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Arctic temperatures on board.

On Greenland's ice cap, the average temperature in winter is -33°C. Cold, but not cold enough. Biopharmaceuticals from Boehringer Ingelheim must be transported at -40°C all around the globe, but how do you manage this far away from the polar caps? va-Q-tec developed a container in cooperation with the pharmaceutical company that masters this extreme performance.

The production sites of Boehringer Ingelheim are spread across the planet like a spider's web. Biopharmaceutical raw materials are produced in California, Shanghai and Vienna. "Can you imagine? It is almost like brewing beer," jokes Horst Langhammer, Head of Supply Chain Management & Logistic Projects at Boehringer Ingelheim. "You bring the relevant substances together in a fermenter and after the fermentation process takes place, you separate them from the waste products and obtain highly concentrated active ingredients". After production is completed, the active ingredients must be cooled to -40°C. At this temperature, cell division and decay of the molecules no longer takes place - the pharmaceutics are in a kind of cryosleep. Biberach an der Riß is the only site in the world that has the special preparation facilities. Here the active ingredient is thawed, enriched with water and filled into syringes as anti-rheumatic drugs, for example.

 

The production sites of Boehringer Ingelheim are spread across the planet like a spider's web. Biopharmaceutical raw materials are produced in California, Shanghai and Vienna. "Can you imagine? It is almost like brewing beer," jokes Horst Langhammer, Head of Supply Chain Management & Logistic Projects at Boehringer Ingelheim. "You bring the relevant substances together in a fermenter and after the fermentation process takes place, you separate them from the waste products and obtain highly concentrated active ingredients".

After production is completed, the active ingredients must be cooled to -40°C. At this temperature, cell division and decay of the molecules no longer takes place - the pharmaceutics are in a kind of cryosleep. Biberach an der Riß is the only site in the world that has the special preparation facilities. Here the active ingredient is thawed, enriched with water and filled into syringes as anti-rheumatic drugs, for example.

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"Where is the airport of Biberach?"

The distance from North America or Asia to Upper Swabia is a challenge that the logistics team consisting of Boehringer Ingelheim, the forwarding agent DSV, the thermal packaging specialist va-Q-tec and Lufthansa Cargo is happy to take on.

Foreign colleagues have often asked Langhammer where the airport of Biberach is located. The expert for supply chain management can still smile about that. The city with just under 35,000 inhabitants does indeed have an airport, but only aircraft up to 5.7 tons are allowed to land there. A single shipment of frozen biopharmaceuticals would almost reach this weight. Transportation from the freighter hub in Frankfurt to Biberach is not a complicated task but keeping a cooling system active for a total of 80-90 hours at such low temperatures is the real challenge.

To overcome this test Boehringer Ingelheim turned to va-Q-tec, pioneer of highly efficient products and solutions in the field of thermal insulation and temperature-controlled logistics. Together, they developed a new type of container in record time - the va-Q-tainer MAXx - which can cool below -30°C over several days without power supply or the use of dry ice - thanks to special temperature storage elements. In addition to the necessary reliable temperature stability and the fastening of the tank inside, the height of the container was also important, in order to transport the pharmaceutical products safely and without further complications. The height of the container requires its transportation only on a freighter main deck position.  Lufthansa Cargo connects Los Angeles several times a week with a B777F directly to Frankfurt. The reliable connections were one of the decisive factors in choosing Lufthansa Cargo.

 

Foreign colleagues have often asked Langhammer where the airport of Biberach is located. The expert for supply chain management can still smile about that. The city with just under 35,000 inhabitants does indeed have an airport, but only aircraft up to 5.7 tons are allowed to land there. A single shipment of frozen biopharmaceuticals would almost reach this weight. Transportation from the freighter hub in Frankfurt to Biberach is not a complicated task but keeping a cooling system active for a total of 80-90 hours at such low temperatures is the real challenge.

To overcome this test Boehringer Ingelheim turned to va-Q-tec, pioneer of highly efficient products and solutions in the field of thermal insulation and temperature-controlled logistics.

Together, they developed a new type of container in record time - the va-Q-tainer MAXx - which can cool below -30°C over several days without power supply or the use of dry ice - thanks to special temperature storage elements. In addition to the necessary reliable temperature stability and the fastening of the tank inside, the height of the container was also important, in order to transport the pharmaceutical products safely and without further complications. The height of the container requires its transportation only on a freighter main deck position.  Lufthansa Cargo connects Los Angeles several times a week with a B777F directly to Frankfurt. The reliable connections were one of the decisive factors in choosing Lufthansa Cargo.

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Opened in 2011, the Pharma Hub at Frankfurt Airport offers over 8,000 square meters of space for precise temperature control, handling by proven experts and short transport routes thanks to its direct location next to the apron. 

Experts for temperature sensitive transports.

Boehringer Ingelheim relies on DSV for the end-to-end organization of the transport. "For such transports, we work together with global logistics service providers who have expertise in this field," says Horst Langhammer. One of those experts is Bernhard Woerner, Global Account Director, Health Care at DSV. The logistics provider has been handling transports in the pharmaceutical industry since 2006. "The challenge is precise timing on the ground. The tank is delivered and filled just-in-time in Fremont, California. It is placed in the perfectly prepared container and goes straight on its long journey in a refrigerated truck. The truck brings the shipment to the airport in Los Angeles, but waits until the plane has taken off in case of unexpected delays or cancellations. Once it arrives in Frankfurt, the va-Q-tainer MAXx passes through the Lufthansa Cargo Pharma Hub and then again onto a refrigerated truck to be transported directly to Biberach," Woerner explains. "The apron times must always be kept to a minimum. Handling on the ground is crucial. Lufthansa Cargo has a clear strategic advantage with the Pharma Hub in Frankfurt".

Experts for temperature sensitive transports.

 

Boehringer Ingelheim relies on DSV for the end-to-end organization of the transport. "For such transports, we work together with global logistics service providers who have expertise in this field," says Horst Langhammer. One of those experts is Bernhard Woerner, Global Account Director, Health Care at DSV. The logistics provider has been handling transports in the pharmaceutical industry since 2006. "The challenge is precise timing on the ground. The tank is delivered and filled just-in-time in Fremont, California.

It is placed in the perfectly prepared container and goes straight on its long journey in a refrigerated truck. The truck brings the shipment to the airport in Los Angeles, but waits until the plane has taken off in case of unexpected delays or cancellations. Once it arrives in Frankfurt, the va-Q-tainer MAXx passes through the Lufthansa Cargo Pharma Hub and then again onto a refrigerated truck to be transported directly to Biberach," Woerner explains. "The apron times must always be kept to a minimum. Handling on the ground is crucial. Lufthansa Cargo has a clear strategic advantage with the Pharma Hub in Frankfurt".

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In record time to the container of the future.

The project was not launched until April 2019 and the first test shipment already took off from Los Angeles to Frankfurt in November 2019 - at that time with an empty tank. Another six months later, the active ingredients are now be shipped regularly every two weeks. 

"The container is equipped with rechargeable batteries containing a special cooling liquid - so-called Phase Change Material," explains Fabian Eschenbach, Head of the Healthcare & Logistics Division at va-Q-tec. "With these we can guarantee temperatures between -40 and +25°C dry ice free for up to 120 hours even under extreme conditions. With dry ice even -60°C or lower are possible".

Inside the va-Q-tainer MAXx there is space for a universal transport rack to fix the tanks, which was developed, designed and built together by va-Q-tec and a team of Boehringer Ingelheim. It can be adjusted individually for each tank size and reduces the workload when loading the containers with the tanks by 90%. Of course, the container can also be used without this rack releasing some usable space.

Currently there are no providers with a comparable solution. At best, there are self-built products, which of course do not have the decisive standardization, qualification and the simple and cost-efficient handling. Some additional tests must be completed with Boehringer Ingelheim in order for the va-Q-tec containers to be released for other customers as of January 2021.

 

"The container is equipped with rechargeable batteries containing a special cooling liquid - so-called Phase Change Material," explains Fabian Eschenbach, Head of the Healthcare & Logistics Division at va-Q-tec. "With these we can guarantee temperatures between -40 and +25°C dry ice free for up to 120 hours even under extreme conditions. With dry ice even -60°C or lower are possible".

Inside the va-Q-tainer MAXx there is space for a universal transport rack to fix the tanks, which was developed, designed and built together by va-Q-tec and a team of Boehringer Ingelheim.

It can be adjusted individually for each tank size and reduces the workload when loading the containers with the tanks by 90%. Of course, the container can also be used without this rack releasing some usable space.

Currently there are no providers with a comparable solution. At best, there are self-built products, which of course do not have the decisive standardization, qualification and the simple and cost-efficient handling. Some additional tests must be completed with Boehringer Ingelheim in order for the va-Q-tec containers to be released for other customers as of January 2021.

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"The container is also a great development for logistics companies. Until now, we had to carry out such transports packed in boxes that were filled with dry ice. These consignments had to be declared as dangerous goods and were highly sensitive to transport damage and loss of active ingredients," explains Mr. Woerner. The damage can be enormous - and not only economically, it could run into millions. In the worst case, patients may not receive their medication or clinical studies could have been postponed. Transporting these products without dry ice has other advantages as well: "From a sustainability perspective, dry ice is no longer state of the art," Woerner explains.

Keeping cool in the crisis.

When the project was in the starting phase, nobody knew about the Corona virus. Since Lufthansa Cargo's freighters continued to fly throughout the crisis, the project could be continued without any delays. "The support provided by our Account Manager Michael Butz was excellent, especially in the turbulent times of crisis. This once again confirmed that we made the right choice," summarizes Bernhard Woerner of DSV.

The Lufthansa Cargo employee himself is also enthusiastic about the project "Being a small part of the wheel in such an innovation is the highlight of our work", and passes the praise on to his colleagues. "All colleagues involved in Germany and the USA contribute their share of service and speed to the success of this project".

Keeping cool in the crisis.

 

When the project was in the starting phase, nobody knew about the Corona virus. Since Lufthansa Cargo's freighters continued to fly throughout the crisis, the project could be continued without any delays. "The support provided by our Account Manager Michael Butz was excellent, especially in the turbulent times of crisis. This once again confirmed that we made the right choice," summarizes Bernhard Woerner of DSV.

