Celebi Cargo has opened its first Western European cargo handling facility in Cargo City South, Frankfurt Airport, and appointed Heath White Chief Executive Officer of Celebi Cargo GmbH. He tells Jo Murray that through infusing technology with human spirit Celebi Cargo’s philosophy is to change the way cargo handling is approached in Western Europe
Celebi Cargo is investing in state-of-the-art technology and connecting the power of this technology with flexible handling systems. This is the “Living Technology” that is becoming synonymous with Celebi Cargo. The first obvious signs of the philosophy in Western Europe are being played out in Frankfurt, where Celebi Cargo has opened an automated, paperless and very hi-tech cargo facility measuring some 20,000m2. United Airlines Cargo has tested it out and given it the thumbs up.
White might be based at Frankfurt – little wonder given the size of the new project – but the parameters of his role are by no means parochial. He has a Western European brief which can only mean one thing: expansion. “My role is to make sure that not only Frankfurt is successfully up and running, but also to develop a network across Western Europe,” he reveals.
Celebi Cargo is working to a very clear budget which is focused on Frankfurt at the moment but, aside from that, the handler has a priority project plan. This means entries to new airports – these will be key hubs in Europe – but also potential partnerships.
But Celebi Cargo is not just about sticking flags on maps; it is also about bringing a new cargo handling product to the European market. “The model we are planning to roll out throughout the whole Celebi network is based on ‘Living Technology’ which involves the highest standard of equipment – such as the container storage system, the best x-ray technology and the best weighing and measuring apparatus,” says White. “We have combined all of this apparatus into one mainframe operating system. All the equipment is automised and then controlled by a computer system which is adapted to our needs.” In Frankfurt, Celebi Cargo is customising the latest release of the Hermes cargo handling system as the nerve centre of the operation.
This whole approach is very new to cargo handling and delivers copious benefits. The first thing is efficiency and cutting out all the waste and paper. Celebi Cargo is aiming at a paperless warehouse which has already been achieved at Frankfurt. The second thing is complete order. Celebi Cargo cuts out the chaos to deliver real time, fully accurate information at any time.
Of course training is paramount and White reminds us that modern training also has to address “how to deal with technology”. This means employing competent staff who are able to learn, deliver an IT-enabled response and combine modern handling technologies with traditional handling methods. All of Celebi Cargo’s warehouse people work with handhelds so they can control of all the systems. Even the stacker is completely automised.
This is vital in the differentiation stakes; after all, Celebi Cargo is a new entrant to Western Europe and has to come to the market with a fresh offer to airlines, freight forwarders and their shipper clients. “One of the reasons we are coming into this busy market is that we want to bring something new and provide a niche product based on this ‘Living Technology’,” says White. “Secondly, this is A-Z logistics based on the 4PL concept [this concept revolves around an integrator that assembles the resources, capabilities and technology to design, build and run a comprehensive supply chain].”
Out of the Frankfurt hub, Celebi Cargo is planning a whole array of distribution services as well customer services. In particular, Celebi Cargo talks of providing services to air carriers for whom consignments do not begin and end in Frankfurt – which is why real-time information is vital. A couple of other hubs are on Celebi’s radar to deliver exactly the same concept.
The Frankfurt facility is brand new and was designed by Celebi’s own design team. Construction was completed at the end of December 2010. The facility was designed specifically for a freighter style operation. There is the capacity for 220,000 tons of freight per annum. There is also an 8,000m2 office, a 6,000m2 parking area and the whole set up is very conducive to a large-scale operation. All special, perishable and time/sensitive cargo can be handled at Celebi Cargo’s Frankfurt facilities apart from valuables handling which is subcontracted out at present.
The Frankfurt operation complements Celebi’s existing international cargo handling operations. Celebi already has different combinations of ground handling and warehousing operations at 25 airports in Turkey, Budapest Ferihegy Airport, Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Airport and Delhi Indira Gandhi Airport. The Group members together provide an integrated panoply of products and services ranging from ground handling services to terminal, warehouse, seaport and marina operations and management. The company says that the most important asset of the Group is its human resources. Çelebi today employs some 10,000 staff members in its companies that have spread over two continents.
For Celebi Cargo, the pressing issue is: where to go next? One thing that is clear is that further expansion guidance will be into Western Europe. On Celebi Cargo’s priority list are the key distribution hubs. “We are open to the right opportunities,” says White. “We’ve created a very simple analysis of all airports in Europe and we have graded them in terms of which ones we will evaluate first.”
The financing for this venture will be a combination of in-house financial resources and external funding from financial institutions based on Celebi’s strong and enduring reputation. And let’s not forget, Celebi is family-owned and it is this very important point that allows the management team to focus on the product, quality and reputation – not just on a rapid return on investment.
This means that Celebi has the opportunity to deliver what White describes: a clean and transparent operation that does exactly what Celebi says it does.