General cargo

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Loading of numbered general cargo, sewn into jute, from a steamer onto a train, Varna 1920
Transport of a large stone in Lübeck, 1929
General cargo special cargo, mini submarine, for Nassau (Bahamas) (1964)

In logistics, general cargo refers to any cargo that can be transported individually in one piece :

  • Kollo (plural Kolli , often also Colli , from Italian collo or French colis , English trading unit ) describes the smallest unit of a shipment: (individual) pieces that are in completely different, non-uniform shapes and sizes, as single pieces or packaging units ( package , engl. packing Unit )
  • Piece (abbreviation Stk. , Also Stck. ) Always refers to packages of the same type
  • Groupage refers to the grouping of identical or different general cargo into one piece.

The piece quantity is the measured quantity of the piece goods as long as it has not yet been subjected to the logistical measures for transport. By counting packages or pieces, the number of pieces is determined as a unit of measurement, as is done manually, with counting scales or electronically.

Conceptual basics

Differentiation of general cargo

Delimitation of the term general cargo

In logistics , general cargo refers to everything that can be transported in one piece , i.e. a container , for example boxes , loaded pallets , machines or system parts, cable, paper or sheet metal reels and barrels . The international name is Kollo (plural: Kolli ). Liquid goods and gas that are pumped into the transport vehicles without their own container are not general cargo . Sand, coal, grain and similar solids are bulk or suction material unless they are packaged.

In logistics, general cargo, just like the others mentioned above, can also be bulk cargo .

The terms general cargo and groupage are often used synonymously. While groupage describes the consolidation of the flow of goods to increase the weight or space utilization of means of transport, especially in main haulage routes, the concept of general cargo in the context of freight transport systems is assigned to the level of the object size.

Historical determinations

  • In Germany, according to the railway reform tariff of 1877, general cargo was a separate billing criterion alongside express cargo and wagon loads .
  • For road haulage , there was a legally definitive demarcation of general cargo from cargo traffic with regard to the type of handling in Section 4 of the Road Traffic Regulations (KVO) for long-distance haulage with motor vehicles, in which a distinction was made between handover for loading (general cargo) or ordering a vehicle ( cargo traffic ).

The transport law reform of July 1, 1998 made this delimitation superfluous, as it is hardly applicable in today's transport system.

In global logistics, general cargo is mostly
transported in containers

The general cargo in transport

In contrast to the clearly defined weight and size measures for parcel services (especially for multinational integrators ), there are no specific limit values for the dimensions of piece goods . The weight limits are often historically developed and shaped by old, no longer valid laws and regulations.

The size of general cargo is usually between what a forklift can transport and the dimensions of a 40-foot container or the loading area of ​​a truck . However, larger dimensions are unavoidable if the respective package cannot be transported in individual parts and can only be assembled at the place of use, for example in the case of turbines for power plants . Oversized items require large-scale transport , which is a sub-discipline of heavy transport .

In terms of size, the breakdown from 1877 is still given today in road haulage through the segments of parcel service , general cargo and cargo traffic. In recent years, the transport market has become more differentiated, so that today the market can be divided into the areas of courier, express and parcel service (CEP), dangerous goods , temperature-controlled goods , food , hanging goods and the market of manageable and unmanageable piece goods . The structure of the transport market with regard to these weight limits and the number of users is illustrated by the graphic above.

There is no unanimous opinion on the lower limit of general cargo . Rather, it is to be fixed in the transition area to the courier, express and parcel services (CEP) as well as the multinational integrators. The weight range under 20 kg is clearly divided into a letter area and a parcel area by the Postal Act (PostG) in Section 4. All other weight limits are not (no longer) fixed by law. The national CEP market is mainly oriented towards the 31.5 kg limit with an increase of up to 40 kg or 50 kg for standard shipments. The same development can also be observed with the integrators, where a weight increase from 31.5 kg to a maximum of 68 kg or 70 kg can be observed. The Bundesverband Spedition und Logistik (BSL) recommends a minimum weight of 50 kg, or 1,000 kg per loading meter for goods accepted unpalletized . In shipping practice, billing rates with minimum weights of national 50 kg to international 200 kg are common.

In the literature, weights of 1,500 to 3,000 kg can be found as the upper limit . While the lower limit suggests a lack of precision when differentiating between direct pick-up and direct delivery, many forwarding companies publish a weight of 2,500 kg, which is also used in the official statistics for commercial long-distance transport. The price recommendations of the BSL set an upper limit of 3,000 kg for piece goods.

The European market leader in the general cargo segment is the Kempten-based forwarding company Dachser . The five most important general cargo service providers in Germany include DB Schenker and DHL Freight as well as the medium-sized general cargo cooperations CargoLine and System Alliance .

General cargo and packages

General cargo can therefore be understood as a shipment that is transported between the sender and recipient in door-to-door traffic and has a weight between 50 kg and 2,500 kg, the permissible payload of the vehicle used, neither in terms of volume nor weight fully utilized and is therefore usually transported together with other shipments.

A delivery to a customer often consists of several individual parts. These are for better handling in transport to larger packages ( Kollo summarized), about packaged in cartons. These packages are finally loaded into a truck, for example, as individually handled pieces, and unloaded again at the customer's location.

The number of packages is usually stated on the consignment note . This, not the contents of the package, is checked by the carrier when loading it; because he is usually liable for lost goods.

To check the completeness of a delivery, the number of packages is usually stated on the delivery note . In this way, an initial completeness check can be carried out immediately after unloading and it can be ensured that, for example, no package has been forgotten on the truck.

Transport of general cargo

General cargo can be transported on flatbed trucks , closed trucks , in containers or in the hold of aircraft and does not require any special transport containers.

