2018 REVENUE: USD4.1 BILLION

Spain 2020 | TRANSPORT | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Narcís Pavón, Managing Director of APM Terminals, on managing a port network, productivity, and plans for 2020.

Would you tell us about APM Terminals in Spain, how it started and how it has evolved?

APM Terminals currently operates a global network of 76 port terminals and 117 land services in 58 countries worldwide. The company facilitates port and operational management for 60 shipping companies providing import and export services for containers, bulk, general cargo and other goods. APM Terminals is part of A.P. Moller–Maersk, a leader in maritime services present in 130 countries with a workforce of 76,000. APM Terminals is one of the main terminals and logistics companies here in Spain, where we have six maritime facilities and several other inland services, although our core business is maritime. We have Algeciras, one of the biggest terminal hubs in the world, handling more than four million TEUs of cargo per year which is mainly transshipment cargo. We also have other facilities such as our gateway terminals in Barcelona, Valencia, Castellón, and Gijon. Valencia and Barcelona are the biggest gateway terminals in Spain for APM Terminals. Our terminal at the Port of Barcelona handles one million TEUs per year on average, making it a large facility. The terminal was built in 1992,and was the result of a merger between Maritima Laietana and Tersaco . In 2016, it was acquired by APM Terminals, which is part of the A.P. Moller-Maersk Group.

In 2018, APM Terminals experienced growth in facilities and revenue, standing at 4.1 billion USD globally. What is the strategy to continue this growth in 2019?

Our very high growth rate depends to a large extent on the current increase in export and import activity. Our growth will continue to mirror the economic expansion of the industry. Spain is a mature market, therefore we are not expecting exponential growth, although we do hope to continue to improve and to maintain our pole position within the sector.

How significant is Barcelona for APM Terminals on a global scale?

Globally speaking, Barcelona is key for APM Terminals. Ever since the start of our concession in Barcelona, we have always focused on technology and efficiency in our processes to create value for our customers. This is one of our main drivers. We are improving the efficiency of each process performed at the terminal. We recently invested heavily in new equipment in the Barcelona terminal to further raise the level of service to offer our customers the very best productivity in the Mediterranean terminals.

Does regulatory change pose a big challenge in your field?

It is taking longer than we would prefer to adapt the laws and regulations to current industrial activities. That is because we are living and working in a constantly evolving market and it is difficult to adapt the legal framework to this changing landscape.

What are the biggest challenges and opportunities you face in the industry today?

The greatest challenge we are facing is how to adapt to market needs. This is simultaneously a great challenge and a great achievement which sometimes requires considerable investment. We have invested USD47 million in equipment here, which represents 30% of our entire fleet. These efforts allow us to maintain our role as a benchmark in the sector.

Are you looking to incorporate renewable energy into APM Terminals?

We have started to adapt our car fleet to incorporate electric models. These cars are powered entirely by solar-generated electricity. We also have a contract with our power supply company that stipulates that all the power they provide us must come from renewable energy sources. In the future, our yard equipment will use hybrid engines rather than diesel power.

Are recent geopolitical events having an impact on your industry generally or on APM Terminals' operations at Barcelona Terminal?

Logistically, in terms of containers, the impact of factors such as Brexit will be relatively minor. Of course there will be a certain impact, but the port of Barcelona is not widely connected directly with the UK. As a handling company, we expect the impact of Brexit to be minimal. We are more worried about the commercial disputes between USA vs China and Europe that could impact in the world s handling throughput and consequently to our terminal.

What are APM Terminals' main objectives for 2020?

We have several main objectives. Firstly, we want to adapt our facilities to market needs. This involves upgrading part of our facility, which has been in operation for 27 years now, during which time both the market and ship size have changed considerably. It is worth pointing out that, 28 years ago, the capacity of the largest vessels working in the port was 4,000 TEU. Today we have 18,000 TEU capacity vessels calling here. We need to invest in equipment and in upgrading the facility to provide services to our customers, and the port community. Another objective for 2020 is to increase the volumes handled by the terminal. Our current volume is close to one million TEUs annually at Barcelona Terminal. We are also looking to diversify our business somewhat, handling not only ships, trains and trucks, but working with our customers to find new, added-value services with which add value in cost and time saving for the customer. The market is changing continuously. We need to adapt, not only to the market, but also to changing needs. We are part of the logistics chain, so we do think that we and our customers are one company and have common objective requiring an active and continue dialog with them. I would say that the approach has changed radically compared to the situation 20 years ago, when information was unavailable to customers due to the technology. Now, communication is wide open, with real data available through our website, so we can find synergies and help each other. The outcome is always better when you are transparent with your customers.