Intermodal Groupage and Consolidation Centres

European export trade is growing fast thanks to competitive international transport services, among other factors. To favour export operations, shippers need operators to offer efficient, eco-friendly and competitive services to a wide range of destinations around the world. This means that operators need to get organised in firm, well-structured and trustworthy networks present throughout the process, from departure to arrival. In practice, it is necessary to count on organisations and people able to collaborate on a trust and commitment basis, by applying compatible and reliable work systems and protocols.

Gráfico NVOCC

Evolution of extra EU-28 trade 2008-2013 (EUR 1 000 million) – Source: Eurostat

Customer service, where most added-value is generated, requires additional services and a solid use of IT resources. The development of e-commerce will play a decisive role in the evolution of the market. Talent and teams’ training will be the crucial basic tools to generate progress and value.We need flexible solutions, able to meet the customers’ requirements and expectations in terms of delivery time, cost and quality. These necessities change constantly and make the NVOCCs (Non-Vessel Operating Common Carrier) sector grow. The traditional push paradigm –an inventory-based distribution–is being transformed into a pull strategy –replenishing stock logistics­–. From big shipments to smaller and periodical supplies, constant in time, of products that change according to the real market demands and allow more efficient production systems and a tailored satisfaction of demands.

In practice, this implies the access of varied-size companies to the international trade and the growth of consolidation, deconsolidation and cross docking activities and small transformations. Also, it implies the growth of companies specialized in this type of services.

The Escola has not been oblivious to this evolution and for years we have observed that documentation and training regarding this trend is practically non-existent, in a sector with a very high growth rate. We participated in MOS4MOS and B2MOS European projects which, on our request, had specific sections dedicated to groupage training. In those frameworks we started to design the contents and multi-media material to offer training on this branch of logistics.

Barcelona gathers unbeatable features to offer consolidation services. The proximity, complicity and collaborative work of Port of Barcelona and its logistics community as well as the presence of good regular maritime services, big freight-forwarding companies and logistics operators with significant cargo volumes allow to achieve economies of scale in the operations. Also, ZAL (Logistics Activities Zone) represents a meeting point of some important operators. Such proximity favours collaboration and synergies.

Training in the field of consolidation was a matter pending for a sector which, propelled by the e-commerce, is evolving quickly by using new supply models, more and more intermodal and subsequently more sustainable in the long term. The sector is becoming more technical through a very intensive use of information and integration technologies, to bring customers, suppliers and public administrations closer. It has a strong globalization spin, due to its intrinsic essence of international service network that needs to evolve every day to adapt to the new challenges arising from the market. In short, the sector requires operators better trained in operational and legal aspects, market features, ITs and environmental issues.

The Escola Europea de Short Sea Shipping, specialised in intermodal transport and logistics, has opened the way for the sector to improve through the training of the people who work or will work in it, both in Barcelona and in the rest of the national and international network. The initiative is carried out with the boost of outstanding figures and companies of the same sector, those who really know how it works. And also thanks to the effort of the Escola’s professional team and especially of Adriana Díaz, who dedicated time, perseverance and care to this project.

We hope that the new Groupage and Consolidation Centres course will gather the success and acceptation the effort deserves and that it will help towards the consistent and sustained growth of the sector.


Eduard Rodés


Escola Europea de Short Sea Shipping