DB Schenker has confirmed that it will begin regular rail shipments of CKD kits for BMW from its new $33m Leipzig logistics centre in Germany to BMW’s joint venture assembly plant in Shenyang, northeastern China from next month.
The Shenyang plant is run as part of BMW’s joint venture with Chinese carmaker Brilliance China Automotive. Called BMW Brilliance Automotive, it produces 15 variants of the latest generations of the BMW 3 Series and 5 Series for the Chinese market.
Four container trains have so far departed with parts and components to the Shenyang plant via the Trans-Siberian Railway but starting in late November, container trains will travel daily from the Leipzig-Wahren transshipment terminal on the 23-day journey.
The containers are loaded at the logistics centre and then transported to the transshipment terminal by truck.
BMW is organising rail shipment directly and the 11,000km route will save transport time compared with ocean routes that are up to 20,000km.
“With a transit time of 23 days, the direct trains are more than twice as fast as maritime transport followed by transport to the Chinese hinterland,” said Dr Karl-Friedrich Rausch, member of the Management Board of DB Mobility Logistics responsible for Transportation and Logistics. “This is a major incentive for the Eurasian Land Bridge. We are grateful to BMW for placing their trust in this environmentally friendly transport route.”
The route reaches China via Poland, Belarus and Russia. DB Schenker Rail cooperates with partner rail companies in each of the countries to oversee the trains. The containers have to be transferred by crane to different gauges twice – first to the Russian broad gauge at the Polish-Belarusian border and then back to standard gauge at the Russian-Chinese border in Manzhouli.
Up to 8,000 different components from BMW’s suppliers are received, packaged and loaded onto containers at the 63,000m2 Leipzig warehouse, which was developed with property group Goodman. Once the logistics centre is operating at full capacity, around 50 containers will be able to be loaded daily said the company.
BMW is also using the centre for ocean shipments of CKD kits to its Rosslyn plant in South Africa.
Sheet metal parts are also treated in Leipzig for maritime transport through different climate zones.
DB Schenker is keen to build on the connections between its rail and contract logistics divisions but stipulates that it will only do so if quality requirements are met. “We see a huge potential in combining our services with the railway network,” said Dr Detlef Trefzger, member of the Board, Contract Logistics/SCM. “But with line-feeding quality requirements of 99.95%, we have to make sure that each and every rail service is compliant with those requirements as well, or we organise the supply chain with a certain buffer, which then leads to working capital effects very quickly in order to prevent the interruption of production. We are working on those solutions,” he told Automotive Logistics.
The company also reports that it transported around 3m finished vehicles by rail in 2010.