Fresh to the table

Logistics company Schwab-Guillod AG in Müntschemier, Switzerland specializes in potatoes, fruit and vegetables of all kinds. It’s a challenging line of work, since freshness is always a vital factor in planning.


“We’re constantly shifting our trailers from one vehicle to another, and with the Durus it’s simple.”

Stefan Steiner

Every day, about 800 palettes of produce leave the company premises. With a six-day week that means that Schwab-Guillod moves about 100,000 tonnes of produce a year. “We deliver about 90 percent of our shipments ourselves, so we have 44 trucks in our fleet,” said CEO Reto Schwab.

Positioning means differentiation

“We offer customers the entire scope of services in fresh produce logistics,” said Schwab, adding, “our special strengths are in distribution and refrigerated logistics. We still do a lot of sorting and order picking by hand.” The company employs about 550 people. “Our customers are located throughout Switzerland, and we go out of our way to keep them happy,” noted Schwab.


Planning as a central factor

Planting planning is the central factor in the company’s logistics. Schwab explained: “We estimate the demand for various types of fruit, vegetables and potatoes over the course of the year based on experience. We plan our product assortment by season, type of soil and handling.” The company contracts with farmers for specific amounts of specific produce at specific times. “If we didn’t do this, they would all naturally deliver as much as they could, as soon as they could,” explained Schwab.


Fresh carrots

After several field visits, the planting manager approves the carrot harvest at peak ripeness. He’s responsible for the crop from planting to harvest. “During this phase, the farmer can’t spray the field anymore,” explained Harvest Manager Stefan Steiner “Based on the size of the product, the purchaser decides on how much is needed. The farmer decides whether he’ll harvest it himself or transfer it to us, in which case we’ll schedule a harvesting time with him.” Today carrots are on the agenda. In just over a half-hour the harvesting machine fills a Farmtech Durus dump tipper with some twelve tonnes of carrots. They are then taken to Müntschemier where they are weighed and fully automatically washed, polished, sorted and packaged. They are then boxed and shipped to customers throughout Switzerland. “Naturally the harvest is thoroughly cost- and process-optimized,” added Steiner.


Price and performance

Steiner was already familiar with Farmtech machines from his time as a trainee at Gerber Landtechnik in Kallnach. When a need arose to get new machines for Schwab-Guillod, he sent a request for proposal to his Farmtech dealer. “The Durus was not the cheapest option out there, but the one that offered the best value for money.” The deal-makers were its on-board hydraulic supply and resulting ease of operation. “We’re constantly shifting our trailers from one vehicle to another, and with the Durus it’s simple,” he said by in explaining the advantages of Farmtech’s dump tipper. The company’s tippers make about 300 runs per year, so they get plenty of use. To make dispatching easier chips are installed so the company can track the machines at all times. As Steiner explained, “that way we know exactly when new product will arrive. We’re very happy with the machines, which are in their fourth year of use. We haven’t yet had a single substantial technical issue.” But he does have a suggestion for improvement. “We’d really like hydraulic support legs for the machines, since we often have to unhitch them while they’re fully loaded. The Y-supports are just not strong enough to handle that.”

Further developments

“We want to play an active role in the market going forward,” said Schwab of his future plans. “So we need to stay on it at all levels, in technology, process improvement, digitalization and all other business and environmental changes. Economically speaking, Switzerland is an island. Not much goes across the borders, so we have to do as much as we can domestically.
We need to work on educating our customers.” He also mentioned an area where communication is essential. “We deal in natural products that are subject to natural variations in quality and quantity. Carrots don’t grow on trees, and milk doesn’t come from a shelf. It’s just not right that people expect healthy natural products to be sold cheaply. We have to keep reminding customers of what they’re really getting.”