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Interview

“Expediting new solutions”

Multimodal transports are faster, less expensive and more environmentally compatible. Axel Marschall, Executive Board Member Sales, DB Schenker Rail AG, on the new Competence Center Multimodal.

Axel Marschall, DB AG, Oliver Tjaden

Mr. Marschall, cynics say that DB Schenker has not yet taken full advantage of the benefits of combining rail and other modes of transport. Was the new Competence Center Multimodal (CCMM) established to boost their integration?

Our business fields DB Schenker Rail and DB Schenker Logistics are operating successfully in our target markets by providing compelling products. Essentially, we manage and interlink complex transport and logistics networks and have already presented our customers with an appreciable amount of combined solutions. Our new Competence Center Multimodal aims to leverage even more synergies primarily between road and rail, and also to pool the expertise of both DB Schenker Rail and DB Schenker Logistics. By combining these elements, we can market attractive products that generate advantages for our customers in terms of journey times, flexibility and cost. In doing so, we are focussing on the general cargo market where we can fully assert our unique competitive advantage. The Competence Center will also help us to strengthen internal cooperation and motivate our teams to develop additional solutions by communicating “best practice” examples. We have already achieved good results with Competence Centers, and over the past few years we successfully implemented many concepts for our customers, for example in the automotive sector.

Can you give us an example illustrating this “best practice”?
Just recently, we developed a transport concept linking France and Denmark for an international customer from the consumer goods industry who had no access to a private railway siding. In lead time, his goods were transported by truck and then transshipped in conventional rail wagons before being delivered to the distribution depot by truck again. This saves the customer money and reduces CO₂ emissions compared to transportation by road alone. DB Schenker manages these door-to-door solutions from a single source, and that can prove interesting to a number of customers.

How is the new Competence Center staffed?
A team of managers from both business fields with years of experience in truck transports and rail logistics constitutes the core. By way of disseminators, so-called navigators, they draw on the collective knowledge and experience of the entire DB Schenker organization. We don’t wish to shift responsibility for business and earnings but want to combine the two for an overall perspective. In addition, we are focussing strongly on “tandems” from both business units. Ewald Kaiser, Executive Board Member Land Transport at DB Schenker Logistics, and I will take on the task of heading up the Competence Center. We regard ourselves as a team that can open doors in both organizations and provide the necessary impulses. As a result of this thinking, a specific decision was made to set up the CCMM at the joint headquarters of DB Schenker Rail and DB Schenker Logistics in Frankfurt.

How are your colleagues putting the ideas of the CCMM into practice?
Essentially, it all comes down to assisting in the further development of the business by providing innovative product combinations or by improving the way existing solutions tie in. The various units already have an incredible number of good approaches, and sometimes we just have to link them up in a different way. However, we also want to develop new solutions and convince our customers that they can support our multimodal solutions by amending their terms of tender. The Competence Center is designed to be a point of contact to launch projects and bundle information. We want to improve the framework conditions for cooperation and promote an open, partnership-based culture which enhances mutual understanding.

In general, how is the interest in multimodal solutions widening?
Our customers face more stringent requirements as a result of transport chains becoming more international, the volatility of the markets and increased efficiency pressure. We can respond to this challenge by improving and expanding links between transport modes and networks. For example, there is an increasing number of customers who have no access to their own sidings but who are looking for environmentally friendly, rail-based solutions. That is precisely the demand we aim to fulfill.

Enlarge imageMultimodal Train, DB AG, Wolfgang Klee

How important are multimodal solutions for the corporate success of DB Schenker?
Intermodal, environmentally friendly logistics solutions are a key component of the DB 2020 strategy. Linking railways to other modes of transport has given DB Schenker a competitive edge. We want to live up to that responsibility and generate considerable growth in these segments. If we can succeed in efficiently combining all existing elements within DB Schenker in a more targeted way, then we can provide many more customers with easy access to multimodal transport chains. Double-digit growth in this segment is certainly feasible.

Just recently, DB Schenker accomplished a multimodal solution across three continents. Will we be seeing more such ambitious projects in the future?
“Delivering solutions” is the motto at DB Schenker. We were a pioneering force beginning with transports in dedicated container trains on what is known as the southern route from China over Kazakhstan and Russia to Central Europe. Now we have gone on to develop the aforementioned innovative combination made up of rail, truck and airfreight transports on that route and also extending as far as Brazil. We draw up solutions like these in detailed talks with our customers, and they are an excellent example of the achievement potential at DB Schenker. You can look forward to seeing many other solutions like it! 

Thank you for taking the time to talk to us!     

Last modified: 08.04.2015

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