A holistic approach to reducing manufacturing carbon footprint takes into account the impact of the entire supply chain, which includes the delivery of vehicles to the customer. 
 
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Issue: Sep 2014


Greening of the logistics chain



Greening of the logistics chain

by Clifford Parish

 
 
A holistic approach to reducing manufacturing carbon footprint takes into account the impact of the entire supply chain, which includes the delivery of vehicles to the customer. 
 
VEGA International Car Transport and Logistic Trading is guided by its ethos of a “World of Green Logistics”. Projects focused on cutting emissions include driver training, route planning and extensive use of the Deutsche Bahn railway network. According to VEGA, in 2013 the company clocked 1.85 million train kilometers which used 100% green electricity. The company says its contribution to the environment in 2013 was a saving of 3.420 tons of CO2. 
 
In order to cater for the increasing size of commercial vehicles over the years VEGA has pioneered the use of multimodal logistics chains which include road, roll-on roll-off ships and rail solutions. Using special low-bed rail wagons makes it possible to transport vehicles with heights of up to four meters. VEGA’s customers are primarily OEMs such as MAN, Mercedes, Scania, Iveco, Volvo and Schmitz Cargobull. The company has subsidiaries and representatives in Germany, Benelux, Czech Republic, Croatia, Russia, Romania and Turkey. VEGA International handles the entire transport logistics process, including clearing. VEGA’s shipping department collaborates with the main shipping companies and is able to offer shipments to any destination required. Around 50,000 commercial vehicles are transported every year – most on their own axle – by up to 800 specially trained drivers. The firm also offers other services for the commercial vehicle industry such as warehousing, refurbishing, and release agency. 
 
A close cooperation with RCA (Rail Cargo Austria) enable VEGA to establish its own railroad sidings and built up block trains wherever there is sufficient volume for routes in Europe and Central Asia. VEGA says the main bulk of shipments are within the Mediterranean region. “VEGA is located in Austria, but 95% of its turnover is made with international truck and bus movements, so the export value chain is very significant. This has been regarded as an excellent performance by the Austrian Chamber of Commerce. In particular as our company is very successful in emerging markets like Turkey and Russia” said Franz Blum, General Manager, VEGA International in an earlier interview with Automotive Industries. 
 
The company’s innovations include the use of bubble foil which helps reduce damage from stone hits and the sun while the vehicle is being transported. The product has reduced the damages by stone hits from 25% per bus to almost 0%. Windshields are protected by an elastic and fully transparent self–attaching foil, which can be taken off easily after the bus has arrived at the final destination. 
 
One of the biggest challenges facing VEGA today is human resources. The company says that young people are not opting to join the industry. Stringent European driver license regulations also play a role in making truck driving as a profession less attractive. Therefor, employee training is at the forefront of the VEGA HR program. The drivers are a critical part of the company’s sustainable business philosophy. Today VEGA International, along with its subsidiary operations and branches, has approximately 800 experienced truck and bus operators and 120 in-house employees at its headquarters in Salzburg. 
 
The company has devised its own way of making daily life easier for its drivers. It has developed a multilingual training video with all the important information drivers need. Drivers are also regularly updated on border and toll documentation, and the handling of official enquiries. They are trained to provide first aid support in emergencies. 
 
Adds Blum: “VEGA has invested extensively into a modern infrastructure all over Europe, especially in logistically well-located hubs for the commercial truck manufacturers, as well as in skills training. The VEGA motto: ‘Excellence is our driver’ is a companywide program to drive permanent improvement and innovation. One of our logistic hubs has even become the delivery center for Daimler trucks, where we deliver the Daimler trucks to the final customers.” 
 
Automotive Industries (AI) asked Blum to detail some of the green initiatives VEGA has undertaken. 
 
Blum: Beside the major savings by using railway for the transport of the commercial vehicles – and our drivers as passengers – the most important is the permanent reduction of fuel consumption. This can be achieved with special driver training and incentives given during our annual driver awards, where excellent performance in fuel saving and damage performance is used to identify and incentivize the top 10 drivers of the company. 
 
AI: What role do your employees play in the company’s quest for sustainable logistics? 
 
Blum: The employees are the key to any company’s success. Our slogan “Excellence is our driver” is a real challenge to the whole organization and the human beings are the major factor to achieve this goal. The aim is that the slogan is lived in any action done inside and outside the company, always benchmarking on the very best performance you could do. 
 
AI: How has VEGA managed to hire and more importantly retain employees – especially drivers?
 
Blum: This is a key issue for the success and the sustainable future of the company. We have established our own driver academy to bring younger people to the job. The academy is taking people under a three month trainee program, and is upgrading their car driving license to a full truck and bus driver license. 
 
AI then asked Peter Blum, operations manager VEGA International Car Transport and Logistic Trading how the logistics industry has changed – especially in the movement of vehicles. 
 
Blum: Factories are no longer a storage area for finished vehicles. The collection of produced units within 12/24 or 48 hours of coming off the production line is monitored very closely by the industry and performance is not allowed to be less than 98% ! Therefore, our flexibility on timing and volume is very important. 
 
AI: What are some of the developments in the automotive industry that has changed the way VEGA does business? 
 
Blum: Tied up capital became a major driver of the industry. The overall lead time from customer order to customer delivery needs to be as short as possible, and our job is to secure the shortest possible lead time from factory to dealer, once the truck/ bus is produced. 
 
AI: Where do you see your company’s future growth? 
 
Blum: There is growing demand for truck and trailer transport, and also opportunities on inbound cargo. Geographically, certainly India and China have the biggest potential. We have started moving trailers on the Silk Road from Europe to China, as well as trucks and buses from Chinese OEMs into Russia  
 


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