Quality is in the details


“Quality means doing it right when no one is looking,” said US industrialist Henry Ford. He might well have been describing Finnair’s fastidious cargo shipment standards.

Air cargo is usually more valuable, urgent or delicate than goods shipped by land or sea – which doubles the importance of a reliable quality chain. Goods typically transported by air include consumer electronics, critical spare parts and perishable commodities requiring speedy delivery.

“In addition to swift transport, air shipment also offers the benefit of lower insurance fees, less packaging and reduced need for storage,” says Henry Rantala, Finnair Cargo Standards Manager.

One step ahead

When time is of the essence, quality is synonymous with punctuality. “We carefully plan our processes and deadlines for each phase. We also monitor every step of handling, ULD (Unit Load Device, i.e. container or palette) build-up, loading, ULD breakdown, warehousing, delivery and forwarding to pre-empt any threats to smooth handling,” adds Rantala.

“If we find any discrepancies, we and  the relevant partners investigate what went wrong, and why, and ensure that corrective actions are taken to prevent a recurrence. We also stay in close touch with major cargo forwarders to continually develop our quality in line with customer expectations.”

Keeping it cool

The journey of a pharmaceutical shipment offers a good example of Finnair’s no-compromise mindset. “Before the shipment is accepted, we ensure that there is space available on the planned flight, the weight and dimensions do not exceed the limit, and there is no embargo or restriction against the commodity at the destination or transit station.”

The shipment is then inspected against a detailed checklist to ensure that it is intact and correctly packaged and labelled. Both the label and Air Waybill must indicate details such as the accepted transport temperature range.

Before the package is loaded aboard the aircraft, the captain of the flight is also notified of the required temperature. The shipment is then stored in a temperature-controlled facility until ULD build-up, which takes place as late as possible to minimize heat exposure. During ramp handling, the cargo is shielded from heat sources such as direct sunlight, engines and exhaust. At destination, it is whisked from the aircraft to a temperature-controlled storage facility as swiftly as possible.

No weak links

To ensure a hitch-free process, all Finnair operational staff and cargo handling agents receive comprehensive training. “Most of us take refresher courses every two or three years. Typical topics include aviation security, IT systems and handling of special loads such as valuable cargo or dangerous goods,” says Rantala.    

Routine audits, too, ensure that safety and security standards are upheld meticulously. “Every station and handling agent is audited regularly to ensure that they follow the Finnair Cargo Handling Manual (CHM) and relevant aviation regulations.”

A strong quality chain is dependent on smooth workflow between its links. To ensure consistent performance, the Helsinki Hub holds regular interdepartmental meetings to deal with any operational deficiencies and plan action for foreseeable challenges.

Cargo 2000
Finnair is a registered IOSA Airline, meaning it adheres to the IATA Operational Safety Audit program, an internationally recognized evaluation scheme focusing on safety. Finnair Cargo will achieve an important milestone in the near future when it becomes a full member of Cargo 2000 (C2K), an industry group with the mission to create quality standards and management systems for the worldwide air cargo industry. Both IOSA and C2K membership require airlines to monitor and audit their performance.
For more details, visit: http://www.iata.org/whatwedo/safety/audit/iosa/Pages/index.aspx 

Text by Silja Kudel

Published May 27, 2013

Category: Finnair Cargo