EUROMETAL distributors urge rethink of supply chain

Stockholders, service centres and traders find that the supply chain is suffering from both a lack of synchronicity in using modern media, and from the pressure for just-in-time delivery.  At this week’s Eurometal International Steel Trade Day in Hamburg attended by Kallanish, representatives gave examples of the soft spots in the chain, and of possibly remedies.

Dirk Müller of Rheinkraft Logistics drew a theoretical “… balanced system” of factors such as costs, infrastructure or transport planning. This is affected by factors that lead to a progressive instability of the system. Some such factors are the increasing complexity of customers’ requirements and of processes, less time for transport and – of most concern just lately – a shortage of truck drivers.

The suggestion of shifting more material from truck to train was dismissed by delegates because “… at the moment, the reliability of trains and barges is not what the customers expect.”

Regarding the efficiency of sea ports, one manager said that a given Rotterdam terminal receives 200-300 trucks on peak days, with many drivers that speak neither Dutch, German or English. “We would have then to expand our working hours until 8 p.m., but then the receivers in Germany have their deadline at 2 p.m., so it’s not doable.”

Alexander Julius of Macrometal

While Rheinkraft came up with an app for logistics, Müller noted that there are a substantial number of apps now used by various players. Alexander Julius of Macrometal noted that the sender does not always communicates with the receiver at a port which has long queues and drivers arriving at the wrong terminals.

This all makes the “… unpopular” job of a truck driver even more complicated, with an obligation to deal with apps for port terminals and country-specific requirements like road tolls. “On the one hand, the truck driver is a dying species, but those who remain need to be astronauts,” one commentator said.