Helping deliver cost-effective and sustainable solutions for a group of renewable energy companies using block train services.


Solar energy has come a long way from being a niche power source at the turn of the millennium. That has changed in the past two decades. In 2020, demand for renewable energy worldwide didn’t just grow, it surpassed even the most of predictions, with solar panel installations increasing 23%. Keen to tap into this spike in demand, a consortium of key solar panel manufacturers approached Maersk for a cost-effective, fast and low-carbon logistics solution.

Shining a new light: Giving the right start to solar panel logistics

The customer

Our customers are a group of renowned solar panel manufacturers with manufacturing operations across Asia. Most of these manufacturers had their factories far inland in China. They needed a solution to ship the cargo directly from the places of origin to their ocean gateways in the eastern part of the country. Maersk was assigned the task to meet each customer’s unique needs.

Shining a new light: Giving the right start to solar panel logistics

The challenge

Demand for solar power was highly seasonal. Solar panel exports peaked around certain times of the year, which meant moving larger batches of cargo during these periods. Moreover, solar power plants needed a substantially large area away from populated regions. This resulted in a long supply chain, with the areas of production of the panels and their consumption markets being far apart.

The customers also faced certain other challenges, including:

  • Ensuring a cost-efficient approach to logistics procurement
  • Ensuring the solution was low on carbon emissions and sustainable right from the start
  • Solar panels are large and fragile, thus very professional loading/unloading operations are required to ensure cargo safety
  • Transporting a large volume, around 9,000 forty-foot equipment (FFE) a month. Space availability is important
Shining a new light: Giving the right start to solar panel logistics

The solution

Two different Maersk Inland Hub options were considered. The first approach included a complete trucking solution. However, it couldn’t fully meet our customers’ requirements of cargo capacity and lower emissions. The second approach involved using block trains as chartered vessels on land and a first-mile trucking service. This approach was a mix of cost efficiency, green logistics and flexibility, which the customers readily agreed upon.

The solution further included:

  • A first-mile truck drayage service linking the customers’ locations to inland hubs
  • On-demand block train services from the hubs into the Port of Ningbo
  • Sufficient equipment supplies were made available at inland rail depots
  • Flexible speed-up or slow-down services to match the customers’ ocean vessel schedules and help navigate congestions
Shining a new light: Giving the right start to solar panel logistics

The Result

All safety and quality requirements were met, and the Maersk Inland Hub solution was implemented on time and within budget. The customers also secured a stable inland connection that helped them move their cargo without the worry of congestions.

The block train service also provided several important advantages, including:

  • A 30% savings on logistics costs by using the block train services over trucks
  • Reducing carbon emissions by 70% compared with traditional trucking haulages
  • A stable delivery flow from multiple manufactures’ locations to the ocean gateways

Take your next step with Maersk

Your cargo journeys rarely begin and end at ports. Maersk’s inland services not only link container ports with each other and the rest of the world but also link your business to the rest of your value chain. Our customer-oriented approach to tackling problems and our integrated logistics can make your supply chain work to your competitive advantage.

To avail our inland services for details like corridors and rates, please contact our Maersk sales representative or customer service team. We will get back to you within 48 hours.

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