The XL tour
Transport Magazine

The XL tour

60-tonne long tractor: Nord-Schrott draws from an abundance of resources with an Actros 2563.

Nord-Schrott sells metals recycled by the company around the world. The Flensburg-based company delivers to foundries in Scandinavia using a 60-tonne extra long truck, with the Actros doubling as a tractor unit and brand ambassador.

A Wednesday morning, less than 10 kilometres from the Danish border: not far from the federal motorway 200, in Flensburg, the Nord-Schrott company has its headquarters as well as two other sites. A wheel loader shovels shredded aluminium scrap out of well-filled bunkers and into a roll-off container. The glittering pellets clatter noisily into the blue container. Ten shovelfuls are enough to fill one container, and the driver Maik Jacobsen in his Actros 2563 will be carrying three of these to a foundry in Sweden for recycling. It will be a trip taking one-and-a-half days, and covering almost 1,000 kilometres.

But first he has to go through a cumbersome procedure that has to do with the length and weight restrictions for trucks in Germany: using the hook of the Meiller loading bridge on his Actros, Jacobsen lifts two containers onto a waiting semi-trailer. Then he gives his colleague, who has been waiting for the trailer in his tractor unit, the okay to leave. Jacobsen then loads the third container onto his own truck, hitches up a so-called dolly built by the Danish vehicle manufacturer HFR and follows his colleague in the semi-trailer to Padborg, some twelve kilometres away. Padborg is on the Danish side of the border, and it is here that the Nord-Schrott driver can couple the trailer held ready by his colleague onto the dolly. The result: Jacobsen’s Gigaliner rig now stands there in its full glory, 25.25 metres in length and, with the three fully loaded roll-off containers on board, weighing 60 tonnes.

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10 tonnes per container: At the Flensburg recycling park, a wheel loader lifts the roll-off containers onto the truck before the trip to Sweden.

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Denmark transfer: Two trucks must be used to transport the containers over to the Danish side, where 60-tonne Gigaliners are permitted to drive on selected routes.

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Dolly on board: This two-axle component manufactured by the Danish company HFR forms the centrepiece of the Gigaliner: it supports the trailer carrying two containers.

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Shredded metals are valuable resources, for example for foundries.

While trucks this long are now permitted on many routes in Germany, the maximum gross weight there is only 44 tonnes, but Nord-Schrott needs a good 15 tonnes in additional gross weight, and in Denmark and Sweden that does not pose a problem. “We do not mean to interfere in the transport policy debate on the issue of extra long trucks currently taking place in the German public domain,” says Nord-Schrott general manager Georg Müller, “but our Gigaliners would only be driving on German territory until they reach the next motorway exit. It would therefore make sense from a cost and environmental point of view to have an exemption.” The authorities are unwilling to set a precedent, however, and Nord-Schrott happily accedes and continues its twice-weekly practice of assembling the three Gigaliner rigs operating on the Sweden route only once they reach the Danish side of the border.

Nord-Schrott is no ordinary scrap metal merchant, and they like to go the extra mile for their customers. The company – well known to handball fans as the jersey sponsor of the three-time German champion and Champions League winner SG Flensburg-Handewitt – not only collects scrap metal throughout Europe and sorts it for recycling. It also processes the metals using huge machinery and a range of different methods and sells them in Europe, India and China.

The company specialises in non-ferrous metals like aluminium, stainless steel, copper and brass. The term “non-ferrous” refers to the group of metals that do not contain iron. The company sells many dozens of different types and grades. The main groups of customers are foundries and other metal traders. Various certifications, a rigorous quality management system and an in-house chemical laboratory for metallurgical tests underscore the capabilities of the group of companies with more than 300 employees.

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“At Nord-Schrott, innovation is somewhat of a tradition.”

Georg Müller, Managing Director at Nord-Schrott
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Standing by 24/7: Fleet manager Matthias Arens relies on the Actros and not just for extra long trucks.

