TRANS-ATLANTIC TRADE - Europe’s logistics landscape comes of age

By: | at 08:00 PM | Channel(s): Logistics  

By Karen E. Thuermer, AJOTThe European landscape is quickly changing and with it the footprint and location of logistics operations. Healey & Baker, part of the Cushman & Wakefield group, reports: “The logistics industry remains in the midst of a period of intense structural realignment due to the combination of changing corporate trends, the expansion of the single market and the development of international retailing, not to mention the contraction in manufacturing output in light of the global economic slowdown.”
Several trends are influencing investment in logistics: Continued growth in manufacturing in Central and Eastern Europe, thereby creating needs in distribution, and the flood of Asian goods coming into Europe via major seaports and airports, most of which are located in Western Europe. At the same time, e-commerce, just in time delivery, postal deregulation and changing transport policies are placing more emphasis on local distribution, polarizing the changes taking place.
For example, San Francisco-based AMB Property Group is involved in air cargo center projects at the Paris (Charles de Gaulle), Frankfurt, Madrid and Amsterdam airports. These airports have gained enormous importance as air cargo hubs thanks to its numerous intercontinental connections, well-established handling processes, and convenient geo-strategic positions within Europe.
Also wielding logistics activities are ongoing improvements to Europe’s transportation networks with one of the largest currently being the 57-kilometer Gotthard base tunnel in Switzerland. A high-speed rail link, still 10 years away from being operational, will connect the isolated and economically depressed mountain region in Graubunden to the rest of Europe. Most of Switzerland benefits by being in the heart of Europe, although they are not a European Union member.
Europe’s heart for logisticsTraditionally, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany have attracted significant logistics concerns. Ports there have long served as gateways for cargoes transiting the Atlantic Ocean as well as goods coming from Asia.
The Meuse Rhine Triangle, which encompasses the important crossroads of Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, has been particularly successful given its dense transportation network. For that reason, the region is particularly attractive to US manufacturers.
Here, 14 European highways intersect, offering excellent traffic flow. Liege Airport, with its key tenant TNT, is a center for freight. The region provides three major inland ports with multimodal terminals; standard and high-speed rail systems; five major European waterways; superb telecommunications; and logistics sites and industrial parks specifically designed for multimodal transport.
A unique project currently available in Liege is Bierset TriLogis Park. Its platform offers trimodal access for road, rail and air logistics. ProLogis, a provider of integrated distribution facilities and services, is opening a 45,000-square-meter distribution center (DC) at the Hauts-Sarts park on the E313 Liege-Antwerp highway. Plans for the next stage call for an additional 90,000-square-meters of space.
It is not by accident that Bertelsmann, Bose, Boston Scientific, IKEA, TNT and Skechers have their European logistics operations in the Triangle. Skechers, a leader in lifestyle footwear, operates a warehouse in Liege. The location attracted Skechers because of its transportation options—barge, rail, road, truck and air. More so, with the assistance of SPI, Skechers, easily found ample and expandable space. Plus, the area offered an available and talented workforce.
In Liege, its Forem Logistique annually trains some 3,000 persons in 25 transport and logistics sectors. The University of Liege and other colleges in the area also offer excellent courses in integrated logistics, packing and transport and logistics management.
“That is not all,” says professor Alex Van Breedam, logistics expert from the University of Antwerp. “The chances

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American Journal of Transportation