Ever since the Brazilian government gave the green light in February 2010 to construct the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam in the Brazilian northern state of Pará in the Amazon rainforest, environmentalists and indigenous activists have been claiming how this dam will displace indigenous tribes and further damage the Amazon basin. That’s because the project, which will be the third-largest hydroelectric power plant in the world, will dam the Xingu River and some 500 square kilometers of land will be flooded as a result of the dam.
But according to the Brazilian energy ministry, the dam, which is expected to start production in 2015, will cost around R$20 billion (approximately $8.2 billion) and will eventually produce around 11GW of electricity. That’s 10 percent of the country’s power consumption. Its construction is part of a major government investment drive to help the country keep up with soaring energy demand from a rapidly expanding economy, while curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
The project is a worldwide effort. Alstom signed a contract worth approximately $780 million with Norte Energia of Brazil to provide power equipment for the Belo Monte Dam. The company is leading a consortium that includes German Voith and Austrian Andritz for fourteen 611 MW Francis turbine-generator sets and the six smaller Bulb units. Alstom will supply seven Francis units, hydro-mechanical equipment and associated Gas Insulated Substations (GIS) for the fourteen large-scale units.
Despite the controversy, construction on the power plant begun on June 23, 2011, giving way to enormous opportunities for companies that handle break bulk shipments to this not so easy to access part of the world.
One of them is CaroTrans, a leading global NVOCC and ocean freight consolidator and big player in Brazil.
Kika Veiga, branch manager for CaroTrans in Miami, explains that CaroTrans started participating in the Belo Monte project in September 2011.
“We carried basically generators, gensets, manufactured by Caterpillar to be used during the construction,” she reveals.
CaroTrans did not move the generators on behalf of Caterpillar, but for the customer in Brazil who purchased the equipment. That firm then hired a forwarder in Miami to handle the export transaction from the United States.
Nevertheless, the sheer scale of the Belo Monte project represents a major win for Caterpillar as well as CaroTrans. To date, Brazil-based Cat® dealer Sotreq has sold 685 Cat machines and 77 generator sets for the project. There is potential for an additional 300 machines to be sold over the project’s duration, as well as a significant aftermarket parts sales opportunity.
Bernadette Manso, region industry manager for Caterpillar’s Global Construction and Infrastructure group, credits teamwork and commitment for giving Caterpillar the edge to win 100 percent of the project. “Our product groups, distribution services team and Cat Financial worked as one to present a comprehensive solution, and Sotreq put together an amazing product support proposal,” explains Bernadette Manso, who worked closely with Sales Supervisor Dennis Ventura, Corporate Product Support Manager Edgard Reis and Corporate Account Manager Augusto Azevedo to pull together the Caterpillar bid.
Not only is Belo Monte dam one of the largest construction projects in all of Latin America, but it’s also a challenging one. Located on the Xingu River deep in a remote area of the Amazon, a single dirt road is the only connection between the area and the port 40 kilometers away. Even before winning the business, Sotreq was purchasing land to establish an onsite branch.
CaroTrans was employed to handle the movement of the generators from different points in the United States to the Port of Miami, the port of exportation. Not only does CaroTrans offer service handling less than container loads (LCL) and full container loads ( FCL), consolidation, and brokerage service on a weekly basis from different points of origin in the United States to different destinations in Brazil, the company is a leader in that trade lane.
“We coordinated the pickup with low bed and special trucks at the provider’s various distribution centers, then brought them to PortMiami,” Veiga describes.
The shipments were not light. On average they weighted 38,000 per container. “Sometimes, these were over dimensional, meaning they did not always fit,” she remarks.
These were loaded at the Eller ITO that is located inside the Port of Miami. There the stevedore container handling equipment pool can accommodates break bulk and special cargo shipments for a number of lines. “ETO ITO did the loading for us on flat racks,” she explains. “Once they arrived there we no longer had involvement with the shipment.”
Because of the weight of the shipments and the fact some were oversized meant that the shipments needed locking and bracing.
“That is why we had Eller ITO to do this loading,” she says. “The job cost approximately something between $4,000 to $5,000 just to do the locking and bracing of these pieces.”
From the Port of Miami the shipment was transported via CMA/CGM and MOL to Brazil and eventually the Amazon capital city of Manaus.
“We used these steamship lines because they offered the best negotiated rate,” she says. “We negotiated from the very beginning from finding the appropriate trucks to be placed at the providers of the distribution centers for Caterpillar to bring them down to the Port of Miami, get offloaded at the Port of Miami into this terminal, and then Eller ITO loaded the block and braced the cargo properly, then loaded it into the ships.”
Once the break bulk shipments arrived in Brazil, they were immediately consigned to CaroTrans agent representative, Craft Multimodal, who handled the in country transport of the shipment to Manaus, the capital city in the Amazon region.
“Manaus is a place that does not have big coverage,” she explains. “Only two to three carriers cover that market. It’s very complicated.”
Craft Multimodal, with whom CaroTrans has been in partnership for over 12 years, are the leaders in the market with 50 percent of the business. Their responsibility was to release the paperwork to the final customer.
“That is where we ended our responsibility,” she explains. “We did not do any door to door delivery in Brazil. The containers came available to the consignee.”
Veiga explains that CaroTrans did need to negotiate more time for the containers in Brazil because they needed the usual 7 to 10 days that the carriers normally provide. “We needed to negotiate on that on a contract level with a carrier where we got 21 days free time,” she says.
Overall, CaroTrans moved approximately 30 to 40 of the generator shipments.
“This was a large project for us,” she says. “It required a lot of coordination. And I have to tell you, it was flawless.”
Associated with the shipment were a few standard shipments utilizing 20 foot and 40 foot containers filled with maintenance and replacement parts.
“We did the consolidation on that,” she says.
The projected ended in December 2012, although this current year the company has handled three additional standard containers containing more replacement parts.