LCZ Laebens Voka

14 million euro investment in Logistics Centre Zwevegem

Zwevegem-based Laebens Logistics' commitment to multimodal transport since July this year is admirable. With its own terminal along the Bossuit-Kortrijk Canal, the logistics partner is using water-bound transport more than ever. "We have completely stopped transport for third parties. Only for the last mile do we still need road transport, but usually our customers are within a 40-kilometre radius of our site," says Dieter Laebens.

Laebens has focused on (inter)national road transport since its acquisition in 1990. The move in 2013 from Heestert to Zwevegem, where it bought buildings from Betafence, allowed the company to expand its service package to include warehousing activities. "Today we have 120,000 m² of covered and 40,000 m² of open space for this purpose," explains Dieter. "Our customers are mainly local production companies or traders. We receive and stock their stock of raw materials or trade goods, handle the just-in-time supply and/or removal and finally prepare the orders to the end customer, both via full pallets and by order picking." With rising transport costs, longer traffic jams and a scarcity of drivers, Laebens wanted to make better use of its location along the Bossuit-Kortrijk Canal.

"You cannot establish every company along a waterway, but if a logistics partner does, it still creates a lot of opportunities. During our market study, we got in touch with the Dutch HTS Group, which operates barges and some inland terminals. We decided to build a transhipment terminal together along the Bossuit-Kortrijk Canal, near our company. It is an ideal interaction: they arrange transport by inland vessel, we do the transhipment activities together and we take care of logistics and the last mile. Since they already have years of experience in the sector, we were able to learn a lot from their internal processes. It is a considerable and completely private investment (EUR 14 million), but the banks readily went along with our story thanks to its sustainable character. The infrastructure works took a year, since July the terminal has been operational."

  • LCZ Laebens Voka
    Dieter Laebens Ceo LCZ

    Binnenkort zullen zowel de schepen, de overslagkraan als het wegtransport volledig elektrisch worden aangedreven.

Versatile terminal 

The original plan of a pure container terminal soon gave way to the realisation of a multi purpose terminal with logistics services.

"For this, we invested in a sophisticated, electro-hydraulic transhipment crane. This allows us to tranship all types of goods with extreme precision and at record speed. Besides containers, we also handle break bulk. These are indivisible pieces such as coils (large steel coils weighing 25 tonnes each): we pick them up by barge from Antwerp or Arcelor-Mittal, store them in Zwevegem and deliver them to companies in the region at the desired time. We can also tranship bulk goods such as soil, wood chips, fertilisers or grains without any problem and store them both in open spaces and under cover. Within the reach of the transhipment crane, we have a temporary transhipment zone of 5,000 m², which is very useful for projects where buffering of the ship's cargo is required for a short period of time, such as the disposal of soil for construction projects in the neighbourhood.

Containers remain the main product group. "Today, we have fixed sailings to Antwerp (four times a week) and Rotterdam (twice a week). We can deliver the container to the customer, but if required we can also stuff or strip it, stock the cargo and deliver the goods palletised and on demand. More and more companies are knocking on our door to work together, realising that in this way they can significantly reduce their number of truck movements and CO2 emissions. We will soon take the first electric truck into service. Then we will work greener than green, because both the ships, the transhipment crane and the road transport will work entirely electrically."

As a function of this, Laebens will also have many more solar panels installed this year. "This way, we want to generate energy to power the ships (via battery containers), the trucks and the Reefer containers' cooling engines. We are marketing the new activities under the name Logistiek Centrum Zwevegem (LCZ), although we will keep the name Laebens Logistics."

Laebens employs 32 people. "This year we will realise a turnover of 7 million euros, we expect it to at least double next year thanks to the new transhipment terminal," concludes Dieter Laebens.

(Text from article Voka Entrepreneurs - BVC - Photo Kurt)