A number of challenges lie in front of the roll-on/roll-off industry, but how well equipped are businesses to cope with the European Commission’s new environmental regulations? That’s just one of the areas that will be discussed at this year’s RORO event, which is being held in Gothenburg, Sweden, from 22-24 May.
The European Commission’s (EC) announcement that operators will be forced to cut shipping fuel sulphur content on short sea routes in northern European waters to 0.1% from 2015, has received mixed reaction from some of the biggest ro-ro providers.
The debate as to whether it’s a positive or negative move is likely to go on for some time, with some seeing it as a threat that will lower competitiveness against other modes, whilst others see the positives in terms of the environmental benefits. However, one thing is clear, it is unlikely that the EC will backtrack on the proposals that it passed last year.
Over the coming years, ro-ro operators across Europe will have to embrace new, innovative ways of working in order to meet the EC’s environmental regulations. Shipping lines will be looking at innovative ways of reducing sulphur emissions and fuel consumption, whilst other stakeholders will be examining their own operations. Which is why this year’s RORO event, held in Gothenburg, Sweden, couldn’t come at a better time.
Sophie Ahmed, Event Director of RORO, commented: “There is plenty of scope for innovation and originality in the ro-ro industry and these are the exact issues and topics we will be focusing on at RORO this year. The regulation changes present a huge challenge to the sector and I’m looking forward to the conference sessions which will create a dialogue on how sustainability can be improved, both through existing means and those that are around the corner. I am also expecting the exhibition to be extremely busy this year, with operators searching for the latest innovations that will help reduce emissions and improve efficiency.”
Debating the way forward
However, the environment is not the only item on the agenda at this year’s RORO. For the first time in its history, RORO will feature free-to-attend conference sessions throughout the three-day event, covering the most important issues affecting the industry.
Running on the exhibition floor, visitors including car manufacturers, shippers, port and terminal operators and shipping lines, will be able to hear from a host of leading experts working within the ro-ro industry.
Mike Garratt, Managing Director of MDS Transmodal, who is regarded as one of the most informed observers of the rail, shipping and ports industries in the UK, will kick-off the new-look RORO conference sessions on 22 May. During his presentation, he will offer visitors a unique insight into the global ro-ro industry and examine future trends, opportunities and threats.
Following Mr Garratt’s presentation, key territories, including the Mediterranean, Asia, North Sea, UK and Ireland, will be analysed in detail. Experts from each region will present their views on the current state of their market and offer insights into what the future holds.
Port infrastructure is also on the agenda for day one at RORO. As the shipping industry changes, ports will be challenged to improve their operations, with operators looking for the best and most efficient services. Two important figures in the ro-ro industry, Dr Gernot Tesch, Managing Director of Scandlines Deutschland, and Lennart Scensson, Executive Vice-President – Port and Logistics at TTS Group ASA, will explain what rolling cargo shipping lines currently require from terminals and how their demands might change in the future. The sessions will be essential for ports looking to secure their long-term futures.
As part of a special ‘green ro-ro’ session on day two, Sara Sköld, an environmental specialist at the Clean Shipping Project – which was founded in order to increase focus on the environmental issues of shipping – will speak about the latest ‘green’ initiatives being rolled out across Europe. She will be joined by Åsa Wilske, an Environment Manager at the Port of Gothenburg, who will discuss a range of topics, including onshore power supply, and explain the terminal’s latest ‘green’ practices.
On day three of RORO, a special conference session will run throughout the morning, devoted to the ro-ro industry in the Baltic states. Organised by the Baltic Transport Journal, visitors will be able to hear from a number of experts based in the region, who will discuss the most important issues facing the operators over the next few years.
Finally, as part of the all-encompassing programme, visitors will also be able to hear from a leading figure in the shipping industry on how operators can best combine passengers and freight.
See, show and discuss, one-to-one
In addition to being the place to learn more about the industry, RORO is recognised as the place to do business in the ro-ro industry. During the last edition of the event, visitors from more than 52 countries were present on the exhibition floor. This year, companies from across Europe will be displaying their latest products and services to buyers from car manufacturers, freight forwarders, terminal operators, shipping lines and road hauliers.
Two of the major ro-ro shipping lines, Wallenius Wilhelmsen and Stena RoRo, have confirmed their presence at the event, their involvement further establishes RORO as the industry’s most important meeting place.
In addition, TTS Marine AB, Wagenborg Shipping, Godby Shipping, Finnish Ro-Ro Owners, BLG Logistics Group, Seaports of Niedersachsen and Ockero Maritime Centre. Whilst, the Port of Gothenberg, Port Authority of Vigo, Port of Bilbao Authority, Port Of Hamina/Kotka, Port of Hanko and Port Of Helsinki will be present to highlight their plans for the future to visitors.
Getting more from RORO
To ensure that visitors get the most from their visit to RORO, the event’s organiser has announced that a special training zone will run on the exhibition floor on all three days. Visitors looking to develop their skills and knowledge will be able to discuss their requirements with leading training providers.
Networking opportunities at RORO have always been exceptional and this year’s show in Gothenburg will be no different. The event will once again feature a networking bar, where exhibitors, speakers and VIPs will be able to mingle for an extra hour after the event has closed to discuss ideas and opportunities.
Sophie Ahmed said: “Ro-ro short-sea shipping will play a hugely important role in future sustainable supply chains across Europe. Our aim, through the event and the blog, is to provide businesses with all the tools they need to plan for a successful future.
“We’re looking forward to this year’s RORO, which I’m sure will be one of the most informative in the event’s long history.”
Source: RoRoEx, May 16, 2012