Experienced players in the transport and logistics market follow the proven development strategy of tailoring their services to the demands of specific industries. The AsstrA-Associated Traffic AG international corporate group is no exception. AsstrA’s first sector-focused division was created 5 years ago, and today there are 15 such divisions and counting.
One of the most interesting is the Industry Project Logistics Division, which organizes project transportation. Its specialists face many challenges, but the monotony of managing regular traffic flows along the same routes, day after day, is not one. Each project is a new test of their knowledge and skills. AsstrA Industry Project Logistics (AIPL) Division Head Giorgi Khabazashvili, describes the motives for creating the division and the everyday lives of its team members.
Giorgi, please share the AIPL Division’s origin story.
Project logistics is traditionally one of the most profitable segments in the transport and logistics industry. But this is not "easy money," as each project requires careful consideration. There is no universal framework that can be adjusted to offer each client a ready solution in just a couple of hours. When we began receiving a regular flow of requests for the transportation of factories, stations, and other industrial facilities, we assembled the right specialists and created this division as a natural response.
What kind of specialists are involved in the organization of project transportation?
We select AIPL experts based on their practical combination of experience and open-mindedness. The nature of the business demands a wide skill set including sales, pricing, tender offer management, and operations. Experience is required in the organization of transportation by the main types of transport: road, sea, air, river, and rail. Expert knowledge and skills in the transport of heavy and oversized cargo is of key importance. Each specialist excels at providing clients with services related to customs support, import and export, transit, consolidation and deconsolidation, inspection of commodity items, warehousing, and export packaging and marking. And this is not a complete list of requirements for the specialists of our division. Each member of the AIPL team must be able to solve problems, no matter how big they may be. They thrive on the daily challenges of large-scale projects and unfamiliar situations.
What sorts of projects does the AIPL team handle?
Logistics support for the construction of new plants or the reconstruction of older ones for the needs of the chemical, mining, and oil and gas industries. Also for the construction and maintenance of nuclear power plants, metallurgy and machine buildings, oil and gas pipelines, pumping stations, wind generators, etc.
To prepare a price quotation, what data do you need?
The minimum set of information includes the following:
- Description of the goods (packing list, invoice, transport drawings, certificates of origin and quality on request, completed security forms for dangerous goods, export / import permits for dual use goods);
- Places of loading and unloading;
- Customs points of departure and destination.
At the initial stage of supply chain planning, what complexities do AIPL employees face?
First of all, there are very short timeframes for processing requests, providing data, and estimating costs. While the AIPL Division does work on large-scale projects planned few years in advance, we often receive urgent requests. The speed and quality of the work of the division is directly influenced by the accuracy of the transport documentation. When external documents come in, AIPL specialists carefully check them to exclude the slightest possibility of error.
There is also tough competition in the logistics services market. This highly competitive environment, however, prompts the creation of new and non-standard solutions involving, for example, subcontractor management, work process optimization, and labor resource mobilization to stay profitable.
Along with the transportation itself, what additional services are included in the organization of project logistics?
Of course, everything depends on the needs of the client. If the client needs turnkey logistics, we will organize the delivery process from start to finish, including the development of the route, obtaining permits for the transportation of heavy or oversized cargo, creating a loading and fastening scheme, customs clearance, and insurance. For each project, we appoint a dedicated employee to act as project manager responsible for the quality of each delivery stage. He or she monitors the cargo from loading to unloading and informs the client about the progress of transportation. This one-window approach gives the impression that the whole process is organized by only a few people. However, I have to emphasize that each and every project requires the well-coordinated work of the whole team.
Tell us about a vivid and memorable AIPL project.
All projects are interesting in their own way. As an example, I will cite the transportation of drilling machines and equipment for earth works involved in the construction of the world's highest hydroelectric power station dam in Tajikistan. The cost of the construction project was about $2 billion over 10 years. We provided the loading of equipment in the Malaysian port city of Port Klang, organized an overload in the port of Tianjin in China, and then oversaw the subsequent combined delivery scheme by rail and road to the destination. The ban on transit of cargo through the territory of Uzbekistan forced us to send the oversized cargo on a more challenging route through the high mountain passes of Kyrgyzstan. Therefore, this project can be considered as our most ambitious both in terms of value and timeframe.
What plans does the AIPL Division have for the near future?
Our divisionis relatively young, but the first results of its activities are already visible. So far this year, turnover has grown by 20% compared to the second half of 2017, and gross profits are up 250%. Such indicators came about in many respects due to the optimization of work with contractors. Regarding future plans, we would like to expand the competence of the AIPL Division further, attract and train young employees, strengthen ties with other AsstrA divisions, and grow our network of reliable subcontractors.
As you can see, all our plans for the future are closely connected with people. It is the professionalism of each member of the team, from the freight forwarder to the accountant, that helps us execute complex projects and guarantees the achievement of the goals we set.