Andrea Marongiu: Baden-Württemberg is also a logistics state

Baden-Württemberg is not only innova­tive and inventive, it is also logistically well positioned. With increasing turnover, geographical changes and increasing exports, the logistics sector is in a state of change.

In a sectoral comparison, the logistics sector in the state of Baden-Württem­berg has advanced quietly and almost unnoticed to third place by gross domestic product and in the number of employees. It took a long time before government, pro­­moters of business development, regional planners and the population finally recog­­nised the significance of the logistics sector. While acceptance increased over this period, the logistics sector is probably still the most underestimated sector in Baden-Württemberg. The negative clichés that reduce logistics to a few stereotypes like environmental pollution, backed-up traffic and noise are still only too real.

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The actors in the industry have much work to do. They want to see the irreplaceable function of logistics become a focal point for a prospering export in­­dustry in any debate on logistics. And yet the history of logistics in Baden-Württemberg is a success story par ex­­cellence, as a few facts strikingly confirm. For example, some 180,000 people were employed in core areas of the lo­­gis­­tics industry in Baden-Württemberg in 2009. This corresponds to 4.7 per cent of all employees. If one includes those employees also performing logistics func­­tions in manufacturing and trading com­­panies, there are some 380,000 people employed in logistics functions in Baden-Württemberg, which corresponds to 9.8 per cent of all employees in that state.

Turnover in the logistics sector in Baden-Württemberg is increasing constantly. The crisis years of 2008/2009 have been overcome and turnover now resembles former successes again, so that, while this period represented a dent from a long-term point of view, it never became the feared end of the success story. On the contrary, experts forecast growth in all areas of the logistics industry. With the eastern expansion of the European Union, its logistical and geographical centre is also shifting eastwards, from which Baden-Württemberg is also benefiting through its geographical position.
But there is also another side of the coin, namely the heavy increase in transit traf­­fic. Baden-Württemberg’s success­ful logis­­tics development is due to a large extent to manufacturing companies, which in­­clude the numerous market leaders in the motor vehicle manufactur­­ing and me­­chanical engineering in­­dustries. The prod­­ucts from these sectors are sought after all over the world and demand is in­­creas­­ing. While in 1970, Baden-Würt­temberg’s export quota made up some 21 per cent of all produc­tion, in 1980 it was 24 per cent, in 1989, 29 per cent and in 2009, over 36 per cent. An essential requirement for further posi­­tive develop­ment in mar­­keting products from Baden-Württemberg around the world is the close link be­­tween logistics and manufacturing. In short: logistics makes a cru­­cial contribution to preserving Baden-Württemberg as a business location.


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Last but not least, Baden-Württemberg offers positive development opportunities for distribution logistics companies which function as suppliers for the popu­­la­­tion in the conurbations in the state. Be­­sides Karlsruhe, Mannheim und Stutt­­gart, Baden-Württemberg is home to six further cities with more than 100,000 residents. The consumer potential is more than ten mil­­lion people. The supply radius of the dis­­tribution centres based in Baden-Würt­­temberg is continuing to expand be­­yond the state borders and is now reach­­ing European dimensions. Baden-Württem­­berg occupies another top posi­­tion in intra-logistics, which covers all processes of the intra-company materials flow of one or more companies. In relation to its size, Baden-Württemberg arguably has the highest intra-logistics company density of all states in Ger­many and probably worldwide.

A study by Prognos, a German polling company, assesses the economic players in Baden-Württemberg as confident; in other words, southwest Germany is not only Germany’s economic powerhouse, it also has the best prospects for the future. Of 25 top economic re­­gions in Germany with future-capable industries, ten such locations are in Baden-Würt­tem­­berg alone. This locations study de­­scribes an axis for the future which runs from Mannheim through Stuttgart to Bib­­erach and Tuttlingen to Lake Constance.

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In the land of inventors and tinkerers that is Baden-Württemberg, the current logis­­tics tertiary education scene can stand any comparison. Besides the tra­di­­tional universities in Heilbronn, Mannheim and Lörrach, which specialised decades ago in training logistics managers, a dense network of universities which offer nu­­merous courses in logistics has formed. A state-wide logistics network will now improve cooperation between companies, universities, research centres and other logistics players. With this purpose in mind, the Baden-Würt­temberg Ministry of Economic Affairs initiated a competition in order to en­­trust an initiative worthy of funding with the task of forming a cluster. The logistics cluster is in­­tended to reinforce tech­­nology transfer between companies and business-related facilities, integrate ex­­ter­nal know­­ledge into the company inno­­vation process, ease the exchange of information be­­tween logistics players and improve com­­petitiveness and innovative strength of smaller and medium-sized companies in particular.

However, due to the neglect of the trans­­port infrastructure in Baden-Württem­berg for many years, one Achilles heel re­­mains. This applies mainly to road trans­­port but also to rail, inland waterways and Stuttgart Airport. Given the constantly growing volume of goods carried by road and heavy increases in transit traffic, industry associations and chambers of industry and commerce ensure that public funds earmarked for expansion of the transport infrastructure are invested where bottle-necks need to be removed.

 

Bild-Marongiu-3The author has a degree in business ad­­min­­istration from Heilbronn Univer­sity, where he majored in transport manage­ment. After graduation he wor­ked as an assistant to the managing director at the Verband Spedi­­tion und Logistik Baden-Württem­berg e. V., whose deputy man­­aging director he be­­came in 2000. The author has been man­­aging director of the association since 2009.