The Lufthansa Cargo employee himself is also enthusiastic about the project "Being a small part of the wheel in such an innovation is the highlight of our work", and passes the praise on to his colleagues. "All colleagues involved in Germany and the USA contribute their share of service and speed to the success of this project".

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Horst Langhammer is obviously satisfied: After arrival in Biberach, the temperature inside the container is still around minus -36°C.

www.boehringer-ingelheim.com

www.dsv.com

www.va-q-tec.com 

Photos: Boehringer Ingelheim and Lufthansa Cargo

www.boehringer-ingelheim.com

www.dsv.com

www.va-q-tec.com 

Photos: Boehringer Ingelheim and Lufthansa Cargo

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"We bear a responsibility as an industry"​

It was an unprecedented scenario that flickered across screens across Germany: hundreds of aircraft parked and stored on a runway. Passenger planes transformed into "preighters". And all eyes - those of the public, but also of politicians - were on Lufthansa Cargo. We asked CEO Peter Gerber what Lufthansa Cargo has learned from the crisis and what relevance airfreight has in times of crisis.

Corona has thrown the world off course. Suddenly, we were confronted with a global crisis that brought entire business segments to a halt. How important is air freight in such a situation?

Yes, we have never experienced a crisis of this magnitude before. Supply chains have collapsed, borders have been closed - but air freight has kept countries connected as best it could, has continued to secure global trade. That is why I would say: air freight has a vital role to play in the crisis. Solutions were needed that only air freight can offer. Firstly, speed - if masks are to be transported halfway around the world overnight, flying is the only option. The same applies if the production lines in factories are not allowed to stand still and the components for manufacturing are missing. But air freight also has an economic significance for the Lufthansa Group: while the fleet of the passage had to stay on the ground, we were allowed to fly. But that is only one side of the coin. Even the safe transport of essential goods such as insulin or medicines can only be guaranteed by air freight. This means that air freight also has a very strong social significance. As an industry, we have a responsibility and we are needed.

Has the crisis shown what we are particularly good at?

Yes, many activities, innovations and initiatives from the past have actually paid off, for example digitalisation. We have been driving this forward for many years and we were able to benefit from it during the crisis. The flight schedule changed daily - but thanks to the use of digital technology and intelligent connectivity, we were still able to inform our customers in real time about corresponding capacities and also make many processes contactless. The Corona crisis has given a further boost to digitalisation, which we welcome. We have also made our transport processes more efficient and flexible: for example, with flight schedule adjustments as required and our preighter flights.

Is there also something we have learned from the crisis? Are there areas where we need to do more?

As a company, we have a responsibility - we have always been aware of this and I think our commitment shows that. The topics "environment", "sustainability" and "social development" have always been high on the agenda at Lufthansa Cargo. Initiatives such as "Cargo Human Care", "Cargo Social Care", "Cargo Crisis Care", "Cargo Climate Care" in particular prove how strongly this idea of sustainability has long been anchored in our company. I would even go so far as to say that sustainable commitment is part of our DNA.

The current crisis has once again made it clear that we can turn things around for the better through our daily work alone. That we are quick to respond when help is needed. That we are reliable - even in challenging situations. That we are a stabilising factor.

Air transport brings people together worldwide, enables the fast transport of valuable goods, means development aid for many countries and enables people to get to know other countries and cultures. All this is indispensable in a free and globalised world. And it does not exclude sustainable action. We must focus more on this - in both an economic and social sense.

 

Corona has thrown the world off course. Suddenly, we were confronted with a global crisis that brought entire business segments to a halt. How important is air freight in such a situation?

Yes, we have never experienced a crisis of this magnitude before. Supply chains have collapsed, borders have been closed - but air freight has kept countries connected as best it could, has continued to secure global trade. That is why I would say: air freight has a vital role to play in the crisis. Solutions were needed that only air freight can offer. Firstly, speed - if masks are to be transported halfway around the world overnight, flying is the only option. The same applies if the production lines in factories are not allowed to stand still and the components for manufacturing are missing. But air freight also has an economic significance for the Lufthansa Group: while the fleet of the passage had to stay on the ground, we were allowed to fly. But that is only one side of the coin. Even the safe transport of essential goods such as insulin or medicines can only be guaranteed by air freight. This means that air freight also has a very strong social significance. As an industry, we have a responsibility and we are needed.

Has the crisis shown what we are particularly good at?

Yes, many activities, innovations and initiatives from the past have actually paid off, for example digitalisation. We have been driving this forward for many years and we were able to benefit from it during the crisis. The flight schedule changed daily - but thanks to the use of digital technology and intelligent connectivity, we were still able to inform our customers in real time about corresponding capacities and also make many processes contactless.

The Corona crisis has given a further boost to digitalisation, which we welcome. We have also made our transport processes more efficient and flexible: for example, with flight schedule adjustments as required and our preighter flights.

Is there also something we have learned from the crisis? Are there areas where we need to do more?

As a company, we have a responsibility - we have always been aware of this and I think our commitment shows that. The topics "environment", "sustainability" and "social development" have always been high on the agenda at Lufthansa Cargo. Initiatives such as "Cargo Human Care", "Cargo Social Care", "Cargo Crisis Care", "Cargo Climate Care" in particular prove how strongly this idea of sustainability has long been anchored in our company. I would even go so far as to say that sustainable commitment is part of our DNA.

The current crisis has once again made it clear that we can turn things around for the better through our daily work alone. That we are quick to respond when help is needed. That we are reliable - even in challenging situations. That we are a stabilising factor.

Air transport brings people together worldwide, enables the fast transport of valuable goods, means development aid for many countries and enables people to get to know other countries and cultures. All this is indispensable in a free and globalised world. And it does not exclude sustainable action. We must focus more on this - in both an economic and social sense.

 

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What does that mean for the future?

We will increase our commitment and intensify our efforts to achieve greater stability in the economic system, but also in the ecosystem. Since this stability can only be achieved at global level, the United Nations has defined goals for sustainable development: The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The vision behind them is to fight poverty and inequality globally and together, to protect resources and to preserve our planet for future generations. We support these 17 goals and will focus on five goals in particular.

Which five goals are we talking about?

Goal number 1 is "No poverty" - the fight against poverty. We contribute to this through our daily work, because we enable all regions to access the world market. In this way we strengthen economic development on the ground, especially in emerging and developing countries. Another goal is "Good Health and Wellbeing", i.e. promoting a healthy life. By supplying sensitive medical goods worldwide, we are already ensuring this today - even in times of crisis.

The goal "Decent Work and Economic Growth" is somewhat more abstract, but just as relevant: Through sustainable growth and long-term reliability, we ensure that our volatile business environment is stabilised - which in turn creates new opportunities for other companies, people and regions. Behind the goal of "Industries, Innovation and Infrastructure" lies the strengthening of infrastructure and technological progress - a concern we support through increasing digitalisation and the consistent modernisation of our fleet and hubs.

And goal number 5 is "Climate Action": Our investments in a new fleet and lighter equipment, but also our participation in CORSIA, make our business fit for the future in two ways. On the one hand, we are increasing efficiency while reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

What does the focus on the five goals mean for our daily work?

We want to promote greater awareness of the importance of air freight: Not only do we move goods, we also move things in the world. The five goals serve as a guideline to enable us to become even more involved in the future - and everyone has the opportunity to participate. To draw attention to this change, we will be sending out strong signals in the coming days and weeks.

What does that mean for the future?

 

We will increase our commitment and intensify our efforts to achieve greater stability in the economic system, but also in the ecosystem. Since this stability can only be achieved at global level, the United Nations has defined goals for sustainable development: The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The vision behind them is to fight poverty and inequality globally and together, to protect resources and to preserve our planet for future generations. We support these 17 goals and will focus on five goals in particular.

Which five goals are we talking about?

Goal number 1 is "No poverty" - the fight against poverty. We contribute to this through our daily work, because we enable all regions to access the world market. In this way we strengthen economic development on the ground, especially in emerging and developing countries. Another goal is "Good Health and Wellbeing", i.e. promoting a healthy life. By supplying sensitive medical goods worldwide, we are already ensuring this today - even in times of crisis.

The goal "Decent Work and Economic Growth" is somewhat more abstract, but just as relevant: Through sustainable growth and long-term reliability, we ensure that our volatile business environment is stabilised - which in turn creates new opportunities for other companies, people and regions.

Behind the goal of "Industries, Innovation and Infrastructure" lies the strengthening of infrastructure and technological progress - a concern we support through increasing digitalisation and the consistent modernisation of our fleet and hubs.

And goal number 5 is "Climate Action": Our investments in a new fleet and lighter equipment, but also our participation in CORSIA, make our business fit for the future in two ways. On the one hand, we are increasing efficiency while reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

What does the focus on the five goals mean for our daily work?

We want to promote greater awareness of the importance of air freight: Not only do we move goods, we also move things in the world. The five goals serve as a guideline to enable us to become even more involved in the future - and everyone has the opportunity to participate. To draw attention to this change, we will be sending out strong signals in the coming days and weeks.

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Crystal clear.

Serdar Katilmis is keeping a very close eye on four cartons. The contents of the boxes will provide hundreds of people with better vision: they are spectacle lenses made by Zeiss Vision Care. They just arrived in Frankfurt from overseas in the belly of a Lufthansa Boeing 747-8. In just a few hours they will continue their journey on an Airbus A320neo bound for Milan – and from there they will go to opticians all over Italy by courier.

Serdar Katilmis is making sure that the transit in Frankfurt runs like clockwork. “I just checked the goods for damage and reviewed the information in the AWB, and everything is fine!” To do that he did not need glasses. But he did drive an apron vehicle owned by time:matters, the Lufthansa Cargo subsidiary for high-performance and special speed logistics. Zeiss has been making extensive use of the services of this company since 2016.

