30 August 2019 22:04
Mercedes ServiceCard: Fehrenkötter uses intelligent solutions to transport agricutural machinery
Fehrenkötter relies on smart solutions – like the flatbed trucks of their own design that they use for transporting agricultural machinery. And the Mercedes ServiceCard* also makes their work easier.
It’s a cloudy morning in the yard of the company Fehrenkötter Transport & Logistik GmbH. The “Mercedes-Benz Transport” team has spotted a brand new tractor as a suitable backdrop for a portrait of managing director Joachim Fehrenkötter. Only the vehicle with tyres the height of a grown man is not positioned exactly where the photographer would like it to be. “No problem, I’ll drive it over here for you,” says the entrepreneur and climbs behind the wheel. In just a few words the man has given us a feel for how things get done here: not by waiting around, but by tackling things head-on
It is an attitude that has always played a major role in the company’s success story. “My father Robert invented the flatbed rig that we used for a great many of our transport jobs in the early 1970s. It was the basis for significant growth,” says Fehrenkötter, who runs the company in the third generation.
The 50-year-old employs a staff of 210 at the forwarding agency headquarters in Ladbergen and at another location near Stuttgart. His fleet consists of about 160 trucks, almost all of them made by Mercedes-Benz. Added to that are the 400 employees working for the personnel services company Fehrenkötter Personaldienstleistungen GmbH.
Tractors and agricultural machinery such as mowers, trailers as well as caravans, make up a considerable part of the cargo carried by Fehrenkötter. The trailers of the flatbed rigs are designed in such a way that they can be loaded quickly so that the driver is able to fully secure the load by himself. Frequently the rigs are loaded with new passenger cars or vans. Lowbed trailers are available for transporting extra-large vehicles. There are also consignments of veteran and vintage cars and demonstration vehicles that need to be moved inside closed trailers. “We make deliveries throughout Europe,” says Joachim Fehrenkötter.
Value-added tax is incurred on an ongoing basis: whenever the drivers have to pay for something, for example when filling up, parking or driving through tunnels. While the entrepreneur is able to recoup these taxes, he says: “It’s a complex area, and sometimes one could get the impression that it’s made so quite arbitarily. “That’s when it pays to have professionals to do the work!” These professionals handle the VAT refund process on his behalf – as one of the many services provided by the Mercedes ServiceCard, which the entrepreneur books for every one of his trucks.
“We’ve been using the Mercedes ServiceCard virtually from the moment it was first launched,” says Joachim Fehrenkötter. The Münsterland-based company makes extensive use of the card, which is issued in cooperation with the company UNION TANK Eckstein GmbH & Co. KG (UTA) – to pay road tolls, for example. “And our drivers appreciate the fact that it lets them fill up without having to pay cash virtually anywhere in Europe.” The Mercedes ServiceCard is accepted for payments at over 44 000 diesel fuel stations.
The Fehrenkötter trucks operate on routes that are arranged ad hoc, on the basis of incoming orders. This requires a considerable effort on the part of the dispatchers, whose desks in Ladbergen are located side-by-side – an effort the entrepreneur plans to reduce with the help of digitisation.
“For instance, for one of our major customers we have set up a portal through which we can handle the entire dispatch control.” The time saved here can be used for even more intensive communication with the customers – resulting in a further optimisation of the services. “My dream is for us to end up with fully digitised operational processes,” says Fehrenkötter. There is every chance that this will not remain just a dream for too much longer!
* Mercedes ServiceCard is not applicable to the UK market.
Photos: Christian Schmid