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How paper gets to Europe

South America is one of the key source markets for the production of pulp, the main material used in papermaking. Large quantities of this pulp are imported through European ports for onward transport to customers, increasingly using DB Cargo’s smart logistics and transport solutions.

From notebooks and photocopying paper to the paper towels on standby in our kitchens and, of course, the indispensable paper tissue, we Europeans consume an average of 700 grams of paper every single day. Pulp is the most important raw material for making paper. Globally, more than 165 million tonnes of pulp was produced for the paper industry in 2017, more than 24 million tonnes of it in South America. Importing pulp from South America is done mainly through seaports in the Netherlands, Italy and Germany.

Vlissingen and Brake: expertise in handling pulp and paper

“The different types of pulp arrive at the ports in bales weighing up to 250 kilograms, tied together in units of six to eight,” says Martin Reiser, key account manager and business developer for the pulp market at DB Cargo in Bremen. Two ports in northwest Europe specialise in importing pulp from overseas, with the Verbrugge terminal in Vlissingen and the J. Müller terminal in Brake handling the cargo. “Vlissingen is the main port. The Verbrugge terminal there handles 4.5 million tonnes of pulp a year from South America, northern Europe and Portugal,” says Reiser. “Our partnership with Verbrugge is one of the preconditions that permit us to design new connections to get even more transport off the roads and onto trains. With it specialised facilities, the terminal operator in Brake has made the port the largest base for importing cellulose in Germany, and three trainloads of pulp leave the port every day. Flexible additional services are used to handle any surplus. Reiner Schelling, pulp logistics expert at J. Müller in Brake, says: “Thanks to the excellent rail connection and years of good cooperation with DB Cargo, more than two-thirds of the cargo we unload in Brake is transported onwards to the customer by eco-friendly rail.” Every year, DB Cargo’s seaport hinterland services carry some 43,000 high-capacity freight wagons with a loading volume equivalent to 110,000 lorries.

Market leader Fibria: pole
position in sustainable eucalyptus cultivation

One of the leading pulp producers in South America is the Brazilian company Fibria, which is aiming for an output of over 7 million tonnes this year. Fibria owns over 1 million hectares of forestland and focuses on sustainable eucalyptus lumber production. It leaves more than two-thirds of its forestland unexploited, while the remaining area is devoted to eucalyptus plantations managed using the latest ecological insights. Targe Bock oversees Fibria’s logistics activities in Europe. “Our activities in the field of sustainability, to protect the environment, are a perfect match for sustainable transport services by rail and inland waterway,” he says.

UPM – from sustainable plantations to the quayside

In Uruguay, UPM’s production facilities in Fray Bentos are located on the banks of the river that gave the country its name. They opened as the country’s first paper pulp plant in 2007 and, today, they are considered to be one of the best production sites in the world. There, UPM produces an annual 1.3 million tonnes of what the industry calls “bleached hardwood eucalyptus pulp”. A fleet of 350 lorries ferries the necessary 4.6 million m3 of wood from the plantations to the plant. The resulting bales of pulp are then loaded onto barges and brought to the deepwater port of Nueva Palmira, where they switch to ocean freighters bound for Europe and Asia. UPM’s plantations are managed sustainably, and ownership is shared by the company and local landowners. Since 2016, the company’s foundation has worked with regional stakeholders to develop the rural community by means of education, training and entrepreneurship focusing on paper- and pulp-related business activities. UPM’s Matti Tamminen heads up pulp logistics for Europe. He says, “We’re always checking to see what rail services we can use to transport pulp and so take pressure off the road network.”
“We are a partner for stakeholders in all industry supply chains.”
To Martin Reiser, it goes without saying that this growth also has an impact on DB Cargo’s service promise to its customers that import pulp from South America to Europe. “In the past four years, we have made consistent advances regarding our cooperation with customers on the basis of our Pulp & Paper Roadmap.” Continuing, he names the four parameters essential to successful cooperation that were identified: communication, strategy, competitiveness and operational collaboration. “We created expert teams for our customers to develop joint solutions for specific requirements,” he says. For Reiser and his team, it is important to be a reliable partner for stakeholders throughout the entire supply chain industry. “We are therefore working hard to talk to the professionals who shape the network and make the decisions. By getting to know their needs and strategies, we can develop solutions that add value,” he says. One such solution is the DB Cargo Pulp Sprinter.

