Pi­o­neer­ing in­no­va­tors across the lo­gis­tics chain

EME Outlook - - Front Page - Writer: Matthew Staff

With an in­flu­en­tial his­tory that stretches back thou­sands of years, the Port of Tallinn’s role as a gate­way be­tween east and west, and north and south, is as preva­lent to­day as it ever was.

En­cap­su­lat­ing much that is pos­i­tive about the Es­to­nian cap­i­tal down the years, the growth of both the city and its lead­ing port goes hand-in-hand with each’s devel­op­ment di­rectly af­fect­ing the evo­lu­tion of the other.

“The Port of Tallinn has such a long his­tory but has ex­isted as a state-owned en­tity since 1991,” in­tro­duces Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer, Valdo Kalm. “That be­ing said, this year we are talk­ing about list­ing a third of the Com­pany on the Tallinn stock ex­change, to af­firm the fact that, de­spite be­ing a pri­vate en­tity, it is very much run as a busi­ness.”

This busi­ness has ex­panded and di­ver­si­fied ex­ten­sively in re­cent years, branch­ing out from its tra­di­tional cargo op­er­a­tions to for­mu­late a multi-faceted fa­cil­ity con­tribut­ing to nu­mer­ous strands of the Es­to­nian econ­omy.

Kalm con­tin­ues: “We were tra­di­tion­ally known as a cargo port but are now renowned for op­er­a­tions across four main busi­ness ar­eas.

“The big­gest of these nowa­days is geared to­wards pas­sen­gers and cruise lines. Lines to Helsinki, Stock­holm and St Peters­burg are es­pe­cially thriv­ing and now

con­trib­ute the big­gest por­tion of rev­enue to our over­all port­fo­lio.”

Do­mes­tic ferry busi­ness along lo­cal lines forms a sec­ond value-added di­vi­sion of the mod­ern-day Port of Tallinn, while the op­ti­mi­sa­tion of real es­tate and in­dus­trial parks show­cases the busi­ness’s abil­ity to har­ness the wider op­por­tu­ni­ties gen­er­ated by be­ing a na­tional gate­way.

“Then fi­nally, of course, is our cargo op­er­a­tions which are still go­ing strong,” Kalm fin­ishes. “We have two cargo ports in Es­to­nia and one is among the big­gest in the Baltics.

“To­gether, the four busi­ness ar­eas com­bined show­case the Port of Tallinn’s di­ver­sity and abil­ity to split rev­enues across more than one driver.”

At the cross­roads

In­evitably, by com­pris­ing so many sig­nif­i­cant con­trib­u­tors to a na­tion’s econ­omy, and as a world-fac­ing greeter to both tourists and busi­ness pro­fes­sion­als, the Port’s im­por­tance to Es­to­nia as a whole is size­able.

It’s the big­gest gate to the coun­try hav­ing wel­comed as many as 11 mil­lion pas­sen­gers last year; the fourth largest in­flux in Europe.

Kalm elab­o­rates: “We’re a hub, ba­si­cally. A hub to the east and Rus­sia, a hub to Cen­tral Europe, and a hub to Scan­di­navia. We have the per­fect po­si­tion at the cross­roads be­tween east and west, and south and north, which is great from both a pas­sen­ger and cargo per­spec­tive.”

The big­gest per­cent­age of both em­anate from neigh­bours, Fin­land who ac­count for around 60 per­cent of pas­sen­gers in par­tic­u­lar, but sig­nif­i­cant links with the likes of Rus­sia and Swe­den fur­ther em­pha­sise the scope of the Port’s in­flu­ence.

And to this end, it has be­come ever-more im­per­a­tive in re­cent years to be­come not only big­ger from a ca­pac­ity per­spec­tive, but also more ef­fi­cient across ev­ery facet.