As one of the world’s leading manufacturers, Zeiss sells more than 100 million spectacle lenses each year. A considerable proportion of these are prescription lenses. They are manufactured according to precise specifications provided by ophthalmologists or opticians, and often also according to the wishes of the individual buyers. “For these lenses, the range of different products is potentially infinite. Ultimately each is a unique product, which means we are working with a batch size of one,” says Jürgen Schwenk, Head of Global Logistics & Distribution. The lenses are manufactured in Zeiss-owned, highly automated plants in Germany and around the globe.

This is where Serdar Katilmis and his colleagues at the time:matters Courier Terminal at Frankfurt Airport enter the picture: time:matters makes sure that the lenses arriving from three different overseas factories reach Frankfurt quickly – and then go to opticians located all over Europe just as fast. Even the most complex products arrive at their destination within just a few days after an order was placed. Before Zeiss decided to work with these speed specialists, it used to take an extra day on average.

 

As one of the world’s leading manufacturers, Zeiss sells more than 100 million spectacle lenses each year. A considerable proportion of these are prescription lenses. They are manufactured according to precise specifications provided by ophthalmologists or opticians, and often also according to the wishes of the individual buyers. “For these lenses, the range of different products is potentially infinite. Ultimately each is a unique product, which means we are working with a batch size of one,” says Jürgen Schwenk, Head of Global Logistics & Distribution. The lenses are manufactured in Zeiss-owned, highly automated plants in Germany and around the globe.

This is where Serdar Katilmis and his colleagues at the time:matters Courier Terminal at Frankfurt Airport enter the picture: time:matters makes sure that the lenses arriving from three different overseas factories reach Frankfurt quickly – and then go to opticians located all over Europe just as fast. Even the most complex products arrive at their destination within just a few days after an order was placed. Before Zeiss decided to work with these speed specialists, it used to take an extra day on average.

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Direct access to the apron.

This saving makes an enormous difference for Zeiss: “In this new era of online shopping with same-day delivery, the time customers are prepared to wait for their new glasses is getting shorter and shorter,” explains Jürgen Schwenk. “You could be manufacturing the best lenses in the world, but if they do not arrive at the optician’s quickly enough, he will not place another order with you.” There are limits to how much the actual production time can be reduced. This is why it is important to speed up the supply chain.

How does time:matters do that? By making use of the dense worldwide network of routes maintained by Lufthansa Cargo and 20 other partner airlines to which the Zeiss prescription lens manufacturing plants are linked. All Zeiss shipments are sent directly to Frankfurt – for example via Bangalore, Hong Kong and Los Angeles. 

The transports use the global time:matters service Sameday Air, in combination with the Lufthansa Cargo express product “Courier.Solutions.” This not only meets the requirements in terms of speed, but also as regards access to the required capacities. “The shipments are assigned a high loading priority,” says Christian Schenk, who is the primary contact for Zeiss as Global Key Account Manager at time:matters. “This means that the freight will be available at our hub in Frankfurt 60 minutes after arrival, and will be accepted for loading 90 minutes prior to departure.”

Loading and transportation on the apron is carried out by trained ground-handling staff who work for time:matters exclusively. “These colleagues can spot Zeiss shipments from a distance, and they know exactly what matters,” says Schenk. The merchandise is broken down, built up as well as re-secured at the time:matters Courier Terminal, which has direct access to the apron. These shipments are neither consolidated nor loaded at the same time as other freight.

Operations at the Courier Terminal are ongoing as long as aircraft land and take off again: from 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., including weekends. During this period, a total of four employees are responsible for monitoring activities out on the apron. Whenever they identify a shipment that requires particularly rapid handling, they make sure that it is loaded “tail to tail”: from aircraft to aircraft. Sometimes they can manage it in less than 60 minutes. At the destination airports as well as at the airports of origin, time:matters works closely with transport and courier service providers – and with customs agents along the entire supply chain. This means that, in addition to the actual airport-to-airport transport, customs clearance as well pickup and delivery of shipments can also be offered on request.

 

How does time:matters do that? By making use of the dense worldwide network of routes maintained by Lufthansa Cargo and 20 other partner airlines to which the Zeiss prescription lens manufacturing plants are linked. All Zeiss shipments are sent directly to Frankfurt – for example via Bangalore, Hong Kong and Los Angeles. 

The transports use the global time:matters service Sameday Air, in combination with the Lufthansa Cargo express product “Courier.Solutions.” This not only meets the requirements in terms of speed, but also as regards access to the required capacities. “The shipments are assigned a high loading priority,” says Christian Schenk, who is the primary contact for Zeiss as Global Key Account Manager at time:matters. “This means that the freight will be available at our hub in Frankfurt 60 minutes after arrival, and will be accepted for loading 90 minutes prior to departure.”

Loading and transportation on the apron is carried out by trained ground-handling staff who work for time:matters exclusively. “These colleagues can spot Zeiss shipments from a distance, and they know exactly what matters,” says Schenk.

The merchandise is broken down, built up as well as re-secured at the time:matters Courier Terminal, which has direct access to the apron. These shipments are neither consolidated nor loaded at the same time as other freight.

Operations at the Courier Terminal are ongoing as long as aircraft land and take off again: from 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., including weekends. During this period, a total of four employees are responsible for monitoring activities out on the apron. Whenever they identify a shipment that requires particularly rapid handling, they make sure that it is loaded “tail to tail”: from aircraft to aircraft. Sometimes they can manage it in less than 60 minutes. At the destination airports as well as at the airports of origin, time:matters works closely with transport and courier service providers – and with customs agents along the entire supply chain. This means that, in addition to the actual airport-to-airport transport, customs clearance as well pickup and delivery of shipments can also be offered on request.

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Reliability matters, too.

“What is just as important to us as speed is reliability,” says Jürgen Schwenk, the head logistician for Zeiss Vision Care. If the boxes whose transit Serdar Katilmis supervised this morning do not make it onto the plane to Milan, then a number of Italian opticians will be left without the firmly promised lenses – and will instead be facing their disappointed customers. And so the employee drives the car onto to apron right on time for the loading of the Airbus A320neo and makes sure everything runs smoothly.

But he does not stop there: as the ground-handling guy lays the shipment onto the conveyor leading into the belly of the passenger jet, Katilmis take a photograph of the shipment. “I then mail the photograph to the Courier Terminal, as confirmation for the customer.” The people at Zeiss appreciate this level of service – and they are planning to make even greater use of it in the future. Besides Italy, the target markets currently are Germany, France, the UK and Spain, but in the next few months the Benelux countries, Portugal, Scandinavia and several Eastern European countries will also be added.

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Sameday Air network.

The Sameday Air product allows time:matters to offer customers same-day shipping for time-critical consignments. The European hubs in Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna and Brussels serve more than 100 stations on the entire continent as well as in Israel. There are another 16 stations in the United States and in Mexico. Not only that: this summer the Sameday Air network was extended to Asia for the first time. It now also includes seven stations in China: Shanghai, Shenyang, Beijing, Nanjing, Qingdao, Chengdu and Guangzhou. Customers in China are looked after by the separately established company time:matters Shanghai International Freight Forwarding Ltd. The other Asian stations are Tokyo (NRT), Singapore and the Thai capital Bangkok.

www.zeiss.com/vision-care

www.time-matters.com

Planet 2/2019

Photos: Stefan Wildhirt

www.zeiss.com/vision-care

www.time-matters.com

Planet 2/2019

Photos: Stefan Wildhirt

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Taking responsibility.

The “Konnichiwa Japan” had landed at 1:30 p.m., having flown to Frankfurt from Shanghai. Now, an hour later, the last pallets are being unloaded. The Lufthansa Cargo freight plane, a Boeing 777F, had only been commissioned this spring. Living proof that the airfreight company is serious about further improving its CO₂ footprint. For an airline, a modern fleet of planes is the most important leverage factor. The “Triple Seven” now is the most fuel-efficient freighter in its class and the strongest argument for Bettina Jansen.

The physics graduate is Head of Corporate Responsibility and Environmental Management at Lufthansa Cargo. Today she has ventured out to the apron to take a closer look at the “Konnichiwa Japan”. With her is Andrea Dorothea Schön, Senior Manager Climate & Clean Air Management at the freight forwarding company DB Schenker, one of the airline’s biggest customers. Just like she did six years ago, Bettina Jansen had sent out an invitation to attend an “environmental inspection tour” at Lufthansa Cargo, Frankfurt Airport.

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The efficiency potential of the B777F rests on its two giant GE90-110 engines, plus the plane’s lightweight construction and aerodynamically optimized wings. “They are the biggest and most powerful engines used in civil aviation today – and they are also fuel-efficient, with a reduced noise level,” says Triple Sevens pilot Benjamin Kedziora, welcoming the two managers into “his” plane.

Big data for a reduced footprint.

Inside the cockpit, Kedziora explains how the manner in which the plane is operated can help save even more fuel: “For example, after take-off we retract the take-off flaps as soon as possible. This reduces drag.” The pilots prepare for a flight with the help of the OMEGA (Ops Monitor and Efficiency Gap Analyzer) big=data software that was developed with the participation of Lufthansa Cargo. The software processes data recorded on previous flights to produce a systematic analysis of fuel consumption patterns. This helps save kerosene and lower CO₂ emissions. In the first year the software was deployed, it already saved 10,000 tons of this pollutant.

Bettina Jansen reports that Boeing put the specific CO₂ emissions from the Triple Seven some 17 percent lower than those produced by the MD-11F, the aircraft the freight company had used exclusively from 2005 until November 2013. “But now, thanks to optimum use of the aircraft in our network – something to which software like OMEGA contributes as well – we have managed to reach over 20 percent.” Achieving such figures is becoming increasingly important for customers – and Andrea Dorothea Schön agrees.

The key parameter is an airline’s CO₂ efficiency rating. “The unit of measurement used here is g/tkm: we calculate how much CO₂ is produced per ton of freight transported,” says Jansen. In 2005 this figure stood at 549 g/tkm, and in 2018 it was down to 462 g/tkm. “That’s 15.8 percent less.” The aim is to achieve a reduction of 25 percent by end-2020. A key contribution is the ongoing modernization of the fleet. Lufthansa Cargo now already operates seven Triple Sevens and will be using only highly efficient twin-jet aircraft in future.

