New Ford Terminal Officially Opened
The Dutch port of Vlissingen has become Ford's gateway to and from Britain for vehicles and components through a new purpose-built ferry terminal which was officially opened today.
The new facility allows Ford to integrate the shipment of all its new vehicles and components directly between Vlissingen and the Dagenham plant on the Thames estuary. The new terminal will be operated by the Belgian logistics provider Cobelfret in Antwerp and will be used exclusively by Ford.
It is a two-way operation, with new Jaguar cars en route to owners on the Continent and components from British Ford factories destined for European Ford plants travelling to Vlissingen on Cobelfret vessels from the River Thames jetty at the Dagenham plant.
Previously, new Ford Fiesta and Ford Fusion models, destined for the UK and Ireland, have been sent from the assembly plant in Cologne via Rotterdam, with components shipped separately via Zeebrügge in Belgium to Dagenham on the outskirts of east London.
"By integrating the shipment of vehicles and components through one terminal on the continent and basically just one ferry link, we are making things far more efficient, reducing costs and at the same time increasing the quality of our shipping service," says Bill Gurmin, head of logistics at Ford of Europe.
New vehicles are now transported from the Cologne assembly line down the River Rhine on special RoRo barges to the new terminal in Vlissingen. Each of the five barges can carry around 550 vehicles at a time, adding up to a total of 100,000 right-hand drive vehicles annually for the UK and Ireland markets.
Ford Focus models for the UK and Ireland, from the assembly plant at Saarlouis, arrive by train at the ferry terminal in Vlissingen. Ford Mondeos for Britain, from the Genk plant in Belgium, are also shipped on car trains to Vlissingen; while those destined for Ireland will continue to go by sea from Zeebrügge.
Automotive components are transported by Ford's own fleet of trucks from Cologne to the new terminal. Up to 400 semi-trailers will commute daily between Ford assembly plants on the Continent and in the UK, using the Vlissingen-Dagenham link.
Engines from Ford plants at Bridgend and Dagenham in the UK, transmission units from Halewood and brake discs from Swansea, for instance, will all use the new link on their way to the vehicle assembly plants and spare parts depots on the Continent. Vehicle parts and components travelling along the tightly-controlled logistics network between the UK and the vehicle assembly lines in Genk, Cologne and Saarlouis, will arrive at their various destinations within 24 hours. In addition, material from automotive component suppliers will be shipped in both directions.
Each year, the 260 Ford fleet drivers in Cologne and Genk, plus subcontracted freight forwarders, will haul a total of 80,000 trailers between the various Ford sites in the UK and the Ford assembly plants in Germany, Belgium, France and other countries on the Continent.
Between the terminal at Vlissingen and Dagenham Jetty, Cobelfret will operate four ships, with three sailings a day and each able to carry up to 67 trailers and 545 vehicles on specially designed decks. With 11,854 gross registered tonnes (GRT), these are large vessels with a length of 147 metres. It takes each one eleven hours to cross the Straits of Dover and enter the Thames estuary, plus another five hours waiting time at the quay for loading and unloading.
The new Cobelfret Ford terminal at Vlissingen East employs a workforce of 120. The facility itself was built on reclaimed land on the Westerschelde and covers an area of 56 hectares. It provides parking areas for a maximum of 25,000 vehicles and 700 trailers, has three RoRo jetties and three railway sidings.