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“Character reveals itself in crisis”
The Corona pandemic has been affecting our lives for more than a year. The effects on all of us vary. Some people cope better with the necessary restrictions than the others, the same applies to companies.
At the beginning, the logistics companies were classified as “systemically important” by the federal government. We are all pleased about that. Let us hope that this will not be easily forgotten after a successful Corona crisis management.
It should be noted that most of the logistics companies have come more or less good through the crisis the last months. There are certainly many reasons for this. One important reason is that logistics is mainly characterised medium-sized and has always had the ability to adapt quickly to changes. Instead of complaining – just do it.
The title for this editorial is a quote from Helmut Schmidt and it applies to many people doing their obligation in the VTL network. In practice, this means responding to new challenges day by day, making pragmatic decisions, and supporting those who need our support in this time of crisis.
We believe that we are succeeding well in the CargoFamily – we would like to thank all employees, system partners and customers for their solidarity and fairness. Furthermore, we think that we have managed the pandemic very well but now we need all our strength and discipline again for the final spurt to master this challenge successfully.
With the beginning of the vaccination campaign, we are making a big step towards recovering our everyday normality. In other words, there are indications that we have turned into the finish line in the fight against the virus. Now we may not reduce our efforts in order not to risk the result that we have achieved through many deprivations.
Please continue to support the actions of the government, even if this is not always easy. So we are mastering this difficult time together and we are looking forward to a summer of movement liberty!
Take care of yourself and stay healthy!
Managing Director VTL Vernetzte-Transport-Logistik GmbH
VTL is pushing the realignment bit by bit
Interim result of the digitalisation projects “Next”
The future project “VTL Next”, which was launched in spring 2020, has already implemented several digitalisation projects in the past few months. It has thus come closer to its goal of transforming VTL into a more modern, even more attractive network with a wide range of logistics services.
“We have a number of successes to show,” says VTL Managing Director Johanna Birkhan. The general cargo cooperation has expanded its portfolio to include an online transport cost calculator, which is addressed to small usinesses, traders, shop operators and, since mid-March, also to private customers. “The freight cost calculator, which was integrated into the VTL website at the beginning of November 2020, is an inhouse development in cooperation with our IT service provider itRessort. In this way, we can react flexibly to the needs of customers, partners and to the requirements of the market,” says Birkhan.
In 3 steps to dispatch
The professional VTL transport service in general cargo format can be conveniently used via the full automatically online shop. “The advantage: customers can ask for price information without prior registration,” says VTL Managing Director Andreas Jäschke. All they have to do is enter the most important data about their consignment online.
What should VTL transport, when and where. Important: The service only covers the transport of general cargo. These are consignments that are larger and heavier than a parcel but require less space than a whole container or truck. For example, Euro pallets, one-way and CHEP pallets, goods in Euro mesh boxes, cartons, and boxes.
Everything in view with ETA
VTL has also launched another digital innovation to optimise processes: the ETA main run calculation. For this purpose, the general cargo cooperation uses transport data from Synfioo and thus achieves more transparency in the supply chains. The Synfioo products used by VTL include the OnTime Navigator, the GPS app and the telematics integration.
Every day, more than 200 trucks arrive at the VTL‘s transhipment facilities (HUB) according to a fixed time schedule – most of them during the night shift. The times for unloading and loading are timed precisely, and delays lead to a massive coordination effort and adjustment of the operational activities in the HUB. Transparency is crucial for managing these processes. “For this reason, we have been relying on the data quality of Synfioo for the monitoring of all truck transports from the depots to the transhipment companies since January 2021,” Johanna Birkhan emphasises.
Synfioo will create complete supply chain visibility for VTL transports as part of the three-year collaboration. For this, in addition to data from VTL, over 70 possible disruptive variables will be used to create a precise estimated time of arrival (ETA). Artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) make these results more precise. Among other things, this enables VTL and its partners to make accurate ETA predictions for the trucks, suggest alternative routes and track shipments in real time.
“With combined efforts, we have already achieved a lot last year, but we are still far from being on the finish line,” says VTL Managing Director Andreas Jäschke. “This year, the implementation of a KPI dashboard for the central hub is also planned to schedule optimally, control and monitor core processes. Our goal is to continuously improve quality to be able to offer a reliable network in the future,” says Birkhan. “In addition, we want to take a closer look at our administrative processes and digitalise them with the help of a document management system. This will save resources and enable us to work even more efficient.” Now it is important to stay on track and consistently continue the chosen path. The Corona crisis teaches us how important it is to position ourselves even more digitally to keep optimising the network.
Realignment also visible now
New slogan, new design – this is how the future project “VTL Next” is also visible in the logistics market now.
As part of the digital realignment, the online freight cost calculator and the ETA main run calculation were launched within the last 12 months. Further digitalisation projects are in preparation. A brand re-launch was implemented to visually highlight this ongoing optimisation of the VTL general cargo network.
