Things run smoothly when logistics experts from many different fields grease the wheels.

As logistics partner to a globally active mineral oil and natural gas company, Rhenus ensures that lubricating oil gets from the production plant to the customers. At two sites, which together offer over 30,000 square meters of storage space, shipments are loaded onto trucks or into shipping containers every day. Join us for a look behind the scenes of this fascinating project as we peer over the shoulders of four different people.

Zwei operative Mitarbeiter aus dem Prozessmanagement in Arbeitskleidung im Austausch über Dokument

Planning processes means getting down to the detail, again and again.

Already during the offer phase, the process manager first came into contact with the customer and assessed the key requirements. As soon as the contract was signed, the process manager got to work. His chief task was in-depth planning of the requisite logistics processes and material flows while taking cost effectiveness, space, viability, capacities and staff into account. In this case, some of the main questions were: What is the best way to organize palette storage space? How does warehouse organization impact staff productivity in incoming goods or order picking? The options for stacking palettes are endless, so a process planner's expertise is called for in determining the ideal one. Once found, the perfect solution had to be documented and communicated so other departments could deliver their input. At this pivotal stage, the process manager is the hub, coordinating each of the different project steps and making sure the storage facility ultimately works in practice. During the ramp-up phase, the process manager takes responsibility, also for training the shift supervisor. Even after the project kicks off, the process manager's work is not finished. He is subsequently also in charge of fine-tuning workflows. This is a role for someone with a keen analytical mind and process-oriented thinking who takes a very hands-on approach.

IT at Rhenus is all about virtual know-how.

All the IT and material flow processes had been planned. Now it was time to put them into practice. That raised some questions: Would the assumptions made during the planning phase prove accurate? Which deviations would present the team with new challenges? To prepare for all eventualities, the shift supervisors were given customer-specific training several weeks in advance-for instance, in handling the warehoused products and meeting the customer's special requirements. Next, a dry run of all the processes that would make up daily operations was conducted, naturally in harness with the responsible project and process managers from the logistics service center. A test of this kind usually kicks off with a single truck loaded with some 32 palettes each day, allowing a run-through of all the individual steps. The number of trucks is then quickly ramped up to road-test operations at full capacity. Successful testing marks the start of warehousing operations and the shift supervisor assumes responsibility for carrying out all storage and logistics processes during a particular shift. This also includes managing the team. From the start of the ramp-up phase, the shift supervisor is the expert on processes at the storage facility and, throughout the life of the project, is at pains to scrutinize and enhance all processes in place as well as to incorporate new customer wishes to optimum effect. This means shift supervisors are a vital logistical switching point. They need a solid background in logistics operations as well as good social skills.

Shift supervisors are a key hub-for staff and material flows.

All the IT and material flow processes had been planned. Now it was time to put them into practice. That raised some questions: Would the assumptions made during the planning phase prove accurate? Which deviations would present the team with new challenges? To prepare for all eventualities, the shift supervisors were given customer-specific training several weeks in advance-for instance, in handling the warehoused products and meeting the customer's special requirements. Next, a dry run of all the processes that would make up daily operations was conducted, naturally in harness with the responsible project and process managers from the logistics service center. A test of this kind usually kicks off with a single truck loaded with some 32 palettes each day, allowing a run-through of all the individual steps. The number of trucks is then quickly ramped up to road-test operations at full capacity. Successful testing marks the start of warehousing operations and the shift supervisor assumes responsibility for carrying out all storage and logistics processes during a particular shift. This also includes managing the team. From the start of the ramp-up phase, the shift supervisor is the expert on processes at the storage facility and, throughout the life of the project, is at pains to scrutinize and enhance all processes in place as well as to incorporate new customer wishes to optimum effect. This means shift supervisors are a vital logistical switching point. They need a solid background in logistics operations as well as good social skills.

What is one of the key qualities a key account manager needs? Endurance.

When it comes to forging and deepening relationships with our biggest and most important customers, it all revolves around the key account managers. As liaisons, they determine and coordinate the customer's needs and requirements within our Group. In this instance, we had already established a longstanding partnership with the customer based on trust. The key account manager and his colleague from the logistics service center accompanied the project from start to finish. They started out by devising a respective concept that subsequently served as the basis for the tender. Once the tender had been received, they jointly drafted an offer and presented it to the company. Several rounds of negotiation later, the key account manager successfully closed the contract with the customer. It is not unusual for the process from initial discussions to sealing the deal to take as long as two years, especially with major projects of this kind. That is why it is so important for each key account manager to plan and coordinate the process carefully and to stay in close contact with everyone involved. This entails analyzing the customer's needs, pinpointing opportunities and coordinating activities spanning different business units and areas. Alongside specialist expertise, organizational flair, strong communication skills and the ability to get things done, the job also demands real endurance.

Job profile at a glance

Process management

  • Plans and implements logistics processes
  • Takes charge of ramping up projects from contract signing to handing over the project once it is up and running
  • Coordinates communication between the customer and the specialist departments
  • Stays involved in re-engineering during a project's operational phase
  • Trains shift supervisors in the storage facility's logistical processes

Job profile at a glance

IT

  • Coordinates the entire on-site IT infrastructure
  • Ensures reliable WiFi infrastructure for order picking
  • Takes signal readings, sets up and configures server
  • Takes special product properties into consideration

Job profile at a glance

Shift management

  • Takes charge of all day-to-day operations during a shift
  • Manages the team and their development
  • Gets involved in new projects at an early stage
  • Plays the key role in commissioning and subsequently streamlining logistics processes

Job profile at a glance

Key Account Management

  • Key contact person for customers
  • Conducts needs assessments and drafts offers
  • Presents offers to customers
  • Participates in contract negotiations
  • Takes care of new business