In the last decade $3.78bn has been invested in DP World London Gateway, making it the UK’s most automated port. But what does that mean for drivers? This is the question asked by PowerTorque’s European Correspondent, Will Shiers.
When I arrive at DP World London Gateway, the English capital city’s newest port, the senior management bombard me with facts and figures.
Since opening 10 years ago, the site has expanded at a phenomenal rate, and according to John Trenchard, Commercial and Supply Chain Director UK, has so far benefitted from $3.78bn of investment. This rate of growth looks set to continue too, he tells me, with a further $1.86bn expected to be invested in the site over the next decade.
Ernst Schulze, DP World’s UK CEO is equally as proud of the 2.7 million sq m of planned warehousing on the port’s adjoining business park, 50 per cent of which has already been filled. That’s the same area as 400 football pitches, he informs me.
Now that’s all very interesting, as is the fact that it has 12 giant cranes for loading and unloading ships, each of which stands as tall as the London Eye Ferris wheel. However, I’d like to bet that your average truck driver doesn’t give two hoots about any of that. What they want to know is how long the turnaround times are, and where can they get a decent meal and the use of clean restrooms. However, as I’m about to find out, DP World has got all of that covered too.
Located on the River Thames estuary in Stanford-le-Hope, Essex, London Gateway is DP World’s largest investment outside of Dubai. Together with sister port DP World Southampton, it accounts for just under 50 per cent of the international supply chain trade that enters the south east of England.
“In London Gateway we do a lot of containers that are dry, ambient, non-temperature controlled, containing all sorts of things like semi-processed materials, furniture, consumer goods etc, and we also do an awful lot of temperature-controlled containers,” explains Trenchard. “In the UK we make enough food to feed ourselves for four months of the year. Another four months comes across from Europe through the ro-ro ports, and for the final four months of the year we need to import deep sea food. And that’s an important part of the market that we serve here.”
In fact, between London Gateway and Southampton, they handle 70 per cent of all temperature-controlled boxes that come in and out of the UK. Seeing as many of these are time-sensitive, and up to 80 per cent of containers leave by truck, DP World has invested a lot of money in automation, ensuring that the collection and drop-off of trailers is as quick and pain-free as possible.
“The trucking community are a very important part of our business,” explains Schulze, who tells me that up to 80 per cent of containers leave the port behind trucks. During the course of 24 hours, this typically equates to 2,000 truck movements.”