By Sarah Byrne

WILHELMSEN Ships Service (WSS) says its Northeast Asia Distribution Centre, located in Busan, South Korea, played a significant role in consolidating the company’s position in the market and the company is implementing further expansion to meet demand.

As the company’s 6,500 square metre warehouse facility marked its first birthday in January, the WSS said the distribution centre provided a solid platform for future expansion.Distribution-Centre-2

Situated beside the Busan new container terminal, the facility was officially opened by WSS on 1 January 2015.

Speaking with Oil & Gas Australia, WSS (Korea) general manager Woon-Sik Choi said that in order to satisfy the demands of WSS sites in North East Asia, its Korea distribution centre was again expanding.

Following its expansion in the third quarter of 2015, the Korea distribution centre will increase its storage capacity up to 2,200 pallets.

WSS said this marked a shift in the company’s regional strategy, creating a dedicated northeast Asian base and allowing the former Asian hub in Singapore to focus on the southeast of the region.

Mr Choi said the goal of the warehouse in Busan was to create a buffer closer to the company’s customers in North East Asia.

“It allows us to quickly re-direct materials flows depending on demands among North East Asia sites.”

“We saw the positive impact of this when many ports in China were restricted to deliver chemical products on-board in 2015, we were able to very quickly redirect and serve our customers from alternative sites in North East Asia,” he said.

Mr Choi said it was a bold move that has paid off for the global provider of products and services to the shipping industry.

“South Korea’s strategic location means it is perfect for serving the key territories of China and Japan, as well as the huge domestic market our strong shipbuilding sector provides.

Singapore is also a key hub, of course, but it doesn’t offer this close proximity.”

“Being closer to the new build arena provides a compelling business development opportunity for us. Customers want the best new products for their new vessels, and that’s what we specialise in. I’d say new builds constitute about 30 per cent to 40% of our business now.”

“By getting onto these ships from day one we’re in the best possible position to develop relationships that should last throughout their lifecycles,” he said.

Mr Choi said the shorter supply chain and huge capacity of the warehouse gives customers what they need – availability and prompt fulfilment of orders.

Of the around 2,000 products in stock at the warehouse, roughly 50% are chemical-based, with the remainder being equipment.

Spare parts are also stocked for technical services.WSS supply chain director Sten Vedi said the company is always looking for ways to create efficiencies and improved service levels worldwide.

“Over the past year we’ve also rationalised our marine product lines to create an increased focus on those products that are in popular demand, while making more room for new products to satisfy the evolving needs of our customers.”

“Setting up hubs, such as Busan, puts us at the heart of the action and creates improved product availability for attached warehouses.

It provides a strong foundation for further growth in markets that are of vital importance to the industry.”

“The warehouse may be just one year old, but it’s already proven how it can both serve our customers and help meet our ambitious business objectives. We’re looking forward to helping it, and our other warehouse facilities, develop further in the years to come.”