Mr. Pein, although you work in a shipping company, your job also involves transporting goods on roads and railways. What exactly is intermodal all about?
Intermodal transport is about devising an optimal transport chain for our customers and arranging the modes of transport that are suitable for it – on a worldwide scale. The fact is that a significant share of the contracts that we handle as Hamburg Süd first have to be transported to or away from the respective seaport. For example, Hamburg Süd organizes and carries out the pre- and on-carriage for roughly one third of all its container transports in Europe – and this share is even larger in other regions of the world. From Rotterdam and Hamburg, we use trains, trucks, feeders or barges to get the cargo to its final destination – be it to the next depot or right up to our customers’ doorsteps.
What’s special about what Hamburg Süd offers?
When it comes to intermodal transports, Hamburg Süd focuses on close collaboration with reliable partners throughout the world. The advantage of doing so is that our partners are experts in their respective areas – both professionally and geographically. And they make it possible for us to be particularly flexible – because for every contract, we can choose from the entire network. That makes it easier to react, even on short notice, and to adjust individual transportation stages or destinations, if necessary. This means our customers don’t have to handle complex transportation chains themselves, but can instead rely on Hamburg Süd to make sure that their cargo reaches its destination safely, with the shortest transit time, and on time.
What’s the real advantage of having Hamburg Süd handle the pre- and post-carriage transport?
The customer can efficiently outsource virtually the entire transport chain to us. We have fixed and competent customer service representatives from the first to the last meter of the transport. In this case, Hamburg Süd’s region setup is especially advantageous because the conditions for intermodal transports differ greatly depending on the region. As a customer, if you aren’t really familiar with the local conditions, something that was meant to reduce costs can quickly result in the opposite. Hamburg Süd has roughly 150 employees across the world working on intermodal issues. This allows customers to benefit from our in-depth market knowledge, which is crucial for good advice on the transport and the handling of it.
Can you give us an example?
When it comes to intermodal solutions, the world is extremely varied. Whereas in India we almost only operate with the railway, in China we primarily use the major waterways, such as the Yangtze. And, in the UK, we almost exclusively use the roads. On top of that, we keep an eye on what the customers’ priorities are for each contract – be it an attractive price or a transport chain customized to the meter and minute, where the focus is on speed. Whenever possible, we also rely on eco-friendly means of transportation and develop tailored, long-term transport models, such as ones with short, precisely timed transhipping periods for reefer cargo. We can also adjust these models according to the season. But, in this way, we also find short-term solutions for individual containers that are especially time-sensitive.
What’s your favorite part of the job? And what makes a “good day at work” for you?
What’s extremely exciting for me is the overlap of the traditional business of a shipping company and global logistics, as well as the fact that we’re constantly working to optimize our service portfolio. For example, in the UK, we use PARIS, an integrated system for transport planning that results in high efficiency. On top of that, we are always designing our tracking to be more precise. For example, we recently expanded last-mile reporting from North America to Central and South America as well as Europe. This gives customers the best possible monitoring of their transport chains. And, in a nutshell, a good day at work is when I don’t hear anything. That’s when I know that everything is running smoothly in the transport chain of my customers.
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