“The pas­sen­ger el­e­ment is a good ex­am­ple of this need to grow and also to be­come more ef­fi­cient,” Kalm ex­plains. “That line of busi­ness is a mas­sive growth area so we need to sup­port that growth and are do­ing so by build­ing a new cruis­ing ter­mi­nal in Tallinn at the old city har­bour. On the cargo side we have al­ready en­gaged in quite a heavy in­vest­ment pro­gramme and now have an ex­cel­lent in­fra­struc­ture.

“We can only ex­pand so much though, and af­ter that the best way to cater for de­mand is to be­come more ef­fi­cient, rather than just big­ger. There are around 30 har­bours and ports around the Baltic sea and it is in these ar­eas of en­hanced ef­fi­ciency and speed that we are look­ing to dif­fer­en­ti­ate our­selves.”

Driv­ing this agenda is a strong work­force geared to­wards in­no­va­tion, op­ti­mi­sa­tion of ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies and op­er­a­tional ex­cel­lence. And the Port of Tallinn has en­deared it­self as

an em­ployer of choice by not only pro­vid­ing a thriv­ing plat­form for these at­tributes to suc­ceed, but by then mo­ti­vat­ing and re­mu­ner­at­ing the most tal­ented in­di­vid­u­als ac­cord­ingly.


“Ul­ti­mately, smart peo­ple want to be part of the Port of Tallinn story, and in­volved in the trend curve,” Kalm em­pha­sises. “We have an in­ter­nal vi­sion to be­come the most in­no­va­tive port in the Baltic sea and this re­quires the req­ui­site peo­ple able to both re­act to, and drive in­dus­try mega­trends.”

The first of these mega­trends is the sheer size of the ves­sels en­ter­ing the ports, and the Port of Tallinn has al­ready re­sponded in kind by ex­pand­ing its fa­cil­i­ties to be able to ac­com­mo­date it.

“The sec­ond and per­haps big­gest trend though, is digi­ti­sa­tion and au­to­ma­tion,” Kalm states. “We’ve again ad­dressed this through ini­tia­tives like our smart port application be­ing used in our pas­sen­ger port. This in­volves giv­ing pas­sen­gers more

Ul­ti­mately, smart peo­ple want to be part of the Port of Tallinn story, and in­volved in the trend curve

con­trol while their own ve­hi­cles’ ad­mis­sions are au­to­mated.

“On the cargo side, it has also in­volved the com­plete digi­ti­sa­tion of the lo­gis­tics chain. We have been very ac­tive on this front in speed­ing up ves­sels’ dec­la­ra­tion of en­try to the port, and com­mu­ni­ca­tions with cus­toms.”

The Port is cur­rently run­ning a pi­lot for digi­ti­sa­tion of rail­ways and truck routes to fully dig­i­talise all as­pects of the site’s lo­gis­tics chain, hav­ing be­come one of the busi­ness’s most con­certed in­vest­ment ar­eas.

The fi­nal mega­trend then ad­dresses en­vi­ron­men­tal re­quire­ments. Rather than sim­ply meet­ing leg­is­lated ex­pec­ta­tions though, the Port is look­ing to turn the trend into its favour and is do­ing so through its own ded­i­cated arm, Green Marine. Re­sul­tantly en­sur­ing the com­plete recycling of all waste across the Port, the Com­pany is once again demon­strat­ing an abil­ity to not just ad­here to trends, but to be pi­o­neers in over­com­ing them.

“If we look two or three years ahead we can mea­sure our suc­cess in terms of ex­e­cuted plans and vi­sions in line with these mega­trends,” Kalm con­cludes. “We are pi­o­neers, and it’s all pay­ing off in terms of statis­tics.

“Last year we wel­comed more than 11 mil­lion pas­sen­gers, 20 mil­lion tonnes of cargo and a fur­ther 2.3 mil­lion pas­sen­gers through our own lo­cal, do­mes­tic lines. These are key fig­ures not just from a busi­ness growth per­spec­tive, but as tes­ta­ments to our pi­o­neer­ing, in­no­va­tive na­ture.”

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