The door-to-door concept of Containerships covers also container transports by land from the sender to the port of departure, and from the port of destination to the recipient. At the Helsinki headquarters, land operations are coordinated by Antti Laukkanen, Group Land Operations Director.
“My principal duty is to coordinate land operations in all of our operating areas. Our door-to-door operational model covers land transports at the point of departure, point of destination, or both. In addition to articulated lorries, we include barges and railways in overland transports – in other words, transports which precede the actual sea shipping operation,” says Laukkanen.
“In door-to-door transports, land transports play a role in 85% of the cases, either at the point of departure or point of destination. Despite the fact the name of our company is Containerships, land transports play a huge role in our operations. This is why our major competitors are not shipping companies but trailer transport companies. Our philosophy differs from theirs in that that we think that it is a bad idea to transport axles and wheels overseas – it is more efficient to transport only a container. By and large, we use rail connections only in Russia, where the distances within the country are long.”
Containerships carries out its land transports using a fleet of 600 articulated lorries. Approximately 120 of them are owned by the company.
“We use our own lorries in Finland, Russia and Great Britain. The market area dictates whether or not it is profitable to own lorries there. For example, competition in Central Europe is so fierce that using trusted subcontractors is more profitable. We always use audited subcontractors that are committed to our operations and are able to provide a guarantee of the high quality of their operations.”
Laukkanen emphasises that, from the customer’s perspective, it does not make any difference whether the lorry transporting a container belongs to Containerships or a subcontractor.
“In order to be able to act on our promise to deliver from door-to-door and to be punctual, we select our partners using strict criteria. They are obligated to observe all laws and regulations and to be able to serve our customer in accordance with Containerships’ standards. The drivers must be in the possession of sufficient professional, language and customer service skills, as they act as the representatives of our brand by often being the only individuals representing our company who the customer sees face-to-face.”
Laukkanen says that, above all, company-owned lorries help Containerships to keep in touch with the requirements, challenges and developments in land transports in the various market areas.
“Although I direct land transport operations from Helsinki, we have people in place in each country who coordinate transports, and they are familiar with the operators and practices of their area. With regard to transports from one country to another, we may have several people involved with arrangements. Consequently, we have shared systems in place, which means, for example, that our personnel in the Baltic countries see exactly the same data as their colleagues in Great Britain.”
Antti Laukkanen is also responsible for the procurement of liquefied natural gas (LNG) both for articulated lorries and the forthcoming fleet of LNG ships. In England, a total of 40 articulated lorries are already using LNG as their fuel, which makes Containerships the leading transport company using LNG in its lorries.
“LNG is an important strategic foundation for our company, one that is already being used by our articulated lorries, and it will soon be used by our ships. Its strengths as a fuel include long-term cost benefits and its friendliness to the environment. Over the next five years, we have set our sights on ensuring that around 400 to 500 vehicles will run on LNG. While the challenge we are facing here is the availability of LNG fuel in the various areas, we nevertheless want to be the pioneer in this development.”
“Another trend in the process of revolutionising land transports is the rapidly developing information technology and electric systems. Many of our drivers use tablets with the requisite applications, enabling them to monitor transports in real time. This will improve our reaction time and service capability, enabling the customers to know exactly where their containers are and when they can be signed off as received.”