Digitalisation now influences Bertschi’s isocyanate fleet planning

Bertschi’s isocyanate container fleet is to be equipped with Nexxiot telematics boxes for tracking, and Quantum thermometers for product temperature monitoring.
Following an analysis of container flows (MDI/TDI) and the available capacity in in-house workshops, seven locations for the equipment were determined: Antwerp, Birsfeld, Delfzijl, Duisburg, Cologne, Schwarzheide, and Tarragona.

The iso­cyanate fleet comprises almost 2,100 containers. The devices were ordered and allocated to the sites on the basis of various aspects. After the first ones arrived on 6 February 2020, the set-up was successfully initiated at all locations. As of end March this year, 80 percent of the isocyanate fleet is already equipped with the new devices and in operational use.

Bertschi’s isocyanate container fleet is to be equipped with Nexxiot telematics boxes for tracking

Just the right temperature

Isocyanates are temperature-sensitive products that must be heated or cooled to a customer-specific unloading temperature in transit or at the latest before delivery. Thanks to the new telematics system, operational processes have been greatly optimised, says Bertschi.

The shunting, handling and manual temperature checks that used to be necessary have thus been largely eliminated, transferred to the computer of the responsible planner and made more efficient. What used to be an enormously time-consuming and cost-intensive process has been replaced by just a few clicks, thanks to the advancement of digitalisation.

With the now consistently available temperature data, Bertschi’s planners can send precise heating orders via a heating app. Moreover, the approximate heating requirement can be estimated and vehicles planned more efficiently, meaning long waiting times for drivers are reduced to a minimum. In addition, the heating progression can be conveniently tracked from the office, thus avoiding constant calls to the heating personnel. A truck is immediately scheduled when a tank is at the target temperature, resulting in much more efficient route planning.

Temperature-sensitive products can be monitored and controlled while in transit. In this way, any malfunctions in the equipment are quickly detected and, ideally, rectified directly. If a container is not accessible, the receiving terminal can be proactively informed of a malfunction. The necessary steps can be initiated and implemented immediately on arrival, thus preventing product degradation.

The temperature evaluations enable easy analysis and processing of customer complaints due to quality deviations caused by temperature factors (too warm or too cold). The available data enables us both to protect ourselves and to document problems at loading and unloading stations, and has allowed the logistics company to disprove claims that could have been lodged against Bertschi in the past.

The advantages of the new technology are clearly visible, the company says. It is therefore important for Bertschi to be able to equip the remaining 20 percent of the isocyanate fleet as quickly as possible. The company hopes to achieve this goal by the end of 2021.


Bertschi is also responding to current container supply chain crunch.
Over the past few months, it has become increasingly expensive and difficult to ship containers by sea. Persistent capacity bottlenecks and high demand for goods are putting many supply chains to the test.

Producers and consumers alike are confronted with exorbitantly high sea freight rates and ships that are fully booked for months at a time. They are thus consistently exposed to the risk of having to shut down production lines due to a lack of material supplies. Air freight is often considered as an alternative, but is only suitable for smaller quantities and is also much more expensive.

To counteract this, Bertschi is working with its partner Hupac to provide customers with a solution. In a combined rail and sea route, containers are transported via the Trans-Siberian Railway network to Vladivostok, from where they are shipped on a shortened sea route to Asian ports.

In contrast to direct rail transport via the new Silk Road, which still requires several months of preparation in order to obtain the necessary permits for tank containers, the route via the eastern Russian port of Vladivostok is both a proven option and one that is available at short notice. Despite the long transit time of approximately 35 to 40 days, rapidly available capacity enables delivery to the recipient several weeks earlier than if the containers were delivered by conventional sea transport.

Since December, Bertschi has been able to transport a larger number of containers from Europe to Asia and vice versa in this way, thus expanding the company’s knowledge and increasing the reliability of the route.

In the next, longer-term step, Bertschi is working on a viable solution for crossing the land border between Kazakhstan and China, since rail transport on the new Silk Road takes much less time than transport via Vladivostok – transit times of roughly 25 days are conceivable. Until this new route is established, however, the corridor via Vladivostok is suitable as a sensible, fast alternative to sea and air freight.

This article is an excerpt from an article published in the July/August issue of Bulk Distributor magazine
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