2020 will go down in history as a challenging period for many industries. The COVID-19 pandemic finished the previous year with the revenues exceeding 1.26 billion Euro, and new investments, implemented services and numerous awards are the best proof that the company has successfully handled the challenges of 2020.
Last year's reality required the entire logistics industry to be flexible and adapt quickly to new, rapidly changing conditions. From the start Raben Group focused utmost attention on safety and protecting health of its employees and contractors on the one hand, and on the other, on ensuring continuity of operations and providing services at the highest possible level.
The company considers last year a success, with revenues at the level of 1.26 billion Euro. The main industries served by the company in 2020 were food (30%), consumer technologies (21%), automotive (17%), retail (12%) chemicals (11%), non-food FMCG (9%). In the European logistics network, road transport accounted for the largest part of services provided by Raben Group (66%), followed by contract logistics (13%), FTL (8%), Fresh Logistics (8%), Lead Logistics Provider (4%) and finally Sea&Air (1%).
“The year 2020 was filled with challenges. What happened in the transport market during this period will have a significant impact not only on 2021, but also on the following years. The pandemic has changed the business reality of every company in the market. Our task has been to maintain business continuity not only of our company but most importantly of our customers. The unfavourable economic situation doesn’t mean we have been inactive. On the contrary, we have taken a number of actions to make the consequences of the current state of affairs as painless as possible for all of us. That's why our entire team has made every effort to ensure that logistics doesn't stop and to support our customers and help deliver the required products. Thanks to our policy of conscious shaping the portfolio of our customers, we have achieved good financial results despite the difficult situation on the market. It is also the best proof that Raben are "People with Drive". Thanks to their commitment and passion for logistics, our employees have been able to adapt quickly to the new working environment and successfully face the challenges of 2020.” - summarises Ewald Raben, CEO Raben Group. – “Initially the new situation caused a lot of anxiety, but we started to think about what opportunities the new reality offers, what we can do better, how we can expand the portfolio of our services. In the case of our company, the pandemic has contributed to the development of digitization of processes by accelerating the creation of paperless logistics and introducing the PCD service, i.e. confirmation of delivery with a photo. I am convinced that the right approach to a crisis, handled with a well-thought-out strategy, can be an opportunity.”
The pandemic has also shown that increasingly popular remote work and relying more on new technologies is not only necessary, but also effective.
“The past year surprised us with unprecedented constraints related to organization of our work. It was a test for managers who had to maintain communication with employees working remotely and ensure the highest safety standards for those who remained in their workplaces - drivers and warehouse workers.” - comments Anita Koralewska-Ratajczak, Head of HR, Raben Group. - “The results of the engagement survey conducted during the pandemic showed that employees greatly appreciated the fact that their safety was taken care of. They were also satisfied with the regular communication with their supervisors and the team (despite the distance) and the company's smooth adjustment to the new situation. The limitations proved to be an inspiration to look for new solutions. For instance, during the pandemic we carried out our biggest development project for 1,000 managers from 13 countries using a gamification and we improved many processes with the help of advanced technologies. It was a good year for People with DRIVE.”
Raben in Poland
“The logistics industry is the lifeblood of the economy and it often grapples with many challenges. In 2020, they were unusual for all of us. On the one hand, it was the epidemic threat, changing restrictions, costs of protective measures against the possibility of spreading the virus, changing work organization, and on the other hand, volatile customer sales and the need for an even more flexible approach to their needs. The entire economy has been weakened by the pandemic and only companies which are ready for change and growth, while being financially strong, developed and innovative, will survive.” - says Janusz Anioł, General Director, Raben Logistics Polska. – “At Raben we pay special attention to the development and improvement of IT and automation. Customers appreciate the connections and data exchange with operating systems and online platforms like myRaben. The online price quotation for international transports combined with placing orders on myOffer platform works very efficiently.” - he adds.
The company managed by Janusz Anioł generated the highest revenue in Raben Group. The company also completed many new investment projects. In April, Raben Logistics Polska moved its depot in Olsztyn to a new location and in June, the first operations started in Adamów, where the company is running a central warehouse for Makro at Panattoni Park A2. The 33,000 m2 facility utilises many innovative solutions which increase not only process efficiency, but also employee safety. The automatic sorting system created thanks to effective cooperation with the customer is particularly noteworthy. It is one of the first and most modern sorters of this type in Europe. The second half of the year was also marked by the construction of new facilities in Silesia - a 50,000 m2 distribution centre in Ruda Śląska and additional warehouses in Sosnowiec. In November, the company opened a location in Legnica, where a dedicated contract logistics project for Ahlers AG Group is run in the 11,000 m2 facility leased at Panattoni Legnica Park. It is worth reminding that the Legnica depot also plays an important role in the Raben Group transport network as an important point of consolidation of shipments in transport between Poland and Germany. Goods leave this location every day to 39 destinations across the western border, 36 of which are direct routes to Raben Group depots located all over Germany.
