Turning challenges into opportunities: how logistics service providers can help get supply chains back on track

Coming out of the most challenging period of supply chain disruptions, Wallenius Wilhelmsen’s Mike Hynekamp, COO of Logistics, is eager to see where the logistics industry is headed. While many are still focused on the impact of the pandemic, or concerned about a looming recession, there are many positive trends that are poised to transform the logistics industry – and soon.

Mike Hynekamp, COO of Logistics

“The world has surprised us,” says Hynekamp. “For example, we recognize the business models of automotive OEMs are transforming. The increase in EV’s and the dynamics of demand exceeding supply have reduced high dealer inventories , so can there be alternatives such as more marshalling yards that allow us to help facilitate the best way to distribute their cars.”

The power of partnerships

With many newcomers disrupting the current automotive market as well, Hynekamp believes logistics service providers such as Wallenius Wilhelmsen will be crucial partners in helping these OEMs set up stable and complete finished vehicle logistics supply chains.

“I think what set’s us up well is our complete value-chain offering from being a port-to-port shipping company, coupled with having terminals, having land-based processing centers, and now a digital layer capable of providing visibility to help orchestrate the end to end logistics of a supply chain,” says Hynekamp.

Hynekamp says that in addition to having a robust global network and suite of services, the commitment to partnerships is what allows Wallenius Wilhelmsen and its customers to prosper together. “It’s not about ‘just-in-time’ anymore it’s about just-in-case, so it’s about partners who help OEMs build more resilience in their supply chain and we are well positioned with our deep understanding of customer needs and operational credibility to do that.”

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Vehicle Processing Services

Creating extra value for OEMs and their customers

Wallenius Wilhelmsen also partners with a variety of construction, mining and agricultural equipment manufacturers as demand for these machines starts to pick up. Wallenius Wilhelmsen’s network of equipment processing centers help OEMs get their products to market faster, and in the required configuration of the end user.

“Becoming that arm of the OEMs allows for more customization closer to end users which then allows them to ship out units that are perhaps 90 percent ready and can be finalized in a processing center. I think that’s appealing for a lot of OEMs, because we can provide the highest quality t in a singular industrial space,” Hynekamp says.

Working smarter and harder

As supply chains are naturally evolving, Hynekamp says logistics service providers must work even harder to avoid disruptions. As what were once abnormalities or exceptions, now are becoming the new norm. To address these situations and gain additional operational efficiencies, Wallenius Wilhelmsen, has started a journey to collect more data about its operation and use it to drive decision-making.

“What benefits us is we’re not only able to pull together data on a more meaningful level and create practical information and turn that information into insight. We can then turn that insight into predictability and analytics, and we’re also able to talk about the operations that it’s going to take to get it done with our network and physical assets.”

And it’s these insights that help deepen the partnership between Wallenius Wilhelmsen and the OEMs it supports. Hynekamp says that by continuing to show customers the data being collected and how it’s being used, it can help authenticate and bring credibility to the decisions being made. “It shows the customers that there’s real value in this data,” he says.

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Terminal Operations

The people who are continuing to make it happen

Hynekamp says the commitment shown across sites was crucial to overcoming the ongoing challenges, and still sees the passion as we start the new year. “I’m hard-pressed to find people who work here that don’t want to see us succeed. There’s a passion for Wallenius Wilhelmsen that is palpable when you meet any of our dedicated team members,” he says.

Wallenius Wilhelmsen made every effort in retaining a significant portion of its operational staff through the pandemic. And while many left the workforce altogether or in search of new jobs, the staff that remained were critical to support OEMs coming out of the pandemic. “We were so fortunate to have many loyal team members with us which allowed us to meet the demand as it began to surge,” says Hynekamp. “We had a base level of labor to deal with the sudden growth in the second half of the year and that allowed us to meet some of that demand, however we remain challenged in match the demand for our services with the supply of talent in the market and work closely between our HR team and our customers in scaling our staff.”

As volumes remain volatile, Hynekamp encourages customers to keep the lines of communication open to ensure proper planning. “The market dynamics are challenging for us collectively, and specifically for us, we are always trying to plan our most important asset, which is based on people, Without stable planning it becomes really difficult to give our employees a sense of certainty about their schedules, or flexibility of their schedules which is critical to the employee experience and overall engagement” he says. “This remains a major area of focus for us even now as operations are normalizing, the mitigation of volatility in volumes with retention and engagement of our operational teams.”

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Equipment Processing Services

Building a better environment for today and tomorrow

To support our land-based workforce, Wallenius Wilhelmsen is investing in ESG initiatives, including upgrading to electric equipment at all processing sites and terminals, and creating a strong “safety first” culture. “The is nothing more impactful or important for us to focus on than the safety of our team members. We strive every day to ensure our focus on safety is first to mind from our CEO and out to every other member of our organization. The journey to improving safety is never complete so we want to be certain we challenge ourselves every day to use better tools, collect better information and design better processes that keep our teams safe.” For example, on the safety and quality front, WW has leveraged WW’s digital accelerator team in concert with operational staff to use tools such as HoloLens virtual reality equipment to carry out training and audits remotely. These virtual sessions allow for best practices and other learnings to be quickly shared and implemented across sites.

Hynekamp says while Wallenius Wilhelmsen has started its decarbonization journey for its ocean-side of the business, the logistics business is running in parallel. “We are committed to the electrification of the equipment that we use around the world. We are committed to finding out, in 2023 and beyond, how do we create net zero terminals and port operations that can then be nodes at the end of a decarbonized ocean trade corridor moving forward so that it’s not just an ocean benefit but a benefit for the entire value chain of the customer,” he adds.

Hynekamp believes these efforts and lessons learned from the past few years has made Wallenius Wilhelmsen more resilient and better equipped to handle whatever future disruptions may arise. “The only way that you can deal with these types of volatilities is to recognize that things will move more quickly than ever before and then communicate well and be flexible in dealing with them always with the end customer in mind,” he says.