Multi-skilled support

Commencing operations in the Port of Southampton in February 2000, Solent Stevedores has since developed an excellent reputation as a competent, efficient and professional cargo handling operator. The company originally entered into a 20- year agreement with Associated British Ports (ABP), owners of the Port of Southampton, to expand the bulk terminal and improve facilities through a joint investment of £7 million. However, this initial agreement has now been extended until 2030 to take account of subsequent investments including infrastructure improvements.

Since then, Solent Stevedores and Associated British Ports have developed a significant increase in trade. This relationship enables Solent Stevedores to operate with no restrictions when it comes to customer demands. Services at Southampton Port include dry bulk handling and storage, for which Solent Stevedores provides receipt, storage and load out services for a range of dry bulk commodities at berths 107, 108, 109 and the King George V dock. Over 1.2M Tonnes of cargo were handled in 2016 with Scrap and Gypsum being the largest commodities handled in tonnage terms. Imported cargoes such as Animal Feed Stuffs and Fertiliser awaiting UK distribution by road or rail are stored in 2 x 4000 Square Metre TASCC approved quayside Bulk Stores at 107 berth and at Mulberry Terminal.

Other services include project cargo handling for non-bulk customers, for which the company is well placed to meet the lift-on, lift-off requirements of all types of project and general cargo utilising the seven Harbour Mobile cranes at its disposal.

Elsewhere, the company offers Stevedoring services at the Port of St Helier, Jersey, to facilitate RO/RO services on the two ramps at the Elizabeth Terminal and LO/LO services on the New North Quay and this is where some Bulk products are also handled. More recently the company has extended its services into assisting the Ports of Jersey with Security and Maintenance services

Meanwhile, in Silvertown, London, the company provides all machines and staff required for the safe unloading of all ASR Group/Tate & Lyle ships that are carrying raw cane sugar to its refinery in London, and the activity also includes the loading of Bagged vessels. Here Solent Stevedores works a 24 hour operation and also provides staff and machinery to the raw sugar storage shed, which then feeds the refinery with the raw sugar for processing.

The company also provides stevedoring services and terminal management operations for dry bulk cargoes from the Port of Immingham. In 2016, Solent Stevedores boosted its presence at the port with the completion of a six-month engineering project to convert an existing quayside bulk store into a dust-free PFA terminal. This conversion, undertaken by Silo Services Ltd, included the complete sealing of the warehouse, the installation of dust extraction filters which minimise dust emissions and the fitting of pipework to convey products from ships and the addition of automated intake and loading systems. This reduces the number of Bulk lorry movements within the operation and port estate. This development follows Solent Stevedores’ long-term commitment to ABP and the owners of the Port of Immingham and will enable the company to further develop its workforce whilst also providing tailored solutions to its customers.

In line with its commitment to meet the needs of customers, the company has also further developed its operations in Southampton to incorporate multiple extensions to the bulks terminal; this is rail linked and has a minimum depth of 11.7 metres of water available alongside it at all times to accommodate vessels of up to 50,000 dead weight tonnes. The expansion of Solent Stevedores’ operations includes progression into new areas such the operation of a new Rail Terminal facility and a temperature-controlled Fruit Terminal. “Since we were previously featured in Land, Sea & Air magazine in 2012 we have extended our service capabilities and now operate the Fruit Terminal, a 10,000 square metre state-of-the-art facility, designed for handling fresh produce,” confirms Ian Jacobs, Chief Operating Officer at Solent Stevedores.

“We have invested in excess of £8 million to transform this facility, with 2017 seeing the development of a dedicated pack house where produce can be packaged ready for direct supply to the supermarket chains to a British Retail Consortium standard. We also have two new harbour mobile cranes, which allow us to handle containers and palletised cargo, so we have really broadened our resource in terms of accepting differing loads of cargo into the Terminal. Additionally, we have new chilling systems, which enable us to vary the temperatures through a greater range, giving us specific opportunities with a more diverse range of fruit and vegetables that need maintaining at certain temperatures. Our service offering from this facility is class leading,” he adds.

Operational since February 2017, the pack house facility within the fruit terminal supports a team of more than 40 specialist fruit packing operatives who are all working to support existing customers and help them further develop their business in the UK while also attracting new customers. In addition to these investments, the company also invested in upgrading its main storage areas, which now feature energy-efficient lights, rapid-action doors and multiple storage compartments.

This commitment to customers resulted in Solent Stevedores being awarded the Customer Care Award at the IBJ Awards Ceremony in November 2016, with the company recognised for its ability to place customer services at the forefront of its activities thanks to a culture that is spread throughout all parts of the business, from the top down.

In other areas of Southampton Port, the company is pushing forward with a three-year contract with DB Cargo UK to operate and upgrade the container handling services at its rail terminal. “There is a big drive from successive governments to take as much traffic off the road as possible,” says Ian. “By operating this rail terminal, we have invested approximately £4.5 million in terms of upgrading the facility and investing in new plant and equipment. The result is that standard turnaround times for our customers have more than halved, and we can undertake a turnaround in under 90 minutes. This substantial increase in terminal efficiency This clearly helps build the case of moving more cargo by rail.”

In connection to the development of the rail terminal, Ian continued: “Through operating the Rail Terminal in Southampton, we have developed a close working relationship with DP World, who have helped us transfer containers to and from their terminal as efficiently as possible. So, working directly with DP World at their London Gateway facility was a natural progression for us. We are delighted with the support DP World is continuing to provide via a contract to operate and manage a five-acre, off-dock empty container storage yard at London Gateway. This development will provide more choice at both Ports for Solent Stevedores’ customers that are seeking solutions for the storage of empty containers. The new facility will go live in the final quarter of 2017 and further extends our UK geographical reach.”

Not a company to rest on its laurels, Solent Stevedores has also extended its reach into the cruise market sector in Southampton, with the company anticipated to handle 86 per cent of the cruise traffic that comes into the port in 2018. The UK leader in the provision of baggage handling, stores handling and other support services to cruise ships visiting the Port of Southampton, the company provides a diverse range of supporting services to the likes of P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines and Cunard Line. In 2017 alone, the company will provide baggage handling, portering, provisioning and mooring services to 420 cruise ship calls at the port. This amounts to 1.6 million cruise passengers and 2.4 million suitcases handled by Solent Stevedores.

To ensure these changes are delivering the best service to customers over the coming years, Solent Stevedores will be undertaking a period of training with the goal of developing a multi-skilled workforce. In other areas of the business, the company will continue to find opportunities to grow the business in other Ports and terminals, while also finding ways to increase engagement in the supply chain of its customers.

Solent Stevedores
Award-winning stevedoring company
Provides a broad range of bulk and general cargo handling services
The UK leader in the provision of baggage handling and cruise vessel support