The field of logistics is going through a period of radical change. The extreme dynamism of the global economy and the growing volatility of supply streams demand constant rethinking in planning and sales. Flexibility is required: logistics services providers have to think in terms of interlinked logistics concepts, covering the customer’s whole supply chain and beyond. It is even more exciting when you can experience this dynamism in real time by attending a summit meeting at which Germany’s biggest forestry company makes a commitment such as this: “We plan to respond to the growing importance of wood as a renewable raw material by making our wood logistics as sustainable as possible, too.” That was the announcement made by Martin Neumeyer, Chief Executive of Bayerische Staatsforsten, at a strategy conference held in Regensburg at the beginning of August 2017, at which representatives of DB Cargo Logistics and the state forestry company took part.
SUSTAINABLE OPERATIONS INCLUDES LOGISTICS
The commitment to sustainable transport operations is also simultaneously a commitment to rail freight transport and to DB Cargo Logistics, with which Bayerische Staatsforsten has been working closely and successfully since 2005. As a private company owned by the Free State of Bavaria, the state forestry manages around 755,000 hectares of forest. The forestry company maintains 40 operations in Bavaria and one in Austria – and is thereby the biggest of its kind in Germany. Over the last twelve years, the rail freight company has carried out 33,000 single-wagon transport operations involving a total of 1.75 million tonnes of wood. In the process, 2,200 tonnes of CO2 were saved in comparison to road transport, as verified by a certificate which Jens Nöldner, CEO DB Cargo Logistics GmbH, presented to the Chairman of Bayerische Staatsforsten during the strategy conference.
It is no coincidence that the term “sustainability” originally comes from forestry – it has been used since the Middle Ages. Sustain- ability in forestry means not felling more trees than are grown back afterwards. It is a tradition that bestows a duty: those who subscribe to sustainable forestry naturally also want the later processing stages to be as sustainable as possible.
DB Cargo Logistics is therefore working with Bayerische Staatsforsten to develop a concept that will gradually see wood normally transported by HGV being brought onto the railways. Not only is rail the most environmentally sustainable mode of large-volume shipping, it has also traditionally had very close links with the wood industry, explains Jens Nöldner. “Over the last twelve years of collaboration with Bayerische Staatsforsten, we have proven that we are able to transport large volumes of timber to the European recipients and that we function as a reliable and flexible partner within the supply chain.” As a rule, customers come from the sawmill, pulp, wood materials and packaging industries across Germany and Austria.
The concept involves reducing the number of HGV journeys and simultaneously strengthening rail as a mode of transport. In practice that will require building more logistics areas so that the timber can then be transported away quickly by rail – these facilities are known as “timberports”.
ANALYSIS OF TIMBER VOLUME
The first new timberport to go into operation was the Parkstein-Hütten loading station in the Bavarian Forest region in January 2017. In future, the timberports will, as bimodal logistics facilities, link the transport modes of road and rail, and they will be built as closely as possible to logging sites in order to keep the initial HGV legs short. Bayerische Staatsforsten is preparing an analysis of wood volumes specially for this purpose in order to identify additional sites for loading stations.
The timberports provide the optimum conditions for storing timber, with watering systems to maintain humidity levels and prevent the condition of the raw timber from deteriorating. A mobile transhipment machine is used to tranship the timber between HGV, the warehouse and rail wagons. “The timberports are logistics facilities that also function as interim storage areas, they help offset seasonal fluctuations in demand, and additional services can be carried out there, e.g. producing wood chips, or storing, transhipping and transporting sawn timber,” explains Martin Fiebig, Key Account Manager at DB Cargo Logistics. In order to provide a complementary service to the single-wagon system, Bayerische Staatsforsten and the logistics experts at DB Cargo Logistics will also put on block trains between the timberports and customers in the wood-processing industry.
The timberports also provide connections to a much broader market. By accessing the European rail network, wood customers can tap into new sales potentials both in Ger-many and across Europe. It is clear that expanding the area in which they do business will pay off. Demand for wood is on the rise, not only in Germany but around the world. Wood is currently experiencing a boom, becoming more and more popular both as an energy source and a construction material. The raw material also boasts positive envir- onmental effects: the forest, its use and the use of wood bind CO2 in timber and wood products, and they help to protect the climate because they are increasingly replacing fossil fuels and energy-intensive materials. Sustainable forestry practices also promote biodiversity.
RAIL AS THE IDEAL TRANSPORT MODE
Rail is particularly suitable for transporting wood over long distances. “Rail has far higher load capacities than HGV,” explains Martin Müller, Head of Logistics at Bayerische Staatsforsten. “We see its advantages most clearly where it is part of the supply chain.” That is the ace that rail holds and the common advantage exploited through the collaboration between Bayerische Staatsforsten and DB Cargo Logistics. The sustain- able interplay between wood production and use in the respective processing industries provides the logistics experts with an opportunity to establish precise, interlinked round trips, from which not only the producer but also the customer industries and the rail company itself benefits. A development is thereby put in motion that benefits everyone, not only DB Cargo’s customers.