Even during normal times Maretzke has to pull many strings. Together with ten colleagues from Group Logistics, he is responsible for ensuring that Volkswagen’s European transport network functions smoothly. This means that thousands of suppliers have to get their goods on the road so that they reach one of 26 plants at the right time. Often across several national borders. Maretzke is the link that shares information, solves problems and keeps the system running. “We are the hub between suppliers, haulage companies, brands and plants,” he says.
Since the outbreak of the Corona pandemic, nothing has been the same: factories are closing, borders are closed, suppliers are on a forced break. “When the shutdown came, we had many drivers on the road from Morocco, England and Portugal. They had long been on the road and were in danger of being stranded,” reports Maretzke. Answers had to be found quickly: what freight can still be brought to its destination? Which haulage company is capable of temporarily storing goods? Which routes can be used?“As one of the first crossings, the Brenner was closed. Within hours we had to find out whether the drivers could bypass Italy and come to us via the Balkans instead,” Maretzke explains.
For weeks, the logistics specialist has been in contact with transport companies, brands and plants in constant Skype conferences. “It’s a give and take. We help the transport companies, the transport companies help us. This has worked great in the crisis so far, because we can rely on each other,” says Maretzke. In particularly difficult phases, logistics experts from several departments support him so that none of the many threads are lost.
There is one situation in particular that Maretzke remembers: Four truck drivers from Slovenia headed for Salzgitter – but there is only enough unloading capacity for one truck. “Together with the haulage companies and the plant logistics specialists, we changed the program so that the trucks reached the plant at intervals of two hours and could be unloaded immediately.” This saves the haulage companies downtime and the drivers can make their way back. “I used to work in a haulage company myself and I know the worries of the dispatchers,” says Maretzke.