Multinational transport and logistics provider AsstrA Associated Traffic AG generated significant interest at the biggest-ever Transport Logistic expo in Munich from May 9-12. After presenting the company’s vision and logistics experience involving the New Silk Road, AsstrA’s leading speakers were overwhelmed by information-seekers with requests to talk business. Moreover, a significant memorandum of understanding was signed with the United Transport and Logistics Company (JSC UTLC), a consortium of the Russian, Kazakh, and Belarussian national rail companies.
Every two years since 1978, Transport Logistic has attracted top IT, logistics, mobility, and SCM industry players. A record 55,000 visitors attended this most recent event. It was also marked by broad international participation, with approximately 41% of exhibitors and almost 40% of visitors traveling from countries other than Germany.
Opportunities of the New Silk Road
This year, AsstrA was one of the event’s key exhibitors, offering a video on the big screen, a special knowledge exchange program with new and long-term customers, and a breakout session with company founder Frank Muller and COO Christoph Szakowski called "Poland's opportunities and challenges as a logistics hub in the European hinterland." During the session, the AsstrA team discussed what it takes to be a reliable logistics service provider along the East-West axis, in Poland, and along the New Silk Road.
“I consider the Transport Logistic trade fair to be one of the most important – perhaps the most important – expo for forwarders, shipping companies, and 3 PL / 4 PL providers worldwide. In different discussions with other participants, I emphasized the path the company is taking with our presence, experience and development in the key New Silk Road markets. Our feedback confirmed that our offerings are in high demand. The work can be challenging, but it’s great know we’re moving in the right direction and that we should keep up our efforts,” said AsstrA COO Christoph Szakowski.
According to Mr. Szakowski, the primary themes at this year’s expo involved streamlining operational supply chains and meeting a wide range of customer expectations in different countries like China, Russia, Poland, and Germany. Another hot issue during the conference was the digital revolution shaping the global logistics industry from the top down.
“Our motto is ‘Making Clients Happy,’ and we never stop optimizing our services, structure, and processes around it. As a logistics provider, in order to respond to market needs you really need to identify them first. You need to do your homework on what your customer wants, and our customers want to feel that their East-West logistics are 100% taken care of. We make that happen with fast decision making, a multilingual team, and an on-the-ground presence in 16 European countries, the CIS, and and Asia. The exhibition helped us show the world just how well we know these markets and how our modern approach is the one to choose today for success tomorrow,” relates Mr. Szakowski.
UTLC Memorandum of Understanding
AsstrA also made significant operational policy improvements at this Transport Logistic. During the event AsstrA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with JSC UTLC concerning the realization of a joint project to ship containers from China to Europe and vice versa via the railways of Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus and European Union countries.
“AsstrA has been developing the New Silk Road since 2008, but in the beginning there were only sporadic shipments. Since 2015, we have been managing a steady flow of rail cargo to East Asia. A sore point has been the lack of collaboration and integration between the railways of the different countries, and UTLC seeks to fix that. It integrates the railways of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan for cargo delivery from China and the rest of Asia to Europe and back. Therefore, we see mutual synergy between our companies,” said Dmitry Lagun, President of the Board of AsstrA Associated Traffic AG.
The parties agreed to build their relationship on the basis of a strategic international rail freight partnership intended to develop shipping between Europe and China. UTLC will be responsible for establishing and operating a Terminal-to-Terminal 1520 mm gauge rail transit service, and AsstrA will be responsible for attracting customers to UTLC’s basic U WEST and U EAST services.
Mr. Lagun, who signed the memorandum on AsstrA’s behalf, highlighted the success of this year’s Transport Logistic:
“After multiple meetings with Asia-focused business contacts and signing a memorandum with JSC UTLC, I am looking forward to opening a new phase in AsstrA’s history. I promise that in two years – at the next Transport Logistic in Munich in 2019 – you’ll have even more ambitious plans and ideas from us.
In one year, AsstrA expects to have 30 trains with weekly routes to China. Mr. Lagun hopes that one of them will be dedicated to AsstrA clients. Within 5 years, around 100 weekly trains with 200 FEUs each are expected.
“In response to client demand, we are actively developing a “southern corridor” from China and Southern Asia to Turkey. Also, we are exploring opportunities to open China – Scandinavia and Europe – Americas maritime routes. Our experience shows that the more ambitious your plans are, the faster you grow,” said Mr. Lagun.