Mastering entities – a must for a stevedoring manager
Operations in four ports
Since 1999, Aku Suikkanen has worked as head of stevedoring for Stevena Oy in the ports of Turku, Naantali, Uusikaupunki and Hamina. He previously worked for six years in the service of another operator. Although Suikkanen’s office is in Naantali, he spends most of his working time on site in one of the four ports. Besides Suikkanen, the team has 12 permanent stevedorers and one contact person at each port. Temporary staff is taken on during busy periods.
Allocating resources between the ports calls for careful planning. The job is particularly exacting when several ships have to be served at the same time. Planning begins with allocation of personnel and machinery in good time before the ship berths. As ships usually arrive early in the week, preparations may have to be made at weekends as well. Most often it’s an import cargo that needs to be unloaded and sometimes transferred to one of the port’s storage facilities.
“Stevedorers move between ports in response to need. Unloading and loading of a single ship requires the input of 1 to 8 stevedorers. Machinery seldom needs to be moved anymore, as today Stevena has a complete range of equipment of its own in each port,” Suikkanen explains.
Customer service that builds confidence
Suikkanen is known in the business as a true professional. His perseverance and calm, efficient style of work arouses confidence both among customers and in his own organization. Suikkanen himself prefers to view his work from the perspective of customer service.
“The aim is to serve all customers flexibly. They must be able to rely on the job being handled in the agreed way; our service has to work,” he sums up. According to Suikkanen, the importance of punctuality and accuracy is understandable, considering the fact that the work includes responsibility for property of significant value.
“Each individual stevedoring project needs to be handled with the same accuracy because a single cargo may be worth hundreds of thousands of euros to the customer. Unloading and loading times for ships are also set in advance and delays may cost the customer thousands of euros a day,” he points out.
An important part of a stevedoring manager’s work is to inform customers of any deviations from quality observed in an incoming cargo. This requires knowledge of the customer’s quality requirements and certifications.
“Every cargo has its own special features. For example in the case of steel we may report bending or if there’s something untoward in a cargo of feed we must inform the customer before the cargo ends up for processing,” Suikkanen puts it concretely.
“Our operations also have to be certified. They’re guided by the ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 quality standards. The most recent standard in the feed industry is Coceral GTP.”