“A ship in port is safe, but that is not what ships were built for” (Benazir Bhutto). Each ship stays in port only long enough to carry out the necessary loading/unloading of goods or passengers, provisioning and maintenance before going back out to sea. A ship stuck in port costs several thousand euros a day and every minute at the mooring has to be exploited to the utmost. For those involved in shipboard logistics, being late for an appointment in port is unthinkable: there could be consequences of varying gravity, both for the passengers’ travel experience and the safety and performance of the ship. Putting it all right would take much greater economic and logistical effort than a targeted action performed correctly at certain locations and times, not to mention the potential reputational damage from failure to deliver. We wanted to paint the worst scenarios to show the crucial nature of the service provided by Priano Marchelli – a company that was founded as a customs operator for the shipbuilding industry but that, over time, has specialized in air, sea, land and logistics services for the marine industry – and the trust that the company has earned by never missing an appointment. Let’s take a concrete example: a cargo ship carrying oil heads off for the European coastline without yet knowing where it will dock. Commercial negotiations continue up to two days before arrival and, until a buyer is found, the final port of destination remains unknown. The delivery of technical material for the ship’s maintenance requirements must therefore be planned with great precision in order to ensure the maximum reactivity in being ready for delivery at the assigned port of call at very short notice. This can only be assured by the skilful combination of professionalism and technology.
At home in every port
“In meeting the needs of shipping companies,” said Luca Brunoni, General Manager of Priano Marchelli, “we handle all types of shipments: from traditional land, sea or air shipments to unusual modes of transport, with open top, flat rack and break bulk containers, and goods following passengers. We can react promptly to any type of request and can hire an Antonov cargo plane for the transport of bulky and unconventionally-shaped goods, as well as organize freight following passengers, in order to safely and speedily transport items of great value. In our work it is also essential to know in detail the tax and customs legislation of all the countries in which we operate as forwarders and logistics partners with FULL AEO (Authorized Economic Operator) certification, so that we can effectively manage any practice, in different regulatory contexts.” Brunoni continued: “We are able to operate in any port in the world, with particular emphasis on the main cruise cities on five continents, thanks to our network of local agents and international partners.” In a period of expansion, Priano Marchelli opened Priano Aerostream in 2017, which, from its base in Miami (in addition to Amsterdam and Singapore respectively covering Northern Europe and Asia), acts as a HUB for the consolidation and shipping of American orders. Priano Marchelli and Aerostream Logistics have formed a joint venture that, in addition to its presence in Europe and Miami, has operational sites in Vancouver and Seattle. The two companies, leaders in their respective countries in shipbuilding industry logistics, have teamed up and shared their know-how, structures, fleets and information systems in order to offer shipowners global solutions, supported by a network of industry specialists located in the most strategic areas of the world. Our Group was established with the aim of meeting every logistical requirement of shipowners and shipyards worldwide, with the maximum reactivity and professionalism for orders intended for ships or new constructions. Andrea Giachero, the Chief Executive Officer of the Priano Marchelli Group explained: “The Group designs the best logistics solutions tailored to the different needs and/or requests of each individual customer. We offer foreign and domestic warehouses, pick and pack, air, sea and land transport and can reach the ship at each one of its ports, allowing the various purchasing offices to monitor the status of incoming and outgoing orders through a dedicated software application that ensures complete traceability.”
Highly complex logistics
“Our headquarters have always been based in Genoa, since the establishment of our company in 1934, and this is where we have developed our main hub, organized in two logistics areas with three different warehouses, in order to better manage the different flows, while adapting to the features of the landscape where we are located. In Genoa,” Luca Brunoni continued, “we deal with both export and import goods. In export, we deal mainly with technical material from Italy and Europe, if intended for cruise ships, or from the Far East, if destined for merchant ships, that is then distributed using different modes of transport. In addition, we manage all import flows: in this case, our customers are all the businesses found on a cruise ship, such as shops, casinos, spas and much more. Part of the goods are handled in bonded warehouses since several of the items sent to ships – which are real floating cities! – are passing through as transit and must be handled as foreign goods.” With such a wide range of customers, ranging from beauty and wellness shops to the maintenance needs of a large cargo ship, the very high volume of references that Priano Marchelli must deal with becomes clear. A range of information about weight, volume, rotation speed and unitary value ranging from large propellers for ships’ engines weighing several tons (some four-bladed propellers can reach a diameter of four metres!) to casino tables, from towels and sheets to essences and perfumes. Luca Brunoni explained: “We can effectively manage this complexity thanks to the IT tools with which we are furnished. In 2017, we decided to implement Nova Systems’ BeOne WMS.” This solution is designed to govern logistics flows in the most effective way possible, increasing productivity while reducing costs through the optimization of routes and the movement of goods, with the management of all transactions, including reception, reordering, collection and shipment. “Our computer system”, continued Brunoni, “interfaces with those of our customers so that, whenever the Shipowner’s procurement department issues orders to the various suppliers, they are sent to us electronically so that we can check that they are ready and carry them out. In agreement with Deployments, these are consolidated at our hubs in Amsterdam, Genoa, Miami or Singapore and then delivered to the units that supply the main ports of the world. Our operators travel to the ship by land, sea or air, depending on the port in question and the urgency for the Shipowner. To give some idea of the scale, we move over nine million kilograms a year from different European suppliers for just one of our major clients and about 4,000 monthly shipments from all over Europe to consolidation hubs.”
