When you're in the global steel business, everything is viewed through the “long-term” lens. Buildings, highway bridges, and other such large-scale projects that require steel beams for support (along with steel bolts, etc.) take years to complete, and thus require steel suppliers to take the long view in every aspect of their business, including logistics operations and the trucks supporting them.
Germany's ThyssenKrupp AG, an integrated materials and technology group with almost 188,000 employees in more than 80 countries, generated sales of more than $58.7 billion in 2008 and 2009. The company doesn't just manufacture steel, high-performance metals, and technology components for manufacturing facilities; it also tries to bring out the artistic capabilities within the metal as well.
For example, the company's ThyssenKrupp Nirosta division supplied specially made stainless steel for the construction of Goldman Sachs' global headquarters in New York City, a 43-story building that houses more than 9,000 employees and took five years to construct.
“Stainless steel is being used more and more in the construction of high-rise buildings,” says Gert Weiss, head of product service at ThyssenKrupp Nirosta. “Architects are attracted not only by the material's durability, but also by the variety of finishes available and its consistent high quality, even over large areas.”
Such attention to detail is also embedded within ThyssenKrupp Logistics, part of ThyssenKrupp Materials North America. It operates a fleet of just under 300 tractors and straight trucks, plus more than 300 trailers, from nearly 50 service centers scattered throughout the U.S. and Canada. It has four primary facilities, including its main center and corporate office in Northwood, OH, eight miles southeast of Toledo.
ThyssenKrupp Logistics provides over-the-road, regional and local delivery service and logistical support to other divisions within ThyssenKrupp Materials NA. It also provides just-in-time, expedited and intermodal fleet service. As a common carrier, its trucks haul a variety of loads, including steel, parts and finished products.
Many of the company's trucks and trailers are based out of its four primary facilities for long-distance hauls and regional deliveries. The remainder of the fleet, which includes heavy-duty trucks with day cabs and medium-duty straight trucks, is scattered at various locations across the continent for local and regional deliveries.
That's partly why the logistics and transportation company hires outside vendors to provide maintenance on all of its trucks. It's also why the fleet focuses closely on every trucking detail, no matter how small, so it can maximize uptime and productivity for its operation.
As a result, everything is closely monitored — especially tires. Tire-related issues used to cost the company time and productivity. That changed seven years ago, however, when Brian Brandenburg, fleet maintenance manager for ThyssenKrupp Logistics, came on board and switched to Goodyear-branded tires for the fleet's trucks and trailers and increased the use of retreads.
“We are able to get more miles out of our tires by retreading them, and that retreading is costing us half of what it would cost to buy brand new trailer tires,” he explains. “This really helps drive down our cost per mile.”
And that helps keep Thyssen Krupp Logistics up and running without beefing up bottom-line costs. “Our company's other divisions and our outside customers expect us to run an efficient, cost-effective fleet that can respond quickly to their transportation needs,” Brandenburg says. “Keeping our trucks moving is critical.”