Binderholz: Europe's market leader for solid wood products relies on the RCG

13. 02. 2019

"The competitive advantages of rail in freight transport clearly speak for themselves."

In Fügen im Zillertal, the headquarters of the binderholz Group, we met Martin Sigl, Head of Logistics, for a discussion.

Rail Cargo Group: Mr Sigl, the binderholz Group operates locations in Austria, Germany and Finland. Which products are produced here at the main plant in Fügen?

Martin Sigl: With around 2,750 employees, the binderholz Group is one of Europe's market leaders for solid wood products and innovative construction solutions. The seven sawmills in Austria, Germany and Finland process more than five million solid cubic meters of logs each year. At our headquarters in Fügen, Germany, we mainly produce sawn timber, profiled timber, single-layer boards and pellets.

Climate and environmental protection are becoming increasingly important. What role does the RCG play in this?

Martin Sigl: The transport route by rail naturally plays a very important role for us as a wood processing company, because an industrial sawmill cannot be operated economically without a railway connection. This is why we have been a very satisfied customer of the RCG for many years. Our plant in Fügen processes around one million solid cubic metres of logs each year. A considerable part of this is delivered to Jenbach by rail.

We currently have 4,000 wagons a year. This means around 10,000 truck journeys, which are avoided here.

Martin Sigl, Head of Logistics, binderholz Group

But we also rely on the services of the RCG on the outgoing side. Every week one or two trains transport wood chips from Jenbach to Styria. At present we have around 60 trains per year which are loaded with a total of around 162,000 cubic metres of wood chips. This means around 2,000 fewer truck trips on the road. With a distance of around 360 kilometers per trip, that is over 720,000 kilometers that are avoided. In 2019, the volume will increase to around 100 trains. In total, this means 3,375 truck journeys or more than 1.2 million kilometres that will be shifted from road to rail.

Which products are mainly transported by rail?

Martin Sigl: The bandwidth here is very wide. Starting with round timber, which is delivered by rail, we naturally transport a large number of products such as sawn timber, profiled timber, glulam or cross laminated timber BBS by rail. Our goal is clearly defined here: We work closely with the RCG to obtain new goods and routes that can be transported by rail in the future.

What are the advantages of rail transport for you?

Martin Sigl: We have a natural raw material and produce ecological products. That's why we see it as our responsibility to make transport as ecological as possible. Our customers also see this very positively. In addition, rail also has clear advantages over road in freight transport. There are no transport restrictions on the roads, such as block handling, night driving bans, Sunday and holiday bans or sectoral driving bans. This is a competitive advantage where the railways are clearly ahead.

Is it possible to say in how many countries the products are exported to?

Martin Sigl: I can answer this question very easily. The products of the binderholz Group are exported to all continents of the world by rail, road and sea.

What factors play a role in making rail freight transport even more attractive in the future and what would have to be done to convince even more companies to use rail for freight transport?

Martin Sigl: The economic situation is currently very good. According to forecasts, the volume of freight is expected to grow by 40 percent over the next 12 years. If the capacities on the railways are not increased, a traffic collapse on the roads is inevitable. So the railways are of great importance both in terms of capacity and ecology. The railways have great opportunities here to become more attractive. First and foremost, it is important to avoid empty kilometres in the future in order to be able to offer competitive transport costs compared to road transport, because one major cost factor is kilometres without freight, i.e. without payload. The railways should therefore make use, among other things, of the possibility of transferring large volumes of freight transport to the railways by means of online supported transport platforms. The goods are collected from the manufacturer by truck with a rail-capable trailer. The goods are then transported most of the way by rail and at the end of the transport route they are transported by truck to the customer or customer. The truck's preliminary leg, the main leg by rail, the truck's subsequent leg, would be the ideal transport chain for transferring large volumes of goods to the railways. In the future, we will have to work together more intensively on this.

f.l. Martin Sigl, Head of Logistics binderholz Group and Martin Mairhofer, Key Account Manager of Rail Cargo Group –  around 1 million cubic metres of solid logs are processed annually at the plant in Fügen, the headquarters of the binderholz Group. A considerable part of this is delivered to Jenbach by rail.