Data transparency, as in the case of the CO₂ reports, is one of eight areas that make up Lufthansa Cargo’s environmental strategy. Bettina Jansen and her team have developed the strategy and embedded it in the airline’s processes, and it is continually being updated. Another factor is “Green Flying” – touched upon briefly earlier on – with the Triple Seven, and compensation measures for the emissions produced. “By insetting, we mean taking action to achieve actual reductions, which is preferable to offsetting,” says Andrea Dorothea Schön – and Bettina Jansen agrees. Even so, as of 2020 Lufthansa Cargo will compensate for any emissions from growth within the scope of the international climate protection instrument CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation). The focus is also on the Environmental Management System (UMS), for which certification in accordance with the ISO 14001 standard was obtained for Germany initially, and which has now been certified worldwide. “This has long been a unique selling point for us,” says Jansen. “Today customers simply expect it. Worldwide certification is still somewhat special, though.” Which is no surprise, seeing as many forwarders are also pursuing ambitious climate protection goals, spurred on by the shippers. “We want to contribute towards the target of Deutsche Bahn AG, to lower specific CO₂ emissions by 50 percent from 2006 levels by 2030 in all modes of transportation,” says Schön. Airfreight accounts for over 50 percent of DB Schenker’s CO₂ footprint, she says. Which is why the manager and her team are closely monitoring the steps taken by carriers – and the progress achieved through these measures.

Big data for a reduced footprint.

Inside the cockpit, Kedziora explains how the manner in which the plane is operated can help save even more fuel: “For example, after take-off we retract the take-off flaps as soon as possible. This reduces drag.” The pilots prepare for a flight with the help of the OMEGA (Ops Monitor and Efficiency Gap Analyzer) big=data software that was developed with the participation of Lufthansa Cargo. The software processes data recorded on previous flights to produce a systematic analysis of fuel consumption patterns. This helps save kerosene and lower CO₂ emissions. In the first year the software was deployed, it already saved 10,000 tons of this pollutant.

Bettina Jansen reports that Boeing put the specific CO₂ emissions from the Triple Seven some 17 percent lower than those produced by the MD-11F, the aircraft the freight company had used exclusively from 2005 until November 2013. “But now, thanks to optimum use of the aircraft in our network – something to which software like OMEGA contributes as well – we have managed to reach over 20 percent.” Achieving such figures is becoming increasingly important for customers – and Andrea Dorothea Schön agrees.

The key parameter is an airline’s CO₂ efficiency rating. “The unit of measurement used here is g/tkm: we calculate how much CO₂ is produced per ton of freight transported,” says Jansen. In 2005 this figure stood at 549 g/tkm, and in 2018 it was down to 462 g/tkm. “That’s 15.8 percent less.” The aim is to achieve a reduction of 25 percent by end-2020. A key contribution is the ongoing modernization of the fleet. Lufthansa Cargo now already operates seven Triple Sevens and will be using only highly efficient twin-jet aircraft in future.

Data transparency, as in the case of the CO₂ reports, is one of eight areas that make up Lufthansa Cargo’s environmental strategy. Bettina Jansen and her team have developed the strategy and embedded it in the airline’s processes, and it is continually being updated. Another factor is “Green Flying” – touched upon briefly earlier on – with the Triple Seven, and compensation measures for the emissions produced. “By insetting, we mean taking action to achieve actual reductions, which is preferable to offsetting,” says Andrea Dorothea Schön – and Bettina Jansen agrees. Even so, as of 2020 Lufthansa Cargo will compensate for any emissions from growth within the scope of the international climate protection instrument CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation). The focus is also on the Environmental Management System (UMS), for which certification in accordance with the ISO 14001 standard was obtained for Germany initially, and which has now been certified worldwide. “This has long been a unique selling point for us,” says Jansen. “Today customers simply expect it. Worldwide certification is still somewhat special, though.” Which is no surprise, seeing as many forwarders are also pursuing ambitious climate protection goals, spurred on by the shippers. “We want to contribute towards the target of Deutsche Bahn AG, to lower specific CO₂ emissions by 50 percent from 2006 levels by 2030 in all modes of transportation,” says Schön. Airfreight accounts for over 50 percent of DB Schenker’s CO₂ footprint, she says. Which is why the manager and her team are closely monitoring the steps taken by carriers – and the progress achieved through these measures.

 

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To stress this point further, Bettina Jansen also included a stop at the Operations Control Center. Here specialists face walls of monitors on which they track flight movements, weather data and other parameters. This allows them to determine the shortest possible routes for the freight planes. “We also calculate how much fuel the planes carry, down to the last kilogram,” explains flight dispatcher Barbara Prosch. Jansen adds how this is relevant: “If we can eliminate just a single unnecessary kilogram of fuel on each of the roughly 12,000 flights we operate per year, we can save 8.5 tons of CO₂.”

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The last stop on this tour is the Lufthansa Cargo Center (LCC). Here we see a number of standard containers owned by the Lufthansa subsidiary Jettainer. They are made of composite material, not the more traditional aluminum. The switch to this new material has made them 13 kilograms lighter. Lufthansa Cargo intends to use only lightweight versions of standard containers by 2020. It is clear here at the LCC that Lufthansa Cargo is constantly working towards improving its environmental footprint on the ground as well. By recycling packaging materials, for example, and by refurbishing the technical facilities within the building. And then there are the skids, and the rectangular boards made from cardboard. Sold by a company located near Frankfurt Airport, they could soon replace the wooden pallets used for the build-up. They have already proven their strength and resilience in tests. Plus – and this is what makes them so interesting – they are extremely light. As is demonstrated – once more for the camera, please! – by Schön and Jansen on the spot.

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Focus on synthetic fuels.

There is still time here at the LCC for a glimpse into the future. The two managers agree: if the aviation industry wants to realize its long-term goal of CO₂-neutral operations, there is more to be done still. One of the keys to achieving this are alternative fuels. The greatest potential is seen in synthetic fuels generated by the Power-To-Liquid (PTL) process, which uses renewable electricity, water and CO₂. “This is to be done in refineries in future,” says Bettina Jansen. “Lufthansa has already signed an agreement with a facility currently being built in northern Germany, and we will of course also benefit from that.” It is a promising outlook – not least with a view to the next environmental inspection tour.

Reunited after six years.

Lufthansa Cargo has taken its responsibility for climate protection seriously for many years. Sustainability is one of the key strategic issues for the cargo airline and its customers. During the first “environmental inspection tour” by Andrea Dorothea Schön from DB Schenker and Bettina Jansen from Lufthansa Cargo in 2013, the key factors in reducing kerosene consumption, which has a linear relationship to the emission of the greenhouse gas CO₂, were the lowering of the weight on board the trijet MD-11 freighter – for example through the use of lightweight standard containers – and optimized landing approach procedures. Today Lufthansa Cargo has taken a significant step forward through the increased use of the new Boeing 777 freighter that has only twin jet engines yet is able to transport more cargo across greater distances. Here are some of the improvements achieved over the last six years:

Planet 2/2019

Photos Alex Kraus

Reunited after six years.

Lufthansa Cargo has taken its responsibility for climate protection seriously for many years. Sustainability is one of the key strategic issues for the cargo airline and its customers. During the first “environmental inspection tour” by Andrea Dorothea Schön from DB Schenker and Bettina Jansen from Lufthansa Cargo in 2013, the key factors in reducing kerosene consumption, which has a linear relationship to the emission of the greenhouse gas CO₂,

 

were the lowering of the weight on board the trijet MD-11 freighter – for example through the use of lightweight standard containers – and optimized landing approach procedures. Today Lufthansa Cargo has taken a significant step forward through the increased use of the new Boeing 777 freighter that has only twin jet engines yet is able to transport more cargo across greater distances. Here are some of the improvements achieved over the last six years:

 

Planet 2/2019

Photos Alex Kraus

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Digital speed.

One of Lufthansa Cargo’s biggest freight customers in the entire Asia-Pacific region is actually not a typical freight customer, but… a postal company. Each week, and from Shanghai alone, the China Post Group Corporation (China Post) ships over 100 tons of letters and parcels of all sizes on board Lufthansa Cargo aircraft to Europe. This amounts to the entire carrying capacity of a fully loaded Boeing 777F. It is a sign of the times that letters make up a very small proportion of the overall volume, although important bank documents are still carried in this way. The bulk consists of consignments of goods ordered online by consumers located on the other side of the globe.

The enabler for this trend is e-commerce: in 2018 the government-owned company with the green and yellow logo shipped over 100,000 tons – mostly parcels – to Europe using airfreight. A considerable amount of this volume was moved by Lufthansa Cargo. Despite the current slow-down in growth in the airfreight market, China Post anticipates a further increase in traffic by ten percent in 2019 compared with the previous year. What is more, the company expects growth rates in this segment to exceed those of the rest of the international trade in goods even in the longer term.

Whether it’s a pencil case, a mobile phone accessory or a household item – anyone ordering goods online today via Alibaba, Amazon or Ebay, for example, can be fairly certain that their order will be shipped directly from China. Even smaller and medium-sized European online traders often procure their goods directly in China whenever they receive orders. “We are still the world’s factory,” said Wen Shaoqi, Vice President, China Post Group, during the visit of a Lufthansa Cargo delegation in Beijing in August this year, not without pride. 

However, unlike conventional freight shipments, China Post’s transportation of goods ordered via e-commerce is governed by the framework of the processes agreed upon by the postal companies organized in the almost 150-year-old Union Postale Universelle (UPU). These consignments travel without the need for air waybills, for example. On arrival at the destination country, they are also subject to simplified customs clearance. And while the postal bags and parcel stacks containing the consignments from China Post are tied up on pallets, making them look just like conventional standard freight from the outside, on arrival in Frankfurt these pallets are not broken up for onward shipping at the Lufthansa Cargo Center as is usually the case; instead, they are taken to the Airmail Center where the distribution of mail and parcels is part of a specialized and highly automated process.

However, unlike conventional freight shipments, China Post’s transportation of goods ordered via e-commerce is governed by the framework of the processes agreed upon by the postal companies organized in the almost 150-year-old Union Postale Universelle (UPU).

