A Qatari construction company faced with container shortages has opted to use bulk carriers to bring essential building materials from mainland China to complete an express mega construction project. The fragile materials were loaded into the holds of six bulk carriers in a novel way to reach Hamad port.
The current global supply chain crisis is having an impact on infrastructure projects worldwide. As Qatar’s largest contractor, UrbaCon Trading & Contracting Company (UCC) investigated a number of alternatives to deliver high value projects for clients despite the global container shortage and rising freight costs.
Ayman Rabata, head of inbound logistics, explained: “Instead of using traditional shipping methods via container, we’ve worked out a solution to use bulk carriers – the ships that normally ship grain and unboxed cargo – to make sure there is no disruption to our projects.”
The challenge for UCC was to ship over 95,000 cu m of building materials used for large housing projects. The EPS cement sandwich walls would ordinarily require space in more than 1,400 containers.
The material is fragile and can break if knocked together during high seas. To overcome this, UCC requested the pallets be separated with wood and rubber to act as a shock absorber in the event of collision. Only a few pallets were damaged and were unusable on arrival in Qatar.
Splash has reported on a host of other companies ditching containerships in favour of dry bulk carriers during this year’s extreme box shortage.
Earlier this month Coca-Cola’s procurement director, Alan Smith, revealed how the beverage giant had recently opted to move just over 60,000 tonnes of material on three handysize bulk carriers instead of liners in order to keep its production lines running across the world. The material shifted in sacks was the equivalent of 2,800 teu. Smith revealed the bulker shift was the first of many planned over the coming months, the latest chapter in what Steve Ferreira, CEO of New York-based shipper advisory Ocean Audit, has described as “containergeddon”.
This year has also seen a number of bulk carriers repurposed and strengthened to carry containers.