The bitumen market is currently seeing a shift in the supply dynamic. Refinery closures and restructures are some of the largest contributors to this change, resulting in significant increases to the distances that bitumen has to travel. Not only does this put stress on the logistic chain that supports the industry, but the closures have also impacted markets that were previously net exporters by forcing them to change to net importers. A notable issue to the logistic chain is the impact this has had on trucking operations, with much longer routes causing an increase in demand for drivers and operators. However, the trucking industry is not yet at a point where it can support this demand. The International Road Transport Union estimated a shortage of drivers close to 400,000, which is likely to triple by 2026 if no action is taken. Attempts have been made to overcome these issues, either with the utilization of large-scale terminals in key locations or with individuals, such as contractors, organizing their own supply of bitumen.
The industry has attempted to react to these pressing supply concerns with the utilization of more large-scale storage terminals. Some examples of these are in France, South Africa, and the UK. These terminals provide a location for bulk vessel imports travelling from further afield to still be accessible to the local markets. However, the lack of flexibility with these large-scale facilities is still restricting many supply chain operations and does not overcome the trucking industry issues.
Although large-scale storage facilities are relieving some pressure on the bitumen supply chain, they are still lacking in key areas by often being still a long distance from the end user. The unpredictable nature of the industry leads to one simple conclusion, new challenges must be addressed with new solutions.
TEC Container Solutions are committed to bringing new innovations and solutions to the market to ensure demand is met with the utmost flexibility, ensuring any unpredictability in transport logistics does not affect the bitumen market. At the forefront of this push for a more flexible solution is TEC’s Storage Bitutainer™ range, offering versatility to the bitumen supply market through the use of fully customizable and scalable storage solutions. Both TEC’s Storage and MEST Bitutainers™ are efficient storage tanks that can be utilized in a modular, semi-mobile facility arrangement. This semi-mobile facility concept can be relocated to a different strategic location should the market conditions change, or new demand arise, reducing the risk associated with storage implementation. The modular nature of the concept ensures that all size storage requirements can be met, from a single tank to a full-sized bespoke storage facility of several thousand tonnes.
In a time where the ability of companies to be agile is being tested to the extreme, modular storage solutions that offer increased flexibility and versatility are proving to be highly effective. The fast build times and scalable nature of TEC’s intermediary Bitutainer™ storage solutions allow companies to react to changes in the market and stay above supply shortages.