Great reception last Thursday evening at Finnair’s Cargo Terminal at Helsinki Vantaa Airport. The occasion of the celebration attended by politicians, many invitees of the freight industry, Finnair’s top management and musicians entertaining the attendees was the official opening of the carrier’s “Cool Nordic Cargo Hub.”
Due to its superior technic enabling full visibility of processes through data transparency and the intelligent concept guaranteeing high efficiency, Finnair Cargo’s new freight terminal will surely set the benchmark for handling, storing and processing of air freight. At least in the European airport landscape. Predicting this, does not need any prophetic abilities.
Nothing spectacular at first sight
However, when only seen from the outside, the mentioned quality features are not apparent for the viewer, since the terminal, equipped with 34 truck docks, looks like dozens of others, existing anywhere in the world. Also the inside resembles alike facilities mas o menos, with stackers, roller beds and equipped with special cool rooms for safely stowing temperature critical products temporarily. So nothing really spectacular as far as the shape of Finnair’s new Cargo Center is concerned.
CCC is the game changer
The big difference to other warehouses is a room that resembles a command center in a spaceship, packed with monitors, computers and all sorts of electronic equipment: the Cargo Control Center (CCC). “It’s our real game changer,” exclaims Finnair Cargo’s MD, Janne Tarvainen, when presenting the showpiece of the new facility to the media. “Here, all information about our temperature critical shipments arrive in real time, from the first to the last mile, including trucking.” So in case of harsh weather conditions, for example, the controllers are informed about delays, enabling them to arrange booking options, telling the final consignee of the goods the new arrival time of the aircraft at destination.
Constant flow of real-time data
“Up to now we were hub focused, but now we go for network control,” states Janne. A holistic approach, facilitated by superior data quality and steady information transfer, monitoring the entire flow of goods from beginning to end.
A technical tool, enabling a leap in product quality particularly for temperature and hence price sensitive items. Being able to monitor the flow of goods from shipper to final consignee, customers can be informed in advance in case any irregularities happen along the transport chain, caused by poor weather situations, for instance.
AY Cargo is a major revenue contributor
The plan to build a state-of-the-art freight terminal at the carrier’s Helsinki hub was triggered by many aspects, particularly bold financial calculations. This, because the wide-body fleet accounts 15 percent of Finnair’s total revenues with cargo volumes keep growing steadily. Secondly, the airline’s decision in favor of building a new Cool Nordic Cargo Hub is also based on their fleet rollover, getting rid of the A340 aircraft and replacing them with 19 more economic A350s of which 11 are delivered meanwhile. Due to this step, AY Cargo gains 45 percent additional hold capacity offered by the A350 compared to the forerunner Airbus variant.
Thirdly, the volume of temperature critical shipments went up fast lately, such as pharmaceuticals, seafood, diagnostics or biologicals, to name but a few. High value products that require tailored storage and transport conditions from beginning to end. Against this background Finnair Cargo decided to integrate cool rooms of 6,500 sqm in their 31,000 sqm measuring new freight terminal.
Many successive test runs
The concept was first tabled in 2015 and realized step by step ever since in close cooperation with partnering firms, particularly project planner BeCon GmbH and Loedige Industries GmbH, a supplier of technical systems for automated cargo handling. To be on the safe side, 4,541 test runs were conducted and more than 100 cameras installed in the building, monitoring all processes to prevent any hiccups once the first shipments are handled.
Once fully operational, about 300 employees will be working in Finnair Cargo’s Cool Nordic Hub (24/7/365 ops), with most processes being fully automated. Speed together with accuracy is of top priority. Explains Mr. Tarvainen: “80 percent of our goods are transshipments, requiring extremely fast processing.”
According to him, 450 tons in average are transported in the holds of his airline’s fleet every single day, out of which 25 percent consist of special products such as pharma items or foodstuff.
Thought-provoking words from Minister Berner
All in all, AY has invested hundred millions of euros in its new cargo facility. Well spent money, stated Anne Berner, Finland’s Minister of Transport and Communications, in her inauguration speech. Together with passenger traffic, cargo transports are an “essential element of the blood veins of our economy,” the politician stated. According to her, the Cool Nordic Cargo Hub will strengthen Helsinki Airport’s position in the ever tightening global competition.
But she also addressed admonishing words to Finnair and everyone present. Citing the World Economic Forum she said that 10 to 15 percent of the prices of final products goes to the account of transportation, while 24 percent of the space used for transporting goods are left empty. Using the capacity more efficiently could save up to 300 billion euros each year, reducing greenhouse gas emissions between 15 to 30 percent. Using available transport space in a more intelligent and targeted way, would save Europe’s logistics sector €1,200 billion each year.
Mrs. Berner’s final advice: These figures are something to be considered. “The full utilization of data, modern technologies and automatization can create new business opportunities, with this brand new cargo terminal being an excellent example if this.”