HGK Shipping Salzgitter AG Group: Sustainable supply chains on inland waterways

by David Fleschen

HGK Shipping and Salzgitter AG are planning to enhance their cooperation and jointly promote and develop sustainable logistics concepts for inland waterways in future. Two subsidiaries of Salzgitter AG – Salzgitter Flachstahl and DEUMU-Deutsche Erz- und Metall-Union – and Europe’s largest inland waterway shipping company, HGK Shipping, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for this purpose in Salzgitter on 10 August.


The overriding goal is to continue developing low-emission logistics chains and establish them as the norm. The major focus is on setting up and developing paired transport operations, i.e., to generate return loads in order to prevent empty runs and optimise the use of the shipping space that is available. This cooperation arrangement particularly provides the opportunity of combining and planning transport operations in an intelligent manner. While Salzgitter Flachstahl (SZFG) has specialised in manufacturing flat steel products for vehicle and pipe manufacturers and the building industry, for example, DEUMU recycles scrap steel, metals and alloys and acts as a trader for them.

Both of the Salzgitter AG companies are aiming to make much greater use of inland waterway shipping in their logistics chains in their efforts to achieve sustainability. The companies operating within the Salzgitter AG Group are connected to the inland waterway system at numerous business sites with the result that inland waterway vessels already transport more than one million tonnes of the Group’s steel along Europe’s waterways every year. This share can be further enhanced if the right conditions are put in place.

Sandrina Sieverdingbeck, the Managing Director of DEUMU, explains why the cooperation arrangement is so important. “The Salzgitter AG Group has set itself the strategic goal of playing a leading role in the circular economy. One key element here will involve using scrap steel to obtain crude steel. This also includes having sustainable logistics operations for this very important secondary raw material. As a result, we want to make greater use of inland waterways for our transport operations – and this can only be a success story if you have strong partners.”

Fabian Gerdes, the Head of Customer Logistics at SZFG, also underlines the importance of the cooperation arrangement that the partners are seeking. “We’ll increasingly establish sustainable solutions such as inland waterway shipping in our supply and logistics chains too. Up to now, this has attracted little attention in the public debate and perception when experts discuss the subject of introducing a transport revolution and easing the pressure on roads. However, inland waterway shipping is already one of the most sustainable means of transport and is absolutely essential for the steel industry. It offers the potential for increasing the volumes that are transported in the short and medium term.”

Florian Bleikamp, the Head of Chartering Canal at HGK Dry Shipping GmbH, emphasises, “This cooperation with the Salzgitter AG Group confirms our view that the need for sustainable solutions on the inland waterway system continues unabated. We can only develop viable solutions for the future, which meet the requirements for climate protection, cost-effectiveness and reliable supplies, if we tackle the challenges together – with industry and logistics moving forward hand in hand.”

Digitalisation plays a major role in this connection too. The cooperation partners agree that they wish to become involved in the SEAFAR pilot project with their transport services to test partially autonomous inland waterway shipping operations in Germany as soon as the responsible authorities give the go-ahead for this. Dry goods vessels, which HGK Shipping uses to and from Salzgitter, are being refitted with the appropriate technology to allow remote control operations from dry land.

Source and Photo: Salzgitter

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