Gen 9, 2020

So says Silvio Ferrando, Marketing Manager of Ports of Genoa

The Port of Genoa is Italy’s leading port. We talk about the reasons for its success, its infrastructure and organisational policies and its performance and development strategies with Silvio Ferrando, Marketing Manager of Ports of Genoa, who, after the positive mission to the Shenzen and Guangzhou (Canton for westerners) exhibitions will be participating in Green Logistics Expo to present the Port’s proposal to the market.

So to begin, what will be the key themes of your presence at Padua?

Ferrando explains: “Together with Interporto Padova, we have an integrated logistics proposal. Chinawas our first shared experience and it was very positive, but, also in consideration of the market appreciation, we have decided to make Padua the occasion for an “outing” and to present our logistics proposal to the market.

Green Logistics Expo is the ideal opportunity. Not only of course for the efficiency of the integrated logistics proposal, but also because it is the most eco-compatible of the transport options between north-eastern Italy and overseas markets such as Asia, the Middle East or the Americas.

A recent European Union study quantified the savings in CO2 and NOx emissions given off by freight opting for Genoa or La Spezia, rather than circumnavigating Europe from Asia and disembarking in a northern European port, as between a minimum of 30% and a maximum of 50%. The differences depend on the origin and destination of the cargo in Europe, but the study confirms that routing via southern European ports is “greener” and more eco-compatible. Add to this the fact that the distance between Padua and Genoa is covered by train, in other words, the most “sustainable” means of transport available today, and we have an overall solution that is an example of eco-compatible excellence at international level.

This is a value that must be promoted in the context of a logistics that tends towards carbon footprint neutral solutions.

We are also analysing how to “certify” the compatibility of our logistics solutions and so presenting ourselves at an expo that makes eco-compatibility its raison d’être seems both logical and natural. And so back to Padua, again together with Interporto di Padova, to give the Veneto an added competitive cutting edge.”

What in brief are the reasons for the success of the Port of Genoa?

According to Silvio Ferrando: “More than 70 million tons of cargo passed through Ports of Genoa this year and the reasons for this success can be attributed to constant improvements in shipping connectivity and links with the catchment area, such as inland transport services and infrastructure.”

Today, the ports of Genoa are directly connected to more than 450 ports in six continents and with just one intermediate port, we reach more than 1000. The cargo volumes are well balanced between imports and exports and the origins and destinations of the cargoes also have considerable geographical range, although in the case of imports Asia is slightly predominant.

Since 2019, we have been officially included in the UNCTAD list of the leading 10 ports in the world for shipping connectivity. This is a really great result.

On the other hand, it is true that shipping connectivity has meant having to fill the large ships that put in at Genoa today, ships that require ever larger basins to gather the traffic and that therefore look for great economies of scale, including in connectivity with the catchment area. We are investing heavily in this, both in strictly port logistics – from hold to gate – and in infrastructure providing connections with the market itself, particularly by rail.

We have launched a plan to invest in new breakwaters, wharfs, last mile rail and new port basin access gates for a total of more than €1.1 billion, added to the more than €3.5 billion invested in infrastructure such as the Milan-Genoa high-speed line and other projects to reorganise the rail system as a whole along routes towards northern Italy, Switzerland and southern Germany.

The new Milan tunnel (a fundamental element for a gradient-free line as far as Switzerland, allowing trains that are longer (750 m) and heavier (up to 2000 MT) without double traction) is respecting the construction schedule and will be ready in the second half of 2023.

Not to forget investments in intangible infrastructure, document digitalisation and reviewing procedures in particular, in order to make data processing controls simpler and more precise. Today the Ports of Genoa are entirely digital and also fully exploit all the advantages offered by the new customs procedures, particularly pre-clearing while the ship is still approaching the berth.

While on one hand there has been a good recovery of cycle efficiency and an equally significant reduction in errors in sensitive data, I can’t deny that certain forms of coordination between the various state agencies responsible for the controls are still objectively complex and generally speaking “one stop shop” approaches for the goods control phases are still largely lacking. We are confident that the recent adoption of forms of artificial intelligence in the Port Community System will allow logistics programming to be improved, including in the complex trucking phase, and bring forward realisation of the objective of operational confluence on fully dialoguing and interoperable public and private information systems.”