Another guarantor for the success of Nord-Schrott is the company’s fleet of vehicles. They operate about 25 of their own trucks, and most of them proudly carry the Mercedes star. “Of course we also work with service providers; they handle about half of all our transport jobs,” explains the fleet manager, Matthias Arens, “but running our own company fleet gives us the necessary flexibility to ensure that we can be available for deployment on behalf of our customers around the clock, seven days a week if needed.”

The trips to Sweden using the extra long vehicles are undertaken using Nord-Schrott’s own trucks exclusively. The Flensburg-based company has already been supplying Scandinavian foundries with products processed on site for ten years. On the return leg they carry scrap metal collected by the drivers from various Scandinavian suppliers. For the last few months, these trips have been handled by Actros vehicles with MirrorCam.

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“The Actros is positive for our reputation – we’re on the road all over Europe and the truck is like an ambassador which represents our company’s values.”

Georg Müller
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“At Nord-Schrott we have a long tradition of innovation,” says Georg Müller. This innovative spirit is exemplified in Michael Lassen, the company founder, who has grown his company to what it is today over the last four decades. For example, the processes of sorting, comminution and preparation at Nord-Schrott are highly automated, using machinery designed and developed by the company’s own teams. The Actros is a perfect match for this philosophy. Müller says, “MirrorCam, Multimedia Cockpit, Predictive Powertrain Control and Active Brake Assist 5 – the Actros has a whole raft of innovative technologies on board that help us boost the efficiency and safety of our transport runs.”

There is yet another reason why Nord-Schrott values having a fleet of vehicles that meet the latest standards, as the graduate in business administration goes on to explain, “As a scrap metal merchant, we have few opportunities to demonstrate to the general public that meeting the highest standards of quality is a top priority for us. With the Actros we can do something to boost our reputation, because it travels all over Europe and in doing so it acts as an ambassador of our corporate values.”

While Maik Jacobsen leaves Padborg and heads north in his new extra long Actros, activities at the three Nord-Schrott locations in Flensburg continue unabated: workers carrying analytical equipment constantly check scrap delivered on site to determine the different types of alloys. Excavators use their massive grabs to sort through the various metals with astonishing delicacy and dexterity. The gigantic shredders continue with their merciless crushing work and many other sorting machines go on ceaselessly to produce single varieties of scrap of different grades.

Meanwhile Jacobsen has reached the bridge over the Great Belt in his extra long Actros. The impressive 14-kilometre-long structure connects the main Danish islands of Funen and Zealand. To allow large ocean-going vessels to pass through the Belt, the longest suspension bridge in Europe, with a length of 2,694 meters and a main span of 1,624 metres, was built in the eastern part of the crossing. Despite its gross weight of no less than 60 tonnes, Jacobsen’s Actros cruises up the incline to the suspension bridge maintaining a speed of 80 kilometres an hour. The driver is proud of having a top-of-the line engine on board.

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Driver know-how: Not only is Maik Jacobsen responsible for steering his Gigaliner; he also pays close attention to the quality of the scrap metal he is transporting.

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“The system knows in advance where the town’s boundary sign is and releases the throttle before entering the town – it’s brilliant!”

Maik Jacobsen, driver at Nord-Schrott

Yet the predecessor model also had power aplenty. Now he is driving the Actros. What Jacobsen likes best is Predictive Powertrain Control, the intelligent cruise and transmission control system which can now also be used on overland routes. “It’s especially useful on Sweden’s overland roads,” he says. “The system always knows in advance when I am about to enter a built-up area and eases off the accelerator. When I exit the built-up area again, the truck accelerates automatically, up to the preset speed – it’s just great!”

The Nord-Schrott driver loves his trips through Denmark and Sweden because of the fantastic views of the Baltic Sea. He adds “And there is almost never any congestion. And because I get to meet a lot of nice people with whom I can chat in Danish.” But the cumbersome process of assembling his rig before he can take off on his trip is one thing Jacobsen could well do without.

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Photos: Christoph Börries
Video: Martin Schneider-Lau