General cargo was previously on general cargo ships and in general cargo wagons , etc. a. in general cargo express transport. Today, containers are almost exclusively used for this, and they can be easily transported in various modes of transport.

Special cargo securing regulations apply to general cargo .

Transport network structure

Especially in groupage and general cargo traffic, the increasing importance of logistics as a competitive factor for industry and trade results in the need to offer comprehensive services. Plan-controlled distribution processes are considered out of date, but central distribution strategies require low transport costs and short transit times. Differences in transit times in “Europe with Borders” were and are still plausible and generally accepted today for Eastern European traffic. In Central Europe, on the other hand, only differences in distance are accepted. The network structure, as a major influencing factor, is therefore of particular importance.

Network structures arise from the arrangement of nodes (sources and sinks of charges) and their connection via edges (network processes). Nodes thus represent storage locations and edge transports. A characterization can be carried out using the three criteria of gradation, density (number of depots connected in the network) and displacement (spatial distribution).

The general cargo is dispatched in the network either on the direct route with local vehicles. This is only possible if there is enough charge on the route to utilize a local vehicle. Otherwise, the cargo is transported to one of the transshipment hubs, which are known as transshipment halls, and there it is reloaded to the destination. In 1933, 65 of the 151 larger marshalling yards of the Deutsche Reichsbahn had general cargo handling halls. The illustration shows a map with the locations of these halls.

Location of the general cargo halls in the Deutsche Reichsbahn network (1933)

The network of 65 reloading halls theoretically allowed 65 · 64 = 4160 direct relationships between two reloading halls. In fact, however, they only served 38 percent of the routes with direct local freight cars that were attached to through freight trains. Transshipment traffic with transshipment wagons via other transshipment halls constituted the remaining relations. The transports from Munich to northeast Germany ran via the transhipment hall in Nuremberg. The transshipment in the general cargo hall was very labor-intensive and logistically unfavorable due to the hall layout. The average distance between two freight cars on different platforms was large in the up to 400 m long halls. As a result of the strong growth in the volume of general cargo, the transshipment halls developed into bottlenecks in the network, where unloaded freight wagons accumulated and led to long transit times. The poor service provided by the Deutsche Reichsbahn gave the truck-based general cargo forwarding companies incentives to expand their service. The general cargo traffic migrated from the Reichsbahn to truck networks that were set up decentrally and were able to cope with the growing flood of general cargo with incremental capacity expansions.

In 1968 there were 29 reloading halls in the network of the Deutsche Reichsbahn in the GDR. More recent data are not known. The German railway introduced in 1998 a general cargo transportation by rail.

Economic importance of general cargo transport

Market volume and market growth

The market volume can only be assessed to a limited extent due to the difficult data situation. In 1996 the volume of goods carried in general cargo traffic was 41 million tons, which is 1.4% of the total volume of goods. Comparisons with parcel services can only be made with difficulty, since the number of parcels is recorded here. According to Lorenz, the turnover generated in general cargo traffic amounts to 12 billion DM, with current estimates indicating 14 billion DM. The market study by the University of Erlangen shows significant differences in sales, according to which the top 50 companies already generate sales of almost DM 30 billion in the groupage segment.

As a result of the reduction in inventories in industry and trade and the associated increase in delivery frequency, the logistics effect can lead to an increased volume of general cargo traffic. However, since general cargo transports are associated with higher costs, concepts such as B. milkrun tries to bundle deliveries. A further increase in the volume can be explained by the internationalization of companies and the networking of production sites.

The groupage industry can basically be described as a growth industry due to the development tendencies towards smaller sizes and weights.

Spatial volume of general cargo traffic

See also: Pan-European general cargo traffic

As a subset of the logistics services, general cargo transports take place between the producer and the customer. Thus, general models such as B. the model of the " blue banana " can be used. This model depicts active and passive spaces in Europe. The transports that take place predominantly between and within these and the neighboring regions determine the spatial structure of the general cargo transport.

System traffic

Most freight forwarders are organized in groups. These groups work with goods distribution centers at transport hubs (distribution centers). Similar to parcel service providers, a network of regular services and hubs spans the entire delivery area, so the trucks can be optimally used and utilized. This type of logistics is called "system traffic".

The circulation of goods in large retail chains such as Kaufland is an example of system traffic . The warehouse responsible for the Schweinfurt / Kitzingen area is located in Donnersdorf . Trucks of a haulage company employed by Kaufland deliver general cargo (e.g. wine and clothing) from this distribution center to southern France, the truck picks up other goods there, delivers to northern Spain and then returns with goods whose destination is in Central Europe Starting point. Empty trips are thus necessarily avoided. This route is driven regularly, it is therefore a regular service . Of course, this also applies to general cargo of all kinds, the constant cost pressure on the hauliers forces them to rationalize, general cargo can no longer be delivered individually, it must be combined with general cargo or other types of cargo to form a large shipment. The regular transport services, which now commute almost daily between large cities, enable a cost-efficient method of transport.

Individual evidence

  1. (as of 2016; result of the image ranking of the magazine Verkehrsrundschau) CargoLine Logistics Network: CargoLine chosen as the best cooperation - news. (No longer available online.) In: Archived from the original on June 15, 2016 ; accessed on June 15, 2016 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  2. ^ Richard Vahrenkamp : The logistic revolution - The rise of logistics in the mass consumer society , Campus, Frankfurt am Main 2011, p. 140, ISBN 978-3-593-39215-8 .
  4. ^ Mardorf, Fritz: The formation of small consignment tariffs for inland goods traffic in the GDR, Diss. Uni Dresden 1969