How ISO Standards deliver DHL

Issue 42 – September 2012

This article by Chris Hillis and Roman Bisig first appeared in ISO Focus+, July – August 2012. It is summarised here with permission from ISO.

Chris Hillis, Managing Director of DHL Express Switzerland, and Roman Bisig, Managing Director of DHL Freight Switzerland, sit down with ISO Focus+ to discuss the role of international Standards and how the company benefits.

ISO Focus+: For DHL, the company's greatest growth came in the 1980s when it expanded into countries that could not be served by any other delivery service. In the context of trade globalisation, what is the strategic importance of International Standards for a global company such as DHL?

Chris Hillis: The challenges around the globe and in emerging DHL branches are to always focus on a common language (together with tremendous growth) and to prevent too much national diversification in terms of local handling and procedures, whilst still keeping alive and even fostering entrepreneurial momentum and a 'we can do it' attitude.

International Standards offer this common language and help to secure a valid and proven understanding of procedures and business principles. DHL recognises the importance of Standards that enable proper controls, together with the flexibility to grow an efficient and reliable international network.

Roman Bisig: International Standards are of the highest importance to us, both internally and externally. We continuously improve our internal procedures by implementing clearly structured processes and, by so doing, help to minimise errors. This leads to increased profits, satisfied customers, and legal requirements being met (for example, list of applicable laws). At the end of the day, we have a competitive advantage by meeting customers' requirements.

ISO Focus+: Can you describe the use made by DHL of ISO 9001:2008 Quality management systems – Requirements and how has this evolved over the years? What concrete benefits has ISO 9001 brought the company?

Chris Hillis: DHL Express Switzerland has been working with quality Standards for more than 30 years. In 1995, DHL was officially certified to ISO 9001. Since then, DHL in Switzerland continually improves its management system along with the international Standards developed by ISO. In 1995, DHL Express Switzerland successfully passed the ISO 14001:2004 Environmental management systems – Requirements with guidance for use certification. Both sets of Standards play an important role in our daily business practice, and strongly support the continual improvement of our quality and environmental management systems.

Over the years, DHL staff has increased their awareness of quality and the environment and the value of Standards. An added benefit for DHL is the awareness by its customers and other stakeholders that the company is a reliable partner, working with known and proven Standards.

Roman Bisig: As with DHL Express Switzerland, DHL Freight Switzerland implemented and obtained official certification to ISO 9001 in 1995 followed by certification to ISO 14001 in 2005. The benefits of these two management system Standards are numerous, but the most important is the process itself. This process-driven approach helps us to better describe, analyse, and improve the existing way of doing business.

ISO Focus+: It was recently announced that DHL would become the official partner of Denmark's European Union presidency supplying all ministers with GOGREEN services and sustainable products. Can you briefly describe this project? How do ISO Standards for environmental management (ISO 14001), energy management (ISO 50001:2011 Energy management systems – Requirements with guidance for use), and social responsibility (ISO 26000:2010 Guidance on social responsibility) align with your GOGREEN initiative?

Chris Hillis: GOGREEN means accepting responsibility for the environment and the world we live and do business in. It is a programme aimed at significantly improving our CO2 efficiency. Within GOGREEN, we are committed to minimising environmental impacts with specific measurable initiatives. In addition, we offer the GOGREEN service, which secures the offsetting of CO2 emissions due to door-to-door shipments. The offsetting is done via selected carbon offsetting project, which are financed through the company's carbon fund. To date, ISO 50001 and ISO 26000 are being applied.

Roman Bisig: DHL Freight improves CO2 efficiency in areas such as building infrastructure, network design, fleet management, and employee engagement. Let me give you a few relevant examples in each area. We try, as often as possible, to use district heating systems for our buildings, reduce unnecessary kilometres, drive more efficient vehicles, use rail and intermodal transport, and support DHL staff in their use of public transportation. ISO 14001 supports GOGREEN for the setting of environmental targets. ISO 14001 also helps set, execute, and control the processes in order to meet legal regulations and other requirements with respect to our environmental targets.

ISO Focus+: E-commerce has revolutionised delivery services contributing to faster and easier delivery. How are international Standards facilitating this evolution? Can you please comment on how ISO Standards for bar code technology and RFID provided added value and improved your business processes?

Chris Hillis: In e-commerce, we bench-mark our solutions against best practice and strive to maintain our first-place position – according to our annual customer surveys – in the logistics industry. For us, applying Standards is complementary to the benchmarking approach we drive.

Roman Bisig: We are working with a tracking system (EAN 128) to better serve our customers' needs. It enables us to ensure deliveries to our customers at any time, and indicates the status of their consignments during the shipment. This, in turn, allows us to optimise our processes and reduce the number of requests and consignment searches. We can control the consignment from its entry into our warehouse to the delivery to the customer. The evaluation of key performance indicators (such as exception management) brings an important added value and improves our business processes. RFID is not yet used within DHL Freight Switzerland.

Published in transport.

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