Fresh Logistics Polska, which specialises in logistics of fresh products in controlled temperatures, also invested a lot in 2020. Pursuing its policy of continuous improvement, the company invested in modern warehouses with a total area of 16,000 m2 in Wojanowo and Nowa Wieś Wrocławska. After the completion of the project, Fresh Logistics has a total warehouse capacity exceeding 55,000 m2 dedicated to the storage of fresh food products. The new investments allow for the storage of goods which require various temperature ranges from 0°C to +15°C, and for providing additional services such as co-packing and labelling. Moreover, they allow for storing frozen products and performing transloading operations of container units.
Last year Jarosław Gulowaty - Contract Logistics Director, Fresh Logistics Polska, became the Chairman of the Council of GS1 Poland for 2020-2024. The company has been cooperating with external organizations for years, actively engaging in developing paperless logistics and focusing on areas related to process standardization, not only inside its own company, but also among all entities involved in the supply chain.
“2020 was the most unusual year in our company history. In a very short time we had to adjust to the new reality. Looking back now, I must say that we’ve passed the test with flying colours. Most of the planned projects have been completed, we maintained organizational stability and, most importantly, high quality of services for our customers, which is best evidenced by this year's record-breaking NPS indicator. This wouldn’t have been possible if we weren’t in the midst of our transformation.” - comments Tomasz Olenderek, General Director, Fresh Logistics Polska, and he adds: “Better Every Day is the motto of the continuous business improvement program based on lean management tools, which is an essential part of our business culture. Continuous process optimization and creation of an engaging work environment are long-term tasks, which, if successively implemented, will contribute to efficient management of any crisis. Such activities cannot be carried out ad hoc - only a strategic approach is a guarantee of success, which is the satisfaction of even the most demanding customer. I am convinced that it is thanks to such strategic actions that we have been able to overcome the difficulties of 2020.”
For Raben Transport, the most important task turned out to be securing the resources and sales while maintaining cost discipline and taking care of customers, who often grappled with various challenges. As an integral part of the supply chain, FTL transport suffered a deep downturn in the first half of the year when freight volumes fell sharply and driver availability in the market declined significantly. The situation required quick response, flexibility and difficult decisions.
However, it was also a time of opportunities and good perspectives for transport companies. Raben Transport has previously ensured a diversified portfolio of customers, including from the e-commerce, construction and food sectors, which are currently experiencing growth. Company goal was also to develop ongoing partnerships with customers and saturate existing sales. Solutions based on process automation and ETA (estimated time of arrival) have also proved to be an asset for the company, supporting customers who want fast and reliable information.
Raben in Germany
For the German company, 2020 was the time of implementation of BlueJay, a modern transport system, which supports transport operations in the entire Group.
“Implementing the BlueJay system was the biggest challenge in 2020 but it was definitely worth it. This is a huge improvement in the process of planning and transport of shipments which allows for full transparency of the process. BlueJay means benefits for all involved parties – for our customers, as well as for the whole Raben Group. The new system means new capabilities that contribute to better customer service, faster shipment processing and shorter response times.” - comments Lena Padgett, Project Manager, Raben Trans European Germany GmbH.
In June 2020, Fenthol & Sandtmann GmbH (Fenthols) was fully integrated with Raben Trans European Germany GmbH. Raben had owned a 50% stake in Fenthols since 2011 and in November 2019 the Group signed an agreement to purchase the remaining 50% of shares, including subsidiaries FKL Kontraktlogistik and Kraftverkehr P&M Ehrig. At that time also the antitrust authorities approved the acquisition. According to the agreement, Raben took over all Fenthols locations in Hamburg, Leipzig, Dresden and Erlensee near Frankfurt am Main, together with 460 employees. By acquiring Fenthols headquarters in the port of Hamburg, Raben Group extended its portfolio of maritime transport services and thus strengthened its know-how in the field of intermodal transport. In addition to gaining strategically excellent locations, like the one near the Frankfurt Airport, the company also expanded its network by a hazardous goods warehouse in Erlensee, Hessen, and a branch at the Leipzig Cargo Airport next to the A14 motorway, where the subsidiary, Fenthols Kontraktlogistik GmbH, organizes warehousing and distribution logistics for numerous customers.
Direct daily connections with other countries of the Group play the key role on the German market, especially between Poland and Germany. Due to high interest of the market and customer expectations regarding shorter delivery times, some connections between Poland and Germany are carried out as part of the 24h service. Such connections include the direct line from Gądki to Mülheim-Kärlich launched in November 2020, as well as the Legnica - Kempten line operating since September 2020. Although currently 18 connections between those two countries are offered in the 24h service, further development of the network and optimisation of the delivery time is planned. The system of Raben groupage connections between Germany and Poland currently exceeds 100 daily routes. An important advantage of such a developed network is the reduction of transloading operations in Germany - nearly 98% of the volume from Poland goes directly to the area of deliveries to target consignees, which translates into the higher quality of the service.
