Perfect Refrigeration

Heroes of the cold chain

In Freiburg and the surrounding area, you often see them driving by – the light/dark green trucks with the yellow lettering “karldischinger”. But the logistics service provider based in the municipality of Ehrenkirchen in southern Baden is not only on the road regionally, but also throughout Germany and Europe. Fresh and refrigerated transport operations with Krone semi-trailers are part of day-to-day business.

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ur company colours were not chosen at random,” says senior boss, Karlhubert Dischinger, “Fir green, May green, Rapeseed yellow – that is typical of the landscape here.” The long-established logistics company has its headquarters in the Markgräflerland region close to the Black Forest, in the far southwest of the Germany. “In terms of Germany, we are on the periphery, but we are also situated at the heart of Europe,” Dischinger emphasises. It’s not only the colours, but also the company name, where he believes that adding his own personal touch is important: not “Karl Dischinger”, but in his own style “karldischinger” – written in lower case and together, with the abbreviation “kd”.

All the men in the Dischinger family line have the name “Karl” in their first name: Karl-Hermann Dischinger founded a horse transport company back in 1879; and then in 1924, the very first truck – a Benz – was purchased. In 1975, today’s senior boss Karlhubert took over the reins, or rather the steering wheel, from his father Karl-Josef as the company entered its fourth generation, and in the following decades expanded the company from a forwarding company – with ten trucks – to an international logistics service provider with over 100 of its own vehicles. The most recent generational change took place in 2016: since then, Karlkristian Dischinger, now 35, has been Managing Director.


But the 70-year-old father is still heavily involved – “Only half days, so twelve hours a day,” he jokes. Karl-senior is now responsible for the vehicle fleet and the construction area among other things. “Construction is my speciality,” he says. “I built all these halls here.” Roughly 400 employees work at the Ehrenkirchen site, out of a total of over 1,000. From here, the KD trucks are also deployed in long-distance operations by changing trailers or using the hub-and-spoke system - leaving late in the afternoon and returning early in the morning. The focus is on temperature-controlled general cargo transport. “Not everyone can do that,” emphasises Karlhubert Dischinger. The load space in the trailers can be utilised and tempered with great flexibility thanks to intermediate floors and partition walls.

“With our own trucks, however, we only generate about ten per cent of turnover. The rest is logistics.

Karlhubert Dischinger


“With our own trucks, however, we only generate about ten per cent of turnover,” he adds, “the rest is logistics.” The Karl Dischinger company has developed from a purely transport and warehouse operator into a fully-fledged service provider, including picking, packing, labelling, assembly work and customs clearance – partly in its own halls, and partly on site at the customer’s premises. Dischinger illustrates this with an example: “In a biscuit factory, we deliver all the ingredients to the bakery, then take the finished dough to the cold room, the portioned biscuits to the oven and finally the finished product to packaging. Anything that moves is our job.” And, if a customer prefers to do it themselves, the subsidiary KD-Projekt-Consulting is on hand to advise and assist with the planning and construction of their own warehouse.


“This was the first hall on site,” explains Dominik Wilhelm during a tour of the premises, “the so-called drying hall.” In the meantime, the forwarding company now manages over 150,000 square metres of of dedicated hall space. Dominik Wilhelm has just turned 40, but has already been working at KD for 17 years in various roles – he has also been the Forwarding Manager for two years. Let’s continue to the wine hall, which has a temperature of 14 to 18 degrees. “This is where we store, pick and pack,” explains Wilhelm. The high shelves are stacked with wine boxes from regional wineries and winegrowers’ cooperatives, which are then delivered to supermarkets and restaurants, among others. Warehouse trucks constantly dart back and forth to assemble deliveries, while employees wrap them with stretch film.
Two generations, one team: Karlhubert Dischinger (left) has managed the logistics company in South Baden since 1975; in 2016, his son Karlkristian Dischinger took over the running of the company.
Two generations, one team: Karlhubert Dischinger (left) has managed the logistics company in South Baden since 1975; in 2016, his son Karlkristian Dischinger took over the running of the company.

