Gottfried Schenker: inventor of groupage transport by rail
Schenker is seen as the "inventor of "groupage transport". He was the first person to have the idea of pooling small consignments to create a larger transport unit and to then rapidly transport the goods over long distances at low cost using multiple modes of transport. With this innovation, he laid the foundation for international groupage transports by rail, paving the way for the creation of one of the most successful and important logistics services providers, namely the Schenker freight forwarding company. Gottfried Schenker was posthumously inducted into the Logistics Hall of Fame in 2010 in recognition of this pioneering achievement.
|Field||logistics services, transport logistics|
|Born||February 14, 1842 in Däniken near Olten, Switzerland|
|Died||November 26, 1901 in Vienna, Austria|
|Induction into the Logistics Hall of Fame||December 1, 2010, Austrian Museum for Applied Arts (MAK), Vienna, Austria|
1842 Born on February 14 in Däniken near Olten in Switzerland
1861 Student of Law in Heidelberg
1865 Civil servant working for the Schweizerische Centralbahn rail company
1866 Moves to F. Braff & Eckert, the agency of the French Eastern Railway
1867 Head of the Braff & Eckert office in Vienna
1868 Head of the Vienna agency of Hamburg-based freight forwarder Elkan & Co.
1869 Briefly self-employed
1871 Specialist for freight rates at the Spedition Rappaport & Kann freight forwarding company
1872 Founding of the Spedition Schenker & Co. freight forwarder in Vienna, together with Moritz Karpeles (1834 – 1903) and Moritz Hirsch (1839 – 1906), the owners of Spedition Karpeles & Hirsch; Karpeles & Hirsch was later merged with Schenker
1873 Introduction of the first groupage transports on the Vienna-Paris route
From 1874 Creation of the branches in Budapest, Trieste, Prague, Belgrade, Sofia, Saloniki and Constantinople
1880 Investment in the Adria Dampfschifffahrts-Gesellschaft steamship company
1895 Founds the Austro-Americana Shipping Company
1901 Gottfried Schenker dies on November 26 in Vienna and is buried in the Heiligenstädter Friedhof cemetery in Vienna – he is succeeded by his adoptive son Dr. August Schenker-Angerer; Schenker has 32 subsidiaries in 13 European countries and 1,000 employees
2010 Induction into the Logistics Hall of Fame
- Gottfried Schenker came from a big family (he had 10 siblings), and his father was a locksmith. He acquired a university entrance qualification at the cantonal school in the Austrian town of Aarau. In 1861, he began studying Law in Heidelberg, but left the university in 1865 when his father's locksmith business went bankrupt. First he worked as a journalist in Heidelberg and later for various freight transport operators.
- At the dawn of the railway age, Schenker saw great opportunities for East-West transport and moved to Vienna, where he set up the Spedition Schenker freight transport business with two partners in 1872.
- His most important entrepreneurial achievement was the development of international groupage traffic. This paved the way for a new, competitively priced and fast transport system that exploited the strengths of rail, road and the waterways. While the transports themselves were mainly by rail, collection from the point of origin and delivery to the end customer were still carried out by horse-drawn vehicles. By this time, Schenker was already transporting bulk consignments on the Danube.
- In 1873, Schenker was the first operator to introduce groupage transports on the Paris – Vienna route. The consignments included champagne, cognac, Bordeaux wines, fashion articles and other luxury products for Vienna society. Later, the groupage freight also included iron goods, machines and textiles from England and Germany.
- Schenker introduced an innovation to simplify the confusing maze of freight rates at the time: he was the first forwarder to offer a fixed freight rate for general cargo of all kinds based on the goods classification and the destination.
- The network of Schenker branches grew rapidly, the first branch being opened in Budapest 1874 – followed by Prague, Belgrade and Istanbul and a further 32 branches in 13 European countries during his lifetime. At the end of the 19th century, Schenker was the only company that could offer costed front-to-end rates from London to Istanbul. "From door to door in one hand" – it was this success formula that turned Schenker into the market leader.
Photos: DB AG, Schenker