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The road, rail, waterborne and air modes are to be linked even better. Source: Fotolia / industrieblick

Logistics – the smart transport
of goods

Germany is among the world’s leading logistics centres: located in the centre of Europe, it offers many economic advantages. In order to keep it that way, the Federal Ministry of Transport is taking the necessary steps to optimize the goods transport chain and to make it more intelligent, efficient and safe. The road, rail, waterborne and air modes are to be linked even better and dovetailed in the future.

State Secretary Dorothee Bär (Source: Tobias Koch)
State Secretary Dorothee Bär

Source: Tobias Koch

It requires strong logistics for Germany to remain logistics world champion. With issues such as better interconnecting all transport modes, promoting environmentally friendly and energy efficient goods transport or ensuring recruitment, we are addressing the major challenges of the future.

State Secretary Dorothee Bär, Federal Government Coordinator for Freight Transport and Logistics

Background

Ordered today on the internet – delivered tomorrow already? Thanks to modern logistics, nowadays, our wishes are often only a mouse click away. We do not really care how the new smartphone or the new season of our favourite TV show arrives at our doorstep. The most important thing is that it arrives fast. The challenge for the logistics sector, however, is not only to transport the goods to their destination as fast as possible but also in an as cost-effective, quiet and environmentally friendly manner as possible. The Federal Ministry of Transport is doing everything it can to make that possible.

German logistics sector opens gateways to the world

Germany is located at the heart of Europe, and it is the most important exporting nation. With a turnover of approx. 223 billion euros, logistics is the third largest sector of our economy: every year, 4.3 billion tonnes of goods are transported on German roads, railways and waterways. This sector employs 2.8 million people. The production and transport chain has long since spanned the whole world. Goods travel thousands of kilometres, e.g. on huge container ships. Logistics professionals not only make sure that goods are transported from point A to point B. They also produce and refine them. What is more, they make sure that the products are packed and prepared for dispatch. Thus, the parcel delivery guy we are often waiting for with great impatience is only the last link in the long transport chain.

Efficient logistics chains: one-stop shop

Intelligent logistics systems ensure smooth processes and keep the economy going. The expertise of our logistics professionals is not the only factor determining the competitiveness of Germany as a place to do business. It is also important to combine the road, rail, waterborne and air modes in a meaningful manner and create nodal points where the different transport routes are linked up efficiently. Via such nodes as freight villages, airports, sea and inland ports, it is possible to establish high-performing transport chains and networks. This makes our logistics smarter, more modern and more climate-friendly.

One of the objectives of our Ministry’s Freight Transport and Logistics Action Plan is to better interconnect all modes of transport in Germany. Source: Fotolia / vege

Invest, modernize, digitalize.

Freight Transport and Logistics Action Plan

Whether it be food for the supermarket or components for car manufacturers – we need high-performing freight transport networks and logistics systems to prevent delays in transport. To preserve and expand these in Germany, the Federal Ministry of Transport has developed a Freight Transport and Logistics Action Plan. The Action Plan puts forward goals and measures to support the freight transport and logistics industry in fulfilling its comprehensive tasks.

Strong goals

The goals of the Federal Ministry of Transport include:

  • strengthen Germany as a centre for logistics,
  • maintain, modernize and expand our efficient transport infrastructure,
  • enhance the interconnectivity of all modes of transport,
  • promote environmentally friendly and energy-efficient freight transport and
  • ensure recruitment and support good working conditions. 

Focus on digitalization

How fast and well freight transport and logistics processes can be controlled digitally is essential for the competitiveness of Germany as a centre for logistics. Universal coverage by high-speed networks of at least 50 Mbit/s is to be achieved by 2018. Logistics companies, too, are to benefit to a greater extent from the increasing use of modern information and communications technology. In the future, for instance, mobile data capture devices will be able to transmit information on stock levels and stock locations via radio networks that are linked to the IT systems of the companies.

The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure’s "Logistics made in Germany” initiative helps German companies to increase their presence outside Germany. Source: BMVI

Logistics "made in Germany"

Logistics Alliance Germany

German logistics companies have an excellent reputation in Europe. However, some of them would like to get more orders from other continents. This is why the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, together with the German logistics industry, engages in the "Logistics Alliance Germany" (LAG) initiative. This initiative serves as the central information and contact point for foreign companies and helps them find suitable German logistics service providers. More than 50 companies have since joined the initiative – among them Deutsche Post DHL Group, the software company Quintiq and telecommunications supplier Huawei. Companies that would like to join can fill out a digital membership application on the LAG website.

Consolidate Germany’s leading position

With its numerous marketing measures, the "Logistics Alliance Germany" network helps to publicize Germany on foreign markets as a gateway and hub in Europe. The initiative successfully maintains and expands the international competitiveness of Germany as a centre for logistics. It is encouraging that more collaborative schemes are being established between German and foreign logistics companies. The common "Logistics made in Germany" platform is a success: German companies are able to significantly increase their presence outside Germany.