These consignments travel without the need for air waybills, for example. On arrival at the destination country, they are also subject to simplified customs clearance. And while the postal bags and parcel stacks containing the consignments from China Post are tied up on pallets, making them look just like conventional standard freight from the outside, on arrival in Frankfurt these pallets are not broken up for onward shipping at the Lufthansa Cargo Center as is usually the case; instead, they are taken to the Airmail Center where the distribution of mail and parcels is part of a specialized and highly automated process.

So it is not only as a result of the large tonnage that China Post is a very special customer for Lufthansa Cargo, but also because of these special processes. This is why in August this year, Dorothea von Boxberg, Chief Commercial Officer at Lufthansa Cargo, traveled to the China Post head office for the second time already in her still fairly recent tenure in order to talk about what has already been achieved and also to discuss the details of this special cooperative venture in the future. This visit had been agreed by both partners in their bilateral cooperation, which began in October 2016 with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and reached its first preliminary milestone two years later with a Letter of Intent (LOI) for the purchase of 100 tons of freight capacity on the Shanghai–Frankfurt route.

“China Post is an extremely important customer to us, a customer who exhibits considerable stability even during periods of weaker demand, and stands by prior commitments in their entirety,” said von Boxberg. “China Post also holds out exciting prospects for the continued development of our services for shippers in the e-commerce segment.”

 

Whether it’s a pencil case, a mobile phone accessory or a household item – anyone ordering goods online today via Alibaba, Amazon or Ebay, for example, can be fairly certain that their order will be shipped directly from China. Even smaller and medium-sized European online traders often procure their goods directly in China whenever they receive orders. “We are still the world’s factory,” said Wen Shaoqi, Vice President, China Post Group, during the visit of a Lufthansa Cargo delegation in Beijing in August this year, not without pride. 

However, unlike conventional freight shipments, China Post’s transportation of goods ordered via e-commerce is governed by the framework of the processes agreed upon by the postal companies organized in the almost 150-year-old Union Postale Universelle (UPU). These consignments travel without the need for air waybills, for example. On arrival at the destination country, they are also subject to simplified customs clearance. And while the postal bags and parcel stacks containing the consignments from China Post are tied up on pallets, making them look just like conventional standard freight from the outside, on arrival in Frankfurt these pallets are not broken up for onward shipping at the Lufthansa Cargo Center as is usually the case; instead, they are taken to the Airmail Center where the distribution of mail and parcels is part of a specialized and highly automated process.

 

So it is not only as a result of the large tonnage that China Post is a very special customer for Lufthansa Cargo, but also because of these special processes. This is why in August this year, Dorothea von Boxberg, Chief Commercial Officer at Lufthansa Cargo, traveled to the China Post head office for the second time already in her still fairly recent tenure in order to talk about what has already been achieved and also to discuss the details of this special cooperative venture in the future. This visit had been agreed by both partners in their bilateral cooperation, which began in October 2016 with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and reached its first preliminary milestone two years later with a Letter of Intent (LOI) for the purchase of 100 tons of freight capacity on the Shanghai–Frankfurt route.

“China Post is an extremely important customer to us, a customer who exhibits considerable stability even during periods of weaker demand, and stands by prior commitments in their entirety,” said von Boxberg. “China Post also holds out exciting prospects for the continued development of our services for shippers in the e-commerce segment.”

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Becoming more digital.

Her host, Wen Shaoqi, welcomed von Boxberg in a gigantic conference room on the 4th floor of the Beijing postal headquarters. “Lufthansa Cargo is becoming an increasingly important partner for China Post,” underscored Wen. “It is a freight airline that not only has a global network, but in addition to offering high-volume belly capacities it also operates its own freighters through important Chinese gateways such as Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Our cooperative venture likewise gives us the opportunity to jointly develop the digital aspects of the cross-border business, from making bookings and tracking all the way through to billing.”

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The 22-story headquarters of China Post where the meeting took place is located in the western part of Beijing, situated amidst other buildings owned by leading companies in the Chinese economy. The headquarters controls the activities of about one million China Post employees. Spanning the entrance is a motto that roughly translates as: “If the people have faith in the strength of the country, then the nation will be full of hope.” 

In other words, China Post is an enterprise committed to making its contribution to the country’s advancement. The company’s top priority is still to achieve full coverage of this giant empire, which takes in an area 25 times larger than Germany. China Post invests billions of yuan to improve its infrastructure and provide more and more parts of the Chinese economy and its more than 1.3 billion people with access to international postal and goods traffic.

Up-to-Date Tracking.

Given these challenges faced in their own country, the executives in charge are delighted to have found a competent partner in Lufthansa Cargo to assist them in their efforts to boost the efficiency of cross-border airfreight shipments. “What our customers expect from us are reliable delivery times, competitive pricing and up-to-date tracking information,” explained Ma Zhanhong, Deputy Managing Director of the China Post subsidiary China Postal Express & Logistics, during the meeting of the top representatives of the two companies. “Especially in the provision of data, streamlined customs clearance service and the service quality on the so-called last mile, there is still potential for improvement that we believe we can exploit even better in cooperation with Lufthansa Cargo,” added Ma. “Ideally, our customers should be able to trace everything down to the level of individual packages at all times.”

At Lufthansa Cargo everything is already geared towards achieving this objective: the freight airline’s aim is to have customers perceive Lufthansa Cargo not only as a dependable airport-to-airport carrier, but also as a fully digitalized operation. Easy-to-use Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have already been provided to let customers connect their own IT systems to the booking, tracking and billing tools of Lufthansa Cargo, and the quality of the data exchanged in this way is constantly improving. “We will be pleased to meet any additional challenges China Post cares to present us with in the future,” affirmed von Boxberg.

The Board Member and her hosts from China Post also established a working group with the task of investigating the potential of a cooperative venture between China Post and heyworld. This Lufthansa Cargo subsidiary (see article) specializes in IT-based logistics solutions for customers engaged in cross-border e-commerce. “In terms of pricing structure and service level, our start-up heyworld is positioned right in the middle between the services offered by the integrators and the postal companies,” explained Dorothea von Boxberg. “Customers working with heyworld receive a service that is quicker than that provided by postal companies, and cheaper than those of the major international parcel carrier services. In addition, heyworld offers its customers door-to-door services with cross docking and full data transparency along the entire transport chain. From my perspective this would make a perfect fit with China Post’s ambition to further optimize their services and their efficiency.”

With 13,120 square meters of storage space and the capacity for handling 16.5 million parcels per month, the Wangjing International Mail Processing Center, located about half an hour’s drive from Beijing’s old airport PEK, is one of China Post’s largest air cargo hubs in the capital. As is true for many things throughout this giant empire, the operation still involves a great deal of manual labor. However, the management of China Post is currently engaged in the process of learning all about fully and partially automated systems of the kind relied on by Lufthansa Cargo, for example at the Airmail Center in Frankfurt. Through this and the other three main hubs the freight airline Lufthansa Cargo manages to process 200 tons of “mail” every day – 80 percent of which are e-commerce consignments. 

The people in charge at China Post are well aware that it is only through automation and digitalization that the challenges brought about by the growth in e-commerce can be tackled successfully in the long term. The volumes handled rise rapidly during every peak season. The Singles’ Day (11/11), Black Friday (this year on 29/11) and Christmas rushes result in activities hotting up at China Post in November and early December. “In cross-border goods traffic, we might see an increase in volume of over 50 percent from one day to the next,” said Ma Zhanhong.

Up-to-Date Tracking.

 

Given these challenges faced in their own country, the executives in charge are delighted to have found a competent partner in Lufthansa Cargo to assist them in their efforts to boost the efficiency of cross-border airfreight shipments. “What our customers expect from us are reliable delivery times, competitive pricing and up-to-date tracking information,” explained Ma Zhanhong, Deputy Managing Director of the China Post subsidiary China Postal Express & Logistics, during the meeting of the top representatives of the two companies. “Especially in the provision of data, streamlined customs clearance service and the service quality on the so-called last mile, there is still potential for improvement that we believe we can exploit even better in cooperation with Lufthansa Cargo,” added Ma. “Ideally, our customers should be able to trace everything down to the level of individual packages at all times.”

At Lufthansa Cargo everything is already geared towards achieving this objective: the freight airline’s aim is to have customers perceive Lufthansa Cargo not only as a dependable airport-to-airport carrier, but also as a fully digitalized operation. Easy-to-use Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have already been provided to let customers connect their own IT systems to the booking, tracking and billing tools of Lufthansa Cargo, and the quality of the data exchanged in this way is constantly improving. “We will be pleased to meet any additional challenges China Post cares to present us with in the future,” affirmed von Boxberg.

The Board Member and her hosts from China Post also established a working group with the task of investigating the potential of a cooperative venture between China Post and heyworld. This Lufthansa Cargo subsidiary (see also the article) specializes in IT-based logistics solutions for customers engaged in cross-border e-commerce. “In terms of pricing structure and service level, our start-up heyworld is positioned right in the middle between the services offered by the integrators and the postal companies,” explained Dorothea von Boxberg.

“Customers working with heyworld receive a service that is quicker than that provided by postal companies, and cheaper than those of the major international parcel carrier services. In addition, heyworld offers its customers door-to-door services with cross docking and full data transparency along the entire transport chain. From my perspective this would make a perfect fit with China Post’s ambition to further optimize their services and their efficiency.”

With 13,120 square meters of storage space and the capacity for handling 16.5 million parcels per month, the Wangjing International Mail Processing Center, located about half an hour’s drive from Beijing’s old airport PEK, is one of China Post’s largest air cargo hubs in the capital. As is true for many things throughout this giant empire, the operation still involves a great deal of manual labor. However, the management of China Post is currently engaged in the process of learning all about fully and partially automated systems of the kind relied on by Lufthansa Cargo, for example at the Airmail Center in Frankfurt. Through this and the other three main hubs the freight airline Lufthansa Cargo manages to process 200 tons of “mail” every day – 80 percent of which are e-commerce consignments. 

