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New automated container yard for Vlissingen

Kloosterboer is about to confirm orders for an automated E-RTG reefer stack at its terminal in the Dutch port of Vlissingen (Flushing), with Chiquita as launch customer

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New automated container yard for Vlissingen

With Chiquita as launch customer, the CY will facilitate capacity increase to an annual 300,000 TEU, against the 170,000 TEU handled in 2018. The growth will initially be generated from Chiquita’s switch from shipping conventional pallets to full containerisation in its North Europe services.


The first ship in the new set-up was discharged in Vlissingen on 18th February. Chiquita is now concentrating all its banana traffic to Nothern Europe via Kloosterboer in the Dutch port, where Kloosterboer already handles containers for CMA CGM and for inland barge services.


Finalising the various tenders is a matter of weeks only, Gerben Paauwe, general manager of Kloosterboer Vlissingen BV, told WorldCargo News. This will be necessary, given lead-times in order to get the RTG stack on stream in Q1 2020. “All detailed engineering is well in place. Also, the related container PTI and washing site has been completed.”

CHIQUITA TRADER made the first call in the revamped service in February. (Photo: Kloosterboer)
CHIQUITA TRADER made the first call in the revamped service in February. (Photo: Kloosterboer)

The private Dutch terminal, warehousing and distribution group – renowned for its many coldstores throughout Europe – is to order four automated and fully electric RTGs (E-RTGs). In addition, contracts will be concluded for the construction of the two stacking lanes, the reefer power racks and a new TOS. In all cases, the shortlists include three vendors.


“We had already contracted Dutch firm Certus Port Automation for the new Gate Operating System featuring automated truck scanning. Earlier on, we commissioned Solid Port Solutions from Dubai for the key consultancy. We had, however, already decided in favour of the RTG concept ourselves. Reach stackers would have curbed efficiency and competitiveness,” Paauwe added. SPS mainly employs Dutch specialists.

CY schematic from Kloosterboer- note the protected areas for truck/tractor drivers (coloured orange)
CY schematic from Kloosterboer- note the protected areas for truck/tractor drivers (coloured orange)

The E-RTGs, which will be powered off flexible cables, will operate fully automatically over the stacks, with the remote control operator taking over for all activities over the truck lane. Before remote operations start, the driver will leave his cab and wait in whichever of the built-in protected areas alongside the truck lane is nearest to him.


The stack’s aggregate capacity will be 3,395 TEU including 1,020 slots for reefers.


Quayside handling is currently performed by four Liebherr mobile harbour cranes, but serious consideration is being given to deploying STS container gantry cranes in future, although this would require some civil work that would not be completed before 2022 at the earliest. There will be more on this aspect in a forthcoming print edition of WorldCargo News.

Kloosterboer schematic of new automated truck gate from Certus
Kloosterboer schematic of new automated truck gate from Certus

Chiquita has been instrumental for the RTG investment, as the shipper has recently extended its contract with Kloosterboer Vlissingen for an undisclosed number of years. The company moved one of its two Central America to Northen Europe services from Antwerp to Vlissingen four years ago and last year it transferred the Bremerhaven service it operated through MSC.


This was tied up with Chiquita’s decision to switch from shipping conventional pallets in reefer ships to full container shipping, for which it also acquired 2,500 reefer containers.


The two services (1 x Bremerhaven and 1 x Vlissingen) each deploying four ships, have now merged into a single service to Vlissingen. The service’s five ships have a 2,500 TEU intake, which includes 600 reefer slots. In the wake of Chiquita’s containerisation, Unifeeder and Samskip, too, are now calling at Vlissingen. Whereas Unifeeder will do the feedering to Oslo, Helsingborg and Helsinki, Samskip will serve British destinations. So Vlissingen is now a transhipment port!


Gerben Paauwe declined to provide transhipment figures of his customer’s. But local newspaper PZC has understood that the stevedore’s banana volume – also thanks to the business having moved from Bremerhaven – will go from about 400,000 tonnes in 2018 to around 720,000 tonnes this year.


Last year, plans to establish from scratch a shortsea container terminal in Vlissingen collapsed. Initiated by a business plan by the Rotterdam-based Kramer container group, the project was joined by Vlissingen-based stevedores Verbrugge and Kloosterboer. It is being suggested that Kloosterboer would not prey on its own container extension with the Chiquita contract extension about to be inked.

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