The definition of stevedoring is changing as companies like SCH expand their capability to provide customers with a more complete operation.

Nowadays, our customers expect much more than a service provider who loads and unloads ships. As the logistics process evolves, we have seen our role change to a company that plays a more diverse and active part in the supply chain.

Responding to those requirements has been essential to growing our offering in the ro-ro sector, whether that is taking on responsibility for the storage of cargo or supporting the movement of cargo volumes from factory to port gates.

No company can afford its business to sit still and that’s why we continue to look at ways of expanding our role in the ro-ro logistics chain, even to the point of helping to prepare motorcycles and vehicles for retail markets.

Our latest move has been in extending vehicle storage space at the port of Liverpool, securely looking after vehicles after we have discharged them from ship before they are loaded for retail distribution.

While that movement is road-based, other manufacturers use rail to move vehicles from the production plant to export ports like Southampton. In this case, our role is both at the factory end and the UK port of export, loading and discharging vehicles from rail wagons prior to shipment.

This development of operations underlines the transition from the old style stevedore to the modern day cargo handling business, based on the expectation of the customer as well as our appetite for growth. Stevedoring – and the loading and discharge of ship cargoes – remains an important and skilled part of the mix but the term stevedore no longer accurately describes what we offer.

As we seek to add further value to our services, upskilling will be an increasingly important part of the SCH proposition. The appetite for outsourcing will continue to grow and offering highly capable but cost effective solutions will be the direction we look to take.

Will the term stevedoring ever become an outdated term in port operations? Probably not but the future for our business is in playing a bigger role as a logistics partner rather than a simple supplier of manpower linking ship and quayside.