New world under one roof


Supervisors at Finnair Cargo’s COOL Nordic Cargo Hub are all smiles when asked about their new working environment.

January 8 marked the day that the COOL terminal at Helsinki Airport completed its move from the previous terminals on the opposite side of the airport area. All 31,000 square metres of the terminal – that’s equivalent to six American football pitches – are open for business.

By the beginning of March there were plenty of appreciative smiles on the faces of Finnair Cargo Operations staff, all of whom are now gathered under a single roof again, albeit a very big one.

All systems go

“What I really love is that everyone in the warehouse and other operations works more closely together, whereas before we were all working more separately,” says Laura Pesonen, Customs Specialist at Finnair Cargo. 

“This has been the biggest change in Finnair Cargo’s history and the biggest in the history of air freight in Finland, too,” says Mika Kilpinen, Lead, Operations, Quality and Compliance. “There was bound to be a learning curve to follow. In any process like this we have to handle software, hardware and ‘human ware.’ The last one is the most important.”

Jouko Grönfors, who is responsible for Operational Maintenance, says, “It’s a new world in terms of buildings and processes and a privilege to take care of it all. It’s definitely an improvement. Everything is now under one roof again after three months of ‘two-terminal operations’ in the last quarter of 2017 when seafood shipments were handled in COOL and the rest of cargo still in the old terminal.”

Pesonen, too, appreciates the benefits of this single-roof arrangement citing that the modernized customs processing with loading and unloading permissions handled through the NCTS system also brings simplicity to acceptance processes. “This means that truck drivers do not need to visit the Finnish Customs office anymore when delivering goods to our terminal at Helsinki Airport.”

Fascinating times ahead

As a relative newcomer to Finnair Cargo, having joined the company as Network Supervisor in May 2017, Janike Heimonen is equally excited about the tools and facilities at her disposal. 

“We’ll now be able to use the new Cargo Eye, for example, which allows us to see more information and data on a single monitor at the same time,” she says. “It makes it possible to locate each plane and check what load it is carrying. It also helps us to react when we take delays, cancellations or other disruptions into account. It’s not often you get the chance to be part of such a big transformation and it fascinates me.”

Terminal Shift Supervisor Miikka Porkka notes that the 15-year wait has been worth it. “Inevitably there have been some teething problems since everything is different from how we did things before, but we are learning fast,” he says. “My main goal is to get the freight moving on time and to make sure everyone knows what they are doing. It helps that there is much more space to work in here. Previously, we only had five truck loading bays; now we have 34 landside and 24 airside!” 

The terminal has eased into full capacity, starting with wide-body loads in January and with narrow-body aircraft cargo handling launched in mid-February. The state-of-the-art temperature-controlled facilities ensure low temperatures between 2-8 degrees Celsius for perishable goods such as fish; and there is a pharma-dedicated zone maintained at 20 degrees centigrade with special sealed-off rooms for storage between 2° and 8° Celsius and for goods that need to be frozen. Finnair Cargo has established a reputation for being able to carry loads that vary from salmon and King Crab to motorcycle parts. The new warehouse enhances this reputation by increasing capacity and efficiency.

A warehouse app enables the display of information and processes using robust tablet computers, and this represents a big change in terms of automation utilization. Network supervision is based on the Cargo Control Centre (CCC) in the same premises. Sustainability aspects include the placing of solar panels on the roof to supplement electricity supply and the proactive steering model that guides the resources to match the incoming and outgoing cargo flows.

“With all the data that we have, we can develop new product types for customers, and that’s one of the most fascinating things about this change,” says Kilpinen. “COOL Nordic Cargo Hub makes it much easier to be transparent to the customer.”

Text and photo by Tim Bird

Image caption from left to right: Jouko Grönfors, Laura Pesonen, Janike Heimonen, Mika Kilpinen and Miikka Porkka.

Published March 9, 2018

Category: Local features, Finnair Cargo, Corporate Responsibility