Everything under one roof

In late 2018, Militzer & Münch moved to a new distribution center in Greece. At the new, spacious location in Aspropyrgos near Athens, Militzer & Münch combines different warehouses. The modern technologies and efficient usability of the new premises optimally support logistics activities and contribute to the growth of the company.

Militzer & Münch Greece has moved to a new location. The new construction at Aspropyrgos, an Athens suburb, is situated close the old warehouse near the Athens-Patras Motorway. In addition to Aspropyrgos, Militzer & Münch Greece continues operating at the second location, in Thessaloniki, the western port city.

As private consumption, the main indicator of Greek economy, remains at a low level, and the manufacturing industry is all but non-existent, Militzer & Münch has shifted its focus to value added services. Being the leading provider of these services in Greece, Militzer & Münch early on recognized the opportunity. “The move to the new logistics facility allows offering such services as labeling, picking and packing, warehousing and customs management at a very high level”, says Panagiotis Manolopoulos, Managing Director M&M Militzer & Münch S.A.

Bundling activities at one location 

With a storage area of 13,605 square meters and a 500 square meter zone for offices and staff rooms, the new complex lets the Militzer & Münch Greece team combine all the activities handled at Aspropyrgos under one roof. Until autumn 2018, warehousing and office areas were spread over four buildings at different addresses.

Not only does the building offer lots of space, it also comes with optimal ceiling height. Thanks to the space-saving sprinkler system under the roof, the employees can make efficient use of the space available: the shelves go up to almost ten meters in height.

In terms of technological and ecological aspects, the warehouse offers enormous added value, too. “We have here a very modern, energy-efficient new building equipped with state-of-the-art technology”, Panagiotis Manolopoulos says. “The warehouse features 14 electronically controlled ramps. Transparent overhead light strips allow working by daylight almost full-time and reduce energy consumption.” With high speed Internet and innovative warehouse management software laying the technological base, the company can now offer the entire service spectrum of a 3PL and 4PL provider.

The move, and the growth it enables, were duly celebrated. “On January 21, we festively inaugurated the new building”, says Panagiotis Manolopoulos. “Apart from our main customers, the directors of the German-Greek Chamber of Commerce and the Greek Forwarders’ Association attended.”

In Istanbul: a 6,000 square meter logistics area

On 1st October, the Militzer & Münch Turkey team moved to a new office and a new warehouse in Istanbul. The location, optimally situated in vicinity of Istanbul’s Muratbey customs office, lends itself for cross docking and also allows a wide range of logistics services; it also simplifies overland transports between Europe and Turkey.

Militzer & Münch Turkey has been operating the new warehouse and office at Hadımköy, Istanbul, since October 1st, 2018. From this location, the team offers mainly road transports going to Europe, but also to other destinations such as the Balkans and CIS countries.

Despite the economic situation of the country, Militzer & Münch Turkey managed to develop successfully. “We succeeded in winning new customers and increasing our turnover; and in the past months, we were able to dedicate more time to such services as intermodal solutions”, says Cem Ulusoy, Managing Director of Militzer & Münch Turkey. The future looks very bright to the Turkish M&M organization. “Increasing our market share, developing our transports volumes, and also concentrating on combined traffics and the project business still are and remain our targets.”

At a total area of 5,700 square meters, of which 350 square meters office space, the facility has more capacity than the former warehouse and also provides the possibility to offer additional logistic services. “3,000 square meters of the facility alone are dedicated for bonded storage”, says Cem Ulusoy. “Other sectors we use for cross docking for export shipments and as storage and distribution center for domestic goods.”

The sales team at Militzer & Münch Turkey profits from the facility’s optimal situation in Istanbul. “The new location is near the Muratbey customs office, which seals all export trucks. Moreover, many big corporations with import and export business are domiciled around us within a 20-kilometer radius”, Cem Ulusoy says. “The close proximity lets us reach existing customers and potential new ones much better.”

The Lapis Lazuli Route reopened

In earlier times on camelback, today via truck: since the end of 2018, the famous trade corridor between Afghanistan and Europe has been reopened. The transport route, named for the blue semi-precious stone, dates back more than 5,000 years and comprises the shortest overland and sea routes between Central Asia and Europe.

