In 2021, APM Terminals celebrates its 20th anniversary as an independent business within A.P. Moller – Maersk. While reflecting on those eventful two decades under its own brand, the company looks into the future and makes bold steps on its transformation journey.
On February 1st, 2001, an independent business unit was formed within A.P. Moller – Maersk to solely focus on terminal operations and have the ability to service third-party carriers. On June 25th the same year, the APM Terminals brand came into existence, marking the birth of an organisation that one year into its operations would already have a stake in 30 ports and terminals, annual throughput of 15 million TEU and employ 7,000 people.
Fast forward to 2021, APM Terminals is the third largest terminal operator globally, playing a key role in ensuring undisrupted supply chains, with continuous focus on safety, operational performance and productivity to better serve its shipping and landside customers. Present in 42 countries with 75 terminals and with 22,000 employees around the world, the company is also embracing technology and new digital solutions in an industry often perceived as analogue and traditional.
Safer, Better, Bigger
It is with customers – and how best to serve them in the years to come – in mind, that APM Terminals embarked a few years ago on its transformation journey to safeguard and strengthen its position and to prepare for the future.
“Back in 2017, we launched the strategy of being the best-in-class terminal operator to strengthen our foundation, improve performance in the short term and lay the groundwork for our long-term aspirations,” explains Morten Engelstoft, APM Terminals CEO. “This work has certainly set us on the right path, and we are now well-positioned to refine our strategy by introducing the idea of ‘Safer, Better, Bigger’.”
The “Safer” component reflects APM Terminals’ commitment to protecting its people from harm, while creating a safety culture where leaders and frontline staff are deeply involved in understanding the work done and the risks involved, but more importantly – what they can do together to make it safer. As such, it is an area where no compromise is allowed.
“Better” means that APM Terminals will continue to build on the way it serves its customers and focus on improving financial performance, with the Way of Working playing a key role as a “machine” of continuous improvement in all aspects. Some other key elements of this pillar include a step-change in the approach to terminal automation, better asset management and additional technology and digital-enabled solutions for customers.
Finally, “Bigger” is APM Terminals’ licence to grow its business again, but in a way that allows it to successfully execute on its plans and do so with attractive returns.
2020 already marked some milestone developments aimed at future growth, like formal steps towards port expansion in Poti (Georgia), ramping up the terminal in Tema, Ghana, additional berths in Yokohama (Japan) and a ground-breaking ceremony for the new joint venture terminal in Cote d’Ivoire, expected to be operational at the end of 2021. APM Terminals also attracted new shipping lines and their liner services to its facilities and continued to upgrade its equipment fleet and increase operational capabilities around the world. In early 2021 the new terminal in Kalundborg, Denmark became operational and in June 2021, APM terminals, together with its local Croatian partner Enna, was awarded the concession for a new container terminal in Rijeka, Croatia (pending regulatory approvals).
At the heart of global trade
“APM Terminals plays a vital role, not only in the global supply chain, but also in local economies where we operate. Ports enable trade and thereby the lives of the millions of people who make and use the products that pass through our 75 ports and terminals,” shares Keith Svendsen, Chief Operating Officer at APM Terminals.
This has become ever more apparent since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, when social activity around the world slowed down, while the need for undisrupted cargo flows did not stop. To meet those needs, tens of thousands of people at APM Terminals show up at work every day, pick up their uniforms and protective gears and do their jobs with passion, commitment and enthusiasm.
“We are exceptionally proud of all these colleagues around the world, as we keep the world moving and deliver on our promises to our customers and the society,” comments Morten Engelstoft.
Powered by technology
“Technology will play a big part in our transformation going forward, as it will help us create better value for our customers and improve efficiency in our terminals”, says Keith Svendsen.
This is coupled with a new, modular approach to automation, as a way to create a safer workplace and better use the large amount of data that becomes increasingly available. The modular approach will mean a move away from an end-to-end automation to targeting specific pieces of automation to operational areas and processes where there is greatest potential for terminal efficiency, positive customer outcomes, increased safety for the people and other improvement opportunities. In addition, smart use of technology and automation also helps make terminals more environmentally friendly.
“Every brain in the game”
All these milestones are enabled by an ongoing cultural transformation, with strong focus on agility, empowerment, data-driven decision making and the continuous improvement mindset, embodied by the APM Terminals Way of Working.
“Essentially, we are a people’s company and we have only been able to achieve such great milestones thanks to great passion, dedication and commitment of our colleagues. It is to them that we dedicate this fantastic 20th anniversary celebration this year”, concludes Morten Engelstoft.