2019 marked by challenges and development in Raben Group
The year 2019 brought many challenges to the logistics industry. Nevertheless, Raben Group closed it with an increase in revenue, with the bottom line exceeding 1.2 billion euros, and the list of successes includes the development of the European logistics network and expanding the connections with Germany. The business achievements have been crowned by numerous awards presented to both the company and its representatives.
“We have many long-term customers. Their business has been changing over the years and we are adapting to them. We are partners and together we solve problems which emerge. We also grow together. This constant development is inscribed in the DNA of our company. We are adding more and more locations and new countries to our European network: last year Bulgaria joined our family, we are also expanding our business in Germany and Italy. We already have many good domestic distribution networks, and the domestic network is like a human being. It’s the backbone which can support the whole body. This means we can run international business; we can offer sea freight, air freight, contract logistics. If there is no backbone of domestic distribution network in the country, we perceive it as a bad set-up.” – explains Ewald Raben, CEO Raben Group. – “We aim to standardize our x-docks across Europe. They should have the same set-up, the same processes and IT systems. For us and our customers, standardization means optimization and the highest quality of provided services.”
Raben in Europe
In 2019 many new direct lines from Raben Group countries to Germany were opened. Connections to Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the Baltic States, Ukraine and the East were also developing dynamically. In Italy, the Group has strengthened its cooperation with Sittam, in which it became the majority shareholder after increasing its stake to 51%. The Bertol family remains the owner of the 49% stake and the long-term shareholder of Sittam. Both owners decided to jointly increase the capital of Sittam, and additionally the management of the Italian operator was strengthened by Wojciech Brzuska, a Raben Group manager with over 20 years of experience in the TFL industry, who took over as CEO. Raben is currently investing heavily in the Italian market through innovative IT solutions, expansion of its domestic network and the development of international connections with other Group markets.
In November, the Raben family expanded to include Bulgaria, which means that the Group already operates in 13 markets in Europe with a network of 150 depots.The international HUB in Sofia and direct, daily connections with a partner network of six warehouses across the country not only allow the company to operate efficiently in this market, but also to open up new opportunities for development in the south-eastern part of the continent. And while the Group is taking its first steps in one part of Europe, in another it celebrates a round anniversary: Raben Lithuania has recently celebrated its 15th anniversary of operations.
Last year, in the European logistics network, traditionally the largest share of services provided by Raben Group was road transport (66%), followed by contract logistics (13%), FTL (8%), Fresh Logistics (8%), lead logistics provider (4%) and finally sea & air (1%). It is worth noting that sea transport in the past year started to develop very dynamically, and Raben team dedicated to this sector has grown significantly. All of this confirms Raben Group’s consistent efforts to build a European logistics network.
Raben in Ukraine
2019 was a success for Raben Ukraine. Compared to 2018, the company has a growth in all indicators. Cargo traffic in Ukraine, for example, increased by 15%. And most importantly, the interest in the groupage cargo is growing among clients. Raben Ukraine is focused on the development of this particular segment.
The company increased the number of local centers. The 24th cross-docking center was opened in Uman (Cherkasy region). The new cross-dock will service the city, some areas of Cherkasy, Vinnytsia and Kirovograd regions and will significantly reduce the time of cargo delivery — by 24 hours.
Co-packing and stickering services are becoming increasingly popular in the Ukrainian logistics market. Taking into account these trends, last year Raben Ukraine expanded its co-packing area fivefold to 2.1 thou sq.m. The new co-packing zone has special equipment — chamber-type thermo-folding machines that have ergonomic setup and original design. In addition, there are conveyor, labelling units, video cameras, ventilation with heat recovery and modern lighting. In particular, LED systems and automatic light control systems are used.
Also starting from 2019, thanks to the opening of a new direction of groupage shipments between the EU and Ukraine (Chlebnia — Lviv), customs clearance will be provided not only in Kyiv but in Lviv as well. Previously, the company’s international groupage shipments operated only on the Chlebnia-Kyiv route. The final destination was Raben Ukraine’s first own customs terminal in Velyka Dymerka (Kyiv region). Thus, transit time to customs was shortened. After passing the customs and sorting at the company’s Lviv depot, located near the terminal, the cargo is immediately delivered to any point of Ukraine within 24 hours via the internal distribution network.
In addition, the company moved to a new warehouse in Lviv in December, doubling its space. The warehouse in Dnipro is also being reconstructed.
“In 2019, we started several digital projects we are proud of. One of them is ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival) project. It is an innovative technology that allows you to determine an estimated time of arrival of your cargo on the basis of GPS data. ETA also corrects data in case of downtime — the information changes in real time. Any recipient can both count on quality delivery of goods to the specified destination and plan the time of receipt. Currently, only Raben Group uses this technology in Europe.