At the Afghanistan Regional Economic Cooperation Conference in November 2017, the foreign ministers of the countries involved – Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey – signed the transport and transit agreement concerning the Lapis Lazuli Route. The roads, railway tracks and waterways connect Europe and Turkey, via the shortest routes, with Afghanistan and Central Asia, and via the New Silk Road also with China.

The reopening of the Lapis Lazuli Route is meant to promote regional cooperation and to strengthen the economic and cultural relations between Asia and Europe. In the long term, the initiative will also boost Afghanistan’s infrastructure and economy.

3,000 years before Christ 

The Lapis Lazuli Route is part of the old Silk Road. The name is inspired by the history of the trade routes used to export lapis lazuli (Latin for: blue stone) more than 2,000 years ago from Afghanistan to the Caucasus, to Russia, the Balkans, to Europe and North Africa.

More than 6,000 years ago, man began mining the valuable lapis lazuli deposits for export to far-away regions. Parts of the trade lanes that make today’s Lapis Lazuli Route between Afghanistan and countries to the west were established already in the third millennium before Christ. Using different routes, caravans of up to 4,000 animals covered distances of 3,000 and more kilometers to take lapis lazuli and other rocks mined in Afghanistan to Mesopotamia and Egypt.

The only suitable means of transport were donkeys and camels. While donkeys carried the goods safely across the eastern mountain ranges, the camels were able to cover the rest of the distance across the sandy desert, owing to the fat storage in their humps. On arrival in Mesopotamia, the traders exchanged the blue stone, among others, against wool and grains.

The Lapis Lazuli corridor in the 21st century

For a long time, owing to insufficient infrastructure along sections of the route and the economic and political instability of the countries involved, the route was impassable. Massive investments in connection with the BRI (Belt and Road Initiative), China’s program to push the development of the New Silk Road, contributed to the revival of the old trade routes. This also benefitted the projects of the Militzer & Münch group in Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.

Today, the Lapis Lazuli Route is of interest for the transport of cotton, dried fruit and sesame products, which can now be delivered to Europe within the shortest time via the reopened sea and overland routes.


“Logistics is an essential part of a company’s success”

As Managing Director of the courier and express service provider EMEX Kazakhstan, Tatyana Vorobyeva is familiar with the challenges and opportunities of the logistics industry. Since 2003 EMEX, a Militzer & Münch company, has been offering KEP (courier, express and parcel) services for particularly urgent shipments. The company benefits from the philosophy and global network of FedEx.

Ms. Vorobyeva, what was your motivation to work in the logistics industry when you started your career?

Tatyana Vorobyeva: To me, logistics is not just a necessary business tool – it is a real business driver. It is an opportunity to show not only professional skill, but also creative abilities. From shipment to delivery, the collaboration of many people is involved.  This can be compared to a living organism, which must constantly, clearly and harmoniously function – without ever stopping. Movement and achieving the desired results are my main incentive and motivator.

What are your tasks and biggest challenges at the head of EMEX? 

Tatyana Vorobyeva: For me, the main task of a manager is centrally managing  the employees’ mindsets. I want to motivate each employee and direct their energy so we can achieve our common goals.

EMEX employees at the winter sports company event “EMEX Asiada 2018“

What were the most important milestones for EMEX? 

Tatyana Vorobyeva: The most significant achievement for EMEX was the opportunity to represent both the TNT and FedEx brands in the Kazakh market. In connection with the merger of FedEx and TNT, we implemented many important improvements for a successful transition at a crucial juncture and in a short span of time. We successfully increased our scope and revenue, and improved our business processes and operations. The whole procedure was complex and time-consuming – nevertheless, our team at EMEX fulfilled all necessary actions and requirements. We can call the project “merger FedEx / TNT in Kazakhstan” a true success. EMEX hired more than 45 new employees after the merger of FedEx and TNT. Today the total EMEX workforce exceeds 105 specialists. The company has doubled in size during the transition period, which took approximately three months.

Why has Militzer & Münch implemented the courier and express service EMEX?

Tatyana Vorobyeva: EMEX was founded in 1998. As business became increasingly global, competitive, and rapidly changing, everyone from entrepreneurs to large companies needed accelerated delivery. So they turned to us for flexible and innovative solutions. To offer these became priority number one when the M&M Militzer & Münch Group express delivery service was established.

What services does EMEX offer?

