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Allison transmissions keep DHL air freight hub running

Allison Transmission

SCHKEUDITZ, Germany – It is 10 p.m. at Leipzig/Halle airport. A freight plane touches down laden with about 15 air freight containers – business mail, computers, smartphones, and pharmaceuticals. The flight schedule is defined; everything must run efficiently. Containers are pulled out and loaded onto MULAG towing tractors. The vehicles carry the freight to the 413 meter-long distribution center, called “the warehouse”. There a 6.5 kilometer-long fully-automatic sorting ally is ready and waiting.

DHL Hub Leipzig, located in Schkeuditz, Saxony, currently operates 128 MULAG towing tractors with 4-cylinder Deutz diesel engines (64 kW / 87 hp) and Allison 1000 Series fully-automatic transmissions for container handling. The first 80 vehicles were delivered in 2007, when the test operation at DHL Hub Leipzig began. Constantly growing cargo volume has required an increase in towing tractors, with the last 10 added in March 2013.

“We always reorder the same vehicle models to maintain fleet purity. That way, the drivers don’t have to be retrained,” explained Jens Freund, Duty Manager of Ground Support Equipment at DHL Hub Leipzig.

The Deutsche Post specified high-traction towing tractors for the air freight hub of its express and logistics subsidiary, DHL. “Therefore we equipped the MULAG towing tractors with Allison 1000 Series fully-automatic transmissions. They have several gears – six forward and one reverse – and in combination with a robust industrial diesel engine they are perfect for handling heavy freight,” said Hubert Bitsch, who is responsible for service ground-support vehicles at MULAG.

These Allison-equipped Comet 6 towing tractors operate mainly between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., while more than 55 freight planes land and take-off at DHL Hub Leipzig; some vehicles are also needed during the day.

Altogether, the towing tractors move 900 containers daily on average, each weighing a remarkable two to five tons. A total of 17 tons at a time can be moved by the vehicles’ small and agile power packs at a maximum speed of 30 km/h.

“The Allison fully-automatic transmission is very operator-friendly. You only have to choose the forward or reverse gear, and then you can accelerate. The transmission is low-maintenance, robust and reliable; it transfers engine power to the wheels without interrupting traction, enabling a fast approach. This is very important, because the time frame for freight handling is narrow. Manual transmissions would not work in our business,” finished Freund succinctly.

June 2013

MULAG Comet 6 Towing Tractors


Net weight

6,000 kg


40 kN


Deutz-diesel 64 kW (87 HP)


Allison fully automatic transmission 1000 Series


3,230 mm


1,600 mm


2,160 mm

Turning radius

3,900 mm (outer wheel)


About DHL Hub Leipzig GmbH

In May 2008, Deutsche Post DHL opened DHL Hub Leipzig, the air freight hub of its express and logistics subsidiary DHL, at Leipzig/Halle airport following 18 months of construction and a comprehensive testing phase. To date, the group has invested approximately 350 million euros into the hub. On average, 1,600 tons of freight are handled every night, delivered by planes from all over the world to the European DHL air freight hub. The 6.5 kilometer sorting street is one of the biggest in Germany, able to handle more than 100,000 express packages and urgent documents per hour. Over 50 destinations in Europe, Asia and the United States are serviced from Leipzig/Halle in regular service during weekdays. Next to Cincinnati, Ohio, and Hong Kong, Leipzig/Halle is one of DHL Express network’s main trade centers worldwide. DHL employs over 3,500 people at its location in Schkeuditz, situated between Leipzig and Halle.


MULAG Fahrzeugwerk Heinz Wössner GmbH u. Co. KG is a leading manufacturer of airport ground-support vehicles and roadside-maintenance equipment. The company is in Oppenau, Baden-Wuerttemberg, with another location in Bad Peterstal-Griesbach in the Black Forest, where MULAG was founded in 1953 by Heinz Wössner. The company name is composed of Motor Universal Lasten Arbeits Gerät and refers to the agricultural vehicles initially manufactured. MULAG currently employs 220 people.

About Allison Transmission

Allison Transmission is the world’s largest manufacturer of fully-automatic transmissions for medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles, medium- and heavy-tactical U.S. military vehicles and hybrid-propulsion systems for transit buses. Allison transmissions are used in a variety of applications including on-highway trucks (distribution, refuse, construction, fire and emergency), buses (primarily school and transit), motor homes, off-highway vehicles and equipment (primarily energy and mining) and military vehicles (wheeled and tracked). Founded in 1915, the Allison business is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.A. and employs approximately 2,800 people. Allison has manufacturing facilities and customization centers located in China, The Netherlands, Brazil, India and Hungary, with a global presence, serving customers in North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, South America and Africa. Allison also has approximately 1,400 independent distributor and dealer locations worldwide. More information about Allison is available at

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Maren Szydlowski                                          Miranda Jansen
geldermannKommunikation                           Allison Transmission Europe B.V.
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Jun 24, 2013

About Allison Transmission

Allison Transmission (NYSE: ALSN) is the world’s largest manufacturer of fully automatic transmissions for medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles and is a leader in electric hybrid-propulsion systems for city buses. Allison transmissions are used in a variety of applications including refuse, construction, fire, distribution, bus, motorhomes, defense and energy. Founded in 1915, the company is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA and employs approximately 2,900 people worldwide. With a market presence in more than 80 countries, Allison has regional headquarters in the Netherlands, China and Brazil with manufacturing facilities in the U.S., Hungary and India. Allison also has approximately 1,400 independent distributor and dealer locations worldwide. For more information, visit