[ID] => 10374
[post_author] => 5714
[post_date] => 2018-11-28 09:08:12
[post_date_gmt] => 2018-11-28 09:08:12
[post_content] => Tank container business in Russia is growing rapidly. Companies are investing huge amounts of money in infrastructure and container fleets to meet the increasing demands of chemical and other liquids shippers. Infotech Baltika M, the largest tank container operator in Russia and a member of the International Tank Container Organisation (ITCO), spoke to HCB with comments on trends in the Russian tank container industry, the relationship with Europe and China, and what can be expected for the sector in the future.
The tank container business has been rapidly developing in Russia over the last seven years. “International freight transport has been on the rise recently,” says Alexander Alexeev, CEO of Infotech Baltika M. “This has allowed our company to build long-term relationships with our customers and partners in Russia, China and Europe. Leading positions in Russia and owning our own fleet has given us the flexibility and versatility to offer the reasonable pricing and excellent customer service across our operational regions that our client base relies on.”
Infotech Baltika M operates a fleet of 5,000 units and 2,300 platforms with chemicals making up the largest share of goods being carried.
The Eurasian Customs Union (EACU), consisting of five member states - Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia - is an economic union in which no customs charges are levied on goods travelling across borders and members of the union levy a common external tariff on all goods entering the union. The EACU has recently tightened the regulations regarding railway rolling stock and tank containers that enter and operate on its territory, which has – according to Alexeev – created certain difficulties for non-resident companies. On the other hand, freight forwarding processes have been streamlined and have become more technologically advanced. Alexeev continues: “Only by being in the business and knowing the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the industry can you maintain a competitive advantage, and we are more than happy to offer our expertise to our clients.”
One problem faced by many companies operating in the Russian market is the cooperation – or lack thereof – with European firms. For many companies in Russia, attracting cargo from Europe is a significant roadblock that is preventing expansion outside the EACU. Infotech Baltika M, however, believes that it is definitely possible to attract cargo from Europe. The company attends conferences all over Europe and China, including the European Petrochemical Association’s (EPCA) Annual Meeting that took place in Vienna this past October.
“Being based in Russia, we have a certain advantage over our European colleagues. We know all the ins and outs of the market, which places us in a prime position,” says Alexeev. “There is a certain scepticism in Europe towards Russian businesses, but attitudes are gradually changing and international companies are actively cooperating with us.” The company has also had to incorporate relevant international standards into its work practices, such as Safety & Quality Assessment for Sustainability (SQAS), in order to maximise its potential within the European market.
Container shipping is currently growing in Russia, both in dry freight containers and tank containers. Russian railways have adjusted their pricing policies to facilitate the growth, which has acted as a catalyst for the development of container business in Russia. “Unfortunately, however, not all companies and railway stations are ready to work with tank containers,” says Alexeev. “Nevertheless, the comprehensive service that we provide does help to resolve any major technical problems that our clients might experience.” Infotech Baltika M actively participates in developing and actualising the regulatory framework for tank container businesses and its efforts have not been in vain.
The provision of value-added services such as tank cleaning and repair has up to now been scarce in the Russian market. “The number of cleaning stations and repair depots has increased. However, we are not always satisfied with the quality of the service that they provide,” continues Alexeev. “In order to conduct a thorough check, we often invite companies to participate in the tender process so that we can integrate our standards and practices into their business. We own two depots in Russia where we make routine checks and make repairs to our tank containers.”
Given the continuing growth of the tank container market in Russia, there will have to be a significant rise in the number of tank cleaning and repair facilities.
The use of fibre-reinforced plastics (FRP) in the tank container industry has been on the rise in recent years with the potentials that the containers offer – not only in storage capabilities but also in cost – proving themselves of worth within the chemical distribution market and beyond. A lot of companies, however, are slow to adopt the use of such tanks, but do still acknowledge their place in the market as well as their potential for future use.
Typically, the use of FRP tanks is limited by the resins that are used in their construction. Thermoplastic resin will suffer from slow deformation under mechanical stresses at elevated temperatures, also known as ‘creep’. However, a lot of newer tanks are being produced with resins that are able to withstand higher temperatures. FRP tanks are also susceptible to degradation through long-term exposure to ultraviolet light, which changes the chemical makeup of the resins over time. This can be mitigated with the addition of exterior gelcoats and sealants but will increase the cost of tank maintenance as a result.
Infotech Baltika M has stated that it has been receiving requests for the transport of freight for which regular stainless steel tanks are not a sufficient solution. “We have just finished the first stage of testing a one-of-a-kind tank container made from composite materials,” says Alexeev. “It is, indeed, a very interesting product. The main benefit is the range of cargo we can transport inside it, including the most corrosion-susceptible ones such as hydrochloric acid. In the coming years, we expect the number of these tanks to rise significantly.”
Infotech Baltika M has been operating in the market since 2007, transporting a range of liquid cargoes including chemicals, liquefied gases and food products. The company, dedicated to customer service, offers transportation of cargo by rail, sea and road and employs a large team of technicians that assist with client services.
[post_title] => To Russia and beyond
[post_status] => publish
[comment_status] => open
[ping_status] => open
[post_name] => from-russia-with-tanks
[post_modified] => 2018-11-28 15:51:11
[post_modified_gmt] => 2018-11-28 15:51:11
[post_parent] => 0
[guid] => https://www.hcblive.com/?p=10374
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