Source: European Business Journal
Shipping through the Danube
The legendary Danube stretches some 2,850 km from Germanys Black Forest, passing through ten different countries and many of Eastern Europes great capitals before finally emptying into the Black Sea. The river, whose name in English is taken from the word to flow or run in Celtic, is the second longest river in Europe. Thanks to its size and reach, the waterway has long played a vital role in the transport of goods and people. With the completion of the German Rhine-Main-Danube Canal in 1992, the river now connects the Black Sea with Rotterdam on the North Atlantic. Based in Budapest, ISD Portolan Ltd. plays a significant role in international shipments on the Danube. Besides river traffic, ISD Portolan is also well-known for shipments by sea, rail and road. Since being acquired by ISD Dunaferr, which is located in Dunaújváros, Hungary, the transport and logistics provider is experiencing strong growth as it develops new services for its customers.
| Capt. Vaso Janicic, Managing Director of ISD Portolan since |
2005 and also Logistics Director of ISD Dunaferr
Founded in 1992, Portolan entered a new chapter in its history when it was acquired by ISD Dunaferr in 2005. The owners brought in their own management team and completely restructured the company to seize upon untapped synergies within the group, resulting in new services and greater efficiency.
One cannot argue with the results. Since making the move, ISD Portolan has seen its revenue jump from 32 million EUR in 2007 to 25 million in just the first half of 2008. The new owners are keeping the workforce of 100 busy, with the volume of cargo jumping from 4.763 million tons in 2006 to 5,057 million tons in 2007 to 6,774 million tons in just the first ten months of 2008.
"We are one of the key players in arranging international river transport from and/or to Hungary", explains Capt. Vaso Janicic, Managing Director of ISD Portolan since 2005 and also Logistics Director of ISD Dunaferr. Steel products as export cargoes and raw materials such as iron ore and coal as import cargoes are mainly represented. In September 2007, the Port of Dunaújváros joined forces with ISD Portolan and as a result of this merger, the Ports volume of cargo rose to more than one million tonnes per year. Nevertheless, the Port has capacities for even more volume of cargo and ISD Portolan is looking for new partners, preferably located on the lower Danube, who are interested in tapping into the shipping channel to ship their goods, such as grain, in the other direction.
With concerns growing about energy prices and the environment, transport via river makes sense. Statistics have demonstrated again and again that transport by barge or ship is the cleanest, most energy efficient and cost-effective means to move goods. Now that the Canal is open, Hungarian manufacturers can reach new markets with their goods, points out Capt. Janicic. Customers in Antwerp, Rotterdam and Amsterdam are within reach. From our port, we can travel in both directions to places that were more or less unreachable or very expensive to reach in the past.
Often, the transport by river represents just one leg from or to the final destination. Export productions are transported by river leg either to ARA (Antwerp, Rotterdam, Amsterdam) in transit to the USA, South America, and the UK or to Constanta in transit to Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and India, among others. Import products are transported by river leg either from Antwerp and Rotterdam or from Constanta.
Still, ISD Portolan's services go beyond river transport. ISD Portolan also has a complex network of rail, road and sea transport options at its disposal.
As the sea and river ports are seldom the final destination for the goods, ISD Portolan provides necessary links to rail and road transport, ensuring that goods are carried to the customers door.
|Carrying goods along the domestic waterways|
For rail, ISD Portolan works closely with its owner ISD Dunaferr, which produces some two million tonnes of goods, much of which is carried by rail to stations throughout the country and region. At its disposal are 240 Shimms freight cars, of which 120 are owned by the company. These cars are designed for the Hungarian rail system, but are also compatible with those of Hermes.
ISD Portolan also has a network of road transport firms. Long-term partnerships ensure fast turnaround times and excellent quality. Internationaily, ISD Portolan provides rail and road transport to and from Hungary. Its main customers abroad are in Germany, Poland, Austria, Italy, the Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Spain, France, Greece, the former Yugoslavia and the Ukraine.
These resources give ISD Portolan new possibilities for serving its customers. We are completely rethinking how transport was done in the past with new systems that optimise the movement of goods from warehouse to warehouse, explains Capt. Janicic. We can guarantee safe and efficient transport of goods from the river and land to the customers destination.
While ISD Portolans largest customer is its own parent, it works with many smaller exporters and importers. Good contacts allow it to keep marketing to a minimum.
We will continue to build on our competitive advantage, explains Capt. Janicic. This means investing our transport and logistics systems. To the latter, we will create new logistics centres like the ones we have in Rijeka, Croatia, in Bratislava, Slovakia and in San Stino, Italy. For manufacturers in Western Europe looking to tap into new markets in the East, we offer excellent conditions.