Customer solution: “Pulp Sprinter”

“The Pulp Sprinter is a flexible rail solution consisting of connected block-train and wagonload capacity to ensure a stable pulp supply chain with optimised costs,” says Martin Reiser, explaining the principle. One customer for whom DB Cargo uses the Pulp Sprinter system is Mondi Neusiedler GmbH in Ulmerfeld-Hausmening, Lower Austria. More than 140,000 tonnes of pulp a year are transported straight to Mondi’s paper factories by DB Cargo services originating from a range of departure points. DB Cargo functions as a contact for the entire logistics chain. “Delivery is by block train supplemented by Sprinter wagon groups that depart from the ports of Brake and Vlissingen and allow us to adjust capacity individually,” says Reiser. This means that Mondi can run the transports even if volumes are too small or too large for one train. The people that oversee pulp supply chain management are responsible for ordering and timely provision of empty wagons, coordination with the terminal, proactive monitoring of the transport chain and prompt information to customers. “With the help of the Pulp Sprinter, we ensure an efficient, competitive and fast supply chain for transporting pulp. It is punctual right down to the hour,” says Dr Paul Bartmann. As head of pulp sourcing at the Mondi Group, he is responsible for external pulp procurement for all Mondi factories, as well as for internal coordination of pulp activities. “Our deliveries are given high priority in the rail network so that they arrive on time at our paper factories even when the external conditions are tough,” Bartmann adds.

“We’re always checking to see what rail services we can use to transport pulp and so take ­pressure off the road network.”

Key account manager and business developer
for the pulp market

Mondi Group: a global player in the paper market
Mondi is a global packaging and paper company employing some 25,000 people in more than 30 countries. Bartmann, who also sits on the executive committee of Utipulp, an association of European pulp purchasers, says, “We are active all along the packaging and paper industry supply chain – from the management of our forestland and the production of pulp, paper and composites to the development of efficient and sustainable packaging for consumer and industrial goods.” That is why the group operates a series of research and development centres. It has six inno­vation bases in Germany and Austria alone, making it one of the leading firms in its sector. Given this background, Bartmann is very appreciative of his company’s strategic partnership with DB Cargo: “Thanks to the Pulp Sprinter, we can guarantee that the supply chain for pulp transportation is efficient, competitive, fast – and extremely punctual.”

DB Cargo papier stapler

Developing logistics solutions together
Martin Reiser and his team can also develop logistics solutions to suit customers who do not yet have a private siding or whose siding lacks sufficient capacity. He is currently advising a large paper manufacturer with two plants that still transports almost all 400,000 tonnes of its raw materials by inland waterway and road, but the company now wants to avail itself of rail-based solutions as well. “We are currently thinking with the customer about how we can handle this by using its private sidings, and about which operational system is the most suitable,” says Reiser. The large Hamburg-based freight forwarder Fr. Meyer’s Sohn (FMS) is a tried-and-tested partner in this area

high-capacity wagons
are moved by DB Cargo
each year as part of its
seaport hinterland services.

FMS: specialists for pulp products

FMS is the world’s largest logistics specialist for pulp, paper and wood products. For the main leg, especially from South America, most of the pulp is loaded onto bulk carriers. These colossal ships can carry over 50,000 tonnes of cargo and can only be handled at a limited number of ports. As an alternative to bulk transports, the freight forwarder uses its container-related expertise for loading and transporting pulp and paper. Rail transportation on board DB Cargo services is supplemented by inland shipping supplied by its affiliate Interrijn and a small but professional fleet of lorries. This enables FMS to offer its customers maximum flexibility. Its Cruise Control tool also ensures that it can analyse and manage complete logistics systems that encompass every mode of transport. Bernd Müller, commercial manager for imports at FMS, says, “Our advantages include our extensive network, our expertise in the paper industry and our operations at a large number of ports.”

Optimising round trips

FMS and DB Cargo have developed an efficient joint approach involving the development and optimisation of round trips. Their aim: to have pulp transported by rail from the ports of Brake or Vlissingen to paper factories, where the trains can be loaded for the round trip with paper destined for export and delivery to customers across Europe. “This creates synergy effects and efficiency while also ensuring that the available capacity is actually used,” says Müller. Martin Reiser explains in addition that it is important for him and his team to be a reliable partner for customers and stakeholders involved in the supply chain. “We are therefore working hard to talk to the professionals who shape the network and make the decisions. By getting to know their needs and strategies, we can enhance these with our logistics ideas, options and synergy effects and then implement solutions together,” he says. Thanks to this network, DB Cargo can transport some 6.5 million tonnes of paper and pulp every year, a figure that it aims to increase step by step.

“The eco-friendly solutions that use rail services are a great alternative to inland shipping and lorries.“

Corporate manager for forestry
product imports at Fr. Meyer’s Sohn