We actively use electronic document flow with clients and contractors: invoices, certificates of completion and contracts. In particular, 21% of all customer accounts and documents are transferred to an electronic platform. We are also introducing electronic waybills, and have already begun to use them for deliveries between regional warehouses”, — comments Inna Ocheretna, CEO of Raben Ukraine.
Raben in Germany
Raben Group’s own independent transport network, operating since January 2018 in Germany, was expanded last spring with new depots. The logistics centre in Schüttorf in Lower Saxony has a cross-docking area of 4,500 m² and it has 53 loading ramps for inbound and outbound goods. In Neumünster, Schleswig-Holstein, Raben Trans European Germany opened a depot with 750 m2 of warehouse capacity and 8 loading ramps. This investment enabled the Group to provide more efficient services in northern Germany.
Finally, it is worth mentioning the completion of the two-and-a-half-year-long expansion of the Eisenach location, which was enriched with modern warehouses, a workshop with a truck wash and new offices. As a result of the 6.5-million-euro investment, Raben Group currently has 40% more warehouse capacity in Eisenach at its disposal – four logistics warehouses, two cross-dock warehouses and 74 loading docks in total. The aim is to increase the operator’s presence in Thuringia.
In November 2019, an agreement was reached on Raben Group’s acquisition of the German group Fenthol & Sandtmann, which includes FKL & Kraftverkehr Ehrig. Raben acquired the remaining 50% of the shares of the company it had cooperated with on a joint venture basis since 2011, which now makes it its sole shareholder. As a result of the transaction, Raben Group took over the distribution centres of Fenthol & Sandtmann in Hamburg, Erlensee, Leipzig and Dresden together with the employees.
On this market an important role will be played by direct daily connections with other countries of the Group, particularly between Poland and Germany, whose main objective is to double the number of shipments in the coming years.
“Germany is the largest and the most important trading partner for Poland so the expansion of the network of depots on that market goes hand in hand with increasing the frequency of connections. Raben groupage transport between Poland and Germany currently consists of 90 daily linehauls.” – explains Łukasz Lubański, Director for Polish-German Market Development in Raben Group. – “The dynamics of development of these connections gives us good reasons to be satisfied: the results show an increase in orders at the level of 30% year-on-year.”
Raben in Poland
“We are satisfied with the results of 2019, and we entered 2020 well prepared. Although we can already see signs of an economic slowdown, especially in Western Europe, we are trying to shape our customer portfolio so as to minimize economic fluctuations. Moreover, many of the initiatives we have taken in recent years to improve the quality and modernity of our services are starting to pay off by increasing customer satisfaction and, consequently, the development of cooperation.” – says Paweł Trębicki, General Director of Raben Transport.
Raben Transport managed by him generated record revenue in 2019. The biggest company of the Group, Raben Logistics Polska, also noted outstanding results as last year it achieved a high Net Promoter Score (NPS) of as much as 80% and the Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) of 82%, and it is already well prepared for the challenges of the new year.
“In 2020 the logisticsindustrywill continue to develop despite many challenges.” – says Janusz Anioł, General Director of Raben Logistics Polska. – “In Poland, the most serious of these will continue to be the rising costs of the labour market as well as the burdens resulting from new, anticipated regulations. These changes will affect the whole market and all industries, and therefore it will be necessary to reach close cooperation and understanding in the whole supply chain to hone logistics processes together. Logistics will be expected to change, improve and take a new approach to business through innovation, automation, advanced forms of data exchange and environmental activities. Only financially stable companies with modern development potential and a strong IT and research team will be able to meet this challenge.”
In Poland, in terms of investments in facilities, 2019 was better than the previous year. In May, a modern warehouse with an area of 21,000 m² was opened in Robakowo near Poznań. Thanks to this, Raben Group now operates the Logistics Centre in Gądki with 120,000 m2 of warehouse space, with the possibility of storing 185 thousand pallets, almost 18 thousand m2 of cross-dock area and 5 thousand m2 of production space. The new logistics warehouse with the capacity of 41 thousand pallets has been divided into five zones, including specialized ones which allow for the storage of aerosols or oxidants, which required the application of state-of-the-art safety and fire protection solutions. The facility is also designed for running co-packing projects.
A few weeks later a branch of Raben Group in Kielce was opened, which took over the business of a location in nearby Starachowice – too small to meet the growing needs of the customers. A modern, ecological facility with the capacity of 5 thousand m2, designed for transport and cross-docking services, handles on average over 24 thousand shipments and about 50 thousand pallets per month. Thanks to these investments, the company’s operational capabilities have significantly increased.
In turn, for Fresh Logistics Polska specializing in the transport of fresh products, the year 2019 was marked by continuous business improvement within the Better Every Day programme based on the Lean Management philosophy. As many as 18 optimization projects were carried out, thus increasing the effectiveness of services and responding to the growing expectations of customer.
