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We'd be
nowhere near as flexible if

we used trucks.

Daniel Otto, branch manager of Viela Export GmbH, ferry port of Sassnitz / Mukran, Germany - Fendt 720 Vario

We'd be
nowhere near as flexible if

we used trucks.

Faultless handling

Dockworkers are used to heavy lifting, and four Fendt 720 Varios have joined the team at the ports of Mukran, Rügen and Vierow. Every minute counts when it comes to clearing or loading the ships, because docking time at the harbour is expensive. Whereas in the past, dockworkers would be employed on a day-to-day basis, these tractors run triple shifts.

In the last century, dockworkers would compete with each other every day over who gets hired, but the Fendt tractors' jobs are secure. Their work links to the farming industry from the ports near Rügen and Greifswald, with the four tractor tandems transporting products – including cereals, fertilisers and feed – from the ships to the nearby warehouses.

The ferry port of Sassnitz/ Mukran is also the largest railway ferry port in Germany and its massive contribution to rail transport makes it an important hub for freight transport with Scandinavia, the Baltic States and Russia. As the only port in Western Europe, the Sassnitz/Mukran ferry port also uses rail and transshipment systems for the Russian broad gauge network – hence its reputation as the "westernmost cargo station of the Trans-Siberian Railway". Whether grain, feed or fertiliser – various types of goods are handled and stored to excellent standards and highly efficiently here by Viela Export GmbH. A small but strong team of experts and state-of-the-art technical equipment can be flexibly adapted to the conditions at any time.

Jobbing like a docker!

The Peak Antwerp, a 2,500-tonne vessel, is set to be unloaded at 10 am. There's not much time for the employees to move the grain from inside the ship to the flat bays in the port. Every minute counts from now on, because it's very costly to store at port. Larger ships with a maximum draught of 10 m can be loaded and unloaded here. Used to their work, the tandems drive up to the quay wall. First of all, the shipment excavator gets into position – into park, drive out the supports and before you know it, the excavator arm is reaching into the ship's hold.

With the first grab, 3.5 m³ of wheat is lifted out and brought ashore, where one of the two Fendt 720 Varios is waiting with a 20-tonne capacity container. After a good three minutes, the first shipment is ready to shuttle to the warehouse 500 metres away. Once there, it goes straight to testing. Not only is the cargo weighed by remote detection on the scales, but it also undergoes quality checks. Only bug-free, healthy goods enter the warehouse. Then, it's off again – tip back, drive out and quickly get back to the port wall. Jobbing like a docker! It can take up to 24 hours for a shipload to be cleared. Unloading the Peak Antwerp is faster – after 12 hours the empty ship was able to leave the port again. Every hour, 250 tonnes are brought onto land by the transport tandems. There's no room for error, because you need to keep to the timings to avoid any downtime.

But it is not always a ship that has to be loaded or unloaded. BayWa, for example, supplies grain by train to service companies all over Germany. In the shipyard, the wagons are emptied at the gully and the cargo is transferred to the Fendt tandems to take it to the 40,000-tonne hanger for worldwide shipping. From time to time, they also need to transport warehouse goods between the two ports so ships are evenly loaded. A total of around 1,000,000 tonnes are handled every year.

Branch manager Daniel Otto is proud of his Fendt dockworkers who joined in June 2017. But, like all other company employees, the four of them first had to prove their everyday worth. Daniel Otto is not a typical harbour master. He has a farming background and knows exactly what to look out for in his wheeled crew. Before he signed the purchase agreement, the various applicants had to compete. He tested them for diesel consumption, driving comfort and ease-of use, lighting and manoeuvrability – the main, everyday criteria. But the resale value was also important. Every contender had their chance to prove themselves.

In the end, the winner was clear for Daniel Otto – "We chose the Fendt mainly because of the low fuel consumption. We also loved how easy it is to use." That was important because not every tractor driver learns how to handle an 200-hp tractor from scratch. He was also surprised by the high market value of his three 'old' Fendts, after all, each of the tractors had over 13,000 operating hours on the clock. But together with their young age, their excellent performance and condition, these used machines are sought-after items on the used machinery market.

"Of course, people always ask why you need a high-tech machine from Marktoberdorf for this easy kind of work," adds the branch manager. The quick answer is: "We need technology we can rely on! A decent worker without all the fancy extras." That's why Viela Export GmbH opted for the low-end equipment bundle, Power. The tractors are used exclusively for transport work. They don't need lane guidance or documentation for short shuttle runs on the land. Perfect lighting with LED headlights and a comfortable seat are much more important. Each 720-series works up to 2,500 hours over multiple shifts on the port site every year. And to move things quickly between the two ports, all the Varios run on the 50-km/h setup.

"After the first 4 working days, I called Daniel Wolf, our Fendt factory representative, to tell him that the fuel indicator must be faulty," Otto says, looking back. As the tractor only drives on paved surfaces, the port company opted for road tyres. This reduces fuel consumption by up to one litre compared to standard tyres with lug tread. In terms of annual running performance, this is a compelling argument.
For Viela Export GmbH, there is no alternative to the Fendt tandems. "We'd be nowhere near as flexible if we used trucks," Daniel Otto explains. When we get an order on the port site from another company to transport iron ore, we just attach another container onto the 720-series, and that's it. Because one thing is clear – at the port of Mukran, only those who show strong commitment are hired.

From left to right: Eric Krohnfuß and Sebastian Schulz drive the Fendt dockworking tractors.