Logistics at night: Prolonging day-length with artificial lighting

For the poet, evening and night embody something like the source of all romance. On the other hand, for the logistician, sunset induces the continuation of the day with artificial lighting. This moves the industry away from poetry – and moves it close to the needs of customers.

One example is the Regional HUB South, the most important European hub in the land transport network of DB Schenker. There, in Nuremberg, logistics is in full swing at hours, when others enjoy cinema, red wine or bedtime. Throughout the day, 2,500 tons of cargo are handled at the hub. Half of it between 9 pm and 2 am. Hardly anyone realizes that between 11:59 pm and 12 pm another day begins. That is everyday life in logistics! Or should we say: Everynight life?

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DB Schenker manages spares logistics for several OEMs in Switzerland. Some 250 workshops receive deliveries up to 3 times a day.


“Mass start” with trucks

In the HUB turn handling and processing turns into high-performance sports. The “mass start” takes place between 12:15 pm and 2 am. Then, around 80 trucks will set off almost simultaneously. For example, carrying the load from Italy: It reached the HUB at 11 pm, 3 hours later, it moves on to Finland. Around 100 of 350 employees work late shifts so that the goods arrive at the recipients on time. “For us, this is completely natural,” says Julian Heinrich, Head of HUB and platform transports. “DB Schenker’s system transports are geared towards reaching our destinations in Germany and Europe overnight.” For this, transshipment at bedtime is absolutely necessary.

Globally, there is no night

For a global player like DB Schenker, “work after dark” is a relative term anyway. Consider the sea and air freight. For those who travel across continents, time-zone hopping is as normal as the earth’s rotation. When the sun goes down in one place, a new day awakens on the opposite side. Ergo, the company as a whole cannot call it a day and stop working.

Max Schäfer can tell you a thing or two about it. He does a job between time zones: “We ensure that aircraft spare parts or repair parts arrive at their destination without delay,” says the operations manager at DB Schenker Aerospace. If an airplane is serviced somewhere in the world, or if it urgently needs spare parts, without which it cannot take off, the airline speaks of an AOG. Aircraft On Ground. Schäfer and his team are on call for 365 days and nights to put an end to this super expensive situation as quickly as possible.

“For a #logistics provider like DB #Schenker # night activity is normal. It’s always daytime somewhere in the world.“

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Whether Singapore, Malta or Sao Paulo – the services of DB Schenker are in demand everywhere. And there is always day somewhere. When the clock runs fast, it does not matter if it means three o’clock in the morning or three o’clock in the afternoon. That’s relative anyway. That is why customers make regular use of the operational readiness at night. “The aircraft mechanic, who requests a replacement part, does not get the feeling that he is reporting at an inopportune time,” laughs Schäfer. “Because at his end of the line, the sun is shining.”

More about the secrets of the night can be also discovered in the current exhibition “The Night – Everything but sleep” at the Museum of Communication in Frankfurt (23 March 2018 – 26 August 2018).