What are the port’s strategies to strengthen its position with its own “inland system” in terms of efficiency and sustainability?

“The imperative for today’s market, particularly in containers, is to extend the geographical traffic catchment area. For Genoa and Savona (that today close 2019 with a total of 2.8 million TEUS handled), this means optimising and fluidising the relationship with Lombardy as the port’s largest and most important customer, while at the same time working on the routes of penetration towards north and east to increase the volume of goods and reach the operational limit set by the port infrastructure for 2025, namely, 5 million TEUS.

Regarding Switzerland and southern Germany, Baden Wurttemberg in particular, the logistics success story of 2019 is the direct train run by the PSA terminal at Prà to Basle Frekendorf, with A-B performance from the yard and A-C from unloading, with traction in just one night through the Lotschberg tunnel.

The speed and safety of the service have been greatly appreciated by the big customers in north-eastern Switzerland and the first German customers in the Stuttgart area have come forward, suggesting the services could be extended towards that area where there are a number of very interesting exporters in the automotive, chemical and pharmaceutical sectors.

Covering eastern Italy and beyond towards Austria and Bavaria, the partnership with Interporto di Padova is natural and we intend to make it structural and organised and to present it as such to the market with ever greater efficiency.

In past years, we had already noticed a definite interest from freight in an intermodal extension of the maritime policy with the railway service from and to Padua, but the almost daily arrival of ULCS units at Genoa has made this interest almost constant and unmistakeable. In 2019, we reached 24 pairs of trains per week from different Genoa terminals to Padua and this number will rise to 34-36 with the imminent arrival of other new operators and the growth of those that today already propose extensive cargo pick-up and distribution coverage from central Veneto by road to the Interporto and from there, the natural, fast and reliable continuation to the ports of Genoa or vice versa. From Genoa, you can intercept a wide range of maritime services, for example, with one ship per day to Asia, at least four weekly departures for the east coast of the USA and Canada, one weekly service direct to Australia in just 23 days and so on. We understand perfectly that Padua can serve other ports with the same inland efficiency, but the combination of an efficient inland rail-road cycle together with its extensive shipping connectivity and excellent transit times makes Padua a genuine extension of the Port of Genoa, an authentic “inner harbour”, a “dry” wharf that respects and encourages the interests of Veneto traffic.

If that were not the case, the market would have rapidly isolated us, rather than rewarding us with ever greater insistence as it is doing.”

The Genoa port system is just back from a mission in the south of China, what were the opportunities?

“From the perspective of reinforcing trade relations with the south of China and with the clear intention of presenting the integrated offer of Ports of Genoa and Interporto di Padova to Chinese freight shippers and receivers, we took part together in the CILF exhibition at Shenzen and we also returned the visit of managers from the Port of Guangzhou (Canton for westerners) who had visited and appreciated both Padua and Genoa with Chinese trade delegations in October.

It was the first time that Ports of Genoa and Interporto di Padova had shared a stand, jointly exchanging contacts and actively promoting their offer to local shipping agents and leading carriers, all present at the event. We were really very happy, not least for the excellent level of interaction between the delegates present who exchanged remarkable competencies and experiences. We believe we have understood the important Veneto market better and we hope we have communicated something more about the Port of Genoa to our “partners” from Padua.

It was certainly an experience to repeat and develop.

What amazed us was the receptivity – at least in Guangdong – for Italian products in export from our country towards an area with more than 100 million consumers with a growing income. The China of the Pearl River has always defined itself as the “factory of the world”, but as well as the remarkable potential of Chinese exports (also greatly improved in quality), we have also been contacted by various buyers of Italian and European products from food to furniture, top quality wines and refined confectionery, mechanics and fashion, products that have always been appreciated by the Chinese. China has decided to encourage European imports and the Canton area is reacting with surprising enthusiasm to this new commercial economic policy.

Soon we will start promoting trade between companies in our area and Chinese buyers and then, in the spirit of the Chinese mission, we want to expand our presence to Veneto exporters, always with Padua at our side. And we will be going back to China, starting with the Transport Logistics exhibition in Shanghai in June 2020, again alongside our partners at Interporto di Padova.”