As the cruise sector moves into ever more far-flung destinations, ship operators face new challenges and rising costs. Ijlal Torres, global VP of Hellmann Cruise Logistics, looks at how the mounting pressures on increasingly complex supply chains can be overcome.
In 1871, Carl Heinrich Hellmann navigated the streets of Osnabrück, a north German town, by horse-drawn cart, delivering parcels to residents. Four generations later, Hellmann Worldwide Logistics fulfils over 65,000 consignments daily, with branches in 57 countries and an employee network of over 10,000 people worldwide.
The industry solution Hellmann Cruise Logistics is leveraging this global platform to continue its extensive growth into new markets and enhance its current client relationships.
"Our mission is to be the logistics solutions provider of choice, supporting all the needs of the cruise industry, from ongoing provisioning requirements and supplier management to special projects commissioned by our clients," says Ijlal Torres, global VP of Hellmann Cruise Logistics. "We use our global footprint to offer clients our services wherever they are required."
With such a comprehensive international network of clients, Hellmann Cruise Logistics is well placed to evaluate patterns throughout the market.
"What we have seen recently, is that the cruise industry is under increasing pressure to cut costs," explains Torres. "Cruise lines and their vendors now recognise the value of having a trusted logistics partner who manages their needs on a universal scale."
Understanding these significant trends in a globalised cruise market has enabled Hellmann Cruise Logistics to keep the focus on its improvements and the competition. Through a series of conferences and demonstrations, it has been able to better understand the challenges faced by clients in the global economy, and leverage its own expertise to temper the challenges and produce adequate solutions.
"We are in constant communication with our clients," explains Torres. "In January 2014, we conducted a Logistics Economy Symposium where we were able to sample opinions from across the industry at our headquarters in Doral, Florida. The event, initiated by our global management team, enabled us to gauge the views of top executives from renowned cruise lines and other industries. The focus was on how economic challenges affected our industry and what Hellmann could do to assuage the impact of these challenges on our clients."
While the conferences allow for a thorough evaluation of the industry, Torres is just as keen to stress how the company's own performance is monitored and adjusted.
"To maintain our exceptional standards, we always challenge our clients through our quarterly KPI review. We define common KPIs, which allows us to qualify our performance and engage with clients to determine where we can improve our services and costs."
Creating such extensive communication channels has allowed for a more substantial customer relationship portfolio, which enhances the normally transactional buyer-seller relationship.
"We are fortunate that communication with our clients is such that we also receive specific advice on what it will take to give a clear competitive advantage to our clients," explains Torres. "Our clients are expanding rapidly and now operate globally; we have had to do the same and move to a global platform. As Hellmann increases the number of teams operating around the globe, the challenge for us is to ensure that each client's specific requirements are handled efficiently by the right personnel."
Effectively coordinating its team is just one aspect of a multifarious approach to staying competitive.
"At Hellmann, we are always focusing on continuous improvement and innovation of our services," claims Torres. "We have recently developed a system that offers customers smarter visibility; they can track and trace the movement and location of their product in real time - an aspect new to the industry."
Dialogue with Hellmann Cruise Logistics' clients suggested that the primary request of provisioning companies was the need for transparency of the supply chain; from the handling of units at the container level, all the way through the transport process to delivery.
With the new system offering clients global visibility, Torres believes Hellmann Cruise Logistics is on course to fulfil its mission and become the logistics solutions provider of choice.
"We are increasing our business, and we are establishing our reputation as one of the leaders in the cruise industry," Torres says. "What I'm hearing from our customers, is that in addition to our effective costing strategy, in which we offer the best value for money, our performance is the best given for the service requirements. Our global dynamic approach and flexibility allows us to easily adapt to the needs of customers."