Several warehouses, one director
To understand how the warehouse operates, the internal structure of the Genoese fourth-party logistics provider (4PL) must first be understood. “We have chosen to structure ourselves internally,” Luca Brunoni explained: “We decided not to adopt a classic model, divided according to shipping methods, but instead created departments dedicated to different types of customers. This strategy allows us to place the maximum focus on the needs of individual customers and so maintain the highest level of service, combining standard procedures and customization to best effects. Indeed, we are convinced that it is only by putting the needs of our customers at the centre that we can achieve our goal of providing a top-level service. Just think of the different requirements for the bridge of a merchant ship that accommodates, on average, 8-10 crew members, compared to those of a cruise ship with 1,000-1,500 crew members and 3,000-4,000 passengers on board. In addition, thanks to our internal organization according to the type of customer, we are able to ensure the same level of service to the loyal customer as to the spot customer, thanks to the know-how we have accrued during eighty years of operating in the field. The warehouse reflects this organization: storage and order preparation activities are divided into two main logistics areas, with a total of about 10,000 square metres covered and 4,000 square metres uncovered. At its logistics platform located in Genoa, on an area of 5,000 square metres + 2,000 square metres of operational forecourt, Priano Marchelli manages all the technical material for ships in operation and for new construction and dry dock for a number of the major world players in the cruise sector, as well as technical material for the general cargo sector. A second warehouse, also located inland in the Genoa Bolzaneto area, covers an area of 5,000 square metres with a forecourt of 2,000 square metres and is dedicated to all products associated with on-board services – i.e. linen, chemicals, duty-free shops, beauty salons, various goods… “The warehouse is the beating heart of our business,” underlined Moemi Pentenè, Priano Marchelli’s Facilities and Warehouses Manager. “We operate in the two logistics areas based on two different logics, depending on our customers’ requirements: PO logic and pick & pack logic. In the first case, we handle goods according to customer orders while, in the second, we work by item, according to the indicated requirements.” The warehouses can accommodate 5,500 pallets and there is a large area – both covered and uncovered – for goods that can be stored on the ground. Only a fraction of all the articles handled can be placed on shelves, ranging from works of art to large ships’ engine parts for initial fittings, maintenance and renovation. How does the BeOne WMS support Priano Marchelli in these activities? For all articles managed in pick&pack mode, it supports a traditional logistic activity – even with very narrow time windows – ensuring accuracy and complete traceability. In the case of goods handled by Purchase Order – PO, Priano Marchelli receives orders from shipping companies or shipowners containing goods for the construction and supply of cruise ships. Giuseppe Riccardi, Logistics Project Manager at Nova Systems, explained: “Orders are automatically imported into BeOne PO management through incoming EDI files (for major brands) or entered manually by operators. On actual receipt of the goods referred to in these POs, Priano Marchelli carries out the collection (by creating the TMS shipment / receiving directly from the supplier), checks the goods, prints the labels and makes the entry in the WMS Warehouse. The goods are initially placed in the reception area before being placed on the shelves using the TRF.” Moemi Pentenè emphasized: “The diversity of goods is one of the main variables in our business: we handle everything from the envelope of documents to the pallet, from bundles of pipes to outsize bulky articles, hazardous and non-hazardous goods, stackable or otherwise. All these variables must be taken into account in the organization of the stocks and flows and, in doing so, the professionalism and experience of our team in the sector is effectively supported by Nova Systems’ WMS.” When POs are to be shipped, Priano Marchelli prepares Customer Orders by selecting the available goods from stock. At the same time, the operators create the TMS Shipment and the EDI Customer WMS Order. When these are processed, TRF missions are created so that the warehouse operators can pick up the goods, package them and prepare them for shipment. Vehicles are loaded using the “shipping unit” – “transport unit” combination through Nova Systems’ cross-docking package. Priano Marchelli’s business is subject to marked peaks of activity, both monthly and seasonal. Autumn, for example, is the time when cruise ships gradually leave the Mediterranean basin and Europe to go to warmer shores in other parts of the globe. “So the flows change but, since we can reach our customers all over the world, we can successfully manage peaks in volume. The organization plays a crucial role: experience, in fact, makes all the difference in managing the ordinary and even more so in managing the extraordinary.” In a nutshell“The latest generation ships are real floating cities, so this extremely demanding activity requires knowledge and professionalism for every kind of country and commodity: technical materials, food (dry, frozen and perishable), beverages, hazardous and regulated goods, exceptional shipments, cosmetics (Beauty Salon), hanging garments, jewellery, tobacco (Duty Free Shops), chemicals and surfactants.”
