Freight Terminals & Ports

Achieving efficient terminal operations is a core expertise, with Robert Skene Consulting Ltd's work encompassing both new builds, and improvements in the efficiency and/or viability of existing terminals and ports.

Our Principal, Robert Skene, has over twenty years' experience in the area and has had a professional involvement in excess of two hundred of freight terminals and ports, covering new build and existing operations, and a wide range of commodities, including bulks, perishables, motor vehicles, palletised products, and intermodal traffic. These have included terminals run with military precision, those seemingly run for the convenience of the operatives, well designed terminals, poorly designed terminals (a depressingly large proportion of the total), those that deliver good profits, and those that have no prospect of ever achieving viability. We can assimilate terminals and their operations rapidly, and quickly identify the main areas where operations could be optimised.

We have an intimate understanding of how to design terminals to maximise the efficiency of the whole supply/distribution chain and reduce OPEX, and of the throughputs required to achieve viability. This is particularly important for the rail mode, where minimisation of unit terminal costs and provision of efficient and well integrated collection and distribution services is frequently the "make or break" factor in achieving viability for the mode; particularly as in most cases these costs are unique to the mode.


Efficiency is best 'designed in' at the outset; however, for many operations with sub-optimal layouts this is not possible; when identifying ameliorating measures, we understand how to deliver maximum benefits at minimum CAPEX. Our approach is always analytically based with the objective of recommending operational or managerial actions to improve efficiency/throughput first and only then to suggest investment to resolve particular issues.

Intermodalism is an area in which we have lengthy and wide-ranging experience, having worked for intermodal operators (e.g. Freightliner), ports, freight forwarders, and end customers, the vast majority of our work has been on actual terminals, as opposed to paper schemes, and furthermore the overwhelming majority of these have been viable terminals already operating at a high level of efficiency. This is an area in which our business focus of integrating engineering, operational, and financial issues into a seamless and coherent analysis is vital; for example, we have a proven track record in delivering throughput improvements at busy terminals with minimal capital investment, at ports and at inland rail terminals. We have also designed new intermodal terminals, again for both ports and inland intermodal terminals for rail, in all cases these have been designed with efficient and viable operation at heart of the design.

We are also realistic about the limitations of intermodality: no other transport innovation has been so instrumental in creating the modern global market, or has transformed the transport landscape in quite the same way; however, it is important to remember that there are restrictions to what can be achieved. Chief amongst these is the requirement for sufficient volume to achieve viability: intermodal operations have highly non-linear cost structures and as such are volume hungry and exist in a Darwinian market, where the strongest terminals snowball in strength and the weakest are squeezed out of existence. Not only would a terminal with insufficient traffic lose money, but operators would refuse to serve it if they could not achieve good load factors, or 'plug' it efficiently into their service networks. Robert Skene Consulting Ltd has a deep understanding of both intermodal logistics and intermodal cost structures, and as such give sound advice.

Please get in touch to use our services. You can call us for free, or send your enquiry through our email form and we will respond at the earliest opportunity.

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