How to get there
In 2011, Braskem handled 18 million metric tons of basic petrochemicals using the most varied modes of transportation
To meet the deadlines agreed with clients and ensure that its products reach their destinations safely, Braskem has put in place a broad and complex logistics strategy that involves not only transportation but the storage and flow of information about its raw materials: plastic resins (polypropylene, polyethylene and PVC) and basic petrochemicals (ethylene, propylene, butadiene, chlorine and caustic soda, among others).
In 2011, the company used roads, railways, waterways and pipelines to transport 18 million metric tons of basic petrochemicals, involving operations ranging from receipt of domestic and imported raw materials to deliveries to clients in Brazil and abroad.
Last year, Braskem shipped cargo to all five continents for its Basic Petrochemicals Unit, which has plants in the states of Rio Grande do Sul, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Bahia. Those shipments traveled a total of 14.9 million km, which corresponds to 20 round trips to the Moon.
The company’s logistics program involves a team of 47 people with varied and complementary backgrounds – a crucial factor for the success of its operations. “The growth of the Brazilian economy has made logistics one of the hottest specialties right now,” says Braskem Supply Chain Director Hardi Schuck. “Specialized courses in that field are being created to meet the current demand,” he adds.
Maximum risk reduction is a top priority. Victor Amaral, Unib’s Logistics Manager, explains that Braskem implements HSE (Health, Safety and Environment) procedures with extreme care throughout the life cycle of all its ventures – from conception to decommissioning (when applicable), including engineering, construction, operation and continual improvement. “Before we produce, handle, use, sell, ship or dispose of a product, we study it carefully and then go back over all the ways to produce it with absolute safety and a minimal impact on the environment.”
For cargo imports and exports, Braskem has signed charter contracts with shipping companies that give it the exclusive use of seven ships to transport liquids (aromatics, solvents and gasoline) and three ships for gases (ethylene, propylene and butadiene). These vessels operate under strict Health, Safety, Environment and Sustainability protocols established by Braskem. Before the company charters any other ships, they undergo a thorough inspection, including an assessment of their performance in previous operations.
Specialized companies periodically certify the state of conservation of each ship’s equipment and the experience of its crew. In 2011 alone, Braskem assessed 386 vessels, 44 of which did not pass muster. “A new ship with an inexperienced crew will not pass our vetting procedure (examination and assessment). A maritime accident could have serious consequences for the environment, and that risk is not acceptable to the company,” stresses Hardi Schuck.
These vessels are used to carry out 900 petrochemical cargo shipments annually. On top of that, the company also handles the unloading of 200 vessels laden with naphtha imported from several countries, such as Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Argentina, Venezuela and Mexico, at the Brazilian terminals of Aratu, Temadre, Tedut and São Sebastião.
The company also has safety protocols in place for barge shipments by river and the transportation of raw materials and products on the roadways. The protocols for road shipments include a number of programs to monitor truck drivers’ behavior and check the quality of the equipment used. Simulations of accidents and truck spills are periodically conducted at marine terminals to provide training and refresher training, and assess team performance in real conditions.
The company also participates in the programs of the Brazilian Chemical Industry Association (Abiquim), including “Live Eye on the Road,” which focuses on driver behavior and meets the strict protocols of the association’s SASSMAQ (Safety, Health, Environment and Quality Evaluation System).
There are numerous bottlenecks in all modes of Brazil’s transport infrastructure, and the country is tackling these challenges through public and private investments. Braskem seeks maximum efficiency in its logistics operations by diversifying and integrating modes of transportation.
Pipelines, which are currently the safest and most cost-efficient mode of transport, already account for 56% of Unib’s deliveries. However, they can only be used to deliver products within relatively short distances.
The company carries out 61,000 loading and unloading operations per year for trucks carrying hydrocarbons fuels and ethanol. If all the trucks Unib uses in one year were placed end to end, they would cover approximately 1,300 kilometers – the distance between the Brazilian cities of Salvador and Belo Horizonte. At the moment, however, few of the nation’s roads provide good security and safety conditions, especially for hazardous cargo shipments.
Brazil’s port sector also presents the challenges of high costs and inefficiency. Hardi Schuck gives the example of the Port of Aratu, Bahia, which is extremely congested, resulting in excessive waiting time for ships. “This increases costs, as well as the risk of delayed deliveries to our clients. In this context, the logistics team’s challenge also increases considerably,” he observes.
Brazil has approximately 30,000 km of railways, and less than 20% are equipped with broad-gauge tracks. Bahia has 1,500 km of narrow-gauge railways, which permit average speeds of just 30 km/h. A more efficient rail network would reduce transportation costs and CO2 emissions related to logistic operations.
According to Hardi Schuck, removing logistical bottlenecks in Brazil is essential to making the nation’s economy more competitive in the global marketplace. He points out that Braskem is working on several fronts to reduce the impact of the logistics bottlenecks that affect its operations. “Through the work of several of its companies, the Odebrecht Organization has helped improve the infrastructure of Brazil, particularly through Odebrecht TransPort, which is focused on improving logistics in this country.”