SOLAS Chapter VI Regulation 2 – are you compliant?

What’s changing and when?

Twente Express Seafreight

From 1st July 2016, amendments are being implemented to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention making shippers responsible for the gross mass of a packed seafreight container. This verified gross mass (VGM) must be declared in the shipping document.

This amendment follows the reporting by carriers to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), over a number of years, of problems associated with mis-declaration of weights in packed containers.

Will it affect me?

If you are loading FCLs (full container loads) for transporting directly to the port then the answer is ‘yes’. It doesn’t impact your LCL (less than container load) consignments because we will declare the total VGM for the packed consolidation container to the shipping line.

What do I need to do?

There are two methods by which you, the Shipper/Consignor, may obtain the verified gross mass of a packed container:-

Method 1: Weighing the packed container using calibrated and certified weighing equipment (e.g. weighbridges, load cell sensing technologies etc)

Method 2: Weighing all packages and cargo items, including the mass of pallets, dunnage and other securing material to be packed in the container and adding the tare mass of the container to the sum of the single masses, using a certified method approved by the UK competent authority, that is the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) or its authorised body.

You can declare the VGM on your shipping instructions to us or send us the weight certificate produced by a weigh station. Either way, the document should clearly highlight that the gross mass provided is the “verified gross mass”.

Where can I get more information?

From the Government website by clicking here

Or by contacting the Twente Express seafreight department on: 01543 36 22 20

A History of the Port of Rotterdam

Port of RotterdamRotterdam is undeniably important to the freight industry, and has served as a central hub for shipping in Europe for generations. But did you know that its history in freight dates back to the Late Middle Ages? Let’s set sail through history to discover the story of this key location.

Humble Beginnings

Records show that there has been settlement in the area currently known as Rotterdam since around the 900’s, when it was referred to as “Rotta,” referring to the muddy estuary of the Meuse (Dutch: Maas) river. A large dam was built in the 1260’s, changing the name of the town to “Rotterdam.” Shortly after becoming a city in 1340, the shipping canal known as the Rotterdam Schie was completed; this allowed the new city to cement its position as a shipping centre between the Netherlands, England and Germany.

Industrial Growth

As is the case with a lot of locations, the Industrial Revolution left an irreversible impression on the city. The growth of industry allowed Rotterdam to grow slowly and steadily as a global port town, and it became an important location for the Dutch East India Company. The most significant development in this era came near the end of the 1800’s in response to the ineffectiveness of the natural coastal features for industrial shipping. The marshy, shallow delta caused issues for industrial vessels, and a custom created shipping canal was conceived. This Nieuwe Waterweg (“New Waterway”) was completed in 1872, also serving to connect industry along the Rhine and Meuse rivers to the North Sea.

The Modern Era

The already bustling city saw immense growth during the 20th Century. The Nieuwe Waterweg was deepened several times to allow for increased use by larger and larger vessels. The Europoort (“Gate to Europe”) was developed in the 1960-70’s; a massive complex on the mouth of the Nieuwe Waterweg. The most notable part of the Europoort is the Maasvlakte, a man-made port, created by displacing a sand bank which was potentially dangerous to large shipping vessels. Construction on a second Maasvlakte, simply named Maasvlakte 2, commenced in 2008 and was opened for use in May 2013.

One for the Record Books

Apart from its role as the most significant port in Europe, Rotterdam was also the largest port in the world for 42 years, between 1962 and 2004. After developments to Port of Singapore, Rotterdam lost the title of “world’s largest port,” and the title has since now passed to Shanghai. Rotterdam is still Europe’s largest port, reported to cover a massive 41 square miles (105 sq km), and the quantity of shipping that passes through the port is mind blowing. 2014 saw 444.7 million tonnes of cargo pass through the Port of Rotterdam’s various facilities, ranking it 8th in the world for throughput for the period of 2012-2014.

Plans for the Future

There are a number of plans for the future of The Port of Rotterdam, outlined in the Port of Rotterdam Authority‘s Port Vision 2030 project. Port Vision 2030 relies on two “pillars,” the first is for Rotterdam to become the leading Intra-European cargo hub, by galvanising existing infrastructure and logistics chains and opening up its facilities to new types of cargo. The second pillar focuses on making Rotterdam an integrated hub of industry by 2030, alongside Antwerp, Moerdijk and Terneuzen. The port has a history of ties with the energy and petrochemical industry, and these developments seek to bolster ecological focus with sustainable energy sources across the complex.

