«Short routes are good for the environment»

Urs Schädler, CEO of Fischer Logistik, talks about his co-operation with KFN and the implementation of intelligent logistics solutions.

Logistics solutions can have a huge influence on how much CO2 is emitted, until a product is finished and reaches its customer. What to look for in sustainable logistics solutions, how KFN benefits from them already and how cargo transports could evolve further explains Urs Schädler. As the CEO of Fischer Logistik, he has been working with KFN for years and knows the respective advantages of road and rail transports.

How would you describe the co-operation between KFN and Fischer Logistik?

We have been in a mutually beneficial co-operation for many years, and it was extended continuously. Together, we developed and implemented intelligent and sustainable logistic solutions for some of KFN’s clients. Avoiding empty runs was the driver behind these solutions.

How important is sustainability for Fischer Logistik?

Very important. Our company is certified according to ISO 14000 and has an active environment management. The technical refurbishment of our Diesel engines has led to a significant reduction of our CO2 emissions, by more than 90 %. Finding cargo for the return journey, actively monitoring and reducing Diesel consumption and the smart choice of tires has also had an effect. When optimizing, we look at data from onboard measuring systems and digital surveys. What’s more, we have reduced our waste to almost zero and we take a lifetime approach when we look at our parts. Since 2008, we do shipments with a method called unaccompanied combined road-rail traffic, using our own silo containers. This means the largest part of the trajectory is done via rail.

How do these developments affect your partners, such as KFN?

We design our rail solutions together, inter alia. Our own silo containers are used, for example, for the transport from the Netstal to the Lonza AG in Visp, Switzerland. Thanks to smart combinations and cargo for the return voyages, we can cut back on empty kilometers. This also has positive effects on the price for our services.

Rail transport is generally considered to be more sustainable than road transport. Why do you think it is sensible not to give rail the preference in any case?

Despite my position I am a rail fan. Rail solutions have advantages that are unbeatable, especially for regular transport over long distances. This was the basis for the development of the solution I just mentioned for Visp. Our internal figures, however, also clearly state that for one-way distances of less than 120 kilometers, looking at rail transport makes no economic sense. The reloading possibilities – terminals between the first road segment, the rail segment and the second road segment – are also crucial factors. When it comes to flexibility and the short-term, rail transport has its limits. With all this in mind, I believe that road and rail transport need to work more closely together. If each mode of transport can play out its advantages, the modal split can more often be turned into an efficient and sustainable reality.

Why do you consider it important that companies are active in the field of sustainability?

I believe our society is changing. Findings dealing with a responsible use of our resources increase, and the time pressure leads to disruptive changes. Responsible companies adapt to all this and position themselves accordingly.

How does KFN score in this?

We notice the big efforts KFN is undertaking to produce in a sustainable way. Its sustainability report offers an insightful overview of the measures that are implemented. Thanks to the use of gas – and the substitution of oil – more than 50 % of its CO2 emissions caused by the burning process could be reduced. Thanks to this energy, lime from the Netstal is delivered in super-white splendor. Its location in Glarus puts KFN close to its customers, which – compared to the foreign producers – leads to shorter distances to the customers in many cases. Which in turn is good for the environment.

Which developments are we going to see in the sustainability field at Fischer Logistik?

Currently, trucks that can load 40 tons are not available, if you look for electric or hydrogen-powered ones. All existing solutions are designed for distribution traffic, not for the heavy bulk cargo that KFN produces. For hydrogen-powered vehicles, the locations and the grid of the filling stations are essential. Did you know that an electric-powered truck is about three times as expensive as a run-of-the-mill Diesel one? And so far, this does not include infrastructure costs. We follow the developments around this closely and we work on concrete offers that we will bring to our customers. But at the end of the day, it is the customers’ requirements that determine the use of alternative traction systems. We expect significant changes in the next few years brought about by new technologies, but this is still going to take some time. Which is why for the meantime, we rely on our combined offer of road and rail and why we expand in that field.