ZAL Port: Jewel of the Iberian Peninsula

ZAL Port: Jewel of the Iberian Peninsula

ZAL Port is one of a handful of legacy projects associated with the Olympics that has  fulfilled its mandate to create economic and social development.  The company was created as part of the infrastructure development for the 1992 Olympic Games staged in Barcelona.

The ZAL model

It is the first port logistics platform established in Spain and the success of its development model is internationally recognised as best practice. As a result, the use of the term “ZAL” has grown from being a name in itself to becoming a generic name in reference to this type of platform.  The company has capitalised on this recognition and accelerated the promotion of the “ZAL brand”. As part of the rebranding strategy it underwent a name change as well as a logo redesign which has been welcomed by stakeholders. CILSA – the company that manages the port concession in the Logistics Activity Zone (ZAL Port) in the Port of Barcelona – is a recognised trendsetter in the sector which promotes the concept of a true logistical hub. Due to the importance of the Port of Barcelona for the company and its location, the word “Port” has been added to its brand name allowing the market to easily differentiate it from other port logistic developments in Spain.

Alfonso Martínez the General Manager of CILSA spoke to SBR about what made ZAL such a formidable success. He said that the ZAL Port offers land and innovative and sustainable logistic warehouses for rent in an intermodal environment with design and quality finishes. It has AAA warehouses that are not available anywhere else in the territory of Barcelona. Moreover it is located in a prime area very close to an attractive consumer market and is well connected with their overseas markets via sea links, a railway connection and direct interconnection with a network of motorways, it is near the airport etc.  Facilities include 24/7 security, maintenance and cleaning services.

Some performance highlights:

  • In 2015 the procurement of logistical areas in Catalonia increased by 67%, reaching almost 550,000 m² compared to the 330,000 m² in 2014.
  • It achieved the best economic performance in history, registering a total revenue of €41.8 million, increasing its EBITDA by a 17.1% reaching €21.5 million with a Net Result of 51.4%, reaching €5.9 million.
  • An average occupancy of 96% in the logistic warehouses throughout 2015 and a 97% occupancy rate at the end of the year
  • Procurement of 131,000 m², of which 30,000 m² were new contracts and 101,000 m² renewed contracts.

Bold plan to divert the mouth of the Llobregat River

The final stretch of the river Llobregat, which was at the time located between the two areas of the ZAL Port (the first phase of Barcelona and its expansion in El Prat de Llobregat), presented a serious problem to its plans for expansion. At the time the Port was undertaking the biggest enlargement in its history and development was hampered by the position of the river which:

  • Formed a natural boundary south of the Port of Barcelona at that time and therefore became an obstacle to its growth; and
  • Problems connected with the hydraulic capacity which regularly arose in its final stretch during periods of heavy rain.

As part of its expansion, the Port of Barcelona embarked on a bold plan to divert the mouth of the river to the south to take advantage of the improved hydraulic capacity. With this diversion, the Port of Barcelona was able to plan the future multimodal railway station along the old Llobregat riverbed.

The diversion of a river causes significant effects on the territory which it used to cross and it had to deal with:

  • The natural drainage systems and the surface and groundwater hydrology in the diverted section as a whole had to be modified;
  • The effect on all the rainwater drainage systems which poured into this stretch of the river;
  • The alteration of natural systems linked to this hydrological system; and
  • The new course of the river would affect a nature reserve located alongside the Prat International Airport.

Saving the endangered Kentish Plover

The Kentish Plover is a small bird which lives and breeds near rivers like the Llobregat in Barcelona and is found in the final stretch of the river Llobregat. The plover’s nesting is often disturbed by people walking on the beach to the extent that it has been put on the endangered species list.

With the diversion of the river mouth, a plan was formed to capture and divert the fauna of this fragile ecosystem of the delta of the Llobregat.  This would involve diverting the river in a way that would show the almost respect for the environment and would not be considered to be finished until they managed to relocate the Kentish plover to the adjacent nature reserve.

Sustainable logistics

It isn’t difficult to see why ZAL Port was awarded the highest status of energy efficiency and is a recognised leader in environmental best practise.

Respect for the environment and social responsibility are core issues when it comes to its planning and management. The energy efficiency of the logistics area is a priority objective for ZAL Port, which has been up and running since 2014 with for example the design of new warehouses with skylights to maximize the use of sunlight and efficient LED lighting and magnetic induction technology.

It has a purchasing group for electricity to negotiate the best kWh pricing for all the installations in ZAL Port.

Relief from the heat of the Mediterranean climate can be found in the interior of the warehouses, thanks to active ventilation systems such as fans or passive systems.

As well as this, it promotes advanced fuel savings systems for vehicles and fleets, to cite some examples.

