Issue: Apr 2018


New system for multimodal rail services reduces logistics carbon footprint



by Clifford Parish


A Vega block train with r2L innovation passing Salzburg main station.

Optimizing the use of rail, sea and road through multimodal logistics chains has been proven to help OEMs reduce their overall carbon footprint, according to Franz Blum, Executive Director of VEGA International (Vegatrans).


He was commenting on the results of a detailed internal environmental study, which found that Vegatrans completes over 90% of all movements of vehicles utilizing environmentally friendly transportation methods. The company has been one of the biggest carriers of commercial vehicles in Europe since 1990.


“In the world of green logistics, we assess our solutions based on how environmentally friendly the entire process is. Transportation by rail is an especially important part of the equation. Green logistics has been part of the VEGA company philosophy for years, even before it was a buzzword. Our ship and train solutions in particular have helped us save over a million tons of CO2 over the past 28 years. We are looking forward to actively continuing to protect the environment by the ongoing expansion of our world of green logistics,” he says.


The study found that Vegatrans saves around 3,000 tons a year of emissions by using different rail solutions. Whole (block) trains are included in the service portfolio, along with solutions for less than full trains. Vegatrans has also been utilizing the “highway on the water” since the inception of the company, delivering bus chassis and trucks to Turkish importers by ship. By taking the vehicles off road and on to rail for inland delivery Vegatrans has been able to significantly reduce road mileage, it says.
“Thanks to the outstanding cooperation with different rail operators, we can lay claim to multiple awards for active environmental protection. Yet it is not enough to just talk about it, it has to be acted upon. We don’t need a green ribbon. We live and breathe environmental responsibility! In addition, VEGA joined the UN global compact in 2017. Since our UN Global Compact Membership, we started our CSR certification process and recently became the fifth Austrian company to qualify for Corporate Social Responsibility certification,” adds Blum.


VEGA says it prides itself on keeping standards high by initiatives such as the VEGA-Driver Academy, which was founded in 2014 by Thomas Schinagl. Its goal is to provide ongoing training to the company drivers and to stay current with the always-increasing requirements of the industry. “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,” said Blum in an earlier AI interview.


VEGA delivers vehicles worldwide. It has subsidiaries and representatives in Germany, Benelux, Czech Republic, Croatia, Russia, Romania, Turkey, Georgia, Italy and Azerbaijan, among others. Services encompass the entire transport logistics process, including clearing. Around 75,000 commercial vehicles are transported by Vegatrans every year – by up to 1,000 specially trained drivers. The firm also offers other services such as warehousing, refurbishing and clearing.


A close relationship with different rail and shipping lines, as well as an innovation partnership with car carrier manufacturer KTT (Kaessbohrer Transport Technik) enables VEGA to organize the daily movement of vehicles as “greenly” as possible. “By working together with all partners of the European Car Transport Group of Interest (ECG), we have access to a large fleet of special transport trailers for the transportation of automobiles and commercial vehicles. This partnership puts us in the position of being able to service all destinations in Europe and beyond. This is another area where we can transport vehicles with the best service possible. We are in the position of being able to move large volumes with the innovative use of trains in connection with trailers,” says Vegatrans.


Automotive Industries (AI) asked Blum what makes the company’s transport solutions stand out from the rest.


Blum: It is a combination of experience and innovation, as well as a motivated and highly flexible team.


AI: Please tell us about your use of rail.


Blum: We have always seen rail as an important and very environmentally-friendly way of moving commercial vehicles. The problem was that the rail equipment (special low bed wagons) were very expensive, and could only be used in a block train. Very often the volume to certain directions is insufficient to fill a train. Another challenge with block trains is that the wagons run on smaller wheels than the standard wagon. These wheels are not permitted on a number of lines in Europe. In response to these challenges we developed the multimodal r2L (roadrailLink) service.


AI: Are you planning to extend this throughout Europe?


Blum: Yes, the service is suitable for the whole of Europe and elsewhere in the world. It also allows for the combination of different kinds of goods in the same logistics chain.


AI: What are some of the innovations VEGA International is bringing to the automotive industry?


Blum: The r2L platform allows the combination of all kind of automotive products to be loaded on rail inside the intermodal rail system. Cars, vans, trucks, buses and trailers can now be loaded onto standard intermodal rail wagons, and the whole network of existing trains can be used, even if we have a load for only one wagon. This means we are more flexible volume-wise and do not need a full train to move automotive goods.


AI: How will this impact transport logistics in the automobile industry?


Blum: There is a growing focus on CO2 savings in outbound logistics. Our r2L platform helps reduce CO2, NOX and particle emissions throughout the outbound logistics chain.


AI then asked Peter Blum, Operations Manager, VEGA International, how the company slogan “driven by innovation” translates into actual operations.


Blum: “Driven by innovation” is a simple synonym for constant improvement in all area, starting from internal processes such as IT, our corporate social responsibility or just simply implementing new tools to support our daily work!


AI: How has your company changed the way commercial vehicles, buses, trailers and cars are transported globally?


Blum: With our large network of drivers in Europe we created a service which is almost unbeatable when it comes to flexibility, lead time and number of movements per day. Through our multimodal approach we are shifting more and more vehicles onto rail.


AI: How seriously does VEGA take its environmental commitments?


Blum: Our priority is reducing the CO2 footprint of every shipment, and not solely on financial returns. Goals are set for the saving on CO2 emissions at the start of every year in order to ensure that we can provide sustainable transport solutions for the benefit of everyone.


AI: How have the recent security concerns in Turkey impacted VEGA’s operations?


Blum: In fact, we have not experienced any changes in our business relationships within Turkey, and the country’s economic growth seems to be stable. But, we are concerned about the developments inside Turkey, and manage the risks for our customers and Vegatrans accordingly.



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