Editorial department: Together with Nenad Lukic, you form a dual leadership team on the management board. How do you look back on what you have achieved so far?
Thilo Meutzner: The first years were marked by extraordinary circumstances; first up, the consequences and measures relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and, since last year, the effects of the Ukraine war. Thanks to our close and trusting cooperation together with the entire management team in Germany and the employees, Nenad Lukic and I were able to lead the company through this time. The developments mentioned challenged us, but were also a catalyst for important issues, such as digitalisation and the possibilities of mobile working. All in all, we look back very positively on the past years: after all, we were able to exceed the goals we had originally set together.
Editorial department: In recent years, Rhenus Road Freight has acquired a total of four large logistics locations in North Rhine-Westphalia: in Mönchengladbach and Gelsenkirchen as well as in Düsseldorf and Dinslaken. How do you intend to position yourself in the market with these?
Thilo Meutzner: The new NRW locations are valuable gains for Rhenus – from the organisational structure to the employees and the product portfolio. With Gelsenkirchen, for example, we have gained even more internationality, and with Mönchengladbach we have gained completely new possibilities in transport-related warehousing. There we can store goods on a large scale that are specifically intended for transport and feed them directly into our general cargo network. With the merger of the locations in Düsseldorf and Hilden, we have now created the largest Rhenus Road Freight location in Düsseldorf, which gives us the opportunity to cover the entire product and service portfolio. Thanks to our strong network and the high density of branches in the conurbation of NRW, we not only have short distances to our customers, but also a certain security of supply. In this way, we have already been able to cope with staff shortages at individual locations due to COVID-19 and maintain our service throughout. This provides security for our customers.
Editorial department: Climate change and the political events of the past year have brought the topic of energy into even sharper focus. How important are energy efficiency and the sustainable use of natural resources in the company?
Thilo Meutzner: Sustainability is a topic that affects society as a whole and is also very important to our company. At Rhenus Road Freight in Germany, for example, we already have two locations, Düsseldorf and Gelsenkirchen, whose premises are used to generate solar power with photovoltaic systems. We are now examining whether further premises can be used for PV systems. In addition, we are in the process of converting the few locations that do not yet have LED lighting to this. LED lighting consumes less electricity and can be used even more sparingly via intelligent control. Employees should also be made more aware of the issue and be able to contribute their own ideas. Specifically, we are planning an app in which employees can easily share their suggestions with us digitally to let us know, for example, where we can save energy or where they notice deficiencies at the locations so that we can also use our sites as sustainably as possible.
Editorial department: Are there any other sustainable measures planned regarding forwarding tasks?
Thilo Meutzner: This year, we will look more closely at the use of electric vehicles for our fleet. For our locations, we are conducting analyses and also advising our entrepreneurs as to where it may make sense to use electric vehicles. This depends on the required mileage, on the one hand, and on the charging infrastructure, on the other. In many places, the legislative body is called upon to create the appropriate framework conditions for the use of e-vehicles, e.g. when it comes to the transportation of ADR goods. As we at Rhenus Road Freight do not have our own fleet of vehicles as such in Germany, we will work very closely with our contractors and also make the necessary investments to advance the topic together.
Editorial department: You have known the company for many years. What measures would you like to use to shape Rhenus Road Freight?
Thilo Meutzner: Basically, we are aiming for further growth in Germany. To achieve this, we are continuously developing our products so that we can continue to convince our customers with our quality and flexibility. One specific goal is to optimise our general cargo products so that we can guarantee daily transports between all European depots. However, it is also becoming increasingly relevant to create the greatest possible transparency, i.e. to make information about consignments available to customers digitally at all times. The transport management system (TMS) is an important component here. To take Rhenus to a new level, we are currently in the preparatory phase for the introduction of a new TMS. We are relying on the expertise of our employees and are currently carrying out an evaluation to collect the requirements and develop an optimal system. Participation is an important factor for us because the success of the company depends largely on our employees – on their expertise, their ideas and of course their motivation. Participation in decision-making processes is just as important as an appreciative working environment and good framework conditions. For example, it is important to reduce stress levels in the warehouse. We achieve this by means of the targeted optimisation and automation of processes as well as with the help of equipment such as electrically operated industrial trucks with noise reduction. Overall, the working world has changed a lot in recent years. I believe that our Rhenus family, with its adaptability, flat hierarchies and short decision-making paths, is in an excellent position.