When Daniele Pratolongo established shipping and logistics provider Rocktree Logistics in 2011, his goal was to establish a logistics solutions provider that would defy the odds. Now, as Rocktree passes its one-year anniversary, the company has done just that.
“The name ‘Rocktree’ came to me while away at sea, when I noticed a tree growing on the top of a rock in the ocean,” said Pratolongo. “It was such a phenomenon to see this, a tree able to grow in such extreme conditions. This made me think about the idea of resilience and defying the odds. We bring this mentality to our company every day as we look to make our mark on the industry.”
In its first full year of operation under the Rocktree brand, the company has fully embodied this ethos.
The Singapore-based shipping and logistics company offers logistics solutions to dry bulk commodity producers, end users and international trading companies in the natural and mineral resources sectors. Through its fleet of offshore floating terminals (OFTs), Rocktree is able to provide transshipment services, storage, cargo blending and ship management services to clients in emerging markets, greatly simplifying the supply chain process.
Rocktree has grown quickly despite the global slowdown in the shipping and logistics industries. In 2012, the company increased its total cargo volume, successfully handling 16 million metric tonnes in volume for the year, a 25% increase from 2011.
The company’s goal is to build upon this recent success as it enters 2013.
FLEET AND OPERATIONS
In commodity-producing regions around the world, the need for sophisticated and reliable supply chain solutions is essential. For Rocktree, the company’s goal is to offer modern, highly customized logistics solutions for their clients dealing in the transport of dry bulk commodities, specifically coal. Rocktree’s fleet supports coal companies throughout the supply chain, offering solutions to producers, end-users, and logistics providers.
Rocktree’s OFT vessels provide the standard transshipment and storage services that many service providers offer clients in such markets; however, according to Pratolongo, Rocktree offers one key differentiating service.
“How we add value is by undertaking our clients’ commodity blending operations at sea, directly on board Rocktree’s vessels, rather than in port,” said Pratolongo.
“This simplifies the supply chain process a great deal. For example, if a client operates in a country where ports and infrastructure are inadequate, they can undertake blending and other conventional port operations directly on board one of our vessels, which will save significant time and resources in the coal transshipment process.”
This specific service is the centrepiece of Rocktree’s strategy to offer unconventional solutions to players in the coal industry. Rocktree has two assets for such operations, Zeus and Mara.
Designed to withstand higher loading volumes, these vessels enable clients to load greater quantities of cargo on board in a time-effective manner, significantly reducing daily operating costs and time spent at sea.
Zeus and Mara have a combined average net loading rate of 100,000 metric tonnes per day, and are capable of handling over 17 million metric tonnes of cargo per year.
ASIAN EXPERTISE — GLOBAL AMBITIONS
As economic conditions in the US and Europe have led to a global slowdown across the shipping and logistics industries, few regions have proven to be as favourable for logistics companies as Southeast Asia. With resource-rich countries such as Indonesia, Myanmar,Vietnam — and neighbouring Australia — all posting strong, consistent GDP figures, combined with an increase in demand for energy across the region, Southeast Asia has been relatively stable for industry players while operations in the rest of the world have slowed significantly.
The regional growth and stability of Southeast Asia were factors in Pratolongo’s decision to base Rocktree in Singapore, and to make the region the starting point in the company’s journey forward.
Benefiting from Singapore’s favourable business policies and longstanding reputation as an international shipping hub, Pratolongo understands the unique opportunity that the country poses for young logistics players as a gateway to Asia.
“With Singapore being a business-friendly shipping hub in proximity to so many emerging markets, it was the most logical location to start our business,” said Pratolongo. “From Singapore, we are close to many resource-rich countries that are in need of logistics support. “Indonesia is the perfect example. We chose Indonesia as the first country for our company’s operations in part because it is the world’s largest thermal coal exporter. We understand that coal is vital to Indonesia’s economy and is a major industry in the country. We also understand that there are many infrastructure challenges that complicate the supply chain process, both for coal producers and end-users. Immediately, we saw this as an opportunity for Rocktree to add value to companies with operations in that market. Today, we now handle approximately 16 million metric tonnes of coal in the country per year.”
While Southeast Asia has proven to be a good starting point for Rocktree, Pratolongo isn’t satisfied with being an exclusively Asian logistics player. The company sees its future growth opportunities in emerging markets around the world due to global demand for dry bulk commodities, and the need companies have for customized logistics solutions in the markets where such commodities are sourced. And, while the demand for coal and other dry bulk commodities slowed in 2012, Pratolongo feels that demand will eventually grow again as the global economic climate improves.
For Rocktree, it is essential to be ready for when that day comes. Therefore, the company is setting its sight on establishing truly global operations, potentially as early as in 2013.
“We have been very successful in establishing operations in Southeast Asia. Now, we need to look beyond the region in order to compete on a global scale,” said Pratolongo.
“To be truly relevant in this industry, you must be able to serve clients around the world and offer them unique solutions specific to each market. Rocktree’s goal is to become a global logistics solutions provider, able to serve clients on any continent in the world.”
- high-speed loading (average net loading rate over 60,000 metric tonnes a day);
- blending capability with ability to adjust to desired ratio;
- significant storage capacity — up to 60,000 metric tonnes;
- advanced safety and environmental protection systems; and
- capable of handling over 10 million metric tonnes a year.
- high-speed loading (average net loading rate over 40,000 metric tonnes a day);
- blending capability with ability to adjust for desired ratio;
- buffer storage — up to 9,000 metric tonnes for return cargo or pre-loading and continuous operations automatic sampling equipment;
- advanced safety and environmental protection systems; and
- capable of handling over 7 million metric tonnes a year.