Tatyana Vorobyeva: By now, we have compiled a unique portfolio of services – from express delivery, forwarding and customs clearance of cargoes to complex solutions that completely cover the needs of our existing and potential partners. We deliver more than packages. We simplify international transport by helping customers manage their imports and exports by sea, air, or land. Also, EMEX pays special attention to developing the cooperation with the E-commerce segment. For the convenience of online stores, we introduced a universal product designer that allows our customers to select additional options beyond the basic package of express services – for example cash on delivery or partial redemption.

EMEX is very successful in Kazakhstan. What is the secret of its success?

Tatyana Vorobyeva: One of the main attributes of the success of EMEX is the introduction of the FedEx philosophy into people’s day-to-day business processes. The philosophy focuses on people’s commitment and business success. The people-service-profit philosophy is based on the confidence that by creating a favorable working environment for employees, the company motivates the staff to provide better customer service. This leads to consumer confidence and increases the demand for EMEX / FedEx / TNT products and services.

What are the future goals for EMEX? 

Tatyana Vorobyeva: EMEX supports policies that promote the interests of our customers, team members, owners and businesses. The goals from the point of view of shareholders and the company as a whole are growth and profitability.

In Hamburg, we benefit from short distances

The “Gateway to the World” – a self-confident label the port and trading city of Hamburg has been using for decades to present itself. The Federal Republic’s second biggest city is an important transportation hub, where vessels from all over the world load and unload their cargo. For Militzer & Münch in Germany, Hamburg is the gateway for sea freight shipments, too, in export as well as in import.

“In Hamburg, we benefit from short distances”, says Dirk Bukowski, Regional Manager North M&M Air Sea. “Theoretically, with digitization today, we can of course organize sea freight shipments from everywhere. But the operations part is much more target-oriented and productive owing to our local branch office at Hamburg sea port.”

The Militzer & Münch Hamburg team can offer their customers all services from one source; they include handling, receipt of the goods and customs clearance. To put the competences to the best possible use, the employees cooperate with all other Militzer & Münch branch offices, most of all in Germany. Thus, the Hamburg colleagues closely coordinate with the Dusseldorf team, which also has a strong sea freight department as it is located near Antwerp.

Not a niche player

Beside sea transport, Militzer & Münch also offers airfreight from Hamburg, without restricting itself to certain industries or goods. “In the literal sense of the word, we are an ‘allrounder’ for our customers”, Dirk Bukowski says. “Generally speaking, we can serve all industries and all the destinations we use for sea freight. we mainly use the magic triangle of Europe-Asia-North America.”

Among the export goods are machinery, components for the automotive sector and consumer goods such as foodstuffs. From overseas, mostly from Asia, Militzer & Münch imports a wide range of products from electric and household appliances to textiles, toys and tea.

North America business especially successful

In the past two years, the Hamburg Militzer & Münch team managed to increase the shipping volume by 10 to 15 percent. This successful development is also owed to the exports for a big German producer of confectionary: every week, several big refrigerated containers leave Hamburg, mainly for Japan, but also for other Asian regions.

Especially good growth is registered in the business in and with North America. Dirk Bukowski names three factors that account for the development:

In summer 2017, Militzer & Münch appointed a Route Development Manager who exclusively focusses on North America; he intensively nurtures the local partnerships.
With teams operating in Germany’s south east, in the west and in central Germany, Militzer & Münch can bank on lots of know-how and was thus able to further develop the sea freight segment.
In Hamburg, an operationally very experienced team is handling exports.

In cooperation with the Munich colleagues, the Hamburg team is handling big contracts with some hundred containers for two German customers exporting machinery, façade components and other construction parts to the North East and the South of the United States.

Targets and challenges

In terms of airfreight and sea freight, Germany is highly developed. The forwarding industry counts many big players. Thus, it is challenging for medium sized enterprises like Militzer & Münch to assert themselves in the market. “Over the past few years, we were able to do many great projects”, says Dirk Bukowski. “But nevertheless, we have to fight. We have to define exactly what Militzer & Münch stands for, and to set ourselves apart from the competition with our services.”

One of the characteristics for example is that Militzer & Münch in Hamburg assigns to each customer one designated contact person, who supports the customer during the entire project in all matters. “Our customers get to meet their contact persons personally, and our staffers know our customers inside out”, says Dirk Bukowski.