The people in charge at China Post are well aware that it is only through automation and digitalization that the challenges brought about by the growth in e-commerce can be tackled successfully in the long term. The volumes handled rise rapidly during every peak season. The Singles’ Day (11/11), Black Friday (this year on 29/11) and Christmas rushes result in activities hotting up at China Post in November and early December. “In cross-border goods traffic, we might see an increase in volume of over 50 percent from one day to the next,” said Ma Zhanhong.

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Manufactured by order.

Other trends driving the growth of China Post, and to which the company must adapt, are the increasing personalization of products – the growing number of products that can only be manufactured and made ready for delivery after an order has been received – and the fact in the future Chinese manufacturers will be receiving increasing numbers of individual orders, rather than bulk orders. “We at China Post want to respond to all these trends by providing efficient solutions,” underscored Ma.

Conclusion: the number of Internet users worldwide today is 4.3 billion – and rising. The global logistics network has also improved in tandem with this development. This enables e-commerce giants like Amazon, Alibaba and Ebay to operate on a global scale. Yet e-commerce is also the business model for the future for small and medium-sized enterprises. “China will continue to play the leading role in this field, because the bulk of household and consumer goods will continue to be manufactured by us,” said Wen Shaoqi in summing up at the close of the meeting with Dorothea von Boxberg and her team. 

“In this highly competitive environment in which many transport and logistics providers operate, China Post will continue to play a leading role globally, thanks to the company’s experience and large domestic market,” was von Boxberg’s assessment. “With the capacities we bring to this, with our digital know-how and our one-hundred percent commitment towards our customers, we will continue to assist China Post in exploiting this enormous potential even more efficiently in the future.”

 

Conclusion: the number of Internet users worldwide today is 4.3 billion – and rising. The global logistics network has also improved in tandem with this development. This enables e-commerce giants like Amazon, Alibaba and Ebay to operate on a global scale. Yet e-commerce is also the business model for the future for small and medium-sized enterprises. “China will continue to play the leading role in this field, because the bulk of household and consumer goods will continue to be manufactured by us,” said Wen Shaoqi in summing up at the close of the meeting with Dorothea von Boxberg and her team. 

“In this highly competitive environment in which many transport and logistics providers operate, China Post will continue to play a leading role globally, thanks to the company’s experience and large domestic market,” was von Boxberg’s assessment. “With the capacities we bring to this, with our digital know-how and our one-hundred percent commitment towards our customers, we will continue to assist China Post in exploiting this enormous potential even more efficiently in the future.”

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Center: Dorothea von Boxberg and, to her right, Ma Zhanhong, Deputy Managing Director of the China Post subsidiary China Postal Express & Logistics. Also on the photo (left side): Liu Shu Jun, interpreter at China Post, Dong Jie Li, Director North China, Janet Mi, Director Key Account Management Asia (both Lufthansa Cargo) as well as Hou Ji Zhou, Director International Network Operations at China Post. To Mr. Ma’s right: J. Florian Pfaff, Vice President Asia Pacific Lufthansa Cargo, Gao Lei, Project Manager at China Post, as well as Coco Sun, Key Account Manager at Lufthansa Cargo

http://english.chinapost.com.cn

Planet 2/2019

Photos Shawn Koh

http://english.chinapost.com.cn

Planet 2/2019

Photos Shawn Koh

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Heyworld.

Timo Schamber belongs to the generation of managers who grew up spending their pocket money shopping on the Internet. “Over time I got used to the ever-increasing level of convenience that comes with players like Amazon offering same-day and flat-rate deliveries. E-commerce is simply the best fit with my lifestyle, because it means I am not confined to the opening hours of brick-and-mortar shops.” Whereas his purchases back then often involved computer games, today the 31-year-old mostly orders fashion articles on the Internet. “Sometimes I order stuff from overseas, because I like items that are difficult to find in my home country, Germany.” 

However, Schamber is not only a typical example of today’s consumers, the type who helps generate double-digit growth rates in e-commerce year after year. As the manager of heyworld, he is also deeply ensconced in the sector at a professional level. Since June of this year, this wholly-owned subsidiary of Lufthansa Cargo has been specializing exclusively on the needs of the e-commerce sector. Their services primarily target online merchants, digital marketplaces, webshop providers, but also forwarders who operate in cross-border e-commerce and who want to garner a slice of this ever-increasing “cake” for themselves.

“The services provided by heyworld are more comprehensive than those a cargo airline is able to offer,” is how Timo Schamber explains the rationale behind the company’s inception by Lufthansa Cargo. “To be successful as a logistics service provider in e-commerce, you simply must offer a door-to-door delivery process and be able to flexibly integrate various service providers into a modular transport product.” As an airline spin-off, heyworld will also offer the airport-to-airport module as a key component of its overall solution. Schamber: “This is where our strength tips the balance, because we have access to the best flight network from, to and within Europe. Yet we offer this service as part of packaged combinations, by working in concert with additional partners and integrating e-commerce-specific services such as cross docking.”

However, the main difference to the conventional freight business, and another reason for establishing an independent company, is the fact that e-commerce customers generally want information down to the individual package level, and for the entire door-to-door supply chain – including price information. This has a dramatic effect on the amount of data that needs to be generated, transmitted and processed by the transport management system. Even just tracking an individual package is a much more demanding and complex task than is the case with large single items or with consolidated airfreight shipments. For this reason Schamber readily concedes that in terms of strategy, heyworld probably shares more characteristics with a software company than with a logistics service provider.

Both in terms of pricing and speed, the young company boss perceives his organization to be positioned between the services offered by integrators and those of postal service providers. “In e-commerce, the margins are often quite insubstantial. The cost of express shipments is therefore often incompatible with the budgets available for cross-border expansion of e-commerce merchants,” says Schamber. “However, quality and speed are incredibly important in this market. If you had to wait too long for your parcel to arrive because the logistics service provider was too slow, and maybe could not even tell you when the parcel would be arriving, you are not likely to order again from this same provider. And this precisely is the fact that opens up an opportunity for heyworld. We offer a worldwide, transparent and moderately priced door-to-door service of high quality that also operates at the speed required by e-commerce providers.”

  

 “The services provided by heyworld are more comprehensive than those a cargo airline is able to offer,” is how Timo Schamber explains the rationale behind the company’s inception by Lufthansa Cargo. “To be successful as a logistics service provider in e-commerce, you simply must offer a door-to-door delivery process and be able to flexibly integrate various service providers into a modular transport product.” As an airline spin-off, heyworld will also offer the airport-to-airport module as a key component of its overall solution. Schamber: “This is where our strength tips the balance, because we have access to the best flight network from, to and within Europe. Yet we offer this service as part of packaged combinations, by working in concert with additional partners and integrating e-commerce-specific services such as cross docking.”

However, the main difference to the conventional freight business, and another reason for establishing an independent company, is the fact that e-commerce customers generally want information down to the individual package level, and for the entire door-to-door supply chain – including price information. This has a dramatic effect on the amount of data that needs to be generated, transmitted and processed by the transport management system.

Even just tracking an individual package is a much more demanding and complex task than is the case with large single items or with consolidated airfreight shipments. For this reason Schamber readily concedes that in terms of strategy, heyworld probably shares more characteristics with a software company than with a logistics service provider.

Both in terms of pricing and speed, the young company boss perceives his organization to be positioned between the services offered by integrators and those of postal service providers. “In e-commerce, the margins are often quite insubstantial. The cost of express shipments is therefore often incompatible with the budgets available for cross-border expansion of e-commerce merchants,” says Schamber. “However, quality and speed are incredibly important in this market. If you had to wait too long for your parcel to arrive because the logistics service provider was too slow, and maybe could not even tell you when the parcel would be arriving, you are not likely to order again from this same provider. And this precisely is the fact that opens up an opportunity for heyworld. We offer a worldwide, transparent and moderately priced door-to-door service of high quality that also operates at the speed required by e-commerce providers.”

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Which is why Schamber is untroubled by the fact that major players like Amazon and Alibaba are increasingly attempting to handle the logistics side of the business themselves, i.e. in-house. Today, just a few months after the company was established, heyworld already does steady business with a number of customers, both within Europe and from Europe to Asia. Product groups particularly suited for e-commerce that the company is already handling or is aiming to handle in the future include fashion articles, shoes, food supplements, electronic equipment and furniture.

The cross-border e-commerce market is growing rapidly, at double-digit growth rates. “In 2018 every fifth e-commerce shipment in Europe was already a cross-border consignment,” says Schamber. “The proportion will be higher still this year.”

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That said, nobody actually knows how big the share of e-commerce in the total tonnage moved by the airfreight industry is. The reason why this is unknown: importers making an airfreight booking are not required to indicate whether they plan to sell their goods on the Internet. This much is known, however: according to a Statista forecast, in 2022 a total of around 2.35 trillion euros will be spent globally on the B2C e-commerce market trading in physical goods. To which the industrious start-up team members gathered around Schamber respond with a cheerful “Hello world” – they are raring to go and successfully take on the big boys.

www.heyworld.com

Planet 2/2019

Photos Alex Kraus

Planet 2/2019

Photos Alex Kraus

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Spider-Man.

Consider airplanes weighing only half as much as they do today, yet still being twice as strong. Picture a world where commerce and industry could do away with plastic completely and no longer add to the carpet of micro plastics already floating out in the Pacific Ocean. And what if defective heart muscle tissue could be accurately reproduced using a synthetic material?

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A material like this could revolutionize both the economy and society. And it already exists: spider silk – extremely strong, yet flexible, and biodegradable as well as sterile. And because this material can now be manufactured artificially, new opportunities are opening up for numerous sectors of the economy.

The man who succeeded in developing a process for the production of spider silk on a large scale for the first time – a feat that earned him a nomination for the European Inventor Award of the European Patent Office last year – is Thomas Scheibel. Scheibel is a professor at the Chair of Biomaterials at the University of Bayreuth and the founder and shareholder of the start-up AMSilk, the company set up to manufacture synthetic spider silk on a commercial scale together with partners and market it under the name Biosteel.

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Industry responds enthusiastically.

Some well-known companies have already declared their intention to use synthetic spider silk thread: Adidas has developed a running shoe that is unrivaled in terms of its light weight and its strength, and it will soon be produced in large quantities. And Omega has produced a particularly skin-friendly watch strap made from synthetic spider silk.

