Introducing new systems as per customers’ wishes – Turku Free Zone Company invests in digital services and energy-efficiency

Turku Free Zone Company is developing its processes in warehouse management as well as enterprise resource planning of the whole organisation. The new systems are designed from the beginning with attention to the needs and expectations of the customers.

As part of its environmental improvements, Turku Free Zone Company is switching to LED lamps in the lighting of warehouses. The changes will be implemented gradually as the lamps need to be replaced.
Traffic and logistics

Turku Free Zone Company has served as a trusted provider of port services for 55 years. The last two years have meant a significant period of development of processes and enhancing of operations for the traditional company.

During the project started in 2017, the company’s systems for enterprise resource planning and warehouse management will be renewed completely. Turku Free Zone Company has received consultation for the planning of the new systems from the local entrepreneurs’ association Turun yrittäjät.

The new warehouse management system is currently in use outdoors through a tablet computer. Supervisor Reima Rantanen acknowledges the arriving shipments in real time.

According to Managing Director Stefan Lindström, the next important step will be the development of the warehouse management system. The goal is to eliminate unnecessary work phases and provide the employees and customers with real-time data on the products and shipments.

”First we mapped all areas of our operations and the needs for development. Based on that we reviewed all options for enhancing our operations. We finally decided on building a completely new ERP system and WMS, or warehouse management system to go with it”, Stefan Lindström says.

Right now, the work on the field and in the office is in progress, and the warehouse employees record all entries into the system using a tablet computer. Once the new WMS is completed, there will be snappy new scanner units.

”I was perhaps a little surprised at how positively the employees have taken the reforms. In practical work you will quickly see how much the systems ease the working and, for example, finding products in real time.”

Broader extranet for all customers

With bigger customers, integrations are created between their own and Turku Free Zone Company’s systems. One of the first steps of the development work was in fact the mapping of the needs of the customers.

”The development work carried out with bigger customers will be seen positively by our entire customer base. We can offer a much broader extranet service. That will make it easier for the customers to manage all events during warehousing”, Stefan Lindström says.

The new extranet was introduced at the beginning of April, and it is now being piloted with a few customers. The majority of the customers that have tested the new system were satisfied already with the first version. Stefan Lindström says that that the functionalities will be developed further during the spring based on experiences and feedback from the customers.

”Turku Free Zone Company has around 100 customers in total, and the number of orders ranges from 50–200 in and out, depending on the day. With the new systems, the customer can see immediately e.g. the available delivery times. The management of products, arriving and departing shipments, and all other events during warehousing will become significantly easier.”

Step by step towards renewable energy solutions

Alongside with the digitalisation of work processes, Turku Free Zone Company’s other important development project is related to the development of energy-efficiency and environmentally sound solutions.

Buildings with poor energy-efficiency will be gradually replaced by new warehouses, and the new buildings will be heated with geothermal heat instead of fuel oil. The transfer to geothermal heat began in 2011 when the company’s office building was completed.

”In 2017, we built 7,000 square metres of warehouse space, half of which is heated. 6,000 square metres of our stock of buildings is connected to geothermal heat. Energy-efficiency has improved, and our oil consumption has decreased considerably”, Stefan Lindström says.

Stefan Lindström says that switching to geothermal heat has considerably improved Turku Free Zone Company’s energy-efficiency and also shows in the electricity bills.

He points out that looking after the environment is an obvious value for the company for the reason alone that Turku Free Zone Company operates in the harbour, on the seaside. Today, the customers also pay special attention to the values of their partners.

The building of Turku Free Zone Company’s own solar panel park will start in summer 2019. To be fitted with 700 panels, the park could account for as much as 25% of the energy consumption of the warehouses.

”Today, companies follow their customers’ values and standards throughout the supply chain. Of our big customers e.g. Meyer Turku and car importers take energy consumption and environmental issues into account. Being a green partner with them is a positive thing.”

Text: Jaakko Mikkola
Photos: Lennart Holmberg