Fast Group

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The international steel construction company Smulders builds and assembles gigantic steel structures for the offshore wind industry among others. “Every project is different”, says Luc Pockelé, Logistics & Expedition Coordinator. “That is why we like to work with logistics partners, who understand our needs. And Fast Lines happens to be one of those companies.”

Smulders has a proven track record in the engineering, production, supply and assembly of mainly heavy, technically complex and architectonic steel structures. The company is active in the following markets: Civil & Industry, Offshore Oil & Gas and Offshore Wind. Smulders has a workforce of over 900 employees, with branches in Belgium (Hoboken, Arendonk and Balen), Poland (Zary) and the United Kingdom (Newcastle).

Organic logistics
Luc Pockelé: “Our logistics are relatively complex, because the entire process is production-driven. We often work on different projects at the same time, or have projects that overlap. This forces us to rent additional production facilities, which, in turn, has an impact on our logistics. What’s more, every project is new and different, meaning we have to review the traffic flows again. Sometimes we make changes during the production process because they better suit the customer’s requirements which can also have an impact on the logistical side. Logistics are an organic process, changing continually as the project progresses. While we develop a logistical plan at the start of every project, we also make sure that we have a plan B, C and D so we can respond flexibly and immediately to changing situations.”

Seamless collaboration
Fast Lines became involved when Smulders decided to transfer part of the production of one of its projects from Balen to Tessenderlo, where the company rented a temporary production hall. As a result, pipes had to be transported from Balen to Tessenderlo and subsequently from Tessenderlo to Newcastle.
Soon after, the company was working on two projects simultaneously, with Fast Lines transporting lifting buckets from Poland to Newcastle and Methil (Scotland) and from Methil to Newcastle.
Luc Pockelé: “We chose to work with Fast Lines because it’s a small, locally-based family company. We find this important because of the short lines of communication and because it is quite crucial that you speak the same language in technical engineering. Often it’s all about the nuances.

It became clear during the preliminary stage of our request that Fast Lines had a very flexible attitude and was open to a seamless collaboration. They didn’t have to make much of an effort to respond to our changing logistical needs and challenges. The fact that they discuss and problem solve with us to find a solution is also an asset. I remember that Yvan Vlaminckx and his lashing & securing expert came to look at the pipes that needed to be shipped twice, leaving nothing to chance. Our shipments require tailor-made solutions, something they are very much aware of.”


Additional assets
Luc Pockelé: “Fast Lines has flexible vessels that can sail deep into the hinterland, calling at ports that are difficult to access. We like to work with them for this type of transport.
Another asset is the fact that they have their own office in Poland, with Polish employees. Having a local contact in Poland coordinate things and follow up on everything was a huge advantage for our traffic from Poland.
In a nutshell, we think Fast Lines is a good partner and we intend to work with them in the future on other projects, where possible.”