In the first part of our mini-series about BESTMALZ’s production site in Wallertheim, we explained why strict quality management is so important in malt production. Now we will be taking a look at logistics – after all, that was one important reason for acquiring the site in 1987. Its convenient proximity to the ports on the Rhine at Mainz, Wiesbaden and Worms promised shorter export routes all over the world via Antwerp and Rotterdam.
In recent years, the company has therefore invested heavily in the logistics infrastructure at Wallertheim. Today, a modern bagging facility, palletization and efficient processes ensure reliable packaging and shipping.
Safety has top priority
Safety is an important keyword: At the end of the logistics chain, when the goods are loaded onto the truck, cargo safety is an issue, especially when vehicles arrive that are already partly loaded: The last to load up the truck is responsible for securing the whole load and can be held accountable in the case of damage. This can result in large fines. Therefore, the pre-loaded goods first have to be checked and corrected if necessary before adding the malt.
But let’s go back to the start of the chain: The service team at the company’s headquarters in Heidelberg receive orders for malt and arrange the delivery dates with logistics coordinator Holger Klein in Wallertheim. He and the shift supervisors draw up a production schedule for making the malts to order. Depending on the customer’s request, the malt is bagged or sent to the loading silo for transport as bulk cargo. The type of packaging depends on the dispatch route and the amount ordered: Bags with 25, 40 or 50 kilos are usually sent on pallets by truck or shipped in bulk. Another common form of packaging, which is often requested by mid-sized customers, are FIBCs (flexible intermediate bulk containers, also called big bags) that hold half a ton to a ton. Bulk cargo up to 16 tons is transported in 20’ containers fitted out with large plastic liners. Even larger amounts (mainly for customers in the brewing or food industry) leave the plant by dumper or silo truck. Cargo for German customers is usually produced in the Kreimbach malthouse, and particularly urgent deliveries are airfreighted via Frankfurt airport. Most international deliveries, however, aretaken in containers by ship or truck to Rotterdam, from where they are shipped all over the world.
Time is always short
Time is the most limited resource in logistics as there is always an agreed delivery deadline at the end. It takes between two and ten days from ordering the malt to its delivery, depending on the type and volume ordered. Even though Wallertheim is conveniently situated directly on two motorways to Frankfurt and Cologne, the traffic situation is sometimes difficult with congestion, building sites or adverse weather compromising the schedule. The malt is shipped in two shifts: The morning shift usually loads loose cargo, as this is required by the shipping companies’ processes, while palletized goods are mostly prepared for dispatching in the afternoons and evenings. Five employees carry out the necessary tasks per shift. Jennifer Fell, a food technology specialist, supports the two shift supervisors Daniel Raquet and Michael April. Janet Stasiecki in administration handles the documents of incoming trucks with the drivers, looks after factory outlet sales to hobby brewers, and often helps and advises foreign drivers.
Simultaneously ensuring high-quality packaging while taking customers’ special packaging requests into account is a challenge that the team masters every day. Holger Klein says, “By juggling things a bit, we’ve always managed it. You have to be very flexible and be able to improvise. We are proud that we have grown this much in such a short time and can cope with the volumes. That is only possible because everyone in the team pulls together.”
In the third and last part of this series, we will show you how malt is produced in Wallertheim.