Interview with Sabine Westermair about her position as Head of Logistics at MD and the measures being taken to reduce the carbon footprint in this area.
Tech Talk is a series of interviews that introduce you to some inspiring personalities within and outside of MD as well as to the world of technology, innovation, and more.
In this episode, we talk to Sabine Westermair, Head of Logistics at MD.
We talk about her position as Head of Logistics and about what MD is doing to reduce the carbon footprint to a minimum in its logistics, further potential for reduction and the limits of what is possible.
Sabine Westermair, Head of Logistics at MD
Sabine, please tell us a little about yourself. What inspires you most about your job?
After obtaining a degree in Business Studies, I started in 2011 as an employee in logistics. Talking part in various in-house and external projects gave me the opportunity to broaden my technical and process knowledge. I have been responsible for the entire logistics since 2019.
Together with my team and colleagues at the sites, we work continuously on further optimizing the logistics processes, which I continue to enjoy very much. I find it fascinating that logistics must react very flexibly and spontaneously to unforeseeable events.
What is MD doing to reduce the carbon footprint in logistics?
To answer your question as precisely as possible, we need to look at two aspects: the issue of transport, on the one hand, and in-house optimization on the other.
The main and most obvious effect when it comes to CO2 emissions is clearly to be achieved in the area of transport where, in an increasingly global environment, we obviously have to move ever greater transport volumes at the same time. However, focusing purely on transport is short-sighted in my opinion. Logistics still holds further potential to contribute significantly to reducing CO2.
So let’s start with the area of transport. What is MD doing concretely in this area to reduce carbon emissions?
In the area of transport, the greatest potential for saving CO2 emissions is clearly in the reduction of transport. So, our task is to limit transport volumes to a necessary minimum.
To achieve this, we are working relentlessly on the issue of localization – both in raw material procurement and in production. This means that, on the one hand, through talks with our suppliers, we agree that the products should be produced in the region in which they are required, and we also do the same thing for our own production. For overseas transport which continues to be necessary despite localization, we have maximized the consolidation and capacity of sea freight containers through optimized packaging both in-house and also with our suppliers. Basically, we process the majority of our overseas transport by sea freight to avoid expensive and higher emission airfreight. If we do have to transport goods more quickly and the transit time by sea freight takes too long, we tend to use rail freight more often, particularly in the direction of China.
In addition to overseas transport, we have also already made improvements in the area of land freight. This is where the main adjustments have been made, both in terms of avoiding special deliveries through smart, forward-thinking procurement strategies, and at the same time, precise production planning, and in terms of avoiding empty trips, by means of intelligent consolidation and transport planning.
In addition, of course, when selecting our transport service providers for all trade lanes, we pay attention to environmentally-friendly behavior.
And what else is MD doing in logistics to reduce the carbon footprint?
A major issue is the reduction of packaging and therefore also of packaging waste. The optimization of packaging that I mentioned earlier has had a positive effect on our suppliers and we have saved a lot of unnecessary outer packaging in this area. Apart from that, we have also converted to using reusable packaging to a very large extent for our semi-finished products and raw materials. We are also refraining from using unnecessary internal packaging where possible, such as bags, foil, etc. Another adjustment that we have made was optimizing packing density for our finished products. Again, this saves on cardboard packaging and at the same time helps our customers reduce their transport volumes – so it’s a win-win situation for everyone.
The area of digitalization is currently a hot topic everywhere, and we have been busy in this field too in recent years. We are delighted to say that in the intra-logistics sector, we now work 100% paper-free and so we are contributing to global CO2 reduction in that way too.
The last aspect that I’d like to mention here is the optimization of warehouse height capacity. In our plants in the Czech Republic, we have already replaced our 3-meter tall shelving racks with shelves that measure 9 meters in height in order to fully exploit the full clearance height potential of our hangars. This means that we can generate more volume on the same surface area, thus reducing energy consumption in relation to the volumes stored. We plan to carry out a similar conversion in our plant in Mexico next year.
You certainly focus on a lot of areas. In your opinion is there still greater potential or are there any limits?
There is certainly more potential and it will be our task to develop and implement this. But it’s also clear that in the automotive industry, greater flexibility and faster reaction and delivery times are also required. The challenge consists of forging ahead with reducing CO2 emissions, of course, without making our processes slower or losing any flexibility in the process.
Sabine, thank you very much for this very interesting interview