Active on the international level

To reach potential customers in as many ways as possible, the "Logistics Alliance Germany" organizes a wide range of activities that are coordinated annually with the federal states. These include specialist conferences, roadshows as well as information and networking events. Moreover, the LAG regularly arranges business trips to export-driven companies and potential cooperation partners outside Europe, e.g. to China, Middle and South America and South Africa, and participates in many international flagship trade fairs.

further information

The Programme of work on recruitment campaigns and skills development is aimed at getting more young people enthusiastic again about the logistics industry. Source: Fotolia / industrieblick

Make the logistics sector attractive to skilled workers

Programme of work on recruitment campaigns and skills development

On weekdays, long-distance road vehicles own the right-hand lanes of motorways. And there is a long-distance HGV driver in the cab of every HGV. But this image is deceptive. German logistics operators have problems in attracting skilled recruits. And this despite the fact that the logistics sector offers young people excellent prospects for the future and many and varied training and career opportunities. As a consequence of demographic change, the average age of the workforce in the freight transport and logistics sector is rising constantly. Many employees will be retiring in the next few years. Other factors contributing to the shortage of skilled labour are increased demands placed on the sector and the working conditions that are shaped by the intense competitive pressure on the sector. For this reason, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure is providing support to the freight transport and logistics industry in improving the image of occupations in their sector and in ensuring an adequate number of skilled workers in the long term.

Top priority: attract new drivers

The skilled labour shortage is especially noticeable in the group of professional drivers. To make up for the loss of older drivers as they reach retirement age, over 20,000 new drivers would have to be taken on every year. However, the working conditions in the road haulage sector result in not enough young people deciding to train as drivers. This is the reason why the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, in consultation with the transport industry and the Federal Employment Agency, has developed a work programme specifically for the occupation of professional driver. It contains measures for conducting recruitment campaigns, for skills development, for providing financial support to haulage companies and for more effective collaboration between companies. To make the occupation more attractive, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure is committed to improving the remuneration and working conditions of professional drivers.

Study logistics? Sure.

Whether it be logistics management, supply chain management or business management with a focus on logistics – our institutions of higher education offer many and varied courses in the logistics field. Every year, the Federal Ministry of Transport awards the “Freight Transport and Logistics Higher Education Prize” for outstanding higher education courses. With this prize, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure wants to publicize higher education courses in the field of logistics and strengthen the motivation of young people to choose a course of study in the logistics field. Not many of them know that logistics is much more than just transport or warehousing and offers a wide range of jobs. Graduates can, for example, work in manufacturing companies, transport or infrastructure management as well as in wholesale and retail companies.

Since freight transport in Germany will continue to grow, we must reduce the burden on our road network in the future. Source: Fotolia / Miredi

Roads must be decongested

Modal shift funding programme

Internationally, more and more goods are being transported. As a consequence, freight transport in Germany is growing continuously. By 2030, the loads per kilometre on the road will increase by 38 percent according to the 2030 traffic forecast of the Federal Government with regard to freight traffic. Our roads and motorways alone will not be able to cope with such an increase. For this reason, in the future, goods are to be increasingly transported by rail and waterway.

"Rail motorways": from the roads to the railways

Globalization results in goods being transported over ever longer distances. And this is exactly where freight trains can deploy their strength. An increasing number of shippers are discovering rail freight as an economically efficient and environmentally friendly alternative to the road. Here, the railways can either be used for the whole transport route or for a segment of the route. The Federal Government is supporting private sector companies in the construction of new and upgrading of existing transhipment facilities – these are facilities where goods are transferred from one means of transport to another – with up to 80 percent of their investment costs. Moreover, shippers who want to shift goods to the railways can apply for financial aid for the construction, upgrading or reactivation of a private siding ("Guidelines on Funding for the Construction, Upgrading and Reactivation of Private Sidings").

"Water highways": from the roads to sea, rivers and canals

In addition to the railways, the waterborne mode – both maritime and inland waterways transport – is a good alternative to the road. Transport by cargo ship may not be as fast as by HGV or freight train. But it is all the more energy-efficient. Together with the coastal states and the coastal economy, the Federal Ministry of Transport is undertaking efforts to make it more attractive to select transport by waterway in comparison with the road. Thus, as early as 2001, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure and six federal states, associations and companies in the maritime sector founded the German "ShortSeaShipping Promotion Center" (SPC Deutschland). The contact point provides free and neutral advice to interested companies in the freight industry on options for shifting freight movements to the waterways.

further information

Once or twice a year, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure hosts network conferences. Source: BMVI

Transport policy must be transparent

Events staged by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure on freight transport and logistics

The Federal Ministry of Transport wants to make its transport policy as transparent as possible for all citizens in Germany. At events staged together with the freight transport industry, logistics experts from companies and the public sector exchange views and experience. With its events, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure succeeds in improving the image of the sector and the public acceptance of this industry.

National Freight Transport and Logistics Conference

Once a year, the Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure hosts a “National Freight Transport and Logistics Conference” that is open to all citizens. On two panels, participants from government and industry discuss current transport policy issues such as

  • the importance of high-performing infrastructure for Germany as a centre for logistics,
  • the necessary framework to counter the skilled labour shortage,
  • efficient transport infrastructure as well as sustainable logistics.

On the evening before the Conference after the opening speech, the Minister traditionally awards the Freight Transport and Logistics Higher Education Prize. 

Network conferences

How can the digitalization of logistics help to improve the reputation of the industry in the future? To what extent is liquefied natural gas (LNG) suitable for HGVs? Once or twice a year, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure hosts network conferences. At these conferences, the participants jointly present and discuss the current state of play of selected measures of the Freight Transport and Logistics Action Plan. The network conferences have proved successful as a complement to the "National Conference". They are well received by the industry, and the media report on the issues discussed there.