After more than a century of moving cargo around the world, Kuehne + Nagel isn’t going to stray too far from its core competencies.
International trade rules are becoming more complex and importers are increasingly turning to the vast offerings of third-party logistics firms to ensure their shipments aren’t stalled at the border.
When Canadian marketing manager Suzanne Broadbent is asked what separates her company from competitors in the densely packed global logistics sector, she falls back on historical record.
“Obviously with 118 years we’ve much seen all the pitfalls that could potentially happen in any kind of shipment, big or small.”
With origins in Bremen, Germany; the company’s first forays into the international market began with offices in Montreal and Toronto in 1953. Of its 830 offices worldwide, there are 27 in Canada including one in North Bay serving railway, aviation and the thriving mining supply sector.
The company has a vast global reach and considers itself one of the standard bearers of logistic providers.
Now headquartered in Switzerland, the company has won awards for pioneering concepts and innovation. In 2006, its Canadian head office won an award for business excellence in customs brokerage given by Consumer’s Choice Institutes in Canada and the United States.
Moving oil, gas and forest products has been a traditional strength through its network of warehouses and materials handling capabilities. But the company also has logistics experts in some particularly niche fields.
They arrange door-to-door delivery for five-star hotel clients and trade show exhibitors, and offer support for humanitarian organizations in dealing with emergency and relief logistics.
They’ve provided services for the unique needs of wine growers and spirits distillers, and specialize in prompt deliveries of marine spare parts to ships in any port in the world. There’s even an in-house insurance company.
A new Kuehne & Nagel warehouse opened this summer in northern Italy catering to the exclusive needs of frozen food distributors.
Like many leading logistics providers, they’ve invested heavily in client-friendly technology.
Their web-based track and trace system, KN Login, enables importers and exporters to see their cargo (documents included) move by truck, marine, air or rail container from start-to-finish.
“Once it’s entered into the system, it’s instantaneous, you can see your shipment and where it is in the (transportation process), whether it’s going from North Bay to Istanbul or Los Angeles,” says Broadbent. “It’s (about) the monitoring, the expertise and the visibility that we have.”
Some international courier companies are dabbling with more in-depth logistics services to diversify their market share, she says.
“We have stayed a third-party logistics provider and we have such a tight relationship with our suppliers,” as well as a penchant for building custom-tailored solutions for clients.
“We’ll manage your inventory for you,” says Broadbent.
For a Northern Ontario miner needing to import parts from around the world, Kuehne+Nagel can create a supply chain called auto management system to pull components from global suppliers and arrange speedy deliver to the destination.