Bulk Distributor Jan/Feb20 | Page 10

10 B ULK D ISTRIBUTOR Tank Containers January/February 2020 Bertschi posts gains in difficult market B ertschi Group grew again in the 2019 financial year. But, a challenging market environment saw the rate of growth for the Swiss chemical logistics company slow considerably. Sales rose to CHF985 million, with the earnings position remaining just about stable. Efforts focused on digitalisation and targeted expansion of services. The family-owned business plans to continue these efforts vigorously in 2020. The second half of the year was shaped by economic headwinds. After a strong start, the world economy, and in particular the automotive industry, which is so important to the chemicals industry, lost momentum over the course of 2019. Bertschi was not immune to this trend and towards the end of the year was faced with weak transport demand, particularly in its European business units. In the reporting year, Bertschi saw group revenues rise by 1.3 percent to CHF985 million. The workforce grew by 3 percent to 3,100. Adjusted for negative currency effects, revenue gains of 3.6 percent in local currency terms were posted. In addition to the economic downswing, the strength of the Swiss Franc also had a negative impact. In spite of the difficult economic environment, cost management enabled Bertschi to maintain earnings just about consistent with the previous year’s figures. Worldwide activities were the primary growth drivers in 2019, the company reported, while Bertschi’s European business was increasingly tepid as the year progressed. The early-cyclical company was beset by significant economic headwinds toward the end of the year in Germany, in particular. Bertschi was successful in its implementation of complex supply chain solutions in 2019. In this area, the company offers concepts encompassing order management, transport, storage, product handling and goods distribution. Such concepts are also increasingly used in global logistics chains. In-house hubs, such as the logistics centre in Singapore, play an important role in the storage, filling and distribution of liquid chemical products in South-East Asia. Digitalisation pay off Bertschi made significant investment in its future in 2019. In addition to expansion of its container fleet by 7 percent to 36,800 units, substantial facility expansion in Duisburg and Schwarzheide (Germany) boosted local capacity for modal shift from road to rail and for product storage, respectively. Last year also saw the completion of the expansion of the headquarters in Dürrenäsch, Switzerland, and commencement of operations in the new facilities. With the new, modern office space, staff restaurant and outdoor relaxation areas, the company offers employees an outstanding working environment. A focus of the company’s digital transformation efforts in 2019 was the roll-out of the Bertschi TruckTracer app. “Our drivers and all company partners receive their order data through the app and then record every step of the transport chain on it. This data flows into the Group’s transport planning system and from there on to customers through various interfaces. This real-time data is used to optimise internal transport planning, while customers benefit from visibility and more planning security in their delivery chains,” said Michael Baechler, group COO. By the end of Sustainable intermodal transport – Bertschi’s intermodal terminal in Rotterdam-Botlek the year, Bertschi had been able to implement this transparency tool in 95 percent of all European transports. Solutions for the future Looking ahead to 2020, group CEO Jan Arnet is cautious: “Last year we saw a notable and steady cooling-off of the economy, and in Europe in particular important industry sectors have slid into recession. We expect this trend to continue in 2020, with corresponding effects on transport demand. I expect that our global orientation will allow us to offset regional sales declines to some extent. But we will continue to have a strong focus on cost developments in 2020 as well.” In this challenging environment, the ongoing digitalisation strategy will be continued in full force. The objective of the digital transformation is to enable efficiency gains in business processes while simultaneously generating added value for customers. One component of this is the SmartTainer project, which will go into an initial implementation phase in 2020 following pilot testing last year. GPS and sensor technology in about 1,600 tank containers will enable parameters, such as the position of the container and the temperature of the loaded product, to be recorded and monitored in real time. This will enable the company to set new standards in terms of customer service, safety and efficiency, particularly in intermodal transport chains, such as rail and inland waterways. In terms of sustainability, Bertschi says it has has played a pioneering role in this field for years. With this approach, CO2 emissions have reduced by more than 60 percent compared with road transport. In Europe, Bertschi conducts 90 percent of all overland transport by intermodal rail and will continue to expand this service in 2020. Sustainable concepts are also being implemented in other areas, such as the development of completely recyclable transport aids for loose plastics (the GreenLiner) and the campaign to replace non-recyclable flexitanks and barrels with tank containers in the transport of liquid chemical products. Record anniversaries The highlight of the traditional annual employees meeting on 18 January was the ceremony to honour long-serving staff. A new record was set with 142 employees receiving the thanks of group executive chairman Hans-Jörg Bertschi for 10, 20, 30 and even 40 years of service to the company. More than 60 of those honoured were celebrating their 20th anniversary of service with the company. “The millennium year that began in 2000 was evidently a very special class with exceptional company loyalty,” said Hans-Jörg Bertschi. In addition to eight people celebrating 30 years of service, Bruno Steiner and Roman Fessler – both in leadership positions at the Birrfeld rail terminal – accepted congratulations on their 40th anniversary with the company. www.bertschi.com Your tank container experts TWS has more than 25 years of experience in renting out standard and special tank containers for liquid products to the chemical and food industries. TWS also provides various sizes of spill troughs. Customers rely on the outstanding quality of its fleet and value its flexibility in terms of volume and technical features. For more information: E-mail: [email protected] and web: www.tws-gmbh.de Digitalisation - Bertschi driver using the TruckTracer app TWS_180x124_Kombi_ENG_NEU.indd 1 23.06.16 12:23