Steel and steel products are key commodities in today’s economy, with production levels ranging from 189 million tons of steel produced in 1950 to an all-time high of 1,621 million tons in 2014. According to The American Steamship Owners Mutual Protection and Indemnity Association, this heavyweight metal is irreplaceable in the infrastructure, construction, automotive, and defense sectors, among many others.
Due to the high volumes involved in steel transport, the industry is highly dependent on efficient transporters. They play a central role in ensuring the safe and efficient export and import of steel products. After observing a steady rise in the amount of steel and steel coils shipments, experts from international logistics and transportation company AsstrA-Associated Traffic AG explain the most important factors supporting the successful and lossless transportation of this type of metal.
In order to guarantee the safe delivery of steel and steel coils, AsstrA has developed internal management processes based on grouping metals according to their vulnerability to external factors, ranking suppliers, and available safety solutions such as technology preventing the theft or damage of cargo. The AsstrA Steel Logistics team ensures that for each shipment a suitable method and vehicle is chosen with appropriate security safeguards and gauges.
“While transporting steel and steel coils, it is necessary to keep in mind that this metal is very sensitive to water and condensation. Expeditors aim to prevent any losses before the beginning of the transportation process, so the most important initial step is choosing a suitable transport vehicle and a reliable Partner to execute the project,” comments Katerina Suhanova, Head of AsstrA Steel Logistics division.
Steel-based products are transported in a variety of ways including single, loose, individually, bundled, packaged in paper or metal protective covers, parceled, or coated in oil or paint. AsstrA offers purpose-adapted vehicles including standard trucks equipped with special equipment, semi-trailers for the transportation of oversized “MEGA” class cargo, coil trailers with a closed gutter, and container chassis semi-trailers.
The main hazards of steel transportation include: cargo wetting caused by fresh or salt water, humidity, or condensation; poor vessel, wagon, or platform condition; substandard cargo hold condition; lack of ventilation; contamination by foreign bodies or substances; and inadequate segregation between steel cargo consignments.
“Of all the factors affecting the secure transportation of steel, weather is the easiest to control and friction between steel cargo components is the trickiest. Once negative weather conditions can be protected against by hermetic and responsible coverage, securing the cargo components from each other requires more experience choosing proper support systems and materials. It is also necessary to maintain proper moisture levels and cargo unit ventilation during transportation. I would like to add that the aim of ventilation is not to regulate the cargo temperature but rather to prevent condensation on the transport vehicles’ steel parts,” adds Katerina Suhanova.
During the first 6 months of 2018, the AsstrA Steel Logistics division’s team of qualified expeditors executed 5,492 shipments of steel amounting in total to 241,000 tons, 7% more than in the same period a year ago.
AsstrA also shipped 101,928 tons of steel products in 2017 and 95,321 tons during the first half of this year – putting AsstrA well on its way to double year-on-year cargo turnover in this segment. Most of the cargo consisted of steel framework, wires, fittings, sheets, metal structures, and steel bars. The company expects to see more imports and exports of steel in European markets in line with growing economies and falling energy prices.
This year, AsstrA’s main trade lanes include routes between Belgium-Poland, Romania-Poland, Russia-Germany, Belgium-Russia and Latvia-Lithuania, as well as within Russia.
According to Katerina Suhanova the main factor driving the company’s revenue growth from steel transportations orders is the high level of AsstrA's attendance and service support provided at all steps of steel shipping.