Over 800 Hyundai construction machines came into the UK last year, including crawler excavators, wheeled excavators and wheeled loaders. The machines are all manufactured at Hyundai’s factory in South Korea – from here they begin their 5,676 mile journey (approx.) across the sea – from the South Korean Port of Ulsan to the UK’s Tilbury Docks in the heart of Essex.
The most recent ship to make the journey was the Tosca, owned by Wallenius Wilhelmsen, and chartered by Eukor Car Carriers, based in Seoul in South Korea. The ship weighs in at a whopping one hundred thousand tonnes and has the capacity to carry 6000 cars. Amongst the cargo on the latest voyage, in addition to cars and used excavators, were 47 Hyundai machines, including a batch of 19 of the brand new 13-tonne HX130LCR excavators. Visitors to the Hillhead exhibition in Buxton (26th – 28th June 2018) will be the first in the UK to see this machine.
The journey from the Port of Ulsan to Tilbury Docks took the Tosca an entire month to reach its destination, passing through the Suez Canal stopping in Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium to collect more cargo.
Considering it’s such a huge ship – with12 separate decks – there are just 23 crew on board. Many of the crew have been on board the Tosca since January this year and are expected to disembark in July. The majority of the crew are sourced from the Philippines and Mynamar, formerly Burma, in South East Asia.
Interestingly – even the lowest ranked member of the crew gets paid more than a bank manager would in his native country as being a crew member is considered a very prestigious job. However, instead of using their salaries for their own gains, often they support an entire village in their home town.
There are five ships which come into Tilbury Docks per month and they are led into the harbour by two tug boats and a pilot. Getting into Tilbury is a tad on the tight side – for example – the Tosca is 32.5 metres wide – the lock is just 33.5 metres wide – so there’s just one metre to play with. There’s little room for error and it takes immense skill to get her into dock safely and unscathed. All the Hyundai machines are lashed to the vessel with enormous chains to stop them moving around the ship during transit.
The Tosca came into Tilbury Docks at 10:00hrs and following an audit by the ship’s Captain, it was due to leave again at 20:00hrs the same day. The ship is MK Shipping’s responsibility – Alistair Flint, who has been with MK Shipping for 21-years, is charged with the vessel, its crew and cargo. Once docked, and following strict security checks, Alistair will go on board and ensure all is in order. Security is extremely tight on the ship due to the risk of a terror attack following the 9/11 disaster. The fear is a terrorist could board the boat and take explosives to Westminster on its departure.
The Hyundai excavators come off the ship in one’s and two’s as there is not an operator for each machine on board. The cars come off in fleets and discharge around 100 per hour. The drivers and operators are locals and are employed by the Port of Tilbury – there are usually 20 men/women in total.
When the machines are driven off the boat they are stored overnight in a holding area adjacent to the harbour. The following day they are loaded onto low loaders and driven to MK Shipping’s yard. They are delivered to the yard on low loaders as the excavator tracks would dig up the tarmac enroute! The UK and Ireland Hyundai dealers then arrange collection of their machines and another journey begins for the Hyundai’s. So next time you see a Hyundai machine working onsite, at an exhibition or a dealer’s yard – you now know how far its travelled to get there!
MK Shipping, located at Tilbury Docks, is a family run business established in 1995, the company, which trades on its reputation of being a complete independent port agency, has been working with Hyundai for more than ten-years. The company is an agent for the Tosca and other ships that deliver the Hyundai brand. Hyundai approached MK Shipping to handle its cargo into the UK and MK were more than happy to oblige.
MK Shipping was set up to offer owners/principals an independent alternative to protect their interests and serve their vessels when in port rather that agencies that are part of a large group. Since then the company has progressed to become one of the major ship agencies operating in the Port of London serving Tilbury, Thamesport and all of the other riverside terminals on the river Thames.
MK act as port agents for many of the major container shipping lines together with Ro/Ro, Car Carriers and Bulk vessel operators.