June 19 - Over the last two days, independent project forwarders from around the world have gathered in Barcelona for the seventh WCA Projects annual conference.

Over 100 delegates from project logistics companies across the globe met for one-on-one business meetings and social networking events.

Participants heard presentations from several specialist suppliers including Hansa Heavy Lift; the Port of Barcelona, Air Charter Service and Rickmers-Linie.

Another speaker, Peter Bouwhuis, group assistant vice president transport and logistics at ABB Management Services, left delegates in no doubt that there is still a role for SME project forwarders in the supply chains of EPCs and other beneficial cargo owners that manufacture heavy and over dimensional cargoes.

Bouwhuis said that ABB likes to work with specialist SMEs because they bring genuine local market expertise into the logistics equation.

However, he also cautioned that it is not easy to get onto the tender lists of companies the size of ABB, which tend to have exhaustive lists of contract requirements, adding that SMEs needed to demonstrate that they really are equipped to carry the burden of those requirements whilst delivering on a global basis.

Bouwhuis also encouraged members of the WCA Projects network to demonstrate how they can genuinely work collectively to compete with multinational forwarders.

Head of WCA's specialist networks, Brian Majerus, says that within a group such as WCA Projects the collective strength is in having three or four individuals within each member company, each with genuine project forwarding experience. He noted that meant that within the group there was probably more individuals with such experience that in a multinational with 100-plus offices in 50 countries.

"By reaching out to trusted partners around the world WCA Projects members have created a way of securing prestigious medium and large project contracts that used to be the preserve of the multinationals. Our task is to project the group's qualities to the owners of those large projects, so that they don't see us as a group of individuals but as a collective force singing from the same hymn sheet."

Majerus confirmed that with a stable and mature membership, WCA Projects' priority now is to develop added value products for network members to help them work together more successfully, not network expansion for its own sake. He advised that WCA Projects would be recruiting a senior manager to spearhead this task, as well as the further development of the network's membership services and market presence. This could include an eduction and training programme to add to the network's insurance, risk management and IT support services that are already benefiting many members.


WCA Projects delegates gather in Barcelona