Charlotte Breckheimer makes sure DB Cargo BTT remains a reliable and trusted partner for the chemicals industry
Charlotte Breckheimer knows exactly what high safety requirements mean in practice. After four and a half years of working in automobile transport, the logistics expert moved to work in the chemicals sector. She has now been working as a Key Account Manager with DB Cargo BTT for a year and a half, organising time-critical transport operations, dealing with hazardous goods and overcoming major challenges. “We are working in a very sensitive intersection between a number of industrial partners, between manufacturing steps, and between producers and customers. That’s a great responsibility,” explains the 35-year-old. “And it’s a fantastic feeling when everything goes smoothly.”
And what if things don’t go smoothly? That’s when her technical skills and personal qualities come to the fore. Charlotte Breckheimer was quite literally given a baptism of fire around six months into her new job. That experience taught her what it can mean for a company when it is not allowed to transport much of its freight in any way other than by rail or inland waterway owing to their high hazard rating. When a major fire broke out at a customer’s site, Charlotte Breckheimer proved how flexibly DB Cargo can respond. Not only did she keep transport operations running despite an overhead line failure by quickly deploying diesel locomotives, she also worked with the relevant departments at DB Cargo and the customer to divert trains via other routes, and she quickly and unbureaucratically helped other rail companies to load and unload their trains. As if that wasn’t enough, the inland waterway vessels were also ruled out as a transport option. They were unable to berth and production was about to grind to a halt. Charlotte Breckheimer stepped in and helped to arrange for the freight to be transported in DB Cargo’s single-wagon network.
Familiar with hazardous goods
When you ask her today about this feat, she reports events with a matter-of-factness that implies that such tasks are part of her dayto- day work. And there is a reason for that. In the chemicals industry, safety is the number one priority. Employees are trained to handle hazardous goods, tank wagons, valves and fittings until they could do it all in their sleep. When Charlotte Breckheimer started at BTT as a Key Account Manager, she first had to pass a hazardous goods seminar course, which covered topics such as the dangerous goods classes, how gases respond to heat, how materials and objects are classified, and the labelling and documentation regulations. Before joining BTT she organised transports of finished vehicles for the automobile industry. That involved managing trains reliably across the whole of Europe, including to Spain, where the wagons had to change gauge on the border so that they could continue their journeys on the Iberian broad gauge tracks. This experience of interdisciplinary thinking and clear communication with various teams around Europe is coming in useful today at BTT. Shuttle trains connect chemicals clusters across Europe, and when a customer books the rail freight forwarder, Charlotte Breckheimer or one of her colleagues, in case of doubt, also organises the initial and final legs by road. Things are changing at BTT. DB Cargo’s chemicals subsidiary is currently evolving into a rail freight forwarder with a strong focus on the railways. Customers that are developing logistics solutions across transport modes and that are looking to exploit optimisation potential, or that are simply looking for a lead logistics provider, will find in BTT a partner for the whole supply chain, including container logistics, tank wagon management and various other services relating to all aspects of transport, equipment and consulting.
Rail is the lifeline of the industry
In her work each day Charlotte Breckheimer gets to see how vital rail transport is for the chemicals industry. She knows she is in good hands among her 130 BTT colleagues. It’s only when she talks about her job to people outside the industry that she realises how few people are aware of the important role chemicals play in our daily lives. “Did you know that chemical compounds are used in more than 90 per cent of all the products we use every day?” She is now looking forward to the next Rail Safety Days, which will be held at the chemicals company Evonik in October 2017 (see also page 25). It’s very important to learn as much as possible about handling hazardous goods on rail, she says. “But I’m looking just as much forward to talking and exchanging ideas with colleagues from the industry.”