Donaulager Logistics drives better with high quality.
ogistics and quality are interconnected”, Gottfried Buchinger is sure of it. The Authorised Representative (Prokurist) at Donaulager Logistics GmbH, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Linz AG, has followed this insight throughout his career: He has been with the company for almost 30 years, which in its early days was still called Austrian Duty Free Zone Company. Only three trucks travelled from Linz to Vienna for the company, which was purely a customs clearance service provider. Today, Donaulager Logistics operates throughout Europe, has 150 vehicles in operation and operates several large warehouses for frozen food, hazardous goods and pharmaceutical products with approximately 70,000 pallet spaces. 84 permanent employees and 20 employees deployed as needed ensure that the company always runs smoothly.
“We have managed to firmly establish ourselves in our business areas with a lot of patience and the willingness to learn again and again,” said Buchinger proudly. The key to success is the early introduction of process management and a willingness to review and optimise processes again and again. This quality has impressed even large companies.
The ultimate goal of the overall logistics provider is to provide clients with a comprehensive service: from transport logistics, warehousing, to order picking. “We create a high-quality logistics chain for the customer,” continued Buchinger. This is why the logistics service provider still attaches great importance to good quality management in order to secure a competitive advantage. “The only reason we are still in the market as a medium-sized company with a single location in Linz is because of our quality.” Donaulager Logistics would not stand a chance against the cheap Eastern European forwarding agents.
IDEAL EQUIPMENT FOR HIGH QUALITY
High quality can only be achieved with appropriate semitrailers and swap bodies. You need suitable equipment, especially in the pharmaceutical, frozen food, refrigerated and hazardous goods logistics sectors. “When transporting pharmaceutical products, for example, we need specially certified semitrailers which are reliable and can withstand the conditions in Spain, Greece and the rest of Europe,” explained the trained forwarding agent. The trailers are carefully tested to see whether they maintain the temperature and how the temperature in the semitrailer is distributed. Even the smallest fluctuations can result in damage to the cargo.
“That was one of the reasons why we decided on the Krone trailer,” said the Authorised Representative. Last year, Donaulager Logistics purchased 18 semitrailers, and they purchased another twelve in the current year. But for Gottfried Buchinger, Krone is not only characterised by reliability and high quality, but by looking after customers personally as well: “This is very important to us, because if there is a problem, then someone needs to be on hand, who can take it on and find a solution.”
Another impressive point is the smart locking system from Krone. Safety is playing an increasingly important role in logistics, and this is especially true for pharmaceutical transports. “The trailer can be locked using a mobile phone. We could even go so far that the driver cannot open the doors to the trailer alone, but only after consultation with the scheduling team,” explained the Head of Logistics.
Previously, the company had its own fleet. Today, independent entrepreneurs pull the company’s semitrailers with their tractors. “The special thing about us, however, is that we run everything as though we were running our own vehicle fleet,” reports Buchinger. Together with the drivers, he and his colleagues make sure that everything is always okay in order to ensure quality standards. From consumption, kilometres to driving times, everything is recorded accurately. Donaulager Logistics even trains the drivers.
The company invests almost 100,000 euros per year in the training and further education of its employees, from forwarding agents to IT specialists and warehouse workers. This is also required because the requirements are constantly increasing and are different for each customer. For example, the employees must have product-specific knowledge, be familiar with the hazardous goods regulations, or must also observe regulations pertaining to food. “Our dispatchers have to master multitasking. This is because they may sometimes reach load limits, for example in the case of timeslot bookings.” The slots are getting smaller and smaller, because many companies do not want to maintain a warehouse anymore. The result is that they need deliveries to be there precisely on the dot.
ADAPTING TO NEW REQUIREMENTS
A good example is a yet new business segment of the company: ship supply. Donaulager Logistics has been supplying Mediterranean cruise ships “just in time” with food, beverages and consumer goods of all kinds, on behalf of one of the world’s largest ship suppliers. 10 to 15 truckloads have to be transported from Hamburg to Piraeus. All trucks must be there at the same time. “We have to deliver very high quality,” says the logistics expert. Truck dispatching is available around the clock, seven days a week, so that we can respond quickly to problems, such as when the driver calls at two o’clock in the morning and reports that the tractor has broken down or the semitrailer is defective, or that the ferry from Italy to Greece cannot run.
For most types of load, it is important that the cold chain remains uninterrupted and continuity is maintained through documentation. Some customers expect to receive the documented temperature data one hour before the arrival of the truck at the point of loading. The driver is only allowed to enter the warehouse to unload once a check has been made to ensure that the digitally monitored temperature curve was flawless during transport. If the fluctuations in temperature are too large, the driver can immediately be turned around. “The quality of the semitrailers and the functionality of the telematics system are also very important for these cargo types.,” explains Gottfried Buchinger.
The situation is similar for certain hazardous goods transport. With goods of this kind, temperatures must be accurately maintained in order to avoid damage. “We have very precise process agreements with every customer,” reported the Head of Logistics. This has proven its worth over the years. Frozen goods are driven throughout Europe for a major customer; with a claim rate of zero. “That not only speaks for the quality of the semitrailers, but also for our employees, who do a really good job.”
FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF THE FACILITY
One of the biggest problems in the industry is the competition for drivers. Fewer and fewer young people want to become truck drivers, and there is not much left of the reputation as the “king of the highway”. “The job is no longer as popular, and you’re on the road all week,” explains Buchinger. At the same time, you can make a good living and wages continue to rise.
In order to keep drivers, Donaulager Logistics does a lot. The company is currently building a new ingate with sufficient parking spaces for the trucks, attractive rooms, sleeping spaces and showers, so that the drivers have “decent conditions”, as the Head of Logistics says. The human side or working atmosphere is also very important to him: “We have a good relationship with each other, from the driver, the warehouse worker to management.”
Since 2014, the company has been bringing the location up to speed for the future. With the “Project Neuland”, the entire site is being further developed. “This will allow us to continue to expand towards logistics and services,” says Gottfried Buchinger. At the heart of the project is a new special warehouse for frozen food and pharmaceutical products, which is over 8,000 square metres, and which will be built right next to the ingate. Planning work is in full swing, and construction should begin in mid-2019.