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DHL -“ How ISO standards deliver

by Chris Hillis & Roman Bisig on
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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 globalization, 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 recognizes the importance of standards which enable proper controls, together with the flexibility to grow an efficient and reliable international network.

DHL Airbus A300-B4-200 freight aircraft at DHL Express hub in Leipzig, Germany
DHL Airbus A300-B4-200 freight aircraft at DHL Express hub in Leipzig, Germany

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 minimize errors. This leads to increased profits, satisfied customers and legal requirements being met (e.g. 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 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 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, analyze 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) and social responsibility (ISO 26000) 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 minimizing 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 projects 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 kilometers, 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 revolutionized 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 benchmark 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.

DHL Express envelope. DHL Express envelope.

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 optimize 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 (e.g. exception management) brings an important added value and improves our business processes. RFID is not yet used within DHL Freight Switzerland.

DHL Express - DHL Freight

DHL is one of the global market leaders in the logistics industry and “ the logistics company for the world ”. DHL commits its expertise to international express, air and ocean freight, road and rail transportation, contract logistics and international mail services to its customers. A global network composed of more than 220 countries and territories and about 275 000 employees worldwide, offers customers superior service quality and local knowledge to satisfy their supply chain requirements. DHL accepts its social responsibility by supporting climate protection, disaster management and education. DHL is part of Deutsche Post DHL. The Group generated revenue of EUR 53 billion in 2011.

Chris Hillis
Managing Director
DHL Express Switzerland

Chris Hillis joined DHL in the Middle East in 1991 and held several management positions in Bahrain and Egypt. In 1996, he was appointed Field Support Manager of the DHL European Regional Office. In 2000, he joined DHL Express Switzerland and led the Operations department before becoming Managing Director in 2011.

Roman Bisig

Managing Director

DHL Logistics/Freight Switzerland

Roman Bisig joined DHL in 1981 in Iraq as Delegation Manager. Between 1984 and 2004, he held several commercial and executive positions in Zurich, Paris and Athens. In 2004, Mr. Bisig was appointed Managing Director, DHL Freight Switzerland and has headed up the Swiss freight business since then.