Roto Alba prints 6,420,580 brochures for the French sports goods dealer GO Sport in the space of five days. The printing plant in the heart of the old town of Alba in Piedmont has no warehousing facilities. The required grade of paper is not made in Italy – it is therefore transported by road from Duisburg and delivered just-in-time by Ralpin's Rolling Highway.

Dragan Savic picks up the nine paper rolls with a total weight of 24 tonnes from the Norske Skog Walsun paper mill in Duisburg. He sets off shortly after eight o’clock on Wednesday evening with the aim of arriving in Freiburg im Breisgau in good time to catch the Rolling Highway which departs on Thursday at 12.40 p.m. After more than 675 km on the German A3 and A5 motorways the 440 hpVolvo FH Euro5 unit pulls into the terminal with its lightweight BERGERecotrail semi-trailer (Tare weight just 4.7 tonnes). Only a short time is needed to hand over the documents for the customs-free EU–EU transport from Germany to Italy via Switzerland.

The drivers receive snacks of sandwiches, chocolate bars and mineral water. Things then move at the double: drive over the weighbridge – the truck’s weight of 39.5 t is only just within the road limit of 40 t – pass under the loading gauge and then head directly on to the waiting train. Today Savic is the first to drive onto the special low-loader railway wagons and cover the distance of just under 400 m at walking pace. Retract antennas, bleed air from the suspension, place chocks under the wheels and lock the cabin – and it's now time to rest in the accompanying passenger coach.

Here, in the common room with cooking facilities, the drivers can heat and eat the meals they bring with them, watch films on their laptops, read or play cards. All is soon quiet in the couchette compartments, for on their arrival in Novara at 11.55 p.m. many drivers want to head directly from the train to their destinations in all parts of Italy.
The right place
at the right time


From job to job

Dragan Savic has different plans for theearly hours of Friday morning, however.He will not be able to deliver his load tothe Roto Alba printing plant until after7.30 a.m. He judges that he will need twohours to drive the remaining distance of129 km on the North Italian A26. So heparks his truck, folds down his bed in thedriver’s cabin and sleeps until just beforefive. Unfortunately another trucker whohas also stopped in Novara has parked hisvehicle in such a way as to block the transportof the paper until he returns from hismorning shower.

Savic now heads swiftly southwards.The way through the historic streets andtight roundabouts of Alba to the printingplant close to the town centre is rathernarrow in places. The janitor is awake andthe sun is pleasantly warm, but the personresponsible for unloading the cargo is inno hurry to arrive. Our driver makes thewaiting time pass more quickly by gettingthe trailer ready with the tarpaulin pulledback, the side boards removed and thetie-down belts released and rolled up. Hedrinks an Italian coffee from the machineand chats with two fellow drivers who arebringing rolls of paper for the same printingorder.

No empty runs

The crane operator finally arrives to takedelivery of the paper and starts up hispowerful machine. He hoists roll after rollonto the conveyor belt which transportsthem into the lift and brings them to therotary presses in the basement. The bigprint run must be completed on Tuesday, for the products offered in the brochurewill be on sale in client’s shops in onlythree weeks. Savic has not yet finished hisday’s work. On the return trip he loads 25pallets of aperitif drinks in Canale, 15 kmaway, before heading home for a wellearnedweekend’s rest.