Rashid Abdulla, who leads DP World’s Europe & Russia region, talks to Automotive Logistics about how the company’s terminal and multimodal investments will serve the demands of a changing automotive supply chain.

Automotive has been an important but relatively small part of DP World’s cargo mix in Europe, including container and multimodal flows through terminals like Southampton in the UK, Le Havre, France and Antwerp, Belgium.

However, DP World’s recent investments have expanded its role and potential in the European automotive supply chain.The company has increased connectivity between west and east Europe, while fostering global links, including along China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

It now has nine deep-sea terminals in Europe after completing major greenfield projects like London Gateway in the UK, Yarimca, Turkey and further investing in Constanta, Romania. It has established and grown its inland hubs, such as Mannheim, Stuttgart and Germersheim in Germany.

The company has launched new direct rail services from Stuttgart to Hamburg and also relaunched the Stuttgart to Rotterdam direct rail link, helping to shorten linkages to automotive markets and supply networks.

Over the past year, DP World has further expanded its multimodal offering by acquiring Danish short-sea shipping company Unifeeder and P&O Ferries, integrating a dense network of ferry, feeder and ro-ro routes.

How Important will China’s Belt & Road Initiative be for DP World?

DP World is on the New Silk Route. We are partners in ports in China such as Qingdao, Tianjin and Yantai and Hong Kong, and are also advising several Eurasian countries, including Kazakhstan, as they upgrade their infrastructure capacity.

Overland, the New Silk Route reduces the time needed for a container to reach Europe from Asia as we witnessed recently with the first train to arrive from China at DP World London Gateway and the first train in the opposite direction exporting UK goods to China from London Gateway. By sea, the average time span is 42 days. By train it takes around 13 days. Everyone wins when goods are moved faster and cheaper.

What Role do you See for DP World as the Automotive Industry Shifts more towards Electrification & Mobility Solutions?

We believe that, as the EV industry matures over the next five years, it will be crucial to adapt to changes in the supply chain. These include shorter production cycles, finished vehicle demand for fewer cars and customer expectations for faster service.

We are open to investing in custom-built warehousing or even hosting assembly plants at our industrial parks globally. The opportunities are very different as wesee traditional regions challenged by new geographies, which may be able to serve the EV market just as efficiently.

What Digital Technology will Most Improve your Operations?

We need to take a step back first to understand the power of designing the network to support a specific strategy. For an OEM, that may mean optimising the network for costs. For a retailer, it might be optimising for speed. The key is to understand what provides competitive advantage.

The answer to that question, be it cost, service or speed becomes the North Star for evaluating the digital products we develop or choose to use. It’s about what helps determine the optimum balance among cost, efficiency and service levels for a particular customer or vertical.

For innovation, DP World’s key goal is to work with our customers and partners to explore the potential of digital technology to revolutionise the management and performance of supply chains.

Editor’s note: The article reflects the author’s opinion only, and not necessarily the views of editorial opinion of Belt & Road News.