Accelerating growth of containerised chemicals via the port of Rotterdam

A world class port seeking opportunities to improve its proposition for the chemical industry

Port of Rotterdam (PoR) strives to enhance the port’s competitive position as Europe’s main logistics hub and world-class industrial complex. PoR identified opportunities for growth in its handling of containerised chemicals. Hans Nagtegaal, PoR’s Director Containers, phrased it as follows, “We want to challenge European rival ports and accelerate growth in containerised chemicals, but are not sure where to focus and how to best convince the market”. Business Acceleration was asked to help find the answers by running a value proposition project together with PoR’s project team.


Becoming a chemical specialist port starts with asking the right questions …

− What are the key trends in the chemical industry that are of influence on volumes/type/routing of containers?

− Who are the end-decision makers regarding which port to route containerised chemicals through and what are their selection criteria?

− How does PoR rank on these criteria versus alternative ports? And why?

− What can PoR do to optimally support the chemical industry needs?


These are of course only the high-level research questions. To find the answers a much more detailed set of topics (more than 70) was developed and used in workshops and interviews.


… to the right people

Business Acceleration started with doing research on trade flows and industry trends. Hypotheses and data were verified via workshops with a broad group of PoR experts. The outcome lead to an inside-out perspective about the supply chain needs and wishes of the chemical industry and the value proposition of the Rotterdam port. Most large organisations approach the world from an inside-out perspective. PoR understood the risk of relying on internal knowledge and hearsay only and wanted to fully understand this industry and its supply chain design for containerised chemicals. Business Acceleration developed a format and script for strategic customer dialogues. Through 20 sessions with key industry representatives the project team gathered valuable insights into the logistic challenges of the industry, how supply chain decisions are made and how PoR compares to its competitors.


Thank you for asking

At Business Acceleration, we see with every project that our customer’s customers are very willing to share their views. They take plenty of time, are brutally honest and value being challenged. The chemical industry logistics decision makers were no exception. Not only did they provide great insights, but the dialogues also resulted in new or improved business relationships.

It is of course vital to prepare well for customer dialogues. You must know the market, ask relevant questions and follow-up where action is needed. We supported PoR in every step of the process; gathering customer insights and translating feedback into meaningful data is our core expertise.


Staying in tune going forward

The customer insights resulted in a range of strategic initiatives. With support of Business Acceleration, marketing and sales material has been developed to represent the voice of the customer and to focus on those areas that are important to the chemical industry and where Port of Rotterdam outperforms other European ports.

Port of Rotterdam launched several ‘Sounding Board’ meetings where chemical decision makers meet and discuss supply chain themes and initiatives that the port is or should be undertaking. Complementary to these are Port Community meetings to strengthen the Rotterdam containerised chemicals product, taking feedback from the Sounding Boards into account. Regular contacts with key decision makers ensure that PoR remains fully aware of trends and developments and can respond fast to new industry challenges.


Containerised chemicals contributed to the consistently growing number of containers shipped via Rotterdam since the project was completed. Hans Nagtegaal sums it up as follows, “Today we have a much better understanding of the chemical cargo shipping market and our position in it. We know our strengths and together with the industry we identify opportunities to improve their supply chains via Rotterdam, so we become even better. The biggest value of the project was to deepen our relationships with the key players in the industry. Together with them we make it happen”.


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