Toralf Weiße: Halle (Saale) on the move – A logistics region gets started

In tandem with rapid developments in science and manufacturing in the fields of chemistry, renewable energies, me­­chan­­ical engineering, the foodstuffs in­­­dustry, com­mu­­nications and information ­tech­no­lo­gy, the media and creative sector, and scarcely noticed by the public, Germany’s Halle region has developed another strong and, for the future, possibly crucial profile over the last few years – logistics. Together with its neighbouring city Leipzig and the surrounding counties, Halle is becoming one of the most up-and-coming logistics regions in Eu­­ro­pe.

Logistics is as important for the economy as the cardio-circulatory system is for the human body. In addition, the glo­­b­­ally intertwined economy needs a large store of common sense, or intelligent management. Goods and freight flows have to be moved in such a way that the manufacturing, processing and distribution steps can be satisfied all over the world at the right time, in the right quantity and with minimal ex­­pen­­diture on energy and costs. Lo­­gistics brings demand and supply to­­gether in a material sense. Without lo­­gistics, work­shops, factories and offices would be just as empty as supermarkets, living rooms and other areas of life.

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The logistics infrastructure and competence are thus very crucial strengths of an economic region, and in this case, the Halle-Leipzig region has increased its capabilities in this area quite considerably over the last few years. This effort is aided by its unique geographic location. If one folds two maps of the EU on top of each other crossways, the intersection of the central lines lies in the Halle-Leipzig area. The focus of Europe’s economic activity has moved eastwards, not least following the EU expansion, to the extent that Halle is lo­­cated in the centre, with the result that goods can be transported to all economic areas – whether to the north, south, east or west of the centre – in the least travelling distance.

However, without a suitable infrastructure, this geographical advantage would hardly be of any value. However, the re­­gion is en­­vied by competitors precisely because of this infrastructure. Through the systematic extension of transport routes in both the “German Unity” and the community tash “business-based infrastructure”, the Halle-Leipzig logistics re­­gion today has equipment and transport links in all directions via rail, road, in the air and, to some extent, by water; it also has multi-modal handling facilities between these transport modes, which are competitive within Germany and the entire EU. In some aspects these are even unparalleled.
The pivotal point of the logistics infrastruc­­ture is, of course, the Leipzig/Halle air­­port with its two runways, which are capable of handling large aircraft, and unrestricted 24-hour operating licence for airfreight. The most prominent user is the European DHL airfreight hub, which was transferred from Brussels to the Leipzig/Halle airport in 2008, and which, in the medium term, provided di­­rect and indirect employment opportunities with some 10,000 new jobs through­­out the entire logistics region. Airfreight can be sent from this hub to almost any point on the globe within two days.

Other advantages are the fact that there are sufficient numbers of trained and skilled employees available in the re­­gion to satisfy fluctuating staff requirements, there are large numbers of fully developed industrial and commercial pro­­perties, and, if things get serious, the responsible authorities can give pri­­ority to create jobs by processing the necessary approvals in record time. The Halle-Leip­­zig logistics region is distinguishing itself in all respects through its speed. And this is why it rightly uses the mission statement: “a fast-moving region with fast logistics”.

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But airfreight logistics experts were not the only ones to recognize the advantages that this region has to offer. Other companies, which rely on both excellent location conditions generally and the rapid international accessibility of their customers or first-class links with their suppliers across the entire world, have also set up businesses in the Halle-Leipzig area. An end to this development is not in sight – nor is it desired. It is precisely the variety of sectors and companies that opens up many forms of cooperation and synergy effects, generates more opportunities for suppliers on the regional purchasing market and safeguards the region against structural risks.
The prime movers of and main bodies responsible for this increase in econo­m­­ic activity include the growing lo­­gis­­tics service sector, which is growing out of all proportion – in other words, logistics companies of all sorts and sizes, logistics specialists, related re­­search and educational centres and those responsible for logistics at po­­li­­t­­ical level, the public authorities and the commercial sector. Various studies have shown that by 2015, central Ger­­many expects a five to six-digit in­­crease in employment in the logistics sector, not counting the flow-on effects of new jobs with established logistics customers.

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To use the opportunities offered by the logistics sector in the region to the best effect in future, intensive communication, coordination and cooperation of all these actors will be required in the interests of the Halle-Leipzig logistics region.
After systematic preliminary work in 2007/2008, in which the effected ac­­tors were guestioned directly in order to de­­ter­­mine a feasible concept for co­­operation with practice-based aims and areas of activity at the grass roots, a “Netz­­werk Logistik Leipzig-­Halle e.V.” was formed in Sep­tem­ber 2008 by 20 founder members. Within only a short time – less than six months – the number of members of this network more than doubled and is still continuing to grow. This shows that the co­­operation and association ap­­proach is urgently needed by the re­­gional logistics business and is being actively supported. Some of today’s members in­­clude the cities of Halle, Leipzig and Schkeuditz, the county of Northern Saxony, the Cham­­bers of Industry and Commerce of Hal­­le-Dessau and Leipzig, educati­­o­­n­al ins­­t­­itutions such as the University of Leip­­zig and, the HHL – Leipzig Gra­­d­­uate School of Management, ma­­jor lo­­gistics companies such as DHL, Schnell­­ecke and Si­­mon Hegele and – by no means least but in fact very crucially – a large number of small and medium-sized companies in the logistics sector, which represent almost the entire added value chain and lo­­gistics services.
The network plans to contribute to the rapid transformation of the Halle-Leipzig logistics region into an established and fast-operating hub in the heart of Europe. The aims of the net­­work are therefore to promote in­­for­­ma­­tion, com­­munication and cooperation bet­­ween actors in the logistics sec­­tor and the responsible actors of the re­­gion, to support the establishment of more companies and hence employment op­­por­­tu­­nities in the region, to promote co­­oper­­a­­tion between logistics com­­pa­­nies and freight handlers in supply-chain management, na­­tional cooperation and positioning within Ger­­many of the Halle-Leip­­zig logistics re­­gion as an attractive pro­­duction and distribution location in the heart of Europe, to train staff for, to develop and secure logistics jobs and to sensitize political circles and the public to the key function of logistics in the continued positive development of the economic region.
Halle and Leipzig have recognized the signs of the times and accept the re­­gio­­nal characteristic of “a fast-moving region with fast logistics”. This is not to imply any sense of a frantic rush. In the “country where people get up early” it’s not necessarily a bad thing when someone gets up and gets going earlier and moves faster than others. The people in the region will be glad if some­­one arrives at the finish faster.

 

Porträtbilder-Toralf-Weiße-001Toralf Weiße is a qualified freight lo­­gis­­tics specialist and was born in 1966. He worked at Flach­­glas Tor­gau GmbH from 1987 till 1993. In 1993 he became branch manager of the internationally active freight forwarder Weigl & Co. KG. He has been manager of the Halle branch of the Si­­mon Hegele Gesellschaft für Logistik und Service mbH company group and manager of the Leipzig/Halle e.V. lo­­gis­­tics net­work since 1999.