Unpacking bulk: from sugar to steel and everything in-between

Mandy Harvey, Head of Bulk Operations at Peel Ports

Most people have no idea what dry bulk commodities are, where they come from, and how they affect our day to day lives. From the cereal you eat in the morning, the cutlery in your kitchen, the sugar you put in your tea, and the roads you drive on – grains, sugar, steel and cement are everywhere.  A great deal of these dry bulks are shipped and imported from around the world arriving here as large unpackaged amounts, with a big portion coming through Liverpool and other ports across the UK.

At Peel Ports, we offer shippers fast, easy distribution of dry bulk commodities to anywhere in the UK. A big drive for our business in recent years has been to reduce the carbon footprint left by the entire supply chain when we’re moving dry bulk products, which has led us to invest in sea, rail, road and in-land water transportation.

Our ports in Liverpool, Clydeport, Great Yarmouth, and the Manchester Ship Canal offer a wide range of berthing options, providing flexibility in size for vessel charter. We’re based next to existing manufacturing and production locations and are strategically located for future infrastructure projects.

As well as being the UK’s most central port for container shipping, every year Liverpool handles and stores millions of tonnes of dry bulks from biomass, to aggregates and chemicals. Indeed, we recently built a £100m Biomass Terminal at Port of Liverpool to ship wood pellets to Drax power station in North Yorkshire, as part of Europe’s single biggest carbon-saving initiative.

The ‘green highway’ of Manchester Ship Canal is used to transport dry bulks too, linking the Port of Liverpool to the heart of the UK. With the ability to accommodate ships up to 70,000 tonnes, the canal helps us to cut carbon emissions, reduce road miles and congestion and from a business perspective, improve efficiencies for the entire supply chain. Our prime locations along the canal at Port Salford and Runcorn offer superb facilities, excellent connectivity, and specialist, tailor-made solutions catering for customers including Kellogg’s.

In early 2017, global chemicals importer Newport Industries said it would continue to use Runcorn as it announced a £7m investment in a bulk-handling facility at the Port Of Liverpool. By maintaining its Runcorn operation, Newport has an all-water route into the UK’s manufacturing heartland via the canal. The firm’s partnership with our Runcorn Docks has led to a 200% growth in bulk volumes handled through the site over five years.

In Liverpool, the port’s animal feed warehouse recently underwent an £8m upgrade making it a GAFTA (Grain and Feed Trade Association) approved facility, which now has capacity for 140,000 tonnes of animal feed. It serves the livestock industry in the Port of Liverpool’s hinterland of the Midlands, Wales and the North of the UK.

With such a diverse estate handling all sorts of dry bulks, we’re extremely well placed for all key national developments over the next 10 years. In the South East and North West of England and Scotland, we’re already working in partnership with some of the largest companies in the world. In this sense, we’ve got all corners of the UK covered, with unrivalled dry bulk expertise in place.

Source: Peel Ports, 26 May 2017

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