A Return Ticket – Shanghai and Back - Wacker Chemie AG

A Return Ticket – Shanghai and Back

WACKER uses containers to send its products all over the world – with the disadvantage, however, that more intermodal containers leave the plant loaded with products than come back filled with raw materials. Thanks to an award-winning strategy, the Group has greatly reduced the need to ship in empty containers to its plant – an outcome that demonstrates how well WACKER manages its global logistics.

The Burghausen combined road and rail terminal that started operations in 2014 can process up to 40,000 so-called transshipments (between trucks and rail cars) per year.

With a monotone rumble, freight train No. 50337 from Hamburg grinds to a halt at the Burghausen combined road and rail terminal. The loaded maritime containers arrive right on time at this transshipment station, which is located in the Bavarian Chemical Triangle and situated just under one kilometer from the WACKER site. Nevertheless, there are no long lines of trucks waiting for containers to arrive here, and for the logistics specialists at WACKER, that is not just an advantage – it also poses a real challenge.

What visitors do not see at first glance is that most of the containers on train No. 50337 are empty. The containers are shipped from the northern German ports of Hamburg and Bremerhaven to Burghausen, where container scarcity is a chronic problem. One of the reasons for having to send empty containers on the freight train is a logistical imbalance. Business in the region around Burghausen – known as the Bavarian Chemical Triangle due to the chemical sector’s strong presence there – is highly export-driven. Twenty-five companies with around 20,000 employees produce over €10 billion in goods here, a considerable portion of which is shipped overseas.

Each year, the WACKER plant alone ships out some 14,000 containers filled with products manufactured in Burghausen. By contrast, only 3,500 containers of raw materials – mostly metallurgical-grade silicon – arrive at the plant, which explains the need for the empty containers that play such a crucial role in exporting chemical products. Dr. Thomas Bronnert, WACKER’s head of logistics, is using his integrated logistics strategy to combat the problem.