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Much more than pallets in, pallets out


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DHL in Slovakia consists of five business units: Express, Parcel, Global Forwarding, Freight and Supply Chain. DHL Supply Chain Slovakia is one of 56 worldwide subsidiaries in the global Supply Chain division, 25 of which are in Europe.

The company operates 500,000 m² of storage space in Slovakia, split over eight separate warehouses. The general  perception of supply chain activities is, according to the Managing Director of DHL Supply Chain Slovakia, Nico Schütz, far too simplistic.

“The image of supply chain is pallet in, pallet out,” he explains. “However, our service is much broader and more complex than that. For example, when electronic goods are dispatched from Asia, their country of destination is often unknown and only becomes clear during the 30 or so days at sea. We receive the goods into our warehouse, and fit appropriate plugs, and add labelling, instruction manuals and legal guarantees, according to which country they are to be sent to.”

The Slovakian company is particularly strong in the automotive sector, which accounts for an essential part of its turnover. “We deliver to the assembly line, ensuring that everything arrives at the right place at the right time,” continues Mr. Schütz. “We also deliver components for factory logistics and the aftermarket sector. Our connections to both suppliers and manufacturers are very strong.”

In other sectors, DHL Supply Chain provides additional services such as storage and availability monitoring, and product adaptation for specific markets. While DHL is a well-known and respected brand, Mr. Schütz believes that three points in particular differentiate the company from its competitors.

“IT plays a very important role,” he says. “Today, it’s all about intelligent planning methods, and new opportunities for simple and cost-effective solutions. For example, we use camera drones to undertake inventories quickly and accurately, and of course, we use automation to replace repetitive work, which allows us to deploy our staff on more added-value tasks. Our second advantage is knowledge transfer. DHL Supply Chain is active in 56 countries and, through the transfer of knowledge and experience, has well-established best practice procedures, which also ensure consistency for customers who operate in a number of different countries. Thirdly, our staffing policy – we have a recruitment team who headhunt the best employees – also makes a huge difference to the quality of our service. Slovakia has an unemployment rate of just 5% – almost full employment – so hiring qualified staff is a challenge.”

Nico Schütz
“The image of supply chain activities is far too simplistic; it is much more than pallets in, pallets out. Our service is very broad and highly complex.” Nico SchützManaging Director

DHL Supply Chain Slovakia currently employs around 3,400 staff – a figure which fluctuates dramatically depending on the season, with up to three times as many workers during the third and fourth quarters to deal with the Christmas trade.

Despite being a small country with a population of just five million, Slovakia has attracted a number of major manufacturers, due to its geographical location, relatively low salaries, and its well-educated and trained workforce. Volkswagen has established its largest factory outside of Germany in Slovakia, and Jaguar, Land Rover, Peugeot and Kia have also set up factories in the country. White goods and consumer electronics are also key sectors.

“The market in Slovakia is booming, so our prospects look very positive,” underlines Mr. Schütz. “We have many customers in the automotive, white goods and large electronics sectors. All our customers have a certain size and minimum need, otherwise our services would not pay off. Nevertheless, we work not only with international companies, but with many local ones too.”

Growth is a key goal for the future, with the development of DHL’s USPs forming the foundation of the strategy. “Hiring and retaining good staff, investment in digitalization and innovation, and knowledge transfer will help us achieve our potential,” sums up Mr. Schütz.