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A pioneering spirit in a pioneering industry

As any manufacturer of wind turbine components will testify, the handling of their precious cargo is of critical importance. PES caught up with John Fricker, General Manager of RoRo/Special Projects, Europe, for Atlantic Container Line (ACL), to discover how his company smoothes the transportation process.

PES: Welcome to PES. Firstly, can you tell us a little about the history of your company?
John Fricker: For over 40 years, ACL’s pioneering spirit has been the driving force that has made this company a leader in the North Atlantic Trade and one of the most respected names in the ocean transportation.

A consortium of five major European steamship companies joined together to meet the high capital investment involved in building and operating an innovative fleet of Roll-on/Roll-off (RoRo) containerships. This historic union, the first of the container age, resulted in the creation of Atlantic Container Line (ACL), serving the trade between Europe and East Coast of North America with the world’s largest Roll-on/Roll-off containerships carrying containers, project and oversized cargo, heavy equipment and vehicles.

ACL is now a wholly owned unit of The Grimaldi Group of Naples.

PES: What fuelled your diversification into the carriage of wind turbines?
JF: ACL has always been involved in the shipment of wind turbine components, be it the blades or the nacelles. We see a strong future for the wind power business, based on interest that is fuelled, at least in part, by US government incentives. Manufacturers have located some blade and tower production in the destination markets, but they tend to hold the more highly-engineered components for their own plants. This suggests that wherever demand develops, the heavy components for wind power generation will continue to be a long-haul logistics issue.

ACL has taken a different approach from the project carriers. With weekly sailings from Europe to the US East Coast using RoRo methods and by moving smaller shipments from the factory to the installation site without the interim accumulation and storage – a just-in-time (JIT) approach. Employing this method, components flow from the factory to the destination port, where a logistics company arranges the final inland move to storage or staging site, or directly to the wind farm.


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