24 April 2020 14:12
Froneri Schöller distributes ice cream using their own fleet of Actros trucks
Vehicle & Technology
Ice cream has to get to the point of sale as quickly as possible. Froneri Schöller deals with this to a large extent with their own trucks. The manufacturer puts its trust in the Actros when it comes to long-distance haulage.
The ice age was all about the history of the earth and spanned unimaginably long periods of time. The ice cream season, however, conjures up images of summer and tasty treats on a terrace or next to the pool. Be it on sticks, in cornets or in a sundae dish: the Germans love ice cream! Each year, the ice-cold treat tempts the average German into eating around eight litres – this unit is the industry's measure of the love of ice cream. Whether it rains all summer long or whether there's a financial crash, none of that plays a role: the figures have hardly changed since the beginning of the millennium – the ice cream season remains the ice cream season!
A large portion of the yearly demand is produced at the Froneri Schöller plant in Uelzen in Germany's Lower Saxony region. The first half of the relatively young business with its double name is the result of two big moves on the ice cream market: 2002 saw Schöller taken over by Nestlé. "In October 2016, Nestlé and the British manufacturer Richmond & Roncadin founded the Froneri joint venture and, among other things, merged their respective ice cream businesses," explains Uwe Betz, Head of Transport Management and thus the man responsible for getting ice cream onto our streets.
"Sticking to the customers' delivery windows – which incidentally are getting tighter year in, year out – is of utmost importance to us. There can be no downtimes."
Uwe Betz, Head of Transport Management at Froneri Schöller GmbH
The second part of the name comes from the traditional manufacturer which once produced a video advert wishing everyone a "Happy Ice Cream Season". The previous brand Nestlé Schöller remains unchanged – and the new Froneri Schöller GmbH joint venture has since started production under licence in Uelzen.
Be it a classic Schöller ice cream cornet like a "Nucki Nuss", the latest "Pirulo Pineapple" or tubs of Mövenpick ice cream which are also produced in Uelzen: the vast majority of the products leaving the production lines here are destined for sale in inner-cities. In principle there are two sales channels. "The first takes the ice cream to supermarkets via their distribution centres," explains Betz.
The destinations of the second sales channel are the seven regional warehouse facilities which are run on behalf of Froneri Schöller by a specialist service provider. "From there, predominantly light-duty trucks and vans from our local distribution network bring the products to snack bars, kiosks and restaurants." The logistics of the fleet is managed in Nuremberg where the Froneri Schöller GmbH headquarters are located.
The flagships of the fleet are the long-distance haulage trucks with which the ice cream is transported to the distribution centres and the regional warehouse facilities. These 46 trucks are all Actros trucks, without exception! A conscious decision according to Willibald Blank.
He is the fleet manager at Froneri Schöller and thus responsible for all technical requirements pertaining to the vehicle fleet. Uwe Betz adds: "As a manufacturer of so-called 'fast-moving consumer goods', sticking to the customers' delivery windows – which incidentally are getting tighter year in, year out – is of utmost importance to us. There should be as little vehicle downtime as possible – what helps us here is the complete package from Mercedes-Benz."
A central characteristic of this complete package for fleet managers is the high reliability of the trucks. However, should there ever be a defect, the comprehensive service network from Mercedes-Benz means that rapid and reliable support is on hand. "We of course also look at economic aspects: be that consumption, residual value or other modalities as part of the vehicle return at the end of the leasing contract. All in all, according to Willibald Blank: "Over the decades, we've established a very good partnership".
A partnership which, in the current decade, has also led to the company taking part in four rounds of driver testing with the latest respective engine generations for the Actros. Most recently, Froneri Schöller tested the compact second-generation OM 470 engine at the beginning of 2016. "As part of this, it was clear that its maximum output of 315 kW is already available at 1600 rpm instead of at 1800 rpm as with the predecessor. That offers better driving comfort. The consumption is also noticeably lower." Since the tests, 19 Actros trucks with the new engine have been added to the fleet.
Besides the long-distance haulage trucks, the Froneri Schöller GmbH fleet comprises around 250 light-duty trucks and vans for further transport of the products from the regional warehouses. Here too, the share of Mercedes-Benz vehicles is also high: three in four vehicles are Atego and Sprinter vehicles with refrigerated bodies in which the ice cream is transported at temperatures of at least –18 degrees, as is also prescribed for all frozen foods in Germany, incidentally. "An unbroken cold chain is the be-all and end-all," says Blank, who regularly meets with refrigerated systems manufacturers and bodybuilders in order to drive forward even more energy-efficient refrigerated solutions.
But why does an ice cream manufacturer even need its own fleet for deliveries? After all, the company could have a haulage firm look after this aspect for them – as is the case for the supply of ice cream raw materials at the Uelzen plant. "The strongly seasonal nature of our business is what allows us to keep our own fleet," explains Uwe Betz.
"Between March and August, we send up to 60 trucks onto the roads daily. And we can't rely on being able to cover such high capacity demands using haulage firms alone."
However, in the cooler months, the team loads just 10 to 15 trucks on a daily basis. At this time of year where ice cream sales are kept within limits, Uelzen produces predominantly in readiness for the up-coming season. After being packaged, a large part of the products move on to the partially automated high-bay warehouse with its Arctic temperatures of –23 degrees.
Particularly in such periods, the fleet isn't just used for the manufacturer's own products, but also for those of third parties. "We run our transport division partially as a haulage firm and deliver, for example, ice cream that our new Group affiliate Froneri produces in its Osnabrück production facilities." Friends of the delicious ice cream season can only approve of these extensive efforts to guarantee a sufficient supply of ice cream at any time in the supermarket or at the pool.
Photos: Christian Schmid