‘H.Essers invests in one-stop-shop for chemical sector’

Logistics company H.Essers is expanding considerably in Wilrijk. As well as increasing their warehousing space, they are making major investments in high-tech waste installations and tank terminals for the chemical industry. And all these upgrades will help convince clients to choose a full logistics service near the Antwerp Harbour.

H.Essers is an important player when it comes to logistics activities. Around the world, the company has over a million square metres of warehousing space. Nonetheless, the company has expanded in past years, adding another 5,400 employees to the books and recording an annual growth of 15%. In 2006, H.Essers took over the AFGA logistics site in Wilrijk, including all its personnel. Today, there are approximately 400 staff members working at the site in a huge variety of functions. H.Essers is devoting 150,000 square metres of storage space in Wilrijk to the chemical sector, enabling them to serve the largest producers in the Antwerp Harbour.

Christophe Houpels (Business Unit Manager at H.Essers): ‘In 2017, we invested about ten million euro in our Wilrijk site: we are opening a new warehouse for flammable and chemical materials early in 2018. Our new filling and drumming installation and the brand new ISO tank terminal (with containers for storing chemical products – Ed.) has already been in use for a few months. With these investments, we are responding to the needs of the Antwerp chemical manufacturers. If our services respond to their logistics needs, we can free them up to focus on production.’

One-stop shop

‘What are the challenges for the logistics sector today? We need to find a solution for traffic congestion. By investing in Wilrijk, H.Essers wants to create a ‘one-stop shop’ solution. Aiming specifically at companies from the Antwerp Harbour, we are taking warehouses, storage, waste activities, tank terminals, transport, customs and forwarding services, and bringing them all together in one location. Safety and respect for the environment are central to our vision, making H.Essers the perfect partner for companies that want to grow efficiently, economically and responsibly. By bringing everything together in one place, there won’t be need for trucks to pointlessly drive around while they’re empty, heading from A to B, just to move goods away.

‘Logistics solutions mean that trucks don’t need         to pointlessly drive around while they’re empty.’

War for talent

There’s another challenge that the logistics sector is struggling with today: finding the right qualified people. Christophe Houpels: ‘The world is digitising. We need to continuously train and school our people—warehousing staff, drivers and especially anyone in a logistics or management function. For H.Essers, the War for Talent is a daily challenge. We want to coach, train and stimulate everyone to grow. So we are investing strongly in our own human capital.’

Antwerp is chemistry

When H.Essers expanded the former AGFA site, clearly declared they would be focusing on the chemical industry. But today, the demand for investments in safe, state-of-the-art SEVESO storage comes primarily from chemical companies in Antwerp. Christopher Houpels: ‘As a company, H.Essers primarily targets three niche segments: chemicals, pharma and high-value products (such as electronics). H.Essers Wilrijk is 100% devoted to logistics services and value-adding activities for the chemical industry; Antwerp is undoubtedly an important chemical location because of its harbour activities. Our clients are based in this region and expect a tailored response from us. Investments in the future will also need to remain in and around the Antwerp Harbour, and by extension, the Belgian economy, in order to grow.’

Spring 2019 was very successful for several key players from different industries in Antwerp as their work and dedication was internationally recognised and awarded.
The Antwerp port is a global player thanks to, among other, its enormous (petro)chemical cluster.