The market presence is charged with fresh energy through a careful graphic redesign. The new slogan “All about Stückgut” conveys the core competence and consistently positions VTL and its partners as general cargo experts. The outdated appearance no longer reflected the digital reorientation in a contemporary way. Therefore, the VTL brand logo was modernised. But of course, the colours known in the market have been retained for good recognition. The same applied to the development of a new slogan. This should be familiar but concise and understandable for the international partners and customers. Especially in the transport and logistics market it should be distinctive. The bilingualism and the 110% focus on the VTL brand essence “All about Stückgut” attract attention and were a great success. The slogan provides VTL with a long-term competitive frame for all digital and analogue marketing activities.
During a consistent brand relaunch, the popular meerkats were also refreshed. They are used as a symbol for the partners, the “CargoFamily”. And to sympathetically advertise FRED, the online freight cost calculator.
15th VTL System Meeting – digital for the first time
VTL Vernetzte-Transport-Logistik GmbH held its 15th system meeting at the beginning of December 2020 – for the first time as an online event. In addition to the presentation of this year’s partner awards, more than 100 participants received an insight into the status of the future project “VTL Next”.
Right at the beginning of the event, the VTL leadership had good news for the partners: “Despite the challenging situation, we will not let it get us down,” said Managing Director Andreas Jäschke. Once again, it had paid off to be able to go through these difficult times together as a strong network. “This was also shown by the pleasing look at the figures: Despite the Corona crisis, we were able to close the year almost at the previous year‘s level. Reduced consignment sizes indicate a change in the customer structure. Due to the pandemic, the proportion of private customers has increased,” says Birkhan.
”Of course, we would have preferred to present the awards personally,” said Managing Director Johanna Birkhan. But considering the current Corona rules, this was not possible. Thanks to digital technologies, the annual VTL system meeting could take place nevertheless. As part of our future project Next, we are dealing with the topic of digitalisation, among other things. Therefore, the step to a virtual partner meeting wasn’t difficult for us,” Birkhan emphasised. In addition, the management duo found it particularly important to get in touch with the depots in this difficult Corona year and to inform them about VTL’s economic development and projects. They also wanted to give the promise to pursue consistently the initiated future projects. ”Next year, we will focus especially on the topics of quality, a strong network and digitalisation,” said Johanna Birkhan. Business coach Dr Marcus Disselkamp explained which devices each individual VTL partner can use to emerge stronger from crises like the Corona pandemic. He gave concrete tips to the participants how to run a business and clearly showed how new business models can be developed.
”Our first online event in the studio of the ”Bildstürmer” in Fulda was a complete success,” Andreas Jäschke pointed out. Anyway, VTL hopes to be able to organise another face-to-face event next year. ”A digital meeting cannot completely replace the personal exchange between partners and the networking that is so important for us,” said Birkhan.
The first live streaming took place at the BILDSTÜRMER film and photo studio on 9 December. The VTL system meeting was produced there – digitally for the first time – for two and a half hours. www.bildstuermer.de
Partner AWARD 2020 presented for growth and quality
Particularly successful was Spedition Auch GmbH from Annaburg. They were honoured for the VTL Partner Award for “Best Quality”.
The prize in the category “Greatest growth nationally” went to Spedition Huckschlag GmbH from Fröndenberg.
New partners in the VTL network
Rüdinger Spedition GmbH
Rüdinger Spedition GmbH (depot 04743) has been a partner in the VTL network since January 2021. The company‘s headquarters is in 74238 Krautheim. Further logistics parks can be found in 74677 Dörzbach, 74706 Osterburken, 74638 Waldeburg, 97944 Boxberg and 97990 Weikersheim.
For oversized transports of machines and plants under tarpaulin, Rüdinger has a special vehicle fleet with 100 self-constructed trucks including BF4 support vehicle. For XXL general cargo, part and full truck loads, the fleet has been equipped with the corresponding loading and unloading technology, such as truck mounted forklifts.
Rüdinger is also very active in the field of sustainability: To avoid CO2 emissions, the company is continuously developing its vehicle fleet. For example, the use of long trucks leads to a CO2 saving of at least 10% per trip. The use of double-deck technology even leads to a 50% reduction in CO2 . Rüdinger’s customers have recently been able to offset the CO2 emissions of their transports. The freight forwarder provides certified compensation options for this purpose.
Lorenz Klaholz Transport GmbH & Co. KG
Lorenz Klaholz Transport GmbH & Co. KG (depot 04593), situated in Brilon in the Sauerland region, has been a VTL partner since April 2021. Its focus is on part and full truck loads, warehousing with order picking and just-in-time deliveries as well as new furniture logistics. In addition, Lorenz Klaholz Transport offers its customers from the new furniture logistics small consignment services and a quick delivery service.
