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Well-oiled service for KHS

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Total commitment: DB Schenker manages the global spare parts logistics and production supply for the parent plant of KHS GmbH.

There’s been an emergency in Spain. A vital component in the bottling plant of a brewery has broken down: a cogwheel weighing several hundred kilograms. This could spell disaster, particularly as the summer peak season has just begun and bars and restaurants are at their busiest, as are the beverage retailers. Even the shortest production downtime can soon prove very costly. A spare part needs to be delivered as quickly as possible, which is why the telephone starts ringing at DB Schenker in Dortmund, Germany, as soon as the damage becomes apparent. It’s Saturday, in the middle of the night. A service employee from KHS, the manufacturer of the filling line also headquartered in Dortmund, issues the order for the delivery of the spare part. Henrik Lorenzen takes a quick look at his inventory to ensure the cogwheel is in stock. The shift supervisor in the Shared Logistics Center (SLC), from where DB Schenker handles support for its customer KHS, goes to the carpenter’s shop where he takes a saw, screwdriver and nails and begins building secure packaging to transport this consignment. No sooner has he finished than a truck arrives at the ramp, ready to take delivery of the unwieldy component and transport it to Spain. A forklift loads the spare part and the truck departs on its journey down south. Very soon, the filling plant will be up and running again with up to 132,000 cans being conveyed along the line every hour.


“In the event of unscheduled machine stoppages, we have to be able to deliver spare parts immediately and 100 percent reliably – in addition to taking care of our day-to-day business,” says Frederic Nitka, Head of Logistics at KHS GmbH. “We have an agreement in place stating that spare parts need to be packaged and ready for pickup within 60 minutes of receiving an order.” But that is not the only reason Lorenzen, who is on call as shift supervisor on this particular Saturday, is so quick to respond. “If you consider the costs resulting from the production downtime on just one machine, then it’s only natural that as a service provider you’ll be on your feet quickly – even if it’s in the middle of the night.”

Founded almost 150 years ago, KHS today ranks among the world’s leading suppliers of filling and packing solutions for the beverage industry. Management of the global spare parts logistics and production supply for the parent plant in Dortmund are in the hands of DB Schenker, which built the SLC in this city in the Ruhr region specifically to handle its customer’s business. Initially featuring a floor space of 20,000 square meters, the facility has since been expanded twice and more than doubled in size.

Bottling plant

View of a bottling plant – KHS ranks among the world’s leading suppliers of filling and packaging solutions for the beverage industry. Photo: KHS GmbH

“With six highways as well as an inland port and an airport in the immediate vicinity and our own railway connection on the premises, we couldn’t imagine having a better connection to international transport links,” says Sebastian Peiler, managing director of the SLC. Around 160 employees work in the facility, some of them on behalf of other customers. 40 additional logistics experts, however, operate exclusively for KHS – on the plant premises around two kilometers away.

The operations DB Schenker handles on behalf of KHS are continuous. A shuttle service travels back and forth between the logistics center and the parent plant some four to six times a day. Additional goods from all over the world are transported here by dozens of trucks. Around 800 pallets and packages arrive every day, either from suppliers or from KHS’s own plants. Once these have been unloaded, it is up to the SLC employees to inspect the condition of the goods and immediately report any damages.

Some of the batches undergo a special inspection by trained KHS employees, who monitor the technical specifications and the quality. The plant manufacturer is dependent on the consistently high quality of his suppliers. Only components that fulfill the necessary technical requirements are then stored in the warehouse. KHS keeps a permanent stock of around 55,000 individual parts in the SLC, which allows the company to adjust to the ever-changing needs of the market.

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Goods destined for shipping are commissioned – and packaged – by the DB Schenker team. Employees place up to 4,000 items a day into preassembled boxes. To ensure that even the most bulky and unwieldy of transport goods are shipped safely and securely, the SLC also houses a carpenter’s shop, where shift supervisor Lorenzen built the special crate to “encase” the spare cogwheel. Whether consignments are oversized or compact, once packaged, they are transferred to the customs and dispatch warehouse to await onward transport.

The beverage industry is strongly affected by the seasons, and in summer many bottling plants and filling lines are pushed to their limits. However, it would be wrong to assume that deliveries by the logistics partner were only limited to these extremely busy months. On the contrary: during traditionally slack periods, breweries and bottling plants make it a point to maintain or overhaul their plants or convert them to other formats in accordance with new customers’ requirements. The fall and winter months are a time when the bottle trends of the up-and-coming season are determined.

“What sets us apart is the extreme durability and long service life of our products,” says Frederic Nitka, Head of Logistics at KHS. “A working life of 30 years is not unusual for one of our filling lines.” In addition, the company also does a brisk trade in the used machinery market. “That is why we need to keep the corresponding spare parts in stock for a long time.” And in urgent cases, if parts need to be dispatched to Spain or any other place in the world, Nitka and his colleagues know one thing: DB Schenker delivers!

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Optimally equipped: the Dortmund warehouse stores tens of thousands of different parts, which are ready for dispatch at lightning speed if required





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