Franz Pertl (Rohrdorfer) und Michael Fellier (RCG)

Rohrdorfer Cement

07. 02. 2019

"So we said this 200-ton delta wasn't an issue because we knew that RCG was doing everything it could."

Interview: Franz Pertl, Head of Procurement & Logistics, Rohrdorfer Zement

The Hatschek cement plant is part of the German Rohrdorfer Group and is located in Gmunden in Upper Austria. There we met Franz Pertl, Head of Procurement & Logistics, for a discussion.

Rail Cargo Group: Mr Pertl, the new, state-of-the-art unloading facility here in Gmunden was recently put into operation. Why did Rohrdorfer decide to invest in this facility?

Franz Pertl: We produce bulk goods, our main product is cement, a traditional product – whereby the ready-mixed concrete, sand, gravel and prefabricated parts segments are increasingly gaining in importance – and are a very transport- and energy-intensive company. Our approach is to constantly monitor logistics and our supply routes, because the market and thus also the traffic are constantly changing. Rohrdorfer is also investing massively in environmental protection and sustainability, and in logistics we naturally want to continue this idea. In addition, due to the enormous material requirements in the course of cement production, we only consider rail transport for the required bulk goods. That is why we decided to build the new unloading plant for granulated blast furnace slag here in Gmunden, which regulates the properties of the cement by mixing it with other materials. We currently produce modern building materials at over 120 locations in Germany, Austria, Italy and Hungary, so the optimisation of our logistics chain is a constant challenge for us, which we can only master and advance together with strong logistics partners – RCG is our largest logistics partner.

As the largest logistics partner, how many tons does the RCG transport on average for Rohrdorfer?

Pertl: RCG transports around 1 million tons of raw materials and additives annually on our behalf. At our Gmunden site alone, the RCG currently moves around 500,000 tons per year. The main relation is the transport of ballast from Ebensee to Gmunden. In total, around 400,000 tons of raw materials are transported each year. Thanks to the new unloading facility for granulated blast furnace slag, three block trains between Linz and Gmunden are now on the move every week. We are shifting a further 120,000 to 130,000 tons from road to rail and are relieving both the environment and local residents by saving around 9,600 truck journeys. Measures such as the construction of the unloading facility in Gmunden are always long-term and involve major investments. That is why a reliable partner is indispensable in logistics processing.

In addition to reliability, what else do you appreciate about your largest logistics partner?

Pertl: I have been with Rohrdorfer for many years now and have therefore known the RCG for a very long time. The interpersonal is optimal. You understand each other, you know what the other wants, or if things don't work out that way, you talk about it. I remember when RCG could drive a train with usually 1,200 tons with only 1,000 tons of load due to a construction site diversion. We said that this 200-ton delta wasn´t an issue because we knew that the RCG was doing everything it could to make a huge detour to deliver on time. We also appreciate that with the RCG we have an innovative partner at our side. For example, a special railway wagon – the Innowagen – was designed for the transport of blast furnace slag from Linz to Rohrdorf, enabling us to increase transport volumes by as much as 40 percent. On the other hand, the RCG has recognized the signs of the times: The huge quantities that we transport today could no longer be handled manually – we have to keep pace with digitization and develop modern solutions. That's what the RCG and we are doing.

And where do you see potential for improvement in rail freight transport?

Pertl: It is simply said that road transport must become more expensive, then automatically more is transported by rail and all problems are solved. It is not quite that simple, we should differentiate here: Where is the truck unavoidable, where do I even have the option of changing to rail, and where is rail to be preferred to road in any case? This always requires the appropriate infrastructure, such as a transshipment terminal. In principle, transport by rail should be at least as easy as by truck. Then it will be interesting for all companies. The railways should see this as an opportunity and design comprehensive logistics concepts, because only one train can travel from A to B for any rail transport company. The RCG distinguishes itself from the competition in this respect because it offers complete services: Loading, pre-carriage and onward carriage by truck, of course the main leg by rail, all the way to unloading at the plant. All in all, this is extremely valuable. And in the end everyone benefits from it – we as a customer, the RCG as a service provider, as well as the environment and the residents in the surrounding communities who benefit from relieved roads.