Logistics and Transport
We constantly strive to improve our processes in order to optimize logistics chains and minimize shipment journeys or avoid unnecessary ones. Our Logistics department continuously analyzes the potential for optimizing transport routes and container/vehicle capacity utilization. We employ digital systems to support the increasing worldwide networking of supply flows. Thanks to logistical tracking systems, we are increasingly able to track our shipments in real time worldwide and to respond promptly to any problems. During the reporting period, the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated the difficult conditions in global transport markets due to capacity bottlenecks.
Efficient Transport Control System
The many in-house transport systems at our sites - over 900 per day in Burghausen alone - represent a huge organizational challenge. During the reporting period, we introduced the SyncroTess transport control system to efficiently manage the logistics of rail and road transport at the Burghausen and Nünchritz sites, as well as at Charleston, Tennessee, USA. All drivers of vehicles, from delivery trucks, through heavy goods vehicles to trains, will be provided with tablets in future to keep track of their orders. This measure shortens response times and the logistics processes can be better synchronized with production requirements. An optimization function allows the system to find shorter routes and avoid dead mileage. Training is available to teach employees how to use the software for reducing the amount of administration overhead for production staff, managers, engineers and all users of in-house transport.
WACKER uses a refined computational model for calculating all the transportation processes of the products from the sites to the customer. It is based on factors from “Cefic-ECTA Guidelines for Measuring and Managing CO2 Emissions from Freight Transport Operations.” Our carbon footprint report contains details on our transport-related emissions.
To monitor our journeys, we also follow the “guidelines for determining the carbon dioxide emissions associated with logistics operations” (relevant web content available in German only) issued by the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI). As well as checking carbon dioxide levels, we monitor noise emissions from the vehicles we use for our shipments.
At its production sites, WACKER processes raw materials from all over the world. We have developed a strategy for our supply chains that allows us to coordinate capacities for raw-material deliveries and exports, and to avoid empty space in containers. In addition, in our collaboration with shipping companies, our tendering for overseas imports and exports run in parallel. This allows us to assign containers for our raw-material deliveries that belong to the same shipping-company portfolio that we use for exports. The raw materials enter our train system in Hamburg; after the journey, the containers are unloaded at our sites and then loaded again directly for export. Transport of intermediates between our sites follows the same approach.
WACKER shipped a total of 2.31 million metric tons of finished and semi-finished products worldwide in 2020 (2019: 2.29 million metric tons). The Burghausen site is the Group’s biggest logistics hub. The volume shipped from here decreased slightly to about 880,000 metric tons (2019: 900,000 metric tons). Shipments totaled 31,000 truckloads and 10,000 overseas containers.
Wherever possible, we are switching from road to rail transport. Most of the freight containers that leave our sites in Germany are transported by rail to North Sea ports. WACKER’s 600-meter-long container train travels every day from Burghausen or Nünchritz to the ports in Bremerhaven and Hamburg. In Burghausen, we transport almost 100 percent of container shipments by rail.
We use the combined road and rail terminal in Burghausen (KTB; German-language website only). We ship silicon metal and other raw materials to our plants, and products to the ports, by rail. Every day, these container trains connect the Burghausen and Nünchritz plants with the ports in Hamburg, Bremerhaven and Wilhelmshaven. They also run between Trieste (Italy) and Burghausen once a week. Our freight containers are loaded directly onto container trains ex works.
Every year, some 7,700 containers laden with products leave our Nünchritz site and make the short journey to the nearby port of Riesa, from where they are transported to German seaports by rail and inland waterways. When we procure raw materials, they are primarily transported by rail, either in containers or tank cars. Where possible, we use emptied, cleaned raw-materials containers for product shipments. We thus avoid some 400 return transports of empty raw-materials containers every year and the same number of delivered empty containers for product shipments.
In our integrated production system, we transport products and byproducts from one plant to neighboring facilities by pipeline. For large quantities, the transport of products by pipeline is cost-effective, safe and emission-free. Ethylene, one of our most important raw materials, is piped to our Burghausen site from the adjacent OMV Deutschland site. The Ethylene-Pipeline South (EPS; German-language werbsite only) helps us to ensure the long-term availability of this key raw material. The 370-km pipeline, which runs west from Münchsmünster in Bavaria across Baden-Württemberg to Ludwigshafen in Rhineland-Palatinate, transports the raw ethylene without emissions and at very low energy expenditure.
Short Distances to Local Service Providers
Short distances to service providers and maximum avoidance of empty space in the containers help to minimize emissions and waste.
Our Nünchritz plant obtains cartridges for silicones from a packaging manufacturer in nearby Grossenhain among other sources. Burghausen obtains reusable IBCs (intermediate bulk containers) and drums from suppliers. We are increasingly using 1,000-liter IBCs for shipping silicone fluids and emulsions.
Our sites outside Germany, too, are taking measures to ensure short, efficient transport distances. As an alternative to tank containers and IBCs, we also use flexitanks to transport liquids to Brazil, China, India and the Middle East, for example. WACKER mounts the flexitanks in containers in such a way that, once the flexitank has been emptied, the container can be used for another cargo straight away, without having to be cleaned first.
Piston tanks are an environmentally sound alternative to transport drums for viscous products such as our silicone sealants. A moving internal piston pushes 25 metric tons of silicone sealant – equivalent to 125 steel drums – into the tank semitrailer during loading. Customers can connect the tank directly to their filling equipment and the piston pushes the product out of the tank. Several thousand metric tons of silicone sealant currently leave our Burghausen site in this way. WACKER’s sites outside Germany, too, procure mainly from regional suppliers to shorten transport distances.
We exchange electronic data with our shipping agents so that they can plan their trips as efficiently as possible and ensure their vehicles are always fully loaded. Our strategy of focusing on regional shipping agents helps avoid empty runs. It enables the agents responsible for a particular postal code area to plan return journeys in their region so that trucks are almost never partially laden.
Our annual assessment of shipping agents extends to their environmental performance. For example, we ask how their vehicles are rated in European emission standards (such as the Euro 5 exhaust emission standard). All our logistics service providers now only use Euro 5 category vehicles and higher.
Transport Routes to ChemDelta Bavaria
Among the major infrastructure projects in the ChemDelta Bavaria region are the electrification of the rail route to Munich and its expansion to two tracks. The Munich – Mühldorf – Freilassing route (German-language website only) is being gradually improved. A bottleneck in the rail connection, which dates from 1897, is the electrification of the stretch between Tüßling and Burghausen (German-language web content only).
We are involved in the “Magistrale für Europa” (Major Rail Route for Europe) initiative, which has been committed to the expansion of the rail connection between Paris and Budapest under the slogan “from patchwork to network.” The Munich – Mühldorf – Freilassing section lies on this route.
The expansion of the A 94 Munich to Passau autobahn (German-language website only) made further progress in the period under review. The last sections between Burghausen and Munich were finished in a public-private partnership (PPP). This section has been freely accessible since October 2018.