Basel, 19 March 2019
The 2018 year-end result is testament both to the market competency of the Rhenus Group companies and to their resilience. In Switzerland Rhenus faced a number of unexpected challenges due to the ongoing consequences of the rail closure at Rastatt, a fire at the port of Basel in the summer and the unprecedented length and severity of the low-water period in the autumn. As a whole the market environment remained demanding throughout the year, but despite all adversity Rhenus was able to maintain or improve its position in all its fields of activity. Rhenus is a global logistics group that employs 1,443 people in Switzerland.
Former entities Rhenus Contract Logistics and Rhenus Freight Logistics together with MAT Transport AG have been operating as Rhenus Logistics AG since the start of 2018. The company believes in presenting “one face to the customer”: by being consistently customer focused, it has been able to win additional new business and exciting outsourcing projects. Ultramodern logistics solutions are now available along the entire supply chain and can be adapted to meet individual process requirements.
The logistics centres were also able to increase their capacity utilization again in 2018.
The acknowledged uncertainties in international trade and the slight reduction in predicted growth for Europe mean that economic prospects remain unclear, but Rhenus Logistics has nevertheless expanded its value-added services. The company is strongly diversified, with a correspondingly broad-based market presence. It thus expects further gains in value added in 2019.
In 2018 the market for air freight grew slightly. Air Cargo achieved total annual growth of 2 percent, though it was unable to sustain the growth in freight volumes seen early on for the entirety of the year.
Freight throughput in airline handling increased by around 2 percent to 446,072 tonnes (2017: 439,228 tonnes). The introduction of new Boeing 777 aircraft by Swiss has stabilized freight volumes to, from and via Zurich.
The ongoing project to use RFID technologies continues, and the first efficiency gains in the handling process are expected this year.
Although the first three quarters were successful, the four-month low-water period at the end of the year resulted in painful losses. Aluminium and steel shipments were particularly affected, and grain shipments to the port of Basel also suffered delays.
Silo and warehouse facilities saw very high capacity utilization whereas the handling of waste materials was sluggish – another consequence of the low water levels.
The effects of the fire in July 2018 will continue to be felt in 2019: the repairs to the terminal will not be fully complete until the middle of the year. Total losses amount to around CHF 4 million.
Nevertheless, the prognosis for using the Rhine as a supply and waste disposal route for Switzerland remains favourable. As the available storage capacity is no longer sufficient, additional capacity of 4,500 m² is being rented in Huningue, and after some delays on the part of the local authorities, the Chavornay platform should also be in operation from March 2019. The plan is to transport crushed stone by rail to Chavornay and bring back waste materials to Basel.
The repercussions of the Rastatt incident and the closure of the Rhine valley rail route for several weeks in the second half of 2017 continued to have an impact at the start of the 2018 business year. However, thanks to the measures introduced to stabilize the reduced rail network, the Contargo AG rail operations returned to economic viability in the second half of the year.
Inland waterway transport came under increasing pressure toward the end of the year due to the persistent lack of precipitation in the Rhine basin. After a period during which the loads transported were continually reduced, the Upper Rhine was almost completely inaccessible to shipping from mid-October to mid-December.
Growth prospects for container transport remain positive and the Contargo AG business model proved successful even under difficult conditions.
By contrast, the problems posed by the shortcomings of the existing infrastructure increased further. Not until the urgently required Gateway Basel Nord is complete will there be a competitive and future-proof solution for trimodal transshipment.
In terms of business performance, 2018 went to plan for Rhenus Traffic Solutions AG, the Group company that specializes in providing logistics services for building sites.
Rhenus Secure Logistics AG deals with all the activities of the Rhenus Alpina Group relating to valuables. This business, which is based at Zurich Airport, has exhibited a stable trend.
"This year as before, Rhenus Alpina AG will continue to focus on benefits to the customer and will invest in the further digitalization of processes and in modern infrastructure", says Andreas Stöckli, CEO of Rhenus Alpina. “This will enable us to create innovative products, increase the efficiency of supply chain processes and open up attractive growth opportunities for the entire Rhenus Alpina Group and our customers."