We can also do things differently
On the grounds of a former sugar refinery in the Westphalian city of Soest, the pastry maker Kuchenmeister has built a new warehouse. As a partner and “subtenant,” DACHSER ensures efficient distribution along with full capacity utilization of the Kuchenmeister fleet.
For Hans-Günter Trockels, the situation is obvious. “We want our partners to be top athletes who are fast and fit.” The managing director of Kuchenmeister GmbH is expressing an expectation that he also has for himself. But the products from the large bakery that he manages are actually more reminiscent of enjoyment and leisure: cake layers, packaged confections, waffles, muffins, croissants, and milk rolls. Add to this list baumkuchen and Christmas stollen and you can see how the company from Westphalia rose to become a global leader.
Yet the athletic contest that Trockels refers to does not involve the enjoyment of cakes and baked goods. Instead, he means the requirements of the marketplace and the related logistics processes that require Kuchenmeister and its logistics partner to be in tip-top shape. “We’ve always had very good experiences with DACHSER,” says Trockels. “You can see that it’s a family business that’s used to making fast decisions. Not only does DACHSER hold a strong strategic position, it also has a powerful network.”
DACHSER started working for Kuchenmeister out of the Herne logistics center as far back as 1998. Initially, this was only groupage for the Soest facility around 70 kilometers away. Seven other production locations and subsidiaries in Germany were added later. In 2014, Kuchenmeister and DACHSER began an entirely new chapter in their relationship. To sustain further growth, the Westphalian baked goods producer decided to build its own modern warehouse on the grounds of a former sugar refinery in Soest, just under 6 kilometers from the production site at company headquarters. The resulting temperature-controlled food warehouse (16°C) is 10,100 square meters.
“Because logistics is one of our core competencies, we were very deliberate in not wanting to implement the new warehouse concept through but rather in cooperation with a logistics company,” explains Trockels. “From the very start, we valued DACHSER as a long-standing partner that we wanted to integrate into our 15-month planning efforts, all the while communicating closely, and then very quickly entering into cooperation and lease agreements.”
According to Trockels, the logistics requirements for baked goods are strict: purchase orders on short notice, sell-by dates, the seasonal nature of many products, or reliance on consumer habits. The new warehouse in Soest now allows the company to better respond to these. Previously, several external warehouses were in use, which resulted in fragmented processing and extreme fluctuations in the deployment of the Kuchenmeister fleet. There were also many shuttles to DACHSER’s transit terminal in Herne. That’s now a thing of the past. “At Kuchenmeister we produce only made-to-order goods; we don’t do advance production,” says Trockels.
There are generally only four to five business days between the order date and shipment. “That means being as flexible as possible both in production and in distribution.” And the weather also plays a significant role. “For example, if strawberries are ripe after a sunny period, customers want cake layers. But if it’s a mild November, then no one wants any Christmas-related items at first—until temperatures drop, and then suddenly everyone flocks to the baked goods shelves at the same time,” says Trockels.
A flexible and efficient solution has now been worked out together with DACHSER—to the benefit of both parties. Kuchenmeister operates the largest section of the new food warehouse itself. DACHSER has rented 2,000 square meters for its own storage units. As a logistics provider, DACHSER uses its own staff and IT to schedule its inbound and outbound goods and controls loading—both for Kuchenmeister and for other customers in the region that use the DACHSER warehouse.
Kuchenmeister also uses its own fleet in the warehouse partnership. Not just because Trockels himself has a truck driver’s license and is quite happy to sit behind the steering wheel now and then, for instance to join his drivers in driving safety training sessions. No, it’s because vehicle capacity primarily serves to offset fluctuations in production. The cooperation with DACHSER is the only way to keep 23 trucks at the Soest warehouse fully occupied. Supplying retail outlets through your own vehicles alone is no longer an option these days. Trockels says that trips used to be made to customers once a week, but now daily deliveries are expected. That means a lot of smaller deliveries that would be uneconomical if they were transporting Kuchenmeister products alone “That’s where DACHSER comes in as experts in the business. We can’t, and we don’t want to, compete with DACHSER but rather exploit as many synergistic effects as possible,” says Trockels. “We have to completely reconceive logistics and the use of fleets if we want to come up with unconventional, customized solutions in association with the logistics provider.”
In North Rhine-Westphalia, the candy industry is very strong, and DACHSER Herne has a lot of its members as customers. On-site shipment bundling is therefore one of the greatest advantages of the Soest warehouse for the logistics company. Goods from Kuchenmeister and other customers from the region are combined into the same deliveries and transported directly to the retail outfit’s central warehouse. The pick-up leg to the DACHSER branch in Herne and additional handling are therefore largely unnecessary. “Conversely, transports can also be loaded in Herne and completed in Soest,” explains Dirk Alexander, Sales Manager at the logistics center in Herne and DACHSER’s coordinator on the project. The Kuchenmeister fleet, he says, is included in daily planning. “We always remain neutral with respect to third-party customers,” Alexander says. “All customer data are stored and processed exclusively in DACHSER’s systems, even if everything is in the same terminal.” For this reason, the Kuchenmeister project is a paragon of cooperation, and is scalable for other customers both conceptually and structurally.
Trockels says that this joint effort with DACHSER at the new Kuchenmeister warehouse is a model of cooperation and demonstrates both a willingness to change and the mutual trust of the two companies’ management. Like DACHSER, Kuchenmeister did not view the endeavor merely as a way to reduce costs but rather as an “athletic challenge” to make something good even better—more profitable, secure, sustainable.