UPS says that exports remain a major growth factor so a reliable partner to help companies reach customers is imperative.
One of UPS’s most significant competitive strengths is a unique business model that has all packages – domestic or international, commercial or residential, air or ground – running through one integrated transportation network. This efficient use of assets has allowed UPS to produce both high margins and a good return on invested capital, while providing reliability to customers. Helsinki Business Hub (HBH) speaks to Boris Dobberstein (BD), Country Manager UPS Nordics, about Finnish freight movements.
HBH: How is the Nordic regional operation managed?
BD: In the Nordics, we have individual country offices, but our operation is very much a network and is very integrated. We use an integrated, hub-and-spoke network with a variety of modes (air, road, sea) to provide the best time-in-transit and value for money services to our customers around the world.
In Europe specifically, UPS operates an extensive, cost effective, single-hub, intra-European air network, serving 52 airports with 270 daily intra-European flight segments (in addition, UPS serves 13 intercontinental destinations with 92 intercontinental flight segments).
HBH: How does the Nordic operation interact with the European air hub in Cologne?
BD: The UPS European air hub at Cologne/Bonn airport functions as our gateway to international markets, and this includes flight segments from major airports in Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. As such, Cologne/Bonn connects both small package and larger freight volume from the Nordics.
Additionally, the recent expansion of our air hub at Cologne/Bonn, which was completed earlier this year, was partially dedicated to processing larger freight shipments moved with UPS Worldwide Express Freight – a valuable solution for customers looking to ship time-critical, high-value goods weighing more than 70 kg.
HBH: What aircraft fleet typically serves UPS freight operations into Finland?
BD: UPS operations into Finland are served by a Boeing 767.
HBH: Are there any special initiatives on the ground for your operations in Finland? Are alternative fuel vehicles in use? Will they be? Do you have green initiatives as part of your strategy?
BD: Sustainability and the efficient use of resources is written into the DNA of how we do our business. It’s in our best interest, and in our customers’ best interests, for us to operate our network in the most efficient way possible. We use a number of different methods, supported by cutting edge technology, such as route planning and optimization, to help minimize the amount of fuel that we use. We utilize technology-based, behavior-based and engineering-based approaches to address our environmental footprint.
Specific on-going programs yielding both operational and environmental results include the deployment of an alternative fuel vehicle, fuel and energy conservation programs, airline initiatives on the ground and in the air, shipment consolidation, and employee engagement programs. These actions are just a partial list of our efforts to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and our dependency on fossil fuel. We report our progress annually on these and other initiatives in our sustainability report which you can find at our dedicated website sustainability.ups.com.
UPS operates one of the largest and most diverse alternative fuel vehicle fleets in the world, with over 3,150 vehicles operating globally and some 150 of these vehicles in Europe. We use compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, electric, human powered, bio-methane, etc). We operate these with a “rolling laboratory” philosophy – meaning that we are constantly evaluating the feasibility of using technology that will reduce our carbon footprint while still allowing us to meet the needs of our customers. While we don’t have any alternative fuel vehicles in operation in Finland, there is scope for future expansion as we continue to rely on our “rolling laboratory” model.
HBH: Just how multimodal are your operations in Finland and do you offer sea, air, road and rail operation for moving freight into and out of Finland?
BD: UPS has a comprehensive offering for shipments into and out of Finland, encompassing everything from air, to road, to ocean, and even rail. Our comprehensive service offering means that shippers have the flexibility to choose between speed and economy while still having access to reliable, day-definite service.
HBH: Do your operations at Helsinki Airport include any specialist freight activities that require special handling such as life sciences products, fish and perishables, hazardous waste or aircraft parts?
BD: Every day UPS provides specialized solutions to customers that have very specific requirements for keeping their shipments safe and secure in transport. One example of this is our focus on healthcare logistics. We are investing heavily in our global healthcare network (including facilities, technology and specialized solutions) along with – and often ahead of – the needs of our customers. For example, in Finland we offer UPS Temperature True, which refers to the full portfolio of our compliant temperature-sensitive services and solutions, including everything from air freight service to packaging consulting solutions to proactive monitoring and intervention services to risk management and contingency planning solutions to regulatory compliance expertise.
While we do not have any specialized healthcare facilities in Finland, UPS has built a large, global dedicated healthcare network with highly specialized expertise and solutions encompassing 46 facilities around the world.
HBH: Do you serve the Russian market through any mode of transportation and, if so, does Finland have a role to play given its long land border?
BD: Yes, we provide comprehensive service to the Russia market both by air (serving airports in Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Vladivostok) and via road.
HBH: Do you see potential for Helsinki Airport as a key enabler of international trade and is this potential already being met or do you hope that investment at the airport may increase capacity to the benefit of integrators like yourself?
BD: One of the global business trends that we see, and that we continue to see, is the continued need of companies of all sizes to trade and compete on a global scale. Despite the different European economies having mixed successes, exports remain a major growth engine/factor for all economies in Europe. Businesses of all sizes in Europe are and will be looking to continue to trade internationally and they will need a reliable partner to help them successfully reach their customers. To the extent that Helsinki Airport already connects us to the UPS global network, it is already a key enabler and is currently meeting our needs. In our experience in markets around the world, solid investment in infrastructure – that helps improve connectivity with global markets – is rarely a bad investment.
HBH: What have your investments in Finland been to date in terms of real estate and staff? Is this likely to change?
BD: Our set up in Finland is currently enough to meet the shipping needs of our customers and the time commitments for the products that we’re offering here. While we can’t make any specific forward-looking statements about growth or investment, we can say that we’re confident about prospects for continued growth in both Finland and Europe more generally, and we’ll make the needed investments to accommodate that growth.
Text: Joanne Murray