Page 41: of Maritime Reporter Magazine (November 2019)

Workboat Edition

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WORKBOATS SOUTHERN TOWING COMPANY “No vessel can maneuver a tow into or out of a dock as good as the Z drive. And then you start talking about bumps and bruises on your barges, a lot of which come when you’re docking and undocking ... the safety contribution that Z-drives makes to marine transpor- tation – especially barge marine transportation – is dramatic.” times everything else just falls into place. I like to say but there are other people that haul fertilizer. I don’t a another naval arch to pursue another way of improv- we are in a 5 mph business – nothing’s so important to take for granted that there’s only a few (competitors) in ing ef? ciency in propulsion. rush and sacri? ce safety. it, because the moment you assume a position of safety, It wasn’t until I got to Southern and started really dig- is the moment you compromise your drive to get better ging in that I fully understood the bene? ts of the Z-

As you have come from the petroleum side to mov- every day. We have some great barge lines in this coun- Drive propulsion system. And I am now a ? rm believer ing fertilizer, is there any material difference in the try that do a great job moving product. But I don’t look that in river segments where tow size is restricted – i.e. two industries or the cargos? at them necessarily as competitors. I try to focus on the locks, locking systems, or the canal – that the Z-drive

If you’re just a transporter, then it’s a box. Barge customer – the needs of the customer – and how can I has a tremendous advantage over conventional propul- transportation is barge transportation. What you’re try- differentiate myself because everybody has boats, ev- sion. ing to understand is what’s important to the customer, erybody has barges. How do you differentiate? That’s We have, with a particular customer, developed data and how we can offer strategy or insight to help them in person-to-person service, that’s in problem solving, that more than supports this belief, and in fact it is sur- better reach their goals. And so, I think the moving that’s in ? exibility. I think we have to give the custom- prising how much of an advantage it is. In fact we’ve from Point A to Point B is the same – a barge is a shoe- ers things that differentiate us from other people that signed a contract to build tw new Z-drive boats (at box in the water, you have engines, you have transmis- have boats and barges. Steiner Shipyard in Bayou La Batre, Ala.), and we hope sions. But to understand what’s important to the cus- to sign an additional option to build multiple more.

tomer, I think, is the biggest difference. I try to use that A point of differentiation for me is the fact that knowledge to better understand how I can help solve Southern Towing has been a pioneer in its use of Z- Can you be more speci? c on the ef? ciencies?

problems, because I think we are problem solvers in Drives on inland towboats. How does that help you From a performance, speed over ground, miles at- addition to being transporters of product. a competitive advantage and help to better serve tained per day, upriver-downriver, we compete evenly your customers? or better than vessels that have signi? cantly more horse-

When you look at your competitive view today, The Z-Drive itself is a wonderful application for the power than us, so consequently, less fuel consumption. what do you see? inland business. I have to say when Southern was ? rst But I think, over a term, I’ll say the ef? ciency gains are

Our main concentration is around moving fertilizer, looking at it, I was a skeptic. In fact, I was working with between 22-30 percent, depending on application. 41

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