“The customers of logistics services are increasingly demanding. The role of a logistics operator is not only the storage goods or transporting them from A to B, but above all the provisions of high-quality services, care for the safety of transported and stored goods and the broadly understood process and cost optimization. The logistics operator is to deliver more, more frequently, more accurately, without errors and without damage. Customer expectations over the past years have evolved towards higher quality, increasingly shorter response times to changing needs, with unlimited flexibility and pressure on the level of costs of logistics services.” – says Tomasz Olenderek, General Director of Fresh Logistics Polska.
The investments in infrastructure in Raben Group last year were accompanied by the implementation of new technological solutions and fleet development. In January, the company offered its customers an innovative tool based on the ETA parameter (Estimated Time of Arrival), which allows for tracking shipments in real time and determining the time of delivery with an accuracy of two hours. This solution has been appreciated not only by the customers but also by the IT industry. Together with myRaben.com platform, it was awarded in the Best in Cloud 2019 contest organized by Computerworld as “The best implementation of the cloud service in the last 12 months”.
For many years Raben Group has been focusing on automation and robotization of processes and services on different levels: physical processes, IT processes, and recently also robotic processes automation (RPA). When it comes to automation, it opted for advanced IT solutions, such as platforms automatically transmitting information to customers, platforms presenting ETA, etc. In the area of automation and warehouse robotization, Raben is implementing devices measuring shipments, autonomous, semi-automatic forklifts, as well as “co-botic” arms, Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and many other solutions increasing the effectiveness of warehousing and transport processes. In the area of RPA (Robotic Process Automation) there are implementations of software robots supporting or replacing users’ work in particular applications (WMS/TMS/FK) or at the interface of IT systems.
It is also worth mentioning that in 2019 the operator’s fleet was enriched by ten Mercedes-Benz tractors equipped with innovative technology, including MirrorCam cameras and the Blind Spot Assistant. The latest Actros tractors enable driving in an even more economical and, above all, exceptionally safe way, which is a priority for Raben Group.
The successes of Raben Group can also be measured by the prizes it has won. Their number in 2019 was extremely high, and some of them were truly unique and prestigious. Ewald Raben, CEO Raben Group, in recognition of his contribution to the development of the Polish economy, was awarded the Medal of 100th Anniversary of Regaining Independence by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. In turn, Paweł Trębicki, General Director of Raben Transport, received the Decoration of Honour “Meritorious for the transport of the Republic of Poland” at the request of the Transport and Logistics Poland Employer Association – TLP.
The industry competences of Raben Group have been repeatedly recognized. The company received the title of the Reliable Brand 2019 in the category of “Logistics Services” in the report of “My Company Polska” magazine. Moreover, it took first place in the 24th edition of the Transport Forwarding Logistics (TFL) ranking prepared by “Dziennik Gazeta Prawna” in the “Logistics Services” category. At the same time Fresh Logistics Polska received a distinction in the “Transport” category. Raben Group was also the winner of the “Rzeczpospolita” daily award for outstanding companies from the transport, forwarding and logistics industry – in the categories of “Highest revenues in contract logistics” and “Best CSR practices”. Finally, in the eighteenth edition of the Logistics Operator of the Year 2019 survey, Raben Logistics Polska received the Golden Emblem and was at the top of the ranking of companies enjoying the greatest customer trust, while Raben Transport received the statuette of Logistics Leader in the category of the Most Reliable FTL Service Provider. Foreign companies also have something to boast about: Raben Ukraine was awarded the “REPUTATIONAL ACTIVists” prize in the field of “Transport and logistics – comprehensive logistics services”.
Corporate social responsibility
In 2019 Raben Group activities in the field of CSR brought not only measurable effects but also numerous awards. In the spring, volunteers planted 2,100 trees as part of the “e-invoice=higher culture” campaign, which the company has been running since 2014 – during that time a total of over 13,000 trees have been planted. The company also joined the group of partners of the Responsible Business Forum, and the latest edition of the report “Responsible Business in Poland 2018. Good practices” presents 16 of its initiatives. For the fourth time already, the “Polityka” weekly awarded Raben Group the Golden Leaf of CSR, and additionally a special award for its cooperation with the Federation of Polish Food Banks. For its contribution to preventing food waste, the company was awarded the Jacek Kuroń award in the National Donor category. In the summer, the fifth social report of Raben Group in Poland was also published – “The Way to Responsibility 2018”.
Raben Group ended the year with a joyful Christmas accent when Ewald Raben became one of the patrons, and his brother Marco – one of the drivers-volunteers of the Christmas convoy, which in December set off from Germany to Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania and Ukraine. More than 170,000 parcels were transported to Eastern European countries on 38 trucks with the help of sponsors and almost 300 volunteers. The Christmas gifts were distributed among children from local schools and kindergartens, orphanages and clinics.