The man who keeps things moving
Every day 280,000 items pass through the Neuwied parcel center. Shift supervisor Viktor Hartmann makes sure there are no interruptions to the steady flow of parcels
It's 3:23 PM. The bright red and yellow DHL truck slowly backs up to loading dock 505. The hatch to the cargo hold is opened and a conveyor belt is pushed inside the densely packed truck, where parcels are piled to the roof. Supervisor Viktor Hartmann sees right away that his team will need a few extra trays for the conveyor belt, so that the smaller parcels and envelopes don't cause any problems as they move through the labyrinth of sorting technology. Hartmann disappears and returns quickly with a pile of them under his arm - and the first parcels are sent off on their journey.
Technical difficulties at one of the conveyor belts: Viktor Hartmann jumps on his bike to lend a hand.
Hartmann, who is 56, has worked at the parcel center in Neuwied for the last 18 years. He and his wife Olga, who works in the nearby MAIL branch in Koblenz, came to the Rhineside city from their native Siberia in the early 1990s. Hartmann's first job in Neuwied was loading parcels. Thanks to his work ethic and good performance, he rose quickly through the ranks. Since 2009, he carries the title Supervisor ("Aufsicht") on his work vest. His job is to ensure that the seemingly endless stream of parcels flows through the sorting hall without interruption. "On my shift, I am the one responsible for making sure everything runs smoothly and that nothing gets left behind," he says with a touch of pride.
On the way back to his small office he meets up with Daouda Ouro-Djeri, a colleague from Togo, who was recently promoted from loader to team leader. The two exchange a few words before they are interrupted by Hartmann's radio. A colleague needs help at the other end of the hall. There's a problem with the oversize conveyor belt used for items such as TVs and furniture. Hartmann jumps on his yellow service bike and hurries across the huge hall.
New technology delivers 40% more production capacity
A quick chat among colleagues: The team in Neuwied represents 25 different nationalities.
280,000 parcels and oversized items pass through the Neuwied parcel center on a normal day. "At high season around Christmas time, that number goes up to over 470,000," says Michael Genheimer, 49, who has been with Deutsche Post since 1989 and today runs the parcel center. As soon as items arrive at the Neuwied facility by truck, they get sorted, reloaded and sent off again. First built in 1995, the Neuwied facility recently benefited from a technology upgrade, boosting its processing capacity from 20,000 up to 28,000 items per hour – an increase of 40 %. Every day, around 250 fully loaded trucks arrive at the facility. Thanks to the good transportation infrastructure in the area, traffic backups are extremely rare. And since the parcel center is located in a purely industrial area, there is no risk of disturbing local residents. Deutsche Post outsources about three-quarters of the required transport capacity to third-party providers. “We give the forwarders here in the region good business,” says Genheimer.
The job market in and around Neuwied benefits as well. The parcel center employs 380 regular staff and 180 temporary workers. “We provide them with secure employment, union wages and good career development opportunities,” says Genheimer. Success stories like that of Viktor Hartmann are common, according to Genheimer, who says that temporary employees who perform well have a good chance of being offered permanent positions. Three months ago, Genheimer hired a 58-year-old who had been unemployed for four years. “He is highly motivated,” says Genheimer, “and his job performance is outstanding.”
Ethnically diverse workforce
Up to 28,000 parcels per hour: Viktor Hartmann ensures a steady flow.
"We're like a big melting pot," says HR specialist Anne Eich. "The people working here in Neuwied come from 25 different countries around the world, so you really need to be sensitive to the many ethnicities and religions represented here." Eich, who is 27, began her training at Deutsche Post in business administration and office communications, and then moved on to complete a dual degree program at Deutsche Post with a focus on forwarding and logistics. "Women make up about a third of the workforce at the parcel center and over 80 % have part-time positions." The team in Neuwied also includes people with disabilities. "Whether it's special health and prevention courses, or staff events and parties, Deutsche Post does a lot for its people," says Eich.
It's 4:28 PM. Rush hour begins. More and more parcels whizz along the conveyor belts. The rattling of tilt trays gets louder and louder. Viktor Hartmann is working at full capacity. Suddenly his radio barks out another request. He is needed again at one of the conveyor belts, where an encoder has malfunctioned. He's back on his bike and off to make sure the parcels keep moving.
Author: Heiko Reuter