Preparing for the end of the year: the storm before the calm

When Germany stands still for Christmas or New Year, many people continue to work. They ensure that the country can pick up speed again in the New Year and that we don’t have to worry about the supply chains that serve us even during the holidays. At DB Schenker, for example, hundreds of employees are already operating in advance to enable the calm at the turn of the year.

Marco Stelljes

“In these few weeks, the number of orders increases by up to 50 percent.”

For example, at the Intermodal Department at MCT in Hamburg. The 30-person department ensures that freight that arrives at the port from overseas is transshipped and transported away on time to the available modes of transport. Conversely, the employees also ensure that incoming truck loads are quickly and reliably loaded onto the waiting ships.

Interface to sea freight

The pre- and post-carriage in container transport to and from the large seaports in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, as well as the southern ports of Koper and Trieste, are part of the volume that the logistician handles in Germany and neighboring regions via truck, rail and riverboat.
“Our customers are the DB Schenker offices, that book the pre- and post-carriage of containers with us,” explains Marco Stelljes, head of the three teams Disposition, Customer Service and Administration.
“We check the options under various aspects such as price, availability or performance and book the order with one of our 200 service providers.”

Huge seasonal fluctuations

On average, 500 containers per day – almost 125,000 containers per year – are processed in this way. But the fluctuations in the industry are enormous. “Because the incoming container ships are getting bigger and bigger, we have to concentrate the quantities on fewer days of traffic,” explains Stelljes. The holidays in China also have a major influence on the volume: the country stands still for the Chinese New Year celebrations at the end of January and the beginning of February. Four to five weeks after the holidays, the freight volume in German seaports drops by a third. And there are also the German holidays. “We noticed a significantly higher booking behavior beforehand. In these few weeks, the number of orders increases by up to 50 percent”, says Marco Stelljes.

MCT is already active in advance

Christmas and New Year are among the holidays that affects the department weeks in advance. The MCT team is therefore active in advance. “We address the expected transport shortage to our branches before important holidays so that they can enter into a dialogue with the end customers,” says Stelljes. “Then we ask for a forecast for the next few weeks and can book the containers much earlier than during normal times.”
These weeks mean a lot of commitment for all members of the team. “But in the industry that means that there is overtime at peak times,” says Stelljes. “I’ve been at home in logistics for almost 27 years now and I don’t know any other way.”

“Stress before the holidays: Logistik aktuell looks at the employees who keep Germany’s economy running. #DBSchenker @logistikaktuell“

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Daily phone calls and close coordination processes ensure that the department successfully manages such peak times even in the home office. Because everyone knows: In the case of intermodal transport, the excess volume subsides in the Christmas week. All inquiries and orders are placed. Normal life does not start again until the New Year.