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Going with the grain

Wood is one of the most sustainable raw materials available, so it makes sense to use the most environmentally friendly form of transport to move it. The timber ports created by DB Cargo Logistics are just one of the ways the company makes this possible. The latest such facility recently entered service.

At the river port of Trier-Ehrang on the Moselle, tree trunks can now be stored and loaded onto freight wagons for delivery to wood processing companies. The objective is to keep road-based first-mile transport activities to an absolute minimum. The large port facilities allow the wood to be separated by category and customer, and then dispatched when orders come in.
By keeping stocks separate like this, the timber port "disentangles" logistics processes for the first-mile transport by lorry and the rail-based main leg. Trucks can bring deliveries at any time and then head back to the forests for a new load after just a short stopover – this contrasts with transshipment at a conventional lumber loading yard, where vehicle-to-vehicle loading can add to waiting times. The system used at Trier enhances flexibility and increases the size of the suppliers' catchment area.

DB Cargo Logistics' partner for storage and loading is logistics company Am Zehnhoff-Söns (AZS), a multimodal specialist with over 100 years of experience. "We make sure that the cargo is loaded and secured correctly and that nothing overhangs the vehicles. Where necessary, we saw off awkward branches if they jut into the clearance profile," says Alexander Am Zehnhoff-Söns, who is general manager of the Trier terminal and also in charge of documentation and delivery processing.

Beech and pine account for the bulk of the logs. Once loaded onto trains, they set off on their environmentally friendly journeys to major customers in several countries – Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, etc. – where the wood is used to produce high-quality furniture, flooring, paper and pulp. The timber is also used to produce other important items such as ice-cream sticks and chip forks, reducing the level of waste from single-use plastics.

An average of 270 tonnes is handled every week, but this figure is set to rise in the near future. "We will soon be welcoming two new customers to Trier-Ehrang, thereby expanding our timber port activities still further," says Martin Fiebig, key account manager at DB Cargo Logistics and the person responsible for the river port at Ehrang.

At present, four timber ports offer their services to customers in Germany: Trier-Ehrang in Rhineland-Palatinate, and three locations in Bavaria: Parkstein-Hütten in the northeast, Eichstätt in the centre of the state, and Aschaffenburg in the northwest. Plans are already in motion for a fifth timber port in Lower Saxony. "In the next stage, we want to route other wood products – such as square-sawn timber and building components – via the timber port so that these items can also be moved onto the railways," Fiebig says.