The story of Rotterdam and its port reveal some key lessons for any company involved in logistics. Focus on flexibility and improvement, and improve wherever possible. As the the Port Vision 2030 page proudly states: “Industry and logistics have been the pillars of the port of Rotterdam for decades, thanks to its favourable location and an entrepreneurial spirit.” Rotterdam’s focus on functionality and development of its shipping facilities have kept it at the forefront of industry and commerce in Europe for centuries.

In this increasingly digital age, it’s easy to forget the sheer amount of physical goods that need to be transported around the world; but the need for devices, electronics and modern comforts make the process of shipping more important than ever. Rotterdam connects Western Europe to the world at large, and development shows no sign of stopping.

Twente Express represents the transport sector alongside George Osborne

September marks the release of The Parliamentary Review 2014/15, with twelve separate editions, each focusing on a key policy area.

The Parliamentary Review aims to showcase best practice as a learning tool to the public and private sector, with the Transport Edition aimed particularly at leading policymakers and executives in transport.

This Review also consists of a look back at the year in transport and Westminster, with introductions from The Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon George Osborne MP, and the Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP. The political commentary is written by Mark D’Arcy, the BBC’s Parliamentary correspondent.

The document has been sent out to tens of thousands of leading policymakers including all MPs, Peers at the House of Lords and Leaders from across the transport arena. The total distribution of the Review across all policy areas is over 250,000.

Director of The Parliamentary Review, Daniel Yossman, said: “This year’s Review demonstrates, once again, the enthusiasm of the Public and the Private sector to share best practice for the betterment of industry as a whole. Next year we will be adding new editions to cover additional policy areas and help broaden the discussion yet further. I look forward, as ever, to the challenge.”

Editor of The Parliamentary Review, The Rt Hon David Curry, said: “The Review shows just how creative and committed the people are at the ‘coal-face’ of Britain’s economic and social performance.”

These thoughts are echoed by George Osborne, who uses his piece in the Review to state that: “Improving productivity – the amount that British workers produce for every hour they work – is the key route to making the UK stronger and families richer, and it’s the greatest economic challenge of our time.”

Access the pdf from our Downloads page.

3 Crucial Resources to Help Grow Your Export Business

grow your export businessAll businesses should be looking to grow, and exporting is one way that this ambition can be realised. Whether you export already or it’s something that you are actively considering, growing your export business can be a daunting prospect. However, it needn’t be. In many respects, selling overseas is no different than selling to your domestic markets. You should simply see it as expanding your customer base, which means more opportunities to sell your product. Since the advent of the internet and the rapid advances made in communications and technology, the world is a much smaller place and that makes exporting a much easier process.

Perhaps most importantly though are the resources that are now available for people wanting to export their goods abroad. Whether you are an experienced exporter who wants to break into new markets or dipping your toe into export for the first time, the following resources and tips will prove invaluable.


UKTI (UK Trade and Investment) is a government department that works with UK based businesses to help them be successful in international markets. They are perhaps the most useful resource when trying to grow your export business. Companies who took advice from UKTI have on average earned an extra £100k in sales within eighteen months of working with them. You can arrange a face-to-face meeting with a UKTI export advisor free of charge and they can also give you access to their e-Exporting programme which helps companies sell abroad through online channels and the UKTI Gateway to Global Growth programme, which helps more experienced exporters expand into new markets. Other programmes of support include one that offers access to finance and one that helps UK businesses find overseas contracts, tenders and projects.

Trade Fairs

You can be all set up for exporting but without customers; who are you going to export to? Exhibiting, or even just visiting an overseas trade fair can be a great way of meeting customers, but also distributors and agents as well. Networking at these sorts of events is crucial if you want to optimise your margins and ensure you’ve got the most efficient and effective route to market. To find relevant trade fairs, Google is your best friend, but the following website is also very useful and has a fantastic search facility where you can search for relevant tradeshows across the globe.

Local Chamber of Commerce

If you’re not already a member of your local Chamber of Commerce, then you should seriously consider joining. Even if you are a current member, you may not be utilising their excellent services and facilities to the max. As well as running networking events where you can talk to and get invaluable advice from fellow business owners and directors, many run very informative events and training courses that can take you through the export process and ensure that you’ve got all your bases covered. They can provide advice on a wide range of issues such as contracts, export administration, recruitment, market information and legal issues. For the price of a year’s membership, this sort of advice and assistance is invaluable. You can find your local Chamber of Commerce here:

Here at Twente Express, as industry leading experts in forwarding, storage and distribution, we’ve helped companies of all sizes across the UK expand into exciting new markets. If you have any questions or would like advice on how we can help you, don’t hesitate to call us on 01543 362 220 or email

Travel Chaos is Costing the UK Freight Industry £750,000 Every Day

Delayed in Operation StackFigures released by the Freight Transport Association have revealed that the delays on both sides of the English Channel are costing the logistics industry in the UK a huge £750,000 per day.