Raben in Europe
Apart from the German market, Raben Group was active on other European markets, always putting safety of its team and customers’ needs first.
In Italy, the company developed its activity in the last year by investing in Raben Sittam. The activities were focused on introducing modern IT solutions and optimising processes in line with the Group's standards. This allows customers to take advantage of the wide range of functionalities available on myRaben.com platform.
For Raben Logistics Romania, last year was the time of big investments in warehouse infrastructure. Increased customer demand and the constant motivation to improve the process, especially transit times, contributed to the creation of additional logistics points on the map of Romania. In the first half of the year, two new cross-dock warehouses were built in Baia Mare and Roman. In August 2020, the company opened a new warehouse in Craiova. Currently, the national distribution network consists of 7 locations with a total capacity of 10,500 m2.
In April, also Raben Trans European Hungary moved to a new location in Győr where its Hungarian cross-dock warehouse with a capacity of 1,800m2 started operations.
Raben Logistics Bulgaria celebrated its first anniversary last year. After 12 months of operations, the company now offers a partner network of 8 depots located in Sofia, Plovdiv, Stara Zagora, Yambo, Burgas, Varna, Ruse, Veliko Tarnovo. Such efficient connections guarantee deliveries within 24 hours throughout Bulgaria. The company has also developed its international distribution business by expanding regular international connections with countries like: Germany, Italy, Poland (4 times a week), Romania (3 times a week) and Turkey.
In turn, Raben Ukraine celebrated its 17th anniversary of operations. The company continues to expand its portfolio of services and customers with a focus on digital solutions. In late March, the company and an electronic document workflow provider EDIN completed a delivery using an electronic consignment note. The operation received a positive review by the Ukrtrans Safety Inspector. In July, the company fully automated the process of sending information to courier companies by introducing Last Mile Connector software - an innovative solution for warehouse infrastructure. It became a part of the integration project between the Warehouse Management System (WMS) of Raben Ukraine and a similar system of one of the key customers. Moreover, as of 2020, Kiev is no longer the only hub in Ukraine used for international traffic. The company began to use its infrastructure in Lviv on a regular basis. Both locations also provide the possibility to distribute goods throughout Ukraine through the company’s own distribution network.
In response to global changes in supply chains mainly related to COVID-19, Raben East launched a road connection with China which is an alternative to the sea, rail or air freight. Thanks to this solution, the company offers its customers not only greater flexibility in terms of scheduling, but also a stable cost level and a predetermined transit time.
Raben Group has been focusing on digitalization on many levels, from physical processes to robotization of office activities using RPA (Robotic Process Automation). In the area of automation, it is implementing advanced IT solutions such as platforms which automatically provide information to customers and platforms which present ETA (estimated time of arrival). In the area of warehouse automation and robotics, implementation processes include devices measuring shipments, autonomous or semi-automated forklifts, “cobotic” arms, Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and many other solutions increasing the efficiency of warehousing and transport processes. In the area of RPA, implementations of software robots supporting or replacing users' work in particular applications (WMS/TMS/FK) or at the interface of various IT systems need to be emphasised.
In the interest of safety of deliveries during the pandemic and in order to keep the recommended distance between persons participating in the delivery, Raben Group introduced a new service for groupage shipments called PCD (Picture Confirming Delivery) which consists in touch-free confirmation of delivery using a photo. Thanks to the automatic registration of data, not only regarding the appearance of the shipment, but also the date, time and place of delivery, and even the registration number of the delivery truck, it gives greater certainty to the consignor and the consignee that the delivery was completed in a given place and time. The customer can immediately see the Proof of Delivery on myRaben platform in myTrack&Trace module. Thanks to PCD, remote collection is possible even while being quarantined.
Monitoring the accelerated digitalization of the B2B sector and in order to meet customer expectations, the company launched its new website in October, which offers the possibility of using it also offline. Thanks to the intuitive menu, visitors have easy access to the customer zone and myRaben.com platform. The website contains a lot of information and materials about solutions dedicated to a given sector and it allows for quick contact with the customer caretaker.
For the third time in its history, Raben Group was recognized as a Trusted Brand in Poland in a study conducted by Kantar Polska Institute commissioned by “My Company Polska” magazine. Among the respondents there were 20,000 representatives of Polish business. The entrepreneurs awarded the company first place in the “Logistics services” category.
