Nowatzki Logistik: special freight transport with the Actros
Economics & Logistics
Cumbersome, weighing tons, susceptible to damage and really urgent: unusual transport jobs are the bread-and-butter work of Nowatzki Logistik in Hildesheim, south of Hanover. The load is secured using an in-house developed system and transported directly in nothing less than the new Actros.
The man with the fork-lift truck gently places the cargo on to the truck's loading platform. Christopher Höveling treats the wooden frame as if it contains raw eggs. The actual contents are just as fragile: four curved elements for a parcel conveyor belt. Truck driver Höveling has laid out anti-slip mats before setting down the load. To provide additional support, he secures metal wedges to a perforated strip fixed flush to the platform. Finally he secures the load with straps. The 26-year-old driver works for Nowatzki Logistik in Hildesheim. One of the company's specialities is transporting easily-damaged goods.
"Lots of our jobs need special attention – on the part of the driver, and of the planners and coordinators. That can be because of the difficult timing, or tricky conditions when loading or unloading," explains Carsten Nowatzki: he runs the company together with his father Peter – they are both qualified freight forwarders – and his brother Lars, a business graduate. The freight company was founded in 1981. Today, the Nowatzkis employ about 110 staff, many of whom have been working with them for years. The fleet comprises about 30 trucks, plus approximately 30 trucks belonging to partner companies. The customers come from all types of business: machinery and equipment, automotive, construction, chemical, food, paper or metal businesses. On the premises of the partner company Nowatzki ProjektLogistik, there are about 20,000 square metres of warehouse space at a number of different locations. For example, there is a logistics centre for automobile suppliers, largely managed by Lars Nowatzki. All the services the company provides are based on "an intensively lived quality management system", says Carsten Nowatzki, with certification in compliance with ISO 9001:2008 and VDA 6.2.
In the transport sector, most customers are located in the Hildesheim region. The manufacturer of the curved parts, Transnorm System, is located only a few kilometres away. "Here, traditionally there are a lot of companies that do not offer standard goods or services, but highly specialised products in one way or another," says Nowatzki. "That explains why we positioned ourselves right from the start as problem-solvers and quality leaders." The drivers travel in Germany and just over the border in neighbouring countries. In many other countries, there are fixed partner freight companies working. Most of the freight business is done directly. "We distinguish ourselves from the classical system freight business." Outside the consolidated freight system, each consignment can be given individual attention. "The trucks are coordinated with precision to take on and deliver each consignment, particularly fragile cargo, and it is not endangered by a number of combined consignments or reloading. At the delivery destinations, we give priority to return loads from the suppliers of our customers, so we can function as a procurement logistics provider too."
One of the customers in the region is GreCon Dimter Holzoptimierung. The company's manufacturing facility is located in Alfeld/Leine, at the "Fagus" works. The premises, a Gropius building built in 1911, is a Unesco World Heritage Site. Höveling the driver, however, is only interested in the cargo he has to load on to the trailer of his drawbar combination: many metres long and weighing tonnes, it is a component of a finger-jointing machine for furniture manufacture. One of the staff members of the manufacturer slowly lowers the monster by crane. Just a few centimetres above the platform, the driver uses all of his strength to move it into the right position – before he expertly and carefully goes about securing the load.
Whether it is a finger-jointing line, goods in sacks that are difficult to secure, or a drinks machine: the cargo is secured by an innovative system that the Nowatzkis developed in collaboration with body manufacturers. Essentially, it consists of a number of perforated rails lengthwise and crosswise, together with reinforced, removable aluminium boards on the platforms. "A conventional body has about ten attachment points left and right. That means there are always securing belts running through the cargo area, which is a waste of space," explains Carsten Nowatzki. The perforated rails incorporate a total of about 600 points for belts and wedges or for safety nets, which we also developed ourselves." That means that each piece can be secured in the best way possible with no space wasted, and be free standing if necessary. Loads with different heights can stand next to each other too. For example, Höveling has placed slatted crates next to the curved conveyor belt parts. "A good example for how we also transport conventional cargo," says Nowatzki: "We also use double-decker systems. This mixture enables us to use all the truck capacity, making us cost-effective."
As regards cost-effectiveness, a contributing factor is the outstanding reliability of the seven new Actros trucks, all with Euro V specification and 310 kW of power. "This engine gives us optimum cost-effectiveness. As regards fuel efficiency, the new Actros means a big step forward," says Nowatzki. The seven trucks are equipped with all types of safety and assistance systems, from Proximity Control Assist to Lane Keeping Assist. The company, which maintains its own fleet in its own workshop, has used FleetBoard for years, for example to calculate and optimise consumption. Höveling has been given one of the new Actros trucks. "What I particularly like is the Mercedes PowerShift 3 automatic transmission. It enables perfectly fine-tuned shifting." But he also appreciates the roomy BigSpace cab.
Höveling completed his training with the company at the end of 2011 – and now he drives a brand-new truck. That shows how seriously the company takes its young staff. Because of the high-quality service provided, the company needs top drivers. "There are always seven to nine trainee truck drivers in the team," says Nowatzki. "We place great emphasis on intensive staff care and later on regular further training courses." That applies equally to the young commercial staff for haulage and logistics services, and to the young people training to be qualified warehouse logistics staff. This is because in coordination, and in storage and loading, the Nowatzkis need to be able to rely on excellently qualified staff.