Currently the ZAL Port photovoltaic coverage measures 60,000 m² of flat coverage with 3 MW of plates.

Recent measures that have been included in its environmental policy during the past year include the replacing of the areas’ street lights with LED lighting. This measure has made substantial energy savings in addition to considerably reducing CO₂ emissions.

In the Service Center building the light installations have been replaced with LED lighting and a state-of-the art air conditioning system has been installed; solar film has been placed on the building’s windows that filters light and heat intensity as well as other corrective measures that have made great energy savings. This has resulted in obtaining the level A (maximum level of recognition) in the Certificate of Energy Efficiency of the building.

Construction is underway on two new warehouses under the parameters of the LEED certification (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) that will allow the ZAL Port to have more sustainable and energy efficient buildings.

CILSA continues to work with the objective of strengthening its environmental commitment, for this reason in the first quarter of 2016 it obtained the EMAS register (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme), in addition this year it intends and expects to meet the requirements of the United Nations Agreement in CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility)


The history of ZAL Port

 1992:The hosting of the Olympic Games, resulted in a huge economic boost for the city of Barcelona and the entire region of Catalonia. As a result, Barcelona was rated one of the top cities in Europe in 2000, based on a number of factors including the quality of life offered and the ability to attract foreign investment.

Barcelona began to position itself as a logistics platform in southern Europe given the steady increase of international traffic as a result of the globalisation of the economy and the concentration of production and distribution centers.

As part of its strategic framework, the Port of Barcelona decided to create the ZAL Port (Zona de Actividades Logísticas – Logistical Activities Zone) in 1992, to help position the port as a leader in Southern Europe and the Mediterranean. They set up an entity called CILSA (Centro de Intermodal Logistica S.A. – Intermodal Logistics Centre Ltd.) which would be in charge of the development and management of ZAL Port.

Spain’s integration into the EU meant the lifting of customs barriers which contributed to the free movement of goods in the European Community and the creation of a single market.

Companies started to outsource logistics services to increase customer satisfaction. Having a good logistical network was becoming one of the key factors to ensure success.

The advantage that ZAL Port had over competitors wasthat they had good intermodal centers in which different modes of transport were combined: land, sea, rail and air transport, in the best location of Barcelona.

2002: A decade later the first phase of 69 hectares, the ZAL Port (BCN), was established, and culminated with the construction of the Service Centre building, where a large part of the services intended for people and companies established in the ZAL Port are now concentrated.  The service was extended to neighbouring industrial estates as it was strategically placed in a free access area, so as to be able to meet the day to day needs of the people who work in this platform and its surrounding areas.

This date coincided with the incorporation of a new shareholder, Abertis, which helped with the expansion of the development, with a project of another 143 hectares, in the municipality of El Prat del Llobregat: ZAL Port (Prat).

Happy people add more value

6,000 direct employees work in the ZAL Port. Mr Martínez emphasised that offering services to these people is the core of their strategy because happy employees lead to happy clients and this results in an increase in the contracts signed.
ZAL Port provides a nursery school for children from 0 to 3 years of age and develops an educational model based on balancing work and family life. Other staff benefits include facilities such as a fitness room, a multi-purpose indoor cycle room, a physiotherapist’s clinic and fully equipped changing rooms and the provision of subsidised transport.

Future Plans

Exciting changes are planned as a result of a change in shareowners (CILSA is 63% owned by the Barcelona Port Authority, 32% by MERLIN Properties and 5% by SEPES, Entidad Pública Empresarial de Suelo (Public Enterprise for Land under the Ministry of Development)). MERLIN Properties has replaced Abertis (MERLIN Properties is the first SOCIMI (Sociedad Cotizada Anónima de Inversión en el Mercado Inmobiliario – Real Estate Investment Trust) of the country and a company listed on the Ibex 35, which implies clear confidence in the private capital company for the long term. In less than two years MERLIN Properties will become the top player in logistic real-estate in Spain, which will without a doubt contribute to ZAL Port’s new expansion process and growth in its organization)

and also CILSA will be refinancing €76 million of the company’s liabilities, which substantially reduces the service’s debt for the next 5 years. This will allow it to devote the resources generated by the company into growth.

Already two contracts have been signed with the Consorci de la Zona Franca of Barcelona for the 75 (50+25) year lease of almost all the available land in the BZ (the former land where the SEAT car factory was located in the Zona Franca area of Barcelona, which is in turn located on the prime logistic area of the city of Barcelona). This allows ZAL Port to lease and manage 27 new hectares of net land which is known as:  ZAL Port – Ciutat (City), and that together with the capacity that we had already at ZAL Port (Prat), will allow us to construct more than 350,000 m² of new logistic premises.

For more on ZAL Port visit: www.zalport.com


you may also want to read

No Comments

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Translate »