2020 also brought double first place for Raben Group in the 25th edition of the Transport Forwarding Logistics (TFL) ranking - first place in the general classification and first position in the logistics services category. At the same time, Fresh Logistics Polska received a distinction in the “Transport” category. The ranking was prepared by the editorial staff of Gazeta Prawna Daily under the supervision of the Warsaw School of Economics.
Raben Group in Poland also received an award for the fight against Covid-19 which was presented by Rzeczpospolita Daily.
The end of the year was marked by yet another success of the Raben brand which took first place in the Top Brand 2020 ranking organized by PRESS and PRESS-SERVICE Media Monitoring in the transport and logistics category. The aim of the ranking is to identify the most popular brands in the media and it indicates the media strength of the awarded brands.
In turn, Raben Ukraine was recognized as the best company providing comprehensive logistics services in the area of brand reputation management according to the 6th National Ranking of Corporate Reputation Management Quality “Reputation ACTIVists”. The overall assessment took into account such criteria as stability of reputation, media activity, innovativeness, CSR image capital and resistance to crises. Moreover, in November Raben Ukraine was awarded by the business forum “Innovations in communication. Trends 2021”, while in the “Innovator 2020” contest, the company received a unique award - an owl statuette - for creativity, wisdom and innovative ideas. It is also worth mentioning that the corporate magazine "Raben Horizons" took the second place in the competition “Best Corporate Media of Ukraine 2020”.
Corporate social responsibility
Raben Group has been undertaking and promoting activities in the field of corporate social responsibility for many years now. Corporate social responsibility is an inherent part of the DNA of the family company based on a system of values. The company approaches the concept of CSR in a comprehensive manner, integrating socially responsible activities with the business strategy of the organization. Also now, in the face of the pandemic, Raben Group could not remain passive in response to the needs of those for whom aid in the current situation is of greatest importance. The company was involved in charity transports, assisting medical personnel, and it was actively supporting Food Banks. In total, Raben Group across Europe helped to deliver 6 million face masks, 250 thousand gloves, 100 thousand hazmat suits, medical goggles and visors each, as well as 51 ventilators and over 12 thousand ready meals for hospitals and aid centres, furniture and equipment for children and youth psychiatric wards, and over 1,400 pallets for Food Banks.
The company's commitment was appreciated by the market, which is best evidenced by the presented awards. The Group has been presented with the “Golden Leaf of CSR” for the fifth time in Poland. The distinction is presented to businesses which run operations in accordance with the principles of corporate social responsibility. The ranking was prepared by Polityka weekly in cooperation with Deloitte and the Forum of Responsible Business. Raben Group was second in the sector ranking for “services, commerce and transport” and third in the general classification. The ranking allows for comparing results in particular areas of CSR between companies and it is a valuable instrument facilitating the organization and development of corporate responsibility strategies.
Caring for better and greener future, since 2014 the company has been running the “e-invoice=higher culture” campaign which encourages customers to use electronic flow of documents through planting trees on behalf of those customers who decide to switch to the e-system. Last year, over 2,100 trees were planted in Poland and Ukraine. In total, the company has already planted almost 16,000 trees to date which will neutralise around 12,000 tonnes of CO2 in their life cycle.
Moreover, out of concern for the natural environment, Raben gradually eliminates paper from its processes through projects like as Order-2-Cash or Paperless. The Group also signed its first contracts to supply green energy in 2021. It is estimated that this will result in a reduction of approximately 80% of CO2 emissions in Scope 2 compared to the previous year, taking into account all the facilities where the company operates.
The end of the year and the pre-Christmas period is the time of the Group's involvement in the “Noble Parcel” project. The company decided to share what it can do best, i.e. the know-how in logistics and transport organization as well as its fleet for deliveries during the Noble Parcel Weekend of Miracles. Raben Group, as a project partner, transported parcels for the people in need from central to local warehouses, from where volunteers of the Noble Parcel delivered them to the recipients. The action on Raben side involved 18 drivers and 15 people planning transports, which delivered the parcels to destinations all over Poland while covering a total of 9,107 km.
Once again Raben Trans European Germany was involved in the Christmas Gift Convoy which delivers presents to children from poor families in Eastern Europe. Last year shipments reached people in need in Moldova, Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine. For the fourth time Ewald Raben, CEO Raben Group, became the Patron of the project. The convoy transported 141,723 parcels with toys and clothes, as well as school supplies, hygiene items and sweets using 31 trucks.
The company also focuses on promoting logistics-related professions. Raben Trans European Germany GmbH is one of the first companies which took part in the “TruckerHeroes” campaign. It is an initiative of the logistics platform Transporeon GmbH. The campaign aims to raise awareness and appreciation of the profession of a driver, especially during the pandemic. The international logistics service provider accompanied truck driver André on an overnight drive between Mönchengladbach and Haiger to show all aspects of the driver's daily work.
Klaudyna Polanowska - Skrzypek