Interview: Andre Koener

This month, we took five minutes to sit down and talk to Andre Koener, our shipment responsible. He’s in the team since 2015 and has been involved with the shipment ever since.


Hi Andre, thank you for your time today. Let’s jump straight into it: What is ‘the shipment’? How exactly does it work?

One of the unique aspects of GFR is that the entire supply chain is divided between two locations, Oregon State in the USA and DHBW in Germany. Because parts for both cars are manufactured in both locations, these shipments are necessary to get every part to the right place. In addition the cCar also has to be shipped to Europe in the summer for competition, after which it must be shipped back home to Oregon.

In the first shipment, around the end of February or beginning of March, several smaller parts are sent from Friedrichshafen to Corvallis so that construction of the combustion car can begin.


How many shipments are there throughout the season?

Every season there are four shipments. The first two serve as an exchange of parts between DHBW and Oregon State, and the last two are necessary to get the cCar to Europe and return it home after competitions. Often we also send small packages back and forth when we have to get something like tires from one school to the other.


How long does it usually take?

Normally a shipment takes seven to ten days, but we always have to consider delays for customs. As long as 14 days is certainly not out of the question.


What all has to be taken into consideration?

We always have to pay close attention when preparing documents for customs, such as the shipment invoice, a rough overview of all the different type of parts included, and the bill of materials, a complete list of every part in the shipment. When packing the crate it’s also extremely important to secure everything carefully to avoid damage during the 9000 kilometer voyage.


What sort of difficulties can arise?

Many of the parts sent from Germany are manufactured just-in-time, which makes it an inherent challenge to coordinate the shipment to leave punctually. If there are delays with particular parts we often resort to ‘post shipments’ and send these parts as individuals packages when they are ready.


What does Grieshaber do that sets them apart from other logistics companies?

A huge advantage of our partnership with Grieshaber is the support of their experienced staff members in the international logistics team. They don’t simply handle the customs processing and import/export; they also support us with preparing the necessary customs documents.


What happens if a part is damaged during transit?

The shipment is insured to a reasonable value by Grieshaber. Because so many of our parts are developed in-house and can’t simply be bought commercially, safe transport is of the utmost importance. For our part we can be careful to secure our precious cargo meticulously. On the other side Grieshaber only deals with shipping partners oversees whom they know they can trust, which ensures a smooth transition.