Anuga: The Masterpiece of every exhibition logistics company (Part 2)

Anuga in Cologne is one of the most exciting events for DB Schenker’s exhibition logisticians. It is precisely the diversity of the exhibitors and their shipments that presents the dispatchers and planners with major challenges. Part 2 of a report on the hard days of the exhibition setup.

It is late morning in the offices of the DB Schenker exhibition logistician at the entrance to the trade fair. At the desk, the drivers jostle each other: on the first day of fair preparation alone, 300 of them contacted DB Schenker looking for their delivery point. The 25 permanent employees of the exhibition logistics specialist often speak several languages. That helps for describing the fairgrounds to the truck drivers. Multi-lingual maps and instructions are also on hand, because nothing is worse than a disoriented 40-tonner in the hustle and bustle around the halls.

Ibrahim Celik, DB Schenker

“Anuga is very important to us – we use all available material here to remain efficient.”

The logisticians at the desk assign the drivers the gates and sites where their trucks can be unloaded. They match the shipping documents with the announced orders and print out labels that regulate the freight’s resting places. Red tags indicate frozen goods, yellow cargo is for the refrigerated area. Everything else goes to dry goods storage – as they call the many different cellar rooms that are spread strategically across the fairgrounds. With a total area of 9,000 square meters, they are the ideal intermediate storage for less temperature-sensitive cargo.

50 refrigerated containers for DB Schenker

At this year’s fair, DB Schenker has leased 50 special refrigerated containers from various manufacturers, which receive sensitive freight at a central location. “Goldie”, Christoph Goldner, is responsible for this. The DB Schenker employee manages the multi-voiced bustle around the cooling area, and ensures that every driver goes to the back of the line.

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Divided between freezer boxes at -18 ° Celsius and classic four-degree containers, the refrigerated cargo creates a huge logistical effort: thanks to the insulation, it is smaller and only takes up ten pallets – two less than the classic 20-TEU standard container. In addition, many forwarders and shippers pack their goods extravagantly in order to have them available on time and sorted at the stand. For DB Schenker this is a huge added cost on the ground. Finally, the goods have to be pulled out of the container and brought to the stand at specific, previously agreed times.

“Because many customers want the same delivery time – at the booth at eight o’clock at the start of the exhibition – we had to come up with something,” says logistics expert Kayisi.
DB Schenker now transports dry goods to central locations in the halls on the day before the opening and can deliver right to the stands punctually the next morning. Overnight, security staff ensure that two displays don’t turn into one.

Delivered in the morning, built in the afternoon

10:30 a.m. – It slowly grows calmer at the desk of the exhibition logistician. The trucks are unloaded one after the other at the gates. With forklifts, the logisticians bring the freight into the warehouses. There, DB Schenker employees inspect the goods for external damage. The employees also notice whether refrigerated goods are delivered in the refrigerated truck or not – and it is documented accordingly.

Not only forklifts of different types are available for this work, but also many other devices such as man lifts or pallet trucks that the customers can reserve. Kayisi‘s colleagues pass the corresponding order on to Technical – as they call the dispatchers for material and personnel at the trade fair. DB Schenker employs a total of 130 forklift drivers on the last day before the opening of the exhibition. In addition, there are 70 more employees who attend to the most diverse interests of the customers. “Anuga is very important to us – we use all available material here to remain efficient,” says Ibrahim Celik, Head of Disposition at the exhibition site. His multi-headed team ensures that the right people with the right material are at the right place at the right time.
DB Schenker also falls back on their network of other offices, who send employees to Cologne. “We are a bit like a big family,” says Kayisi. The employees will be provided accomodation as well as transport to the place of work.

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Helpfull network

Robert Schildger is one of them. Normally he is responsible for customs clearance at the DB Schenker office in Frankfurt am Main. At Anuga, however, he has rushed to Cologne on request of the management and now leads food inspectors from Cologne Bonn Airport through the dry goods warehouse. They are looking for plant samples that they will test for pesticides and other agents that are not authorized in the EU.

However, even the best inspections cannot protect you from one virus: The trade fair bug – as the employees at DB Schenker say. The fictitious virus has affected almost all the \employees in the office in Cologne. That was the case with Kayisi years ago: in 1995 he started at DB Schenker, and while training as a forwarding agent, he already knew that he wanted to go into exhibition logistics: “There’s always something going on, it’s always interesting,” he says. The downside: hard days at peak times, like before Anuga. Then, he hardly sees his wife and two daughters in the daylight.

Contagious enthusiasm

The many family stories at DB Schenker also demonstrate that the trade fair bug is inheritable. At the Cologne office, nephew and uncle, father and sons work together in harmony. DB Schenker repays this with recruitment awards, because good people and skilled workers are scarce.

Afternoon, finally. Now the delivery routes around the exhibition halls are emptying. Inside, screws are turned and booths are built. Time for DB Schenker to haul out the empties. Once again the forklifts buzz through the lanes and drive empty pallets and other material away. Unlike other fairs, however, Anuga is very straightforward in this regard: Most of the display items are simply consumed, and the packaging is disposed of by a local service provider. But the most exhausting day is yet to come: the opening of the fair. Again, Kayisi will not see his wife and daughters.

“With flexibility and dedication, DB Schenker’s fair logistics team solve a lot of problems. The #Anuga in Cologne demands the whole assignment. The reportage, part 2. #ExhibitionLogistics #DBSchenker“

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Even after Anuga, in just over a week, things have to go quickly again: DB Schenker has three days to clear the halls. The employees of the trade fair construction companies are already standing at the desk for the next exhibition.