06/07/2019 Liebherr-Mining Equipment Colmar shifts to river transportation

  • 12-months test period
  • Pre-haulage of the goods to the seaports by river
  • Reduction of the ecological footprint
  • Support of local actors

Colmar (France), May 24 2019 – Liebherr-Mining Equipment Colmar SAS assembles large hydraulic excavators (from 100 to 800 tonnes) and an Off-Highway-Truck (100 tonnes) for the mining sector. Some components used in the assembly of these products are up to 19 m long, 5 m wide and over 4 m high for a weight of about 100 tonnes. Each year, about 1000 so-called "exceptional" trucks are needed to transport these machines to the seaports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge. They will then join mine sites around the world (Australia, Africa, Asia etc.) by sea to be reassembled on the spot.

In a spirit of continuous improvement, Liebherr is today launching the challenge of shifting the pre-haulage to the seaports from road to river.

Material handling at the Rhine Port

Material handling at the Rhine Port

With the help of an international consulting company, Liebherr-Mining conducted an in-depth study on the modal shift, 50% financed by Voies Navigables de France (VNF – Inland waterway association) Strasbourg. This method consists of shifting from one mode of transport to another alternative mode with less negative external effects - here from road to water. This funding is part of PARM (assistance plan for modal shifts) piloted by VNF and intended to support companies wishing to move to river transport.

At the end of this study, Liebherr-Mining Equipment Colmar decided to experiment this modal shift for its pre-haulage.

Today, every truck that leaves the Colmar site travels an average of 500 km by using the French, German and Belgian roads to route the machines to the major seaports.

As of June 3, 2019, for a one-year test period, these trucks will now take the road to the Rhine port of Colmar / Neuf-Brisach for river transport.

"There are many advantages to river transportation for the environment, for the customer and for Liebherr", says Amélie Arena, External Logistics Engineer.

One of the first positive aspects of river transport is the reduction of the environmental footprint. River transport is significantly less polluting than road transport. It consumes less energy and the CO2 emissions are reduced considerably - on average 4 times less CO2 emissions than by road. Noise pollution is also reduced for the surrounding agglomerations. With the experimentation of this solution, Liebherr intends to replace 800 trucks by 47 barges over a year.

Moreover, with an almost zero accident rate, the river is also a safe mode of transport: the absence of traffic saturation and the presence of loading software guarantee the perfect stability of the boats.

A win-win situation

Liebherr part being transferred to a barge

Liebherr part being transferred to a barge

"With the project, we believe to contribute to the development and competitiveness of the region", says Marc Lagarde, External Logistics Manager.

Thus, the pre-haulage from the factory to the Rhine port was entrusted to the two Alsatian carriers Straumann (Colmar) and Wack (Obernai and Drulingen) who are experienced in the region. The barging company is Haeger & Schmidt Logistics.

In addition, this modal shift will optimize public tools and use the nearby Rhine.

For Liebherr this solution also brings flexibility. In terms of deadlines, a machine ready for dispatch on Friday morning can be at the seaports of Antwerp or Zeebrugge on Monday morning. A major advantage over road transport because a barge even navigates on Sundays.