German heavy lift and logistics specialist Combi Lift has been busy recently, having expanded its service portfolio with the addition of a forwarding solutions division during October 2021.

Germany’s Combi Lift is well-known to the project logistics sector. Based in Bremen and part of the Harren & Partner Group, it has positioned itself as a strategic asset-based maritime partner providing door-to-door delivery of heavy lift transport solutions.

The company’s service portfolio was bolstered back in October with the launch of the forwarding solutions division, which specialises in the non- containerised cargo segment

– pieces and goods that can be transported both with special equipment or with standard containers – as well as in general forwarding, by ship, road, rail or air.

Holger Hinrichs, Combi Lift managing director, discussed the reasoning behind the launch. “As primarily a project logistics provider operating in the area of very demanding projects, we have had in mind for some time that any project, no matter how challenging, also involves a high volume of standard goods that fall somewhere between non- containerised cargoes and breakbulk pieces.

“To fully meet our end-to- end and one-stop-shop aspirations, this move was simply logical. We also keep the bottom line fluid here. Of course, the division also works self- sufficiently, has its own customers and its own turnover.”

An example of the forwarding solutions division’s offering came shortly after its launch with the delivery of a Robel track renewal train from Hamburg in Germany to Kobe, Japan. The Romill rail treatment system consisted of two parts, weighing 105 tonnes and measuring 31 m long. The cargo was loaded on board the container vessel ONE Orpheus at the port of Hamburg.

Target markets

While Combi Lift supports EPCs, OEMs, project owners and logistics service providers worldwide, Hinrichs said the markets in North and South America, Asia and Europe are of particular interest.

He added that there is a three-year plan in place for the service. “Currently, we can say that the utilisation of the division and the business development are progressing absolutely positively. We have integrated a strong team of pronounced experts with state- of-the-art IT solutions for this area into our company, who also cross-fertilise very efficiently with our project division. All in all, this was the right step for us.”

With Combi Lift, Harren & Partner is among the few in the project shipping sector that has integrated forwarding services – something that is becoming more prominent in the container sector.

Future strategy

For Combi Lift, the decision to expand its offerings further will depend on the market. Hinrichs explained: “Business is always about now and tomorrow, not yesterday. We are excellently positioned to respond to upcoming trends and can expand our range of services at any time, professionally, competitively and with the highest quality.”

When asked if the move into forwarding solutions has proven to be advantageous, Hinrichs said: “We would not say so, but to constantly question oneself and to evolve is usually an

advantage. One must not be afraid of change and in the end, those who adapt to change faster and more consistently – without, of course, falling into blind actionism – will be able to succeed in the long run.”

Adaptability has certainly been fundamental given the events of the last two years and Hinrichs sees the benefit in an environment where disruption seems to come at a moment’s notice – such as port closures in Asia due to zero-covid policies, or the outbreak of war in Europe.

“Diversity and adaptability are distinctive strengths of the Harren & Partner Group anyway,” he said. “We adapt to changing conditions quickly and effectively, from there we can compensate for disadvantages arising from larger contexts more quickly and take advantages even faster.”

He stressed that Combi Lift’s intentions will continue to be led by the market. “We are very adaptable and go into the fields that are close to us and show maximum potential.”

This is probably best seen in the company’s most recent expansion: the enlisting of industry veteran Grant Wattman to head up its newly opened office in Houston, Texas.

Perfect location

Klaus Hilpert, who was named managing director and chairman of the board of directors at Combi Lift in January to reinforce the team following its recent expansion, said: “Houston is the perfect location in the USA. It is one of the main project capitals in the world.

“Solutions are becoming more complex and project risk profiles are increasing. Clients are looking for trusted and globally connected partners who can leverage their assets and drive risk sharing throughout project delivery. For all of these reasons, opening the Houston office was therefore the logical next step for us.”

This article has been taken from HLPFI’s May/June 2022 edition.