The Regional Manager also believes that the “fight for talents” is an essential factor. The Hamburg team wants to be known among young professionals and hire the right personnel. Yet young professionals often want to start their careers with the big logistics corporations. Therefore, the Hamburger Militzer & Münch team offers young talents clear career opportunities – for instance, employees at Militzer & Münch can take on responsibility at an early stage.

“Our target is to generate further growth in the coming years”, Dirk Bukowski says. “To this aim, we want to extend and strengthen our customer base in Hamburg.”

The New Silk Road – a threat to sea freight?

The Chinese Belt and Road Initiative ensures an ever-increasing development of the New Silk Road. Logisticians have since begun transporting more and more of their shipments between Europe and Asia via rail. The Militzer & Münch Hamburg team notices that many customers are already scheduling rail transportation for 10 to 15 percent of their total container volume.

Often, especially time-sensitive goods are transported via rail today, as this is the faster transport mode compared to sea freight. Yet, the continually increasing numbers of rail transports have no negative impact on sea freight transports. It is a fact that sea freight capacities are still by far bigger. As Dirk Bukowski explains, even if rail traffic grew a hundredfold, it would still not decrease the utilization of the vessels. A normal container block train carries 42 x 40’ containers, while nowadays a vessel transports on average 20,000 TEU, which equals 10,000 x 40’ containers.

Brexit – is your supply chain up to it?

Formal deal, no-deal departure, a delayed Brexit – the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union left room for every kind of speculation in the past few weeks and months. One thing is clear: the changes in the UK will impact supply chains.

Companies with activities in import or export to and from the UK have to re-asses their supply chains. They have to be ready to deal with the fact that comprehensive customs formalities require additional know-how on the side of their staff. In the future, customs controls can prolong delivery times. Another issue is in how far the company’s IT infrastructure is suited for the Brexit.

The Militzer & Münch customs experts have carried out intensive preparatory work on the topic, and consult companies in all matters pertaining to formalities and statutory regulations. Be it with transports from Scotland to Bulgaria or from Latvia to England – we assist our customers when it comes to clarifying in how far the changed trade regulations are impacting their supply chain.

Should you have any questions concerning transports to and from the UK, please feel free to contact us.

Across half the globe, in three days

In 2018, Militzer & Münch Poland started exporting freshly picked blueberries for the new customer Agro Trade. The Argentinian berries are very sensitive and stay fresh only for a few days after harvest. A single delay in the transport process can lead to the entire freight losing its value.

For many years already, Agro Trade, a Polish family company, has been specialized in cultivating and trading blueberries. In 2018, Agro Trade commissioned Militzer & Münch Poland to import the popular fruit from Argentina and to transport it to Western and Northern Europe.

In summer, when the Polish blueberries are ready for harvesting, Militzer & Münch Poland delivers them, via road, to Germany and the Netherlands among others. “Demand for blueberries has increased so much over the last few years that Agro Trade has long begun importing the fruit also from Argentina”, says Wlodzimierz Scibiorek, business development manager at Militzer & Münch Poland since 2007.

From the bush to the retailer

Most challenging in transporting sensitive, fresh goods are temperature fluctuations and the transit time. Exposed to frost or excessively high temperatures, the berries can lose their form and freshness. In order to guarantee the best possible quality, the blueberries have to reach the retailer and consumer as soon as possible after they are harvested. This requires strategic, quick procedures especially for the transports from Argentina.

“From South America, we ship the berries directly to the airports of Frankfurt and Amsterdam”, Wlodzimierz Scibiorek says. “From there, we take them to the sorting plant in Poland, where they are packed. Then, the blueberries are already dispatched to the European retailers. Thus, transit time is only two to three days.”

For every import shipment, Militzer & Münch Poland and Agro Trade set up the exact schedule for the shortest possible delivery time. The buyer has to provide the necessary documents, papers and certificates for everything to go fast. “Every error can be expensive”, says Wlodzimierz Scibiorek. “Unnecessary delays impair the fruit and lead to loss in value. With smooth processes, Militzer & Münch Poland guarantees that in the end, someone can enjoy the fresh, sweet fruit in their muesli or muffin.”

Agro Trade plans to tap into and supply new markets in Japan, China, Korea and the United Arab Emirates together with Militzer & Münch Poland – the versatile and healthy blueberries are also highly popular in Asia.

