The operators of the Northern Growth Zone, Growth Corridor Finland and National Growth Programme for the Transport Sector gathered in Helsinki to hear the project results in the ‘Liiketoimintaa liikenteestä’ Growth Forum organised on 2 April 2019 at the House of the Estates.

‘Liiketoimintaa liikenteestä’ Growth Forum:

The traffic and transport sector is undergoing a major change as the supply and demand of services is influenced by the platform economy, digitalisation, artificial intelligence, emission targets and changing consumer behaviour.

The fact that Finland is located in northern Europe and bordered by the Baltic Sea weakens our logistical position and competitiveness. However, by promoting the digitalisation of logistics and transport, we can minimise the disadvantage.

Pilot projects achieved cost savings up to 70%

The project results and impacts were presented at the ‘Digitalisation for improved competitiveness of land and marine logistics chains’ panel that was moderated by Matti Lankinen, Chairman of the Board at Vediafi Oy, and Magnus Gustafsson, docent at the PBI Research Institute.

Matti Lankinen explained that when the project studied the bottlenecks of international deliveries and the ability of the shipments to pass through, they noticed that a significant number of the studied deliveries encountered inefficiencies in transport and customs processes. For example, deliveries from Finland to Asia by national postal companies were approximately four times more expensive than the same service by an Asian operator and did not provide a similar level of transparency of deliveries. Similarly, transporting a loading pallet from Kouvola to St. Petersburg takes ten days because of inefficient cross-border processes. It would be possible to reduce the time to one fifth by improving efficiency.

Director Juha Kenraali from Traficom underlined that the cooperation between companies and other operators, along with sharing information, plays a vital role if we want to take full advantage of data economy.

Panel members (from left) Ari Viitanen, Carinafour Oy; Hans Ahola, Ahola Transport Oy; Juha Kenraali, Traficom and Kati Huhtala, Kuljetusliike Kalevi Huhtala Oy.

Information should be shared more openly

According to Kati Huhtala, CEO of Kuljetusliike Kalevi Huhtala Oy, individual operators have large additional costs because information about transport chains is not always available when needed. Information should be shared more openly so that all operators of the chain would benefit.

Logistics is often seen as a delivery even though actually it is a chain of transport with seamless connections, said Magnus Gustafsson. If you want to improve logistical efficiency, you need to examine the operating models and contractual practices thoroughly. 

According to Ari Viitanen, Chairman of the Board at Carinafour, companies should increase the transparency of their production management. This would lead to reduced stocking period, faster circulation of goods and less interruptions in the production. Viitanen said that, in the worst case, interruptions in production currently constitute in worst cases as much as 70% of the working time in project industries, even though the problems could be solved with the use of more developed processes, digital tools and platforms.

Hans Ahola, CEO of Ahola Transport Oy, highlighted the importance of taking into account the whole transport chain, all the way from a subcontractor to the end user. Ahola Transport has utilised this method, for example, in its cooperation with automobile industry as well as in combining municipal social care transportation services, and it has managed to achieve cost savings up to 40% by optimising data flows.

Increased efficiency in transport can bring cost savings of tens of percentage points

At the same time, the emissions of transportation are reduced. In order to be able to influence the digitalisation of logistics and ensure the interoperability of processes, data and systems in national, European and international markets, an independent CaaS Nordic association has been established to strengthen the Corridor as a Service ecosystem. The CaaS Nordic association is currently looking for members such as research institutes, governmental bodies, municipalities as well as clients and providers of logistic services.

Mobility data is used in many sectors.

Common goals

Hanna-Maria Urjankangas, Specialist Expert at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, said that the zones have brought together a vast network of operators that work together to achieve common goals.

The City Programme 2018–2022 of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment includes policies on renewing the tools of municipal policy-making and strengthening the resources via the continuation of the growth agreements between the State of Finland and municipalities, growth zones and city networks.  

The external accessibility of regions will be secured to promote international competitiveness and business conditions, and smooth and sustainable transport between urban areas will be improved to expand the commuting zones and promote the development of growth zones between cities. The State of Finland and Northern Growth Zone will share these goals also in the future. 

75% of Finland’s maritime cluster is on the Northern Growth Zone

Altogether 75% of Finland’s maritime cluster is operating on the area of the Northern Growth Zone. At the same time, the country is experiencing quite a boom in maritime industry, as was pointed out in the discussion moderated by Pekka Sivonen, Executive Director, Digital Transformation of Finnish Industries of Business Finland.

For example, the turnover of Meyer Turku shipyard amounted to almost EUR 1 billion last year with the effects reaching throughout the network of subcontractors and other sectors.

Chairperson of the Turku City Board Lauri Kattelus said that developing the operating environment of maritime cluster with a long-term perspective, independent of economic cycles is the core of City of Turku’s business strategy. In the City of Turku alone, there are 250 businesses forming part of the maritime industry network, and altogether 30% of the companies of maritime cluster are located in Southwest Finland.  Technological development and fast growth in the sector also create new businesses and constant shortage of competent workforce. In Turku region, there would be a need to train more technical experts, especially Masters of Science in Technology, but this requires the support of the Ministry of Education and the State of Finland, Lauri Kattelus pointed out.

Vesa Marttinen, Director at Wärtsilä, said that seafaring has already provided solutions for trade between cities and is inherently global. World-wide megatrends are now challenging this sector, which is worth USD 1,000 billion. As a pioneer, Finland has an excellent opportunity to develop an open ecosystem which needs a 40% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030, clearly better physical and cyber security and improved operational efficiency. This can be achieved with open data, new technologies, a circular economy approach and a updating the roles of ecosystem’s operators.

Essential that the information available for decision-making is as up-to-date as possible

Mobility data that is based on mobile positioning is up-to-date and can be used, for example, in transport infrastructure projects, planning of mobility services, urban development, tourism services and when deciding on the location of a new grocery store.

Tapio Levä, Senior Business Manager of Analytics at Telia Finland, spoke about using mobile data in the cities of the Northern Growth Zone.

The West Metro’s impact assessment, carried out in Espoo, has shed light on how the people of Espoo welcomed the new subway. In the City of Lahti, the public transport has been developed utilising information on people’s actual mobility with different transport methods. In Turku, the information provided by mobile data has supported the revitalisation of the city centre, for example, by measuring the number of people visiting the centre, impact of events, area of impact and number of tourists. In Imatra, the impact of Imatranajot has been analysed by measuring the number of people drawn to Imatra by the event as well as the economic and overall impact of the event.