Spider silk proteins have already been used in the cosmetics industry for years now. In creams or nail polishes they produce a breathable protective film on the skin. AMSilk recently managed to sell its cosmetics division to the Swiss industry giant Givaudan. The medical technology industry has also recognized the potential of synthetic spider silk: “The material is sterile, which means it can be used on and inside the body without causing the body to reject it,” says Scheibel.

The aviation industry is also enthusiastic: Airbus and AMSilk have signed a cooperation agreement for the development of materials for aircraft manufacture that are based on synthetic silk. Many components of large commercial aircraft are already made from composite materials instead of aluminum in order to reduce weight. In the future the AMSilk material could be used here instead of carbon compounds as this would reduce the weight even further and enhance durability.

The multitude of applications in which spider silk can be used has also aroused the interest of Lufthansa Cargo. Airfreight pallets, for example, still have to be wrapped with considerable quantities of plastic film today in order to secure the load and protect it from external conditions. The cargo airline’s environmental management is therefore looking into the question of whether film made from spider silk, which would be completely biodegradable, could replace the mountains of plastic that are difficult to recycle in the medium term. 

In Professor Scheibel’s institute, there already is a machine that can manufacture a film that is unmatched in terms of its thinness and strength. Moreover, the scientist is convinced that the material can soon be produced economically on a large scale. Which means it could then also be used to manufacture cheap everyday products like foils and packaging. “The process is similar to that used to manufacture laundry detergents,” says Scheibel. Once the relevant – albeit considerable – initial investment is in place, spider silk may offer a real prospect of replacing environmentally harmful plastics in the long term, thus solving the global micro plastics problem.

Spider silk proteins have already been used in the cosmetics industry for years now. In creams or nail polishes they produce a breathable protective film on the skin. AMSilk recently managed to sell its cosmetics division to the Swiss industry giant Givaudan. The medical technology industry has also recognized the potential of synthetic spider silk: “The material is sterile, which means it can be used on and inside the body without causing the body to reject it,” says Scheibel.

The aviation industry is also enthusiastic: Airbus and AMSilk have signed a cooperation agreement for the development of materials for aircraft manufacture that are based on synthetic silk. Many components of large commercial aircraft are already made from composite materials instead of aluminum in order to reduce weight. In the future the AMSilk material could be used here instead of carbon compounds as this would reduce the weight even further and enhance durability.

The multitude of applications in which spider silk can be used has also aroused the interest of Lufthansa Cargo. Airfreight pallets, for example, still have to be wrapped with considerable quantities of plastic film today in order to secure the load and protect it from external conditions. The cargo airline’s environmental management is therefore looking into the question of whether film made from spider silk, which would be completely biodegradable, could replace the mountains of plastic that are difficult to recycle in the medium term. 

In Professor Scheibel’s institute, there already is a machine that can manufacture a film that is unmatched in terms of its thinness and strength. Moreover, the scientist is convinced that the material can soon be produced economically on a large scale. Which means it could then also be used to manufacture cheap everyday products like foils and packaging. “The process is similar to that used to manufacture laundry detergents,” says Scheibel. Once the relevant – albeit considerable – initial investment is in place, spider silk may offer a real prospect of replacing environmentally harmful plastics in the long term, thus solving the global micro plastics problem.

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Silk-making took ages to learn.

People have had a fascination for the special strength and elasticity as well as the fineness of spider silk ever since ancient times. The material has also long been used for wound dressings. Since the 1980s, scientists and manufacturers have been dreaming of producing spider silk synthetically – and they have failed time and again over the years. Using natural ways to produce the material in large quantities is not possible – spiders are cannibalistic in nature and would end up eating each other if bred in large numbers.

Scheibel sees two reasons why his earlier competitors have failed in their efforts: “Some of them were grounded in materials science and were focused too heavily on the material itself and the process by which it is produced. Others were biologists, and their focus was firmly on the animal.” 

But Scheibel is a biochemist. Prior to devoting his efforts to spider silk, his research concerned the BSE pathogen; this was at the end of the 1990s. “Back then I wasn’t really interested in spiders at all,” the 50-year-old frankly admits. “What I did want to understand was the exact nature of the proteins that are responsible for the special properties of spider silk.” This approach provided the key to the eventual success, but it still required years of meticulous scientific work. 

Scheibel and his team have been researching the proteins spiders use to make their silk since 2001. The method that made it possible years later to produce silk in the laboratory using genetic engineering and biotechnology looks simple at first glance: the DNA responsible for the production of the spider silk is copied from the spider’s genetic material. It is then inserted into the genetic material of bacteria. The bacteria then produce the spider silk protein, and this can be harvested and processed into a white powder. 

However, in order to learn how to spin a thread from the material obtained in this way, the team had to undertake additional research to identify and understand the chemical and mechanical tricks being performed inside the spider’s body. For instance, the spider thread ends up with its unique properties only because, depending on the thread’s intended use, the spider spins it using different raw materials from separate reservoirs located inside its abdomen.

 

Scheibel sees two reasons why his earlier competitors have failed in their efforts: “Some of them were grounded in materials science and were focused too heavily on the material itself and the process by which it is produced. Others were biologists, and their focus was firmly on the animal.” 

But Scheibel is a biochemist. Prior to devoting his efforts to spider silk, his research concerned the BSE pathogen; this was at the end of the 1990s. “Back then I wasn’t really interested in spiders at all,” the 50-year-old frankly admits. “What I did want to understand was the exact nature of the proteins that are responsible for the special properties of spider silk.” This approach provided the key to the eventual success, but it still required years of meticulous scientific work. 

Scheibel and his team have been researching the proteins spiders use to make their silk since 2001. The method that made it possible years later to produce silk in the laboratory using genetic engineering and biotechnology looks simple at first glance: the DNA responsible for the production of the spider silk is copied from the spider’s genetic material. It is then inserted into the genetic material of bacteria. The bacteria then produce the spider silk protein, and this can be harvested and processed into a white powder. 

However, in order to learn how to spin a thread from the material obtained in this way, the team had to undertake additional research to identify and understand the chemical and mechanical tricks being performed inside the spider’s body. For instance, the spider thread ends up with its unique properties only because, depending on the thread’s intended use, the spider spins it using different raw materials from separate reservoirs located inside its abdomen.

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Samples from the jungle.

The amount of tension the spider applies when spinning the thread is also of great importance: the tension ensures that the protein molecules are uniformly aligned, which is what gives the thread the desired strength and flexibility. It took almost ten years before Scheibel and his team members were able to emulate this process in the laboratory. Today special wet spinning plants can produce the thread in large quantities, and AMSilk is in talks with a large number of industry partners regarding the next steps to take.

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Efforts are also under way to push the research further – and to do this, they have enlisted the help of Lufthansa Cargo: a member of Professor Scheibel’s team is in the jungles of Colombia right now searching for new species of spiders, so that the scientists can investigate the properties of the silk they produced. The aim is to be able to produce even better synthetic silk, and to identify new areas of application. The natural spider silk is collected locally and wound onto spools. This cargo is then flown from Bogotá to Bayreuth for analysis. Constant temperature, pressure and, above all, humidity conditions must be maintained throughout transport. Speed is of the essence here. “Unlike our biotech silk, natural spider silk tends to age as a result of other substances adhering to the proteins,” explains Scheibel. This is why the spools with the natural spider silk are flown to Europe on board a Lufthansa Cargo Boeing 777F as a “Fresh” shipment.

www.fiberlab.de

www.amsilk.com

Planet 2/2019

Photos Matthias Aletsee, Adidas

Planet 2/2019

Photos Matthias Aletsee, Adidas

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Organic.

Anyone with a cherry tree in their garden that will yield a bucket or two of cherries every year can count their blessings. After all, recreational gardeners growing cherries merely for their own consumption can usually get by without the use of pesticides. They harvest the cherries as soon as they are ripe. And they accept that some of the fruit will not quite match the images in the advertising materials put out by the grocery store. On supermarket shelves, however, organic cherries are still hard to find. Whereas other types of organic fruit, such as apples, have long been an established part of the product range, the consumers’ search for organic cherries will often be in vain. Cherries are susceptible to pests and fungi, and if it rains too much, they will absorb water until they burst. In Central and Northern Europe, biologically and ecologically sound cultivation therefore involves high costs and is still the exception. By contrast, Copefrut Chile S.A., with their home base in the geographical center of Chile, has boldly set out to do just that in a project that has been running for two years now. The cooperative is an alliance of several Chilean fruit growers and is located in the Région del Maule, where everything revolves around agriculture. Its Mediterranean climate with hot days and cool nights makes the region perfectly suited to crop cultivation. Copefrut lets the organic cherries ripen on a spread covering about 50 hectares – free of pesticides and certified. The company is one of Chile’s fruit-growing giants.

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Cherries grown in this Andean country are popular all over the world. In the 2017/2018 season Chile exported some 170,000 tons. China, where the fruit is marketed in time for New Year’s Eve, purchased 94 percent of cherries exported. Copefrut alone exported 25,000 tons. A respectable 250 tons of these were organically grown. Sustainability has long played a pivotal role in Copefrut’s corporate culture. Working closely with universities and food industry giants, the cooperative is determined to become even more sustainable in the future. For example, the farms are increasingly moving over to environmentally friendly packaging solutions. It is one of the characteristics of cherries that once picked, they will not continue to ripen. While most cherries are chilled and exported using sea freight, the organic varieties Royal Dawn, Santina, Bing, Lapins, Kordia, Sweetheart and Regina leave the country by air. The cherries are driven 200 kilometers north to the airport of Santiago de Chile (SCL) in refrigerated trucks. For the most recent harvest, Lufthansa Cargo arranged for transport runs to Frankfurt, Moscow, Bangkok and Shanghai. UPS first flew the cherries to Buenos Aires on a Boeing 767 freighter, and from there Lufthansa Cargo took care of onward transportation to Frankfurt (FRA) using a Boeing 777F. The flight time for the 11,500-kilometer route from Argentina to Germany was 13 hours and 25 minutes.