Airfreight to Indianapolis

Militzer & Münch Poland acquired a renowned new key account last year: the US American sawmill manufacturer Wood Mizer. Many of the customer’s machines weigh up to a ton and are considered dangerous goods. Dariusz Onisk, Key Account Manager at M&M air sea cargo S.A., and his colleagues organize airfreight shipments, among others to South Africa and the USA.

Over 25 years ago, Wood Mizer established a production plant at Kolo in central Poland. The saw mills of the company that was founded in 1990 are in use in over 100 countries. “In spring 2018, Wood Mizer contracted us for the first export shipments”, says Dariusz Onisk. “Since then, we have transported saw mills and other equipment via air to the USA, to Sri Lanka, South Africa and India among others. For LCL shipments with destinations in Africa and China, we occasionally offer our customer also sea freight solutions.”

Dangerous goods challenges

Wood Mizer’s saw mills and other timber processing machines weigh between 200 and 1,000 kilograms on average. Many also come with a combustion motor and are thus subject to the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR). “Every shipment is unique, and the challenges we as forwarders are confronted with vary from shipment to shipment” says Dariusz Onisk. “Transporting DGR goods is especially demanding. Depending on the size and weight, we load the big saw mills into special wooden boxes or strap them onto pallets.”

In late 2018, the Militzer & Münch Poland team transported an especially heavy shipment to the USA in the shortest time. “The saw mill was to reach the consignee in Indianapolis as fast as possible. We packed it in a 4.2 x 1.5 x 1.3 meter wooden box. The gross weight was almost 1.5 tons”, Dariusz Onisk says. “In cooperation with Wood Mizer and the airline in question, we met all security and safety requirements and got the cargo to its destination safely and on time.”

Good cooperation generates trust 

For every transport, the Militzer & Münch Poland team is in close contact with Wood Mizer. The saw mill manufacturer is kept informed during the entire process. “It is important to be fully responsive to the customer’s requirements during preparation and execution of the transport”, says Dariusz Onisk. “By now, I am perfectly familiar with the habits and needs of Wood Mizer. My team and I, we can offer the customer very individualized service.” The next destinations have long been defined. “Today, we pick up a saw mill in Poland for transport to Taipeh.”

Too big for rail freight

Militzer & Münch transported out-of-gauge wooden boxes, a total weight of circa 28,300 kilograms, from Shanghai, China, to Almaty in Kazakhstan. Much too big for rail transport – but Militzer & Münch offered the perfect solution to transport the huge blower systems for transformers.

For a renowned German technology corporation, Militzer & Münch China has been handling regular transports via rail from China to Germany since late summer last year. Which is why the customer also commissioned Militzer & Münch with the transport of transformer cabinet blowers and cell cabinets from China to Kazakhstan. As usual, this shipment was also meant to go by rail; yet owing to a change in regulations, rail freight was not possible. “We had to explain to the customer that the new Chinese railway regulations that became effective in January 2019 did not allow transporting out-of-gauge cargo via rail”, says Glenn Bai, Managing Director Militzer & Münch China. “So, our colleagues from different Militzer & Münch branch offices cooperated to offer the customer an alternative solution.”

Truck as an alternative means of transport

The result: Militzer & Münch delivered the freight as full truck load (FTL). The Militzer & Münch branch office in Urumqi in north western China made it possible. Located near the border to Kazakhstan, the branch office fulfilled the necessary conditions for the transport, as the cargo had to be transloaded by Militzer & Münch at Khorgos, Kazakhstan, at the border to China. The reason: Chinese trucks are not approved for transports in CIS countries. As they are near Khorgos, the colleagues at the Urumqi branch were able to take care of the transloading process on site.

The advantages of cooperation

To realize the entire transport, three Militzer & Münch colleagues worked closely together: Kaka Xu, M&M China’s Account Manager for the technology corporation, Anna Elcheva, Trade Lane Manager Russia and CIS at Militzer & Münch, and Guanghua Nie, Manager of the Urumqi branch. The three colleagues also contributed helpful local knowledge, such as for customs clearance. All in all, the transport took only 14 days.

“Our advantage at Militzer & Münch is that we operate numerous branch offices in many countries along the New Silk Road”, says Glenn Bai. “Without this, the transport of the over-dimensioned cargo via truck would not have been possible.”