Looking beyond the horizon – Hangon satama / Business Class 3/2023


As the role of shipping in Finland’s economy only seems to be getting more significant, the ports need to find ways to further improve their operations for the benefit of freight forwarders. The 150-year-old Port of Hanko opens up new channels to productivity by the means of digitalization and green transition.

Largely due to Finland’s geographical location, the country has always been highly dependent on shipping. Already the medieval Hanseatic trade created commercial ports in the Northern parts of the Baltic Sea, and even today a vast majority of Finland’s trade is transported by sea. As a matter of fact, the numbers are only growing. In 2022, maritime transport handled 94 % of Finnish exports and 91,1 % of imports. The total share of foreign trade was 92,4 % – nothing short of astonishing.

In this light, it is by no means an understatement to say that ports have an extremely significant role when it comes to Finland’s well-being. How ports develop their operations to continuously meet the ever-evolving demands of forwarding companies, end customers, and the society in general has a very direct effect on Finnish companies and on the entire country’s competitiveness.

Port of Hanko, located at the southernmost tip of Finland, is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. Focusing on the European markets where Finland’s foreign trade most flourishes, country’s third largest commercial port – and the only one operating 24/7/365 – has its sights firmly set on the future.

“Speed is one of the biggest assets in the business of moving goods from one point to the other”, Anders Ahlvik, the CEO at Port of Hanko, says. “We want to provide services that enable taking the goods that are produced in Finland during the day out of the country by the evening.”

As a proof of that enablement, 40 ships sail away from the port of Hanko every week, at least one of which heads to every main market area daily. With three locations in Hanko area, each specializing in its own kind of traffic, the transportation chain has been designed to be immensely effective at Port of Hanko. This benefits everyone’s business operations, and the society as well.

Digitalization as the driver for development

In its quest to further improve the efficiency of the ports and to solve a wide variety of logistics challenges freight forwarders face every day, Port of Hanko has made substantial investments in digitalization. Being a trailblazer among Finnish ports in the field of digital solutions, Port of Hanko has designed an identical twin of its entire infrastructure. This tool comes in particularly handy in scheduling maintenance and making operations run smoother in general.

“Information must move swiftly for the goods to be able to do the same”, Anders Ahlvik explains. “We keep developing our digital solutions to make operations more efficient. This means, among other things, ensuring that there are as few empty or one-way transportations as possible to and from our ports.”

For this particular purpose, Port of Hanko has developed a special application that has been nicknamed “truck traffic’s Tinder”. It connects tractor units with trailers and containers that are heading to one direction but have no cargo for the return trip, or vice versa. These kinds of solutions contribute to the entire forwarding chain’s efficiency and make the route that go via Hanko ports both smoother and more environmentally sound.

Environmental advantages for the long run

Speaking of the environment, nature plays its own part in making Port of Hanko an increasingly popular choice.

“Our location enables year-round operations without the need to deal with ice”, Anders Ahlvik points out. “Not only does this make operations at the port more efficient – it also saves energy and improves sustainability for the entire logistics chain.”

Port of Hanko plays an active role in green transition as well. It aims to be the first port in Finland to achieve carbon neutrality for its own operations – that has been scheduled to take place during next year.

To reach this target, Port of Hanko actively adopts new sources of energy, such as wind power from a farm in the Baltic Sea region, as well as new fuels that have been produced in a more responsible manner. Anders Ahlvik believes that by joining forces with partners and customers to develop port services to a more sustainable direction, responsibility and competitiveness can be smoothly combined even in a challenging business area such as freight forwarding.

“Smarter operations make a big difference for the entire chain. It is our job to provide our customers with opportunities to make the most of the available resources, for the benefit of themselves, and for the entire logistics chain.”

In this light, the 150-year-old Port of Hanko is looking ahead with confidence. With long experience as the foundation for expertise and business sense, new technologies and a delicate finger on the society’s pulse help stay in the forefront of development. It also makes Port of Hanko ready to prepare for any kind of change, even before it rises to the surface.