Rudolf Hess
President & CEO
RH Shipping

Local Knowledge Boosts Smooth Logistics Handling

Wed, 10/19/2016 - 22:10

Transporting precious minerals across international borders is a costly process that is fraught with challenges. A swathe of logistical issues, customs laws, and even sea piracy concerns can all delay freight arrival and have potentially disastrous impacts on productivity and profit margins. RH Shipping manages to transport cargo over land, air, and sea with minimal fuss thanks to its subjective approach and attention to detail. “We can face risks on every project so it is important to have a strong and defined project management team on each venture,” explains Rudolf Hess, the company’s President and CEO. “We have a specialized project division that analyzes every project individually, taking into consideration all the specific customer requirements. Once we have fully assessed the project, we put together the project plan and begin searching for the necessary equipment, engineers, and vendors.”

With mine sites often found in remote, deserted areas of the country building infrastructure is complicated and essential services like water, transport, and energy are often lacking as a result. In the effort to overcome such challenges, Hess stresses the importance of recruiting local knowledge, which he says can hold the key to ensuring smooth logistical operations. “Mine sites are usually located in areas far removed from urban centers,” he clarifies. “The access roads are complicated, mostly unpaved, and steep, posing a significant risk to heavy loaded trailers carrying goods or equipment. Severe weather conditions frequently add to this risk. Therefore, we recruit vendors from the local area who have complete knowledge of the conditions particular to that region.”

This local touch is invaluable when dealing with communities surrounding mine sites, which often add to logistical complications by opposing the influence of mining on their towns, villages, and ecosystems. Although RH Shipping and other service providers do not have to deal with issues regarding land ownership rights unlike many mine operators, it is not infrequent to run into protestors blocking access roads in and around project sites. “When transporting cargo, demonstrations can cause delays and protestors even vandalize our freight on occasion,” notes Hess. “Our surveyors and field supervisors undergo stringent assessments so that we can be sure they understand the local issues pertaining to every project.” Organized crime concerns are also at the forefront of RH Shipping’s business strategy at all times. Pirates can still be found lurking in international waters, and in mines in Mexico in particular are threatened by criminal organizations. Hess explains how the company always works hand in hand with local and international law enforcement agencies to reduce these risks as much as possible. “Communication is of utmost importance when it comes to security threats,” he stresses. “These issues are factored into the budget of every project because the success of our business depends on the trust our clients have in our ability to transport their cargo.”

In recent years low commodity prices have added to the hurdles facing RH Shipping, with mining companies turning their focus away from external expansion and toward the consolidation of internal processes. Thanks to the company’s extensive global reach, however, it has managed to mitigate the effects of the downturn. In 20 years RH Shipping has built a presence in over 60 countries and in a variety of sectors, including oil and gas, aerospace, and healthcare. According to Hess, this broad and diverse portfolio has helped the company achieve sustained long-term growth. “RH Shipping is not focused on one single sector,” says Hess. “We go where the current market situation leads, we grow with our customers, and we follow their strengths.” That said, mining has become a crucial facet of the company’s business, and with the rally in gold and silver prices in 1H16 Hess is understandably bullish about the sector’s future prospects. “The mining industry has become a vitally important part of our business,” he concludes. “We already offer a wide range of logistics services within the sector and we are looking to increase our volume every year.”