WW Ocean introduces new processes to fight stink bug

Mar 18, 2020   Supply Chain

With stink bug season in full swing, WW Ocean has introduced a range of processes both at its terminals and onboard vessels to help ensure products arrive pest-free at Oceania.

“There have been zero incidents of live stink bugs present in cargo unloaded at Oceania so far this season,” said Sunil Dhowan, Head of Port and Cargo operations, Oceania, WW Ocean. For Dhowan and his team, that statistic is the result of a lot of hard work behind the scenes by all involved.


Ensuring customers deliver pest-free products is a priority for the company. From the strict requirements it imposes regarding certified treatment, to the continuous communication with customers about the regulations, the company goes above and beyond to ensure everyone involved in the supply chain is working towards the common goal of preventing stink bugs reaching Australia and New Zealand.


WW Ocean only accepts cargo for shipping to Oceania that has been certified according to the Department of Agriculture’s regulations, and continues to take additional measures to ensure that all cargo onboard the vessels are free of biosecurity risk, whether at the terminals, during transit and on arrival at the destination port. Preparations to deal with the stink bug threat at the company's terminals began well in advance of the 2019-2020 season.


There are now 7,900 square metres of fumigation and heat treatment facilities at the dedicated treatment facility at the port of Zeebrugge, where more than 21,000 units of cargo have been treated since the start of the season. A number of improved processes have been put in place here for the current stink bug season, explained the terminal’s general manager Emmanuel Van Damme, including hard stops to avoid non-treated cargo being placed onboard a vessel, and a redesign of the terminal for improved segregation of cargo, which reduces the risk of cross-contamination. All of this activity is captured and controlled by the new global iTOMs terminal system, which was introduced at Zeebrugge last year.


Meanwhile, at the stink bug fumigation and heat treatment centres in Baltimore, the company recently added insulation and replaced heaters and doors to make treatment more sustainable and efficient, says Steve O’Malley, general manager, Mid-Atlantic Terminal.


Looking ahead to the 2020-2021 season, a new BMSB heat treatment facility is under construction at its terminal in Southampton in the UK. “It’s uncertain whether Britain will be added to the list of high-risk countries by Australia or New Zealand, but we will begin precautionary treatment regardless,” said Head of Terminals Brett Bennett. “When it comes to stink bugs, there is too much risk and potential cost for our customers and us to not be ahead of the game.”


Preparation for stink bugs doesn’t begin and end at the terminal, however. As Sunil Dhowan explained: “We need all legs of the logistics chain to manage biosecurity – from the customer’s factory and transport to the terminal and vessels themselves.”


The aim is always to deal with any bugs prior to the products being loaded onboard a vessel. But an extensive biosecurity management plan has also been developed to treat vessels before loading, which includes cleaning, inspections and insecticide spraying.


During transit, crew members conduct daily stink bug inspections on all cargo decks and vessels send ‘Daily Bug’ search reports via an online reporting system, which is tracked to ensure any bug activity is monitored. Vessel cargo holds are also fogged to rouse any remaining hibernating bugs so they can be dealt with prior to arrival in Oceania.


“Before cargo is discharged in Oceania, insecticide spraying and fogging of decks takes place in transit ports to ensure no live bugs are present,” explained Dhowan. A regulatory report is then provided to the authorities in Oceania, which is assessed before directions for berthing are issued. On arrival, quarantine inspectors carry out a thorough inspection before permission is given to allow products to be discharged. “We have put contingency plans with certified treatment providers in place to deal with any incidents,” added Dhowan.


“The 2019/2020 BMSB season has been uneventful so far,” concluded Bennett. “By reviewing the prior season’s performance, enhancing our processes and introducing new technologies, we have been able to provide effective treatment while meeting the growing volume demands and needs of our customers.”

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