In March 2021, STL GmbH (depot 04072) was integrated into the VTL network. The depot is in 07407 Rudolstadt.
Ecology & economy combined usefully
For over more than twelve years, you have been responsible for technical and fleet management at the VTL system headquarters in Fulda. This includes 9,000 sqm of warehouse space and 700 sqm of office space.
Over a period of 3 years, around 50,000 kWh were saved here. How could that be achieved?
“We have successively switched to LED. In the offices for example, we removed 80 louvre luminaires and installed 74 new LED panels. The new LED panels now illuminate the offices more regularly and thus comply with workplace guidelines. In addition, they save approx. 65% in energy compared to the old luminaires. In figures – we save 4,762 watts of power in the office lighting.
And what about the situation at the warehouse?
The warehouse has already been modernised completely, only the external facade has not been finished yet. Here, defective spotlights are gradually being replaced by new LED spotlights. There is a reduction from 58 to 27 watts per spotlight. A total of 946 tubes have been replaced, resulting in a saving of 29,326 watts.
Can you also tell us something about the investment? When will this be amortised?
The adjustment to LED panels is a sustainable investment with an amortisation period of 2.6 years. There are no maintenance costs as the luminaires do not need to be replaced. Moreover, the service life of 50,000 hours is significantly longer than with conventional fluorescent tubes. If a lamp fails, there will be a 5-year guarantee. Furthermore, the panels also convinced with a very good light quality.
What other ecological projects are planned at the system headquarters?
To reduce greenhouse gas consumption, we have been successively replacing forklifts with battery-powered double-lift trucks for the past 2 years. Our long-term objective is to cover a part of the electricity required in the central hub with our own photovoltaic system. Regarding this, we are already on the right track and I would be happy to report about our efforts on the next edition of this NewsTrailer.
Civil emergency prevention in road traffic
The current pandemic shows us how quickly the entire globe can become distressed and how important logistics is for supplying people. To be able to intervene quickly in such a situation, the Federal Office for Goods Transport maintains a nationwide association of around 600 freight forwarders and coordinates them in case of need.
VTL partners such as Ludwig Häberle Logistik and Hintzen Logistik have already committed their cooperation and are part of this form of organisation, which has around 12,000 trucks. VTL also supports civil emergency prevention in road transport in the Federal Republic of Germany.
People at VTL
The promise made by the VTL management to consistently pursue the projects for the future that have been initiated is being kept. This is what Johanna Birkhan said during the 15th system meeting last December: “Next year, we will focus especially on the topics of quality, a strong network and digitalisation.” Of course, this requires qualified staff. Five have now come on board:
This is the goal pursued by Axel Vetter, who has been making an important contribution to the further development of the general cargo cooperation as a member of the management and authorised signatory since April. He started his career with a training as a certified freight forwarding agent and then gained valuable know-how in logistics and sales, both operationally and strategically. He is a real man of action and the field of logistics has grown on him over the past 25 years. As a qualified specialist and manager, with the help of his knowledge from systemic business coaching, he focuses on network partners, customers, and employees in shaping VTL‘s future – because he is convinced that people are an important factor of success. In his private life, he is focused on his family and has a passion for American vehicles.
Continuous advance of the improvement process
Robert Rasenberger, head of service and quality management since November 2020, sees this as one of his most important tasks. The father of four children grew up with railways, trained as an electrician and completed a degree with a focus on railways/logistics. His professional career, almost 8 years at GEL and 8 years at GO! have characterised the network idea for him. With his experience, he wants to focus on and for customers within the network and ensure that all parties focus on quality to achieve customer satisfaction.
Analyse complications and find solutions
In the division of service and quality management, Sophia Schwarz is process manager since February 2021. With her B.Sc. degree in logistics management and professional experience as certified freight forwarding agent, she is particularly interested in dealing with fundamental processes to analyse possible complications in the general cargo system and in finding the best solution for all involved parties. Open-minded and determined – that is how she describes her strengths. She likes the daily challenges of logistics.
React flexibly to current conditions every day
The trade manager/commercial specialist Lars Geidel has also been a new VTL employee since February 2021. The passionate heavy metal fan supports the team in the field of disposition. His professional experience, most recently as a dispatcher in procurement, has made it clear to him that without functioning logistics, production lines in the manufacturing industry come to a standstill, shop windows and sales areas in the retail trade remain empty or private customers do not receive any goods. Logistics is therefore an indispensable industry that contributes significantly to economic success.
From offer to delivery
Lea Wagner completed her training as a certified freight forwarding agent and gained her first professional experience at VTL. After a few months of further education, she returned to VTL in March 2021. As an employee in Key Account Management, she accompanies transports from the preparation of the offer to delivery. Known at VTL as a service-oriented and reliable employee, she is looking forward to varied work and customer contacts.