Logistics – Industry of Superlatives

Transport giants in shipping, a train weighing almost one hundred thousand tons, or traffic routes made of ice and snow: the logistics industry excels with spectacular innovations.

Today, the logistics industry offers holistic concepts for the transport, storage and order picking of goods. Photo: Fotolia - alphaspirit

Today, the logistics industry offers holistic concepts for the transport, storage and order picking of goods. Photo: Fotolia – alphaspirit

The origins of logistics are actually founded in the military sector. The first-known definition hails from around 900 CE and Byzantine Emperor Leo VI the Wise, who wrote in his treatise “Tactica” that: “The purpose of logistics is to pay, appropriately arm and organize a military, equip it with weapons and war machines, cater to its needs punctually and adequately, and prepare for every activity of the campaign as appropriate – including calculating time and space requirements, correctly evaluating the terrain in relation to the armies’ movements and the enemy’s power of resistance – as well as the management and organization of these functions in line with the movement and distribution of one’s own armed forces, and command all of this with a single word.”

Since then, a lot has happened. Nowadays, logistics stands for innovative service providers offering a holistic concept for the transport, storage and order picking of goods. Then as now, the industry is charakterized by spectacular innovations.

Innovations in the logistics industry

The Longest Train

The longest and heaviest freight train of all time embarked on its first trial run on June 21, 2001 in Western Australia. Mining giant BHP Billiton sent the behemoth – consisting of eight diesel-electric locomotives and 682 ore wagons – on a fact-finding mission to trial its multi-control functions. For a large portion of the route, all eight locomotives were controlled remotely by a single engineer. The 99,732-metric-ton, 7.353-kilometer-long train completed the 426-kilometer route from the mines to the seaport at Port Hedland in just ten hours. In total, it transported 82,000 metric tons of iron ore.

Transport Giants in Shipping

An astounding 17,280 metric tons was the weight of the consignment that British heavy cargo specialist ALE transported in 2017. The load? The “Sewol” – a ferry that had capsized near the south-west coast of South Korea in 2014 and been recovered in 2017. The wreck was carried on a series of self-driving modular platform transporters with 600 axles – the development of German firms Scheuerle and Kamag. Initially, the ferry was estimated to weigh between 11,000 and 13,000 metric tons. It quickly became apparent, however, that silt and water ingress had brought the actual weight up to over 17,000 metric tons.

On the frozen rivers of the tundra roads are built of ice and snow. Photo: getty images / Johnny Haglund

On the frozen rivers of the Tundra roads are made of ice and snow. Photo: Getty Images / Johnny Haglund

Infrastructure under Extreme Conditions

In Northern Siberia, roads are not made of concrete or asphalt. Instead, it is “Jack Frost” that takes care of the building materials, as the frozen rivers and swamplands of the Tundra are transformed into traffic routes of ice and snow. They are referred to as Simniks – based on the Russian word for winter “Sima.” Siberia is thus host to one of the most challenging and coldest roads on Earth. The road only becomes traversable once the mercury sinks below minus 30°Celsius. The citizens of the Sakha Republic are among the hardiest on the planet, choosing to live in a place that is often subject to temperatures below minus 60°Celsius. The soil freezes to many meters below ground level, and only the very surface thaws in summer. It’s a true logistical challenge.

Cooperation: Holistic Logistics Solution for Start-ups

In April 2018, DHL Global Forwarding opened a specialist helpdesk in Berlin that caters to the specific requirements of new start-ups. The helpdesk provides founders and their expanding new businesses with global logistics and supply chain development support, enabling them to achieve success beyond the German border. One such start-up is Berlin-based enterprise Bonavi. For this manufacturer of premium strollers, the DHL Start-up Helpdesk’s logistics specialists drew up a multimodal supply chain solution that covers transportation by rail, air and sea. The high-quality strollers are loaded directly into full-size containers at the Chinese production facility, and transported to Germany by train within 21 days. To ensure that the young enterprise is not crippled with import turnover tax payments – constituting 19 percent of the goods’ value – a deferment account has been applied for. The rapid shipment of samples between China and Germany is taken care of by DHL Express, while DHL Global Forwarding ensures a ready supply of replacement parts and accessories by air freight. Distribution logistics and delivery to the end consumer is executed from the firm’s Hamburg warehouse by DHL Paket.

Megaproject: The New Silk Road

By 2049, the intercontinental infrastructure network of The New Silk Road should be completed. Through the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative, which began in 2013, Asia, Europe and Africa are to become more economically intertwined. More than 900 projects across over 65 countries are planned within this time frame. New trade connections will arise, both by land and sea. In conjunction with the legendary Silk Road, China has announced that the project will constitute the core of its own development policy. By the year 2025, Chinese trade volumes with the countries along the New Silk Road will reach approximately 2.5 trillion US dollars. Between 2016 and 2017 alone, the trade volume rocketed 18 by percent.

The logistics professionals of the DHL start-up helpdesk have set up a supply chain solution for the manufacturer of premium prams, which covers transport by rail, air and sea freight. Photo: DHL / Rüdiger NehmzowThe longest freight train of all times operated on June 21, 2001 in a test run in Australia and measured a total of 7.4 kilometers. Photo: Big pictures australia / Action pressBy 2049, the intercontinental infrastructure network Neue Seidenstraße is to be built. Photo: Lao QiangThe British heavy-load specialist ALE 2017 carried out a 17,280-tonne transport. Photo: ALE Heavylift

The Top Ten of Logistics Countries 2018

The Logistics Performance Index represents the World Bank’s evaluation of the logistical capacities of 160 countries, plotted on a scale from 1 (low) to 5 (high). Decisive criteria include the execution of customs clearances, the quality of trading and transport infrastructure, the access to competitive prices for international transit, the logistical competency and quality of logistics services, the tracking and tracing of consignments and the punctuality of deliveries. The index is based on the results of a survey of approximately 900 logisticians and was published in the World Bank report “Connecting to Compete – Trade Logistics in the Global Economy – 2018.” The ranking is as follows:

1. Germany (4.20)
2. Sweden (4.05)
3. Belgium (4.04)
4. Austria (4.03)
5. Japan (4.03)
6. Netherlands (4.02)
7. Singapore (4.0)
8. Denmark (3.99)
9. United Kingdom (3.99)
10. Finland (3.97)

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