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.
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”.
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.
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.
Toralf 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.