“Survival is not a duty – but our mission”

Digitalization and globalization are two catchwords for the ever faster change of our world. Our industry, logistics, also underwent a profound change long ago. Today, more and more new players are entering the market. With new concepts and ideas, they are creating a “new” world that would have been considered a vision of a dreamer just a few years ago. Who would have thought until recently that Uber would become the world’s largest taxi company without its own vehicle? Or that Airbnb would become the world’s largest accommodation agency without hotel rooms?

New, disruptive concepts have also found their way into logistics. Because our industry in particular is the perfect place for digital disruptions: The logistics of the “old” world is still globally active today, highly manual, often still very non-transparent and active on an industrial scale. We cannot avert these trends, but must respond to them. If we lose sight of the “old” world, we will be quickly reaching the end of our journey. If we do not see the “new” world, there will be no future for us.

For us as a logistician and for a logistics service provider such as DB Schenker, this means that we have to operate at two different speeds in one and the same company. In the future, we will be “ambidextrous”: We want to maintain our leading position in today’s market. At the same time, we must act now to secure tomorrow’s markets.

Because logistics is becoming increasingly digital. The market is growing, but the classic transport service is taking less and less of a share. In 2021, one in five euros in the industry will probably be generated with digital business models. Nine years later it’s already 45 percent!

Our Ecosystems

DB Schenker has already prepared itself for this. We are building our own digital ecosystems – for example through our DB Schenker Enterprise Lab for Logistics and Digitization. But also through close cooperation with more than 35 start-ups. Of course also with Deutsche Bahn – it is an enormous advantage for us that we can fall back on DB’s expertise in the DB Innovation Network.

And finally with our customers: Digitalization is changing our relationships with them. Never before have we known more about our customers than today. Because they are looking for cooperation, partnerships and joint models with us. We generate data and information from these ecosystems. In them we find new ideas and business models.

We make dreams come true

But how do we realize our dreams? How do we transfer the ideas of speedboats to our „tankship ” DB Schenker?

We have experience in realizing ideas and concepts that seem coherent to us. For example, with sensors on our containers. We offered them early on as additional modules to customers who really needed to know things exactly. Today, they are the basis for many new services: From documentation to tracking and smooth monitoring of freight.

In the 3D printing process, the disruptive technology par excellence, we work together with selected customers to reorganize the logistics. By platooning our trucks, we can not only make transport more sustainable – we are also responding to the shortage of drivers in the long term. Just like autonomous driving: Here, too, we are on the road with the first pilots in Sweden.

“Erik Wirsing, Head of #Innovation, explains how DB #Schenker keeps up with its own #ecosystems of #digitization.“

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Willingness to innovate

This shows what makes the two different speeds in a company possible in the first place: not everyone at DB Schenker was born a digital entrepreneur. Yet, everyone here should know that digitalization will not replace him, but help him – in the “old” as well as in the “new” world.

As long as things are manufactured, traded, used and stored, there will be logistics. But the key to a future in which “old” and “new” worlds coexist are openness, curiosity and the willingness to rethink.