Mainly fresh, refrigerated food is stored in the hall opposite. “We are big hitters when it comes to temperature- controlled goods, with the majority share operating at 2 to 8 and 14 to 18 degrees,” explains Wilhelm. Among other things, raw cocoa mass and flour are stored here in large sacks. There is also a bonded duty-free area. However, it is not only wholesale goods that are handled here, but also delicatessen products such as olive oil from an Italian supplier, which is delivered to the retail trade in smaller quantities. There is also a lot to assemble in this area: for example, merchandise displays are assembled, priced and filled according to customer specifications.


Another, increasingly important pillar of Karl Dischinger’s business model is the pharmaceutical division – for which there is also a dedicated hall in Ehrenkirchen with over 30,000 pallet spaces. Like fresh food, pharmaceuticals are also refrigerated, but handled and transported separately. For temperature-controlled transport operations, KD has more than 100 refrigerated trailers in use – all of them from Krone. “Approximately four-fifths of all transport at the Ehrenkirchen site are refrigerated transport ops,” says Dominik Wilhelm. “The trick is to keep milk at a precise 2 to 8 degrees and chocolate at 14 to 18 degrees,” adds Karlhubert Dischinger, reiterating: “Not everyone can do that.” The respective target temperature range is monitored with the aid of telematics and any deviation is immediately reported to the KD Control Centre.
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Das 1879 von Karl-Hermann Dischinger gegründete Transportunternehmen ist heute ein international tätiger Logistikdienstleister mit über 1.000 Mitarbeitern und 14 Niederlassungen in Deutschland, Österreich, Kroatien und Spanien. Die Zentrale des nach wie vor familiengeführten Betriebs befindet sich in Ehrenkirchen südlich von Freiburg im Breisgau. Im Bereich der gekühlten Lebensmittel ist Karl Dischinger Marktführer in der Region. Neben Transportlösungen werden auch Logistikberatung, innerbetriebliche Logistik, Verpackung, Verzollungsdienstleistungen und Werkslayoutplanung angeboten.

Karl-Senior is particularly proud of his new Cool Liner with Celsineo refrigeration unit, which Karl Dischinger received as a pilot customer. The cooling unit, developed in a collaboration between Liebherr and Krone, has a modular design that simplifies both use and maintenance. “If one module fails en route, the others continue to run and the cold chain remains secure,” explains Dischinger. Instead of undertaking repairs, the defective module is simply switched out, so that the trailer is ready for use again after a short time. “We’ve been testing the system for six months now and it’s going really well.”


Things are also going well for the company on the whole, as Karlhubert Dischinger reports: “We have grown tremendously over the last 20 years, with almost all of the expansion originating from our own vocational training.” Karl Dischinger currently has 150 apprentices in 17 professions, as well as the company’s own logistics training centre. “Careers stretching from apprentice to authorised signatory are nothing unusual with us.” The challenge presented by the corona crisis has also been overcome so far “with just a few bruises”. The company’s pharmaceutical logistics expertise has brought KD additional orders and thus compensated, to some extent, for declines in other business areas, especially automotive.

Even the truckers, usually perceived as an annoying hindrance on the motorway, have unexpectedly gained a more positive image as “Corona Heroes” this past year. That is because not only pasta, flour and toilet paper can quickly become scarce, as we now know, but also other indispensable goods such as pharmaceuticals or pandemic PPE – for the latter, Karl Dischinger maintains the central warehouse for the whole of Baden-Württemberg. As President of the Baden-Württemberg Logistics Association, which Karlhubert Dischinger also holds down “as a sideline occupation”, he thus wants to break the stereotypical image of his industry: “Many people are always criticising the large number of trucks on the road. But if it weren’t for them, the German economy would simply seize up.”
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Modular refrigeration: A trailer with the innovative Celsineo refrigeration unit has been in successful trial operation at Karl Dischinger for six months.
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An important pillar of business: In addition to food products, Karl Dischinger also transports pharmaceuticals – also temperature-controlled with Krone trailers.
Photos: Wolfgang Armbruster

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