, whom we have found through different networks, from exhibitions, online sales, etc.”