The term "freight transport and logistics" or "freight transport logistics" defines all action that is necessary to provide goods in the right amount, the right condition, at the right time and at minimal cost, in keeping with requirements. It thus involves cross-sectoral activities that do not include production processes.
Freight transport and logistics are a pre-condition and at the same time a "consequence" of economic and social action. They are the backbone of the manufacturing industry that is characterized by division of labour. Efficient logistics systems and networks are therefore a key factor of success for businesses and business locations in international competition.
As the most significant industrial nation and as a transit country in the centre of an enlarged Europe, Germany faces a special challenge: the efficiency of its transport system must continuously be improved in order to strengthen its economy, to back structural changes and to promote sustainable development. For this, appropriate, high-performance transport infrastructure, networks and hubs are needed that meet both modal and intermodal needs.
Germany as a centre for logistics
The German freight logistics sector is currently the largest in Europe. The 2005 turnover is estimated to be around 170 billion euros. This is around 7 percent of German GDP (Gross Domestic Product). The turnover of the freight logistics sector comes third after the retail trade and the automotive industry, with an estimated 2.5 million employees. The logistics market is a very vibrant market of the future, growing at a disproportionately high rate.
The competence of the domestic logistics industry is a decisive factor for Germany's competitiveness as a business location as well as the efficiency of its modes of transport and the way they are interlinked: road, rail, water, air and the way they are combined at logistics hubs like freight villages, airports, sea ports and inland ports. Such hubs can help to build efficient intermodal transport chains and networks.
Challenges of a growing logistics sector
Today the development of infrastructure can only keep up with the need for mobility to a certain extent. It is therefore a key objective of integrated transport policy to shape and use infrastructure in a safer, more intelligent and more efficient way. Interconnection of infrastructure, information and organization is a pre-condition for Germany to master the challenges of globalization on the one hand and to embrace the opportunities provided by the rapidly growing freight and logistics markets on the other hand. At the same time Germany must face the challenges of making freight transport more environmentally-, climate- and resource- friendly.
Innovative approaches are further required that make the creation of seamless logistics and information chains possible. An interaction of all stakeholders makes it possible to offer customers one-stop shops and it creates substantial competitive advantages. Especially an interconnection between existing technologies and innovative processes can lead to new services that can be marketed worldwide.
Germany is an important, leading international business location that can secure and expand its competitive position significantly by optimising logistics and value added chains based on the division of labour. Strengthening Germany as a European and international logistics hub is only possible if all stakeholders from industry, the scientific community, government, associations and public authorities work together. The "Freight Transport and Logistics Masterplan" is designed to make a contribution towards this.