Ai interview - Franz Blum, General Manager, Vega International
The Austrian logistics firm Vega International Car Transport & Logistic Trading is a leader in the transportation of commercial vehicles in Europe. The bulk of its business consists of transporting large commercial vehicles such as trucks, buses and construction equipment. The company also ships cars but this constitutes a smaller segment of the company’s business. Some of Vega International’s clients include MAN, Scania, Volvo, Iveco, Renault and Mercedes.
The company, which was founded in 1990, has been highly successful in transporting new trucks. “This success is partly due to a new means of transportation embracing the application of custom made low-floor vehicles.
The beginning of the 90's saw truck manufacturers begin to build more and more roomy cabins to meet the driver’s space and comfort needs. As the cabins became more spacious, it also became more complex to transport them by traditional means of truck transportation. The lone option was to transfer them on their own axle, which was unwelcome by new truck purchasers. By using low-floor wagons, vehicles up to a height of four meters may be shipped. Through the support of this new transportation solution, we’ve progressively received development assignments for combined solutions, including Ro/Ro shipments. Irrespective of the number of items, we assume accountability of the entire transportation logistic, alongside monitoring between random distances,” says Vega International.
Vega International serves markets in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. It has hubs in cities like Salzburg and Ulm in Germany, Ghent in Belgium, Bucuresti in Romania and Istanbul in Turkey. The recent meltdown in the financial markets saw Vega International’s business take a dip but the company says it expects to regain lost ground this year. Vega International prides itself of offering the best service to customers – the vehicles it moves are treated as the company’s own property. The company has on its rolls over 700 experienced drivers who deliver the vehicles directly. Since the many of the commercial vehicles Vega International shifts are too large to load, they are delivered on their own axles. This means that the company is able to offer higher levels of flexibility to customers, with shorter lead times.
Vega International has relations with special rail providers which enables it to offer smart transport and logistic solutions by rail, in particular to use a large fleet of special equipment – these include low-floor wagons for vehicles of height of up to 4 meters. Vega International also uses shipping routes through a series of large shipping firms for moving vehicles.
Explains the company: “Therefore, we are able to offer shipment to any destination required by our customers. The main share are shipments within the Mediterranean. We have more than 20 tractors for the transportation of new or used trailers at our disposal. We guarantee the quickest and most reliable service in this sector, too. Whether it is a standard semi-trailer, megaliner or passenger car transportation trailer, they all can be hauled by our tractors. Any / all steps or developments are previously planned and our customers are informed. This results in high reliability and accuracy, notwithstanding complex workflows.”
Vega International has developed a system to constantly check the condition of vehicles it transports called the ‘Vega Vehicle Condition Report’ which helps keep continuous control on vehicles. The company uses the latest means of communication such as cell phones and satellite navigation systems to help customers keep track of their deliveries.
The biggest challenge for Vega International is to make sure deliveries are made on time, in a cost effective manner and with no damage to vehicles. The company uses its road, rail and sea routes equally and continuously works on getting the most effective delivery systems in different countries. Because many deliveries are made by having customer vehicles driven by Vega International’s drivers, the company has multi-lingual two-day training seminars for its drivers.
Plus it has a special training session for them in Ulm to ensure drivers adhere to all European guidelines. “Through watchful edifying assessment of our offices and locations, we’ve experienced a rapid business development and are continuously increasing our market share.
Since our inception, we’re continually being recognized and awarded for our environmental awareness solutions. As one of our major concerns, we’re continually investing into combined transportation as well as proposing strong solutions for our customer and our environment,” says the company.
Automotive Industries spoke to Franz Blum, General Manager, Vega International.
AI: What are Vega International’s leadership initiatives in providing new vehicle transportation and freight, utilizing efficient supply chain solutions?
VEGA is investigating each transport route on a total cost view, including environmental cost aspects. The proposal to the customer is than based on the total cost calculation and the most efficient solution is chosen. We are neutral to the mode of transport and combine different modes to the very best solution in all aspects.
AI: What are some of the environmental solutions Vega International offers?
VEGA has developed an environmental calculator, showing the environmental effects of each transport mode and selecting than the most efficient one.
AI: What are some of the advanced supply chain logistics your company offers?
We move new commercial vehicles to any destination required from our customers, even to job sites in Siberia or Central Asia. Doing it with our own equipment our drivers, we always can keep trace and give the customer real time information on the status of the cargo.
AI: What are Vega International’s automotive OEM/Tier I capabilities and what are your future objectives in this segment?
Being already release agent in some of the factories (like IVECO in Ulm)
We are able to offer one stop shop solutions to the OEM from the belt in the factory to any dealer or final customer worldwide.
AI: Tell us how much of your business comes from commercial vehicles and how much from passenger vehicles. Do you see the ratio shifting and if so, why is it changing?
95% is commercial vehicle, cars we are only handling to difficult destinations like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan etc.
AI: What are some of the issues of using your drivers to deliver vehicles? What percentage of your deliveries are made with this method?
In fact mainly it is a combination of different modes, always most effective in its environmental balance, like using the drivers just for the pre carriage and then do the long distance by rail or ro/ro. We have proven to the Industry that driving brand new trucks, with the most modern engine is environmentally much cleaner than loading them on
old equipment with a low loading factor.
AI: How was your company affected by the financial meltdown a couple of years ago? And how do you see business picking up this year?
The order intake for the commercial truck producers in Europe including Russia and Turkey went down 95% from November 2007 (46.000 units/month) to August 2009 (3000 units/month). Since than it is recovering slowly, but is still far behind the all time high. It has reached some 12.000/units per month expected to grow to 20.000 units/month within an unknown period. It was a huge challenge to adapt the company seize to this enormous downturn. The bus market in comparison was quite stable and helped the company to survive this very difficult period.