Maximilian Brockmann is in charge of logistics at DS-Mineral Oil. But what does it feel like when hardly any one even notices that you are doing anything at all? In fact, that’s the way things should be, he says.
Supplying petrol stations and companies with petroleum is not only difficult without logistics – it is unthinkable. Sea going vessels and barges, rail tankers and road tankers are required to transport petroleum. Various events over the past few years have shown what can happen when obstacles arise: ice on rivers or low water levels caused by the protracted heatwave of 2018, for example, prevented inland waterway vessels from operating. This also led to bottlenecks in petroleum supplies.
In most cases, however, the logistics of supplying petroleum products run smoothly - and thus go unnoticed.
Logistics is work behind the scenes
DS Mineral Oil can look back on more than 50 years of experience as an importer and wholesaler of petroleum products. We have set up our own logistics department within our company because it has become increasingly important to centralise our logistics skills. We do not have any logistics facilities ourselves, but charter them or hire tankers, tank wagons or inland waterway vessels from corresponding service providers.
DS Mineral Oil has storage tanks at several locations
WESER-PETROL Seehafentanklager GmbH & Co KG, a member of the DS Group, has six storage tanks of its own for petroleum products and biofuels at three locations in Germany - Three of the petroleum storage tanks are located in Bremen. With a total capacity of around 372,000 cubic metres, they are used for supplying customers, i.e. resellers, purchasing cooperatives - from the agricultural sector for example -, petrol stations, intermediaries and final consumers of heating oil.
In Bremen, the company supplies its customers via the active storage tank oin Waterbergstraße. 95 percent of the customers have their own tank trucks, while DS arranges transportation for the remaining five percent subject to prior agreement.
Petroleum storage for a special logistic task: stockpiling for a crisis situation
In addition, DS also stores petroleum for the German national petroleum stockpiling agency Erdölbevorratungsverband to ensure availability in the region for the required 90 days in the event of a crisis.
Service provider for customers – the tasks facing logistics at DS Mineral Oil
Petroleum logistics come into play the moment a customer buys a certain quantity of product: DS then sources the product, charters a ship and arranges the discharge dates with the storage tank. We also arrange for a bank guarantee to be issued to secure delivery for suppliers. A barge then picks up the product, transports it to the storage tanks and discharges it there – all on a just-in-time basis.
DS-Mineralöl buys most of the product at ARA range loading points, i.e. Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Antwerp. But, of course, we are not the only ones to charter inland waterway vessels. These ports are the main transshipment points for Europe, where large volumes of oil from the United States are also unloaded. As a result, waiting times often occur at the ARA ports. In this case, the logistics department has to contact the storage tank operator to inform it that the ship will be delayed. This also means that the discharge date must be postponed.
Whenever there is any change, a long logistics chain must be duly adapted.
Personal contacts and commitment for maximum flexibility
To date, the digital transformation has left few traces on petroleum logistics. Personal contacts are more important in this field. We rely on the expertise and experience of long-standing employees.
We score points with our customers, suppliers and storage tank operations by maintaining personal contacts. We are closely networked in the industry and can draw on a wealth of experience. You can always approach us about anything, and we will try to find a solution that is to everyone’s satisfaction.
This is how we at DS Mineral Oil create the basis for a functioning logistics system:
- Good internal and external communications are instrumental in effective logistics. This starts with the sales department notifying the logistics department of where a transaction is currently the most profitable and the destination to which the product should be transported.
- Experience is required for the greatest possible flexibility. Employees need to know what adjustments they can make and who they need to talk to in order to react quickly and make decisions.
- A good partnership with employees, shipowners and tank wagon operators is of crucial importance. Logistics thrives on partnerships, in which both sides should benefit. This is why DS Group companies are interested in establishing long-term business relationships.
DS Mineral Oil supplying filling stations for card + drive
The subsidiary DS card + drive GmbH is a partner in tankpool24, a European network of modern card filling stations. DS-Mineralöl is the almost exclusive supplier for 80 tankpool24 filling stations. In this way, it is putting to good use its expertise in middle distillates such as diesel and heating oil.
DS Mineral Oil is responsible for supplying the filling stations with product. We have an employee who exclusively handles the tanker logistics for deliveries to the filling stations – between 35 and 40 deliveries a day. At DS, we obviously want to optimise these operations and thus only service the filling stations with full tankers. This calls for careful planning as the cargo must match the tank and tank filling.
DS-Mineralöl employees determine the precise quantities, loading and unloading times and much more on a daily basis. And if everything works out as planned, the final consumers notice absolutely nothing. This is exactly how petroleum logistics should work.