Maximum integration based on technology, trust and respect
The Genoese warehouse operates 6 days a week on a single 8-5 shift. But Luca Brunoni pointed out: “We are ready to handle any emergency 24 hours a day, even on Christmas Day. We have the advantage of flexibility as a medium-sized company with a chain of command that is short enough to enable us to make crucial decisions in just a few minutes, ensuring maximum reactivity. This lean but highly-qualified structure makes effective teamwork possible at all levels. By basing both internal and external relations on transparent relationships of mutual trust and respect, we are able to add value to each service in terms of flexibility and personalization. This may seem a simple thing, but ours is a company made up of people and that invests a lot in people. Priano Marchelli currently has a team of about 134 people with an average age of 35 years. In the last 4 years, we have hired more than 80 people in the various company departments – all employed personnel, even in the warehouse – and we have invested a lot in training because we are convinced that, in our work, the human factor really makes all the difference. In every single operation, we are able to combine the value of the experience of professionals who have been working with us for many years with the energy of new recruits, backed up with targeted investments in technologies, such as the WMS implemented by Nova System, which gives us optimal working conditions and constant innovation. Today, the ability to collect and share data across the entire supply chain has become as important to our customers as the punctual arrival of the goods. Failing to manage the data information chain as effectively and transparently as the physical product chain would be unthinkable. Optimum data exchange is the key to success in the current market context, where everyone has been trying for years to reduce stocks to a minimum and working with very tight flows and very narrow time horizons.”
From a physical supply chain to a digital one
Only effective integration between the logistics provider and the customer can ensure the right level of stock in the warehouse, addressing the need to contain costs without accumulating too much stock and, at the same time, maintain responsiveness and efficiency in ship supply services. Brunoni acknowledged: “Our IT partner also plays a fundamental role in this because it furnishes us with the indispensable tools to analyze the performance of the various processes and the related costs. These elements make it possible for us to introduce optimizations, not only in the operational phases directly supervised by us but also upstream and downstream of the supply chain, in order to share advantages among all actors involved. We have equipped ourselves with a series of instruments to measure our service levels in KPIs but confirmation that we are on the right track is found, above all, in the feedback from our customers. We have achieved such a level of warehouse efficiency that customers are asking us to replicate the same organizational model in warehouses located in different ports around the world. For example, in the case of warehouses near new ships under construction, the material flows to a vessel being equipped from scratch are very high and so the risk of error is consequently also very high. The possibility of adopting the same organisational model and IT tools with the BeOne WMS ensures the same level of service for our logistics platforms worldwide, guaranteeing the complete traceability of flows and processes and full visibility in real time throughout the entire supply chain.”
Looking to the horizon
“Our goal for the future,” Luca Brunoni revealed, “is to continue to grow in line with the policy of taking small steps that has marked our history. We operate in a sector that has been experiencing positive growth for years. The cruise sector is forecast to reach the record figure of 30 million passengers in 2019 and several dozen new ships are on order. Cargo ships also have a following wind and remain the primary mode of transport, with eight out of ten commodities in the world being transported by sea. This scenario certainly offers interesting development opportunities for a company like ours but there is fierce international competition. We cannot and do not want to win by competing on price but by excelling in the quality of our service and by broadening our horizons, consolidating our services to the Marine Industry, but also engaging in the Oil & Energy, Photovoltaic and Project Business sectors. The economic policies of our country in recent years have certainly not created the ideal conditions to allow Italian companies to compete on a global level. But our roots are in Italy and it is here that we want to continue to grow, holding high the flag of Italian professionalism in the world and supporting young people in their career paths in order to ensure the progress of the entire system.” So, having slipped the moorings, we continue on the voyage.