Drivers have been spending hours sitting in static traffic both in the Calais region and in Kent, where Operation Stack was recently put in place by the Kent Constabulary to cope with the huge volumes of traffic. Although this was recently suspended, the situation does not look to improve in the short term.

The delays have been the result of a combination of factors in France, including problems with migrants, protests by farmers and strikes by ferry workers. This weekend has seen demonstrations by farmers, who are protesting against the prices of meat and milk as well the continuation of nightly incursions of migrants numbering in their hundreds at the French end of the Channel Tunnel. It is estimated that there may be over 5000 migrants in the Calais region looking for opportunities to travel to the UK.

The resultant delays costs the freight industry in a number of ways, especially those that are transporting highly perishable goods and are subject to tight deadlines. The deputy Chief Executive of the FTA said that “It is simply not acceptable that industrial action in France can cause such chaos which is impacting on the British economy. Calais has to be made a strike free-zone so that cross-Channel traffic can start moving again”.

The situation doesn’t look like it is set to improve, with news today that the cross channel ferry provider DFDS Seaways has suspended its Dover-Calais ferry services due to strike action by the Syndicat Maritime Nord seamen’s union. This means that P&O is the only operator that has access to Calais which means we could once again see a fresh wave of congestion on both sides of the Channel. At the time of writing DFDS’s services remain suspended but it is hoped that a settlement is on the horizon as the company, striking employees and the French government start negotiations today.

New double-deck mega box trailers for daily palletised freight service to and from Benelux…

Double-deck mega box trailersAt a time when the media is full of doom and gloom, it’s encouraging to read about a local company who is bucking the trend in the current economic climate.

Following a most successful 2012, when sales revenues were an impressive 16% up on the previous year, Twente Express has invested £500,000 in double-deck mega trailers and low ride tractor units that will be operated on their daily express freight services to and from Holland and Belgium.

Twente’s Managing Director Trevor Paul comments: “These are still difficult times but we have to stay positive, roll our sleeves up and search for new initiatives to combat rising costs in what is still a very competitive market sector”.

He continued: “This latest investment demonstrates our confidence in a further upturn in our export revenues during 2013 – especially from our Midlands based customers in the manufacturing sector”.

Security is always a priority when transporting goods and for this reason solid box trailers have been chosen as opposed to curtain siders and all trailers have been fitted with the latest GPS tracking technology that incorporates computerised rear door locking mechanisms.

Twente’s new mega trailer fleet will also enable them to safely double stack palletised freight and accordingly, more consignments will be carried on each overseas journey – resulting in a more commercial and competitive approach when calculating a new pricing structure for 2013.

In addition, a new “Pallet Tariff” is also proving to be a very competitive alternative to customers who regularly ship quarter, half and full palletised shipments to the Benelux.

Twente’s strength over the last 30 years has undoubtedly been maintaining the in-house control of their overnight trunking system to their Benelux depots – which is vital to the success of both their 24 and 48 hour door to door services.

Sales Director, Rod Hemphill confirmed: “In an effort to reduce our costs over the years we could have opted to use cheaper Eastern European hauliers to move our customers’ consignments across the Channel but that would have compromised our reputation and diluted the strict ‘in-house’ controls that we have in place to monitor the day-to-day operation.

Our reluctance to take that cheaper option is certainly paying dividends – a fact demonstrated by our growing customer base”.

Twente sign up with Wolves legend Steve Bull to help local people

Steve BullBlack Country born and bred professional footballer Steve Bull played 545 games for Wolverhampton Wanderers between 1986 and 1999 – scoring a record 306 goals. He also represented England on 13 occasions scoring 4 goals.

‘Bully’ – as he is affectionately known, still lives in the area and spends a lot of his time raising money for local charities in and around the Wolverhampton area.

The Steve Bull Foundation provides charitable support in the form of grants to organisations primarily in the Black Country and the West Midlands which
specialise in assisting young people, the disabled, the homeless, the sick and the disadvantaged.