Planet 2/2019

Photos iStock

Planet 2/2019

Photos iStock

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Gold rush.

More than 150 years ago, a gold rush swept through the west of North America. In the 19th century thousands set out to start a new life in the search for this precious material; they quit their jobs and moved west, putting everything on a single roll of the dice. That initial euphoria may be long gone, but in many places the search continues. In the “mountain states” Colorado and Utah, highly professional gold diggers are still mining today. And when they do strike it lucky, time becomes of the essence. If the necessary equipment is not available, they run a significant risk of missing out on revenue. It so happened that in the spring of this year, an American mine operation urgently needed a sprocket assembly for a mining machine. The part had to be shipped immediately from the manufacturer in Tianjin in northern China to Salt Lake City in the US state of Utah. For the first leg, transportation by truck from the port city to Beijing Airport (PEK) was arranged for the shipment.

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When the shipment was already on its way, the gold diggers in the United States happened to find yet another deposit. Which meant that they needed the equipment even sooner. It also meant that Salt Lake International Airport was now no longer the optimal destination. Precious time would have been lost during the road transport run from the airport to the site of the newly discovered gold deposit. So the Customer Solutions Team at Lufthansa Cargo redirected the shipment to Denver International Airport (DEN) instead, as it was closer to the new site. New shipping documents were issued, and a “td.Flash” shipment was arranged for the customer. At 3:20 a.m. a Boeing 777F, flight number LH8431, took off from Beijing en route to Frankfurt. The flight time: about ten hours. Having arrived in the metropolis on the river Main, the shipment continued a little later, this time in the hold of a Boeing 747 on the direct flight LH446 to Denver, and from there it went directly to the gold mine.

Planet 2/2019

Photos iStock

Planet 2/2019

Photos iStock

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Upcycling Cargo.

Magic potions, miracle drugs, artificial intelligence – in their search for eternal life, humans have always been inventive. But despite all that, a remedy against mortality has not (yet) been found. Similarly, we do yet have a solution for dealing with the growing mountains of waste on our planet. Every person on earth produces 1.5 kilograms of waste per day on average. And the tendency is rising. Unless we do something about it, of course – which we can. Through upcycling, for example. How this might look in practice is demonstrated in a campaign that was launched by four women working for Lufthansa Cargo. Not only does the campaign present some innovative ideas; it also shows us how we can easily extend the time we have on this wonderful planet. If perhaps not forever, then at least for a little while. 

Comeback as a designer piece.

“Our recycling rate is now up to almost 100 percent. Our upcycling rate is virtually zero,” says Christina Franz. A senior marketing manager with Lufthansa Cargo, she is one of the four women who, a year ago, launched the campaign that grew out of a support program for young female employees. Also on board are Jule Parulewski, Britta Dechert and Daniela Simon. Their plan is to give freight containers and loading equipment and accessories a new lease on life when they come to the end of their service time rather than taking them to the scrap yard. “But with all enthusiasm we had when we started out, we soon realized that we would not be able to pull this off by ourselves in the long run,” says senior project manager Jule Parulewski. They needed a partner – and they soon found one: the Institute for Recycling, Ecology and Design Frankfurt (IRED). The plan: Lufthansa Cargo would supply the materials and provide the input. The IRED, headed by Professor Werner Lorke, would contribute the creative ideas, the necessary labor and the hardware: lathes, 3-D printers, milling equipment and laser cutters. 

In just a few months, the first upcycling products were produced from old loading equipment: travel trolleys made from decommissioned cargo containers. The same material was used to make a wall clock reflecting the airfreight company’s crane esthetic. 

Key rings milled from floor plates, and stamped with IATA codes, for example. Designer pieces made from what supposedly were waste materials. Real eye-catchers, the lot of them. 

“What was of interest to us in this venture primarily was the global context,” recalls Professor Werner Lorke, who heads the project at the IRED. Frédéric Kreutzer, one of the researchers there: “These airfreight materials have already traveled all over the world. There are dents, scratches, scuff marks, and they all add to the patina of these upcycling products.” It is precisely the kind of “pre-loved” character that they were after. “We live in a world of consumerism that prioritizes new products,” says the professor. “Upcycling has the potential to boost the level of acceptance regarding products made from secondary raw materials.” 

The people at the IRED were now all fired up. The professor promptly launches a seminar at the Offenbach University for Art and Design (HfG), where he teaches. The task: to design sustainably produced, practical objects made from discarded airfreight equipment. Here, too, they work closely with the quartet from Lufthansa Cargo. The rush is on: more than 30 students sign up for the workshop.

Comeback as a designer piece.

“Our recycling rate is now up to almost 100 percent. Our upcycling rate is virtually zero,” says Christina Franz. A senior marketing manager with Lufthansa Cargo, she is one of the four women who, a year ago, launched the campaign that grew out of a support program for young female employees. Also on board are Jule Parulewski, Britta Dechert and Daniela Simon. Their plan is to give freight containers and loading equipment and accessories a new lease on life when they come to the end of their service time rather than taking them to the scrap yard. “But with all enthusiasm we had when we started out, we soon realized that we would not be able to pull this off by ourselves in the long run,” says senior project manager Jule Parulewski. They needed a partner – and they soon found one: the Institute for Recycling, Ecology and Design Frankfurt (IRED). The plan: Lufthansa Cargo would supply the materials and provide the input. The IRED, headed by Professor Werner Lorke, would contribute the creative ideas, the necessary labor and the hardware: lathes, 3-D printers, milling equipment and laser cutters. 

In just a few months, the first upcycling products were produced from old loading equipment: travel trolleys made from decommissioned cargo containers. The same material was used to make a wall clock reflecting the airfreight company’s crane esthetic.

Key rings milled from floor plates, and stamped with IATA codes, for example. Designer pieces made from what supposedly were waste materials. Real eye-catchers, the lot of them. 

“What was of interest to us in this venture primarily was the global context,” recalls Professor Werner Lorke, who heads the project at the IRED. Frédéric Kreutzer, one of the researchers there: “These airfreight materials have already traveled all over the world. There are dents, scratches, scuff marks, and they all add to the patina of these upcycling products.” It is precisely the kind of “pre-loved” character that they were after. “We live in a world of consumerism that prioritizes new products,” says the professor. “Upcycling has the potential to boost the level of acceptance regarding products made from secondary raw materials.” 

The people at the IRED were now all fired up. The professor promptly launches a seminar at the Offenbach University for Art and Design (HfG), where he teaches. The task: to design sustainably produced, practical objects made from discarded airfreight equipment. Here, too, they work closely with the quartet from Lufthansa Cargo. The rush is on: more than 30 students sign up for the workshop.

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Thinking globally.

One of them is Emilie Burfeind. Working in a team with three of her fellow students, the 25-year-old is developing an upcycling concept that goes far beyond mere esthetics. Together they build an urban farm using decommissioned cargo containers. “The idea takes inspiration from the concept of aquaponics,” she explains. “It is a closed circuit linking aquaculture and hydroculture.” The model representing the farm has two floors. The top floor is symbolically draped in moss. On the bottom floor small fish made from paper are suspended on pieces of string. Whatever people do not use as food will be recycled. Small animals such as fish and chickens feed on the waste from crops. Their excrements in turn become fertilizer for the new crop seed. Could this be the future for agriculture? “The trend is clearly pointing towards self-sufficiency,” Burfeind is convinced. “Mountains of waste, a growing population, dwindling resources – we need solutions that can compensate for all this.” She sees the urban farm as one way people can provide for themselves autonomously – whether they live in rural Africa or in the middle of Tokyo.

The other participants in the seminar are equally creative, developing sustainable solutions from old airfreight containers: alternative environments for people waiting in departure halls, sleeping berths and pieces of furniture. And there are backpacks, bicycle bags and camera straps among the objects they create, made from old tarpaulins, safety belts and lashing straps. Floor plates become the raw material for handsome bottle openers, for example.

All these ideas are right on target. At the “transport logistic” trade fair in Munich, where the team members present their first prototypes, people are already asking about mass production. Lufthansa Cargo CEO Peter Gerber is the project’s patron. The travel trolleys are currently being developed further, and work is ongoing on fine-tuning the sales and distribution concepts. It is also envisaged that any future proceeds from the products should go to environmental initiatives.

The other participants in the seminar are equally creative, developing sustainable solutions from old airfreight containers: alternative environments for people waiting in departure halls, sleeping berths and pieces of furniture. And there are backpacks, bicycle bags and camera straps among the objects they create, made from old tarpaulins, safety belts and lashing straps. Floor plates become the raw material for handsome bottle openers, for example.

 

All these ideas are right on target. At the “transport logistic” trade fair in Munich, where the team members present their first prototypes, people are already asking about mass production. Lufthansa Cargo CEO Peter Gerber is the project’s patron. The travel trolleys are currently being developed further, and work is ongoing on fine-tuning the sales and distribution concepts. It is also envisaged that any future proceeds from the products should go to environmental initiatives.

 

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The team inspects work that is made to measure: Professor Werner Lorke from the IRED, Christina Franz from Lufthansa Cargo, Emilie Burfeind, a student at the HfG, Frédéric Kreutzer, a researcher at the IRED, and Jule Parulewski from Lufthansa Cargo (l. to r.)

The small difference that really matters.

The small difference that really matters.

Recycling
Recycling is the generic term used to cover all the different recycling methods. The word means “to return something to the cycle”. A recyclable material is thus given back to the consumer in a new form. A classic example: disused PET bottles are turned into granulate, and this is then used to make fleece jackets and packaging materials.

Downcycling
Unlike standard recycling, here the waste is turned into a product of lower quality. When recycling paper, for example, it is not possible to fully match the quality of the original product. However, this does not detract from the benefit of recycling in terms of sustainability. Downcycling is something we can all do in our everyday lives: simply print paper double-sided, or reuse the reverse side of paper that has already been printed on one side.

Upcycling
This is also a form of recycling, but here esthetics assumes a pivotal role. Products that are made from waste and are often artistically augmented using other materials and then actually increase in value. Ideally, the resulting product turns out to be a designer object.

 

Photos: Alex Kraus

Planet 2/2019