Twente Express has pledged to donate to the Foundation a percentage of their revenues generated from delivering palletised consignments throughout the UK and the Benelux region – from companies located in all WV postcode addresses.

Please join us in supporting the Wolves legend in his endeavours to raise funds to help provide treatment, care and happiness for local Black Country folk – who are not so fortunate as ourselves.

Celebrating 30 years of success for Twente Express!

You often hear or read about successful business ventures – well the Twente Express story really has been a business adventure. Not only for its founders Trevor Paul and his wife Shawn but for long serving employees Clive Roberts and Simon Hill who have respectively clocked up 24 and 23 years loyal service with Twente.

There are many other members of the team who have contributed to the adventure over the years, not forgetting our Dutch colleagues in our Dordrecht & Enschede offices.

Successes in the mid ‘80’s enabled Twente to increase the twice weekly round trips between the UK and the Netherlands to a daily service – an accomplishment recognised in the early ‘90’s by receiving a prestigious Award for Anglo-Dutch Enterprise from the then Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers.

As a result of a £250,000 investment in 1992, Twente moved into a purpose built 12,000 sq.ft. office / warehouse complex in Lichfield and 10 years later moved to their current Brownhills location, following the purchase of a £700,000 distribution centre covering an area of 30,000 sq.ft. on a 3 acre site.

Today, Twente’s appetite and desire for success is just as strong as it was 30 years ago and recent investments in their truck and trailer fleet and in their IT systems confirms this.

Managing Director Trevor Paul concluded “Above all, our customers’ loyalty is the reason for our success and we will continue to put them first – no matter what.”

Blast from the past – from 2009… Twente pipped at the post by TNT!

Blast from the past – from 2009... Twente pipped at the post by TNT!It was billed to be a truly memorable ‘David and Goliath’ contest – when privately owned Twente Express came head to head with international market leader TNT Express –  for the coveted title of International Operator of the Year in the Motor Transport Awards 2009.

The occasion could not have been better – 1,300 people attended what is described as ‘the transport industry event of the year’ held at the prestigious Grosvenor House on London’s Park Lane.

Trevor Paul, founder of Twente Express, together with his wife Shawn were joined at the event by a number of long serving employees from the UK and the Netherlands to celebrate their team’s achievement.

He comments:  “While we didn’t win the title of ‘International Operator of the Year’ we came a close second to the mighty TNT Express as the most innovative, reliable and customer focused International Road Operator in the UK.”

The judges were particularly impressed with the real time business systems that Twente Express has in place to monitor and maximise its cost controls, customer activity and gross margins.

Twente was also praised for its strong and long-standing relationships with its customers and the continued investment in the company over the years.

Reflecting on the final outcome, although Trevor was conscious of a possible upset on the night, in true David style, he feels that his company is definitely a winner when he concluded.

“Let’s put this achievement in perspective – we have been judged second only to TNT Express in a national awards final… in this respect I have congratulated all my staff and reminded them that they are all winners.”

Twente join UPN – a first class partnership

Twente Express has been appointed the exclusive Benelux member of United Pallet Network (UPN) enabling all 63 fellow members throughout the UK the opportunity to provide their own local customers a competitive solution for delivering palletised consignments to Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg.

The emergence of palletised networks throughout the UK and Europe in recent years has certainly revolutionised the supply chain industry. So much so that, transport companies large and small who have not linked in with a network will, in the opinion of Twente Express MD Trevor Paul, “struggle to make ends meet as operating costs are escalating and delivery lead times are getting shorter and shorter.”

He continued “The benefit of becoming a network member is being able to offer your customers a truly national distribution service, to and from any part of the country, without any empty running. This is not only extremely beneficial to the bottom line but also enables all network members to do their bit in reducing their own carbon footprint.”

Twente Express, who are celebrating their 31st anniversary this year, are also the UPN member for all WV post codes in the West Midlands and, as a result, are now able to provide national distribution services for their existing local customers, as well as daily services to and from the Benelux region.

UPN was established in 2001 as a provider of high quality next day delivery services for smaller consignments of palletised freight.

Widely regarded as the technological leader in its field, UPN’s advanced real time and web based IT infrastructure has now set new standards for freight visibility and customer service.

UPN Sales Director Andrew Spencer comments: “Having Twente Express on board is a real coup for our network members as they have vast experience in the Benelux market and provide guaranteed daily services to and from that region.”

Twente Express Trevor Paul and UPN