Ahola invests in sustainable logistics
The environmental programme Ahola Green has been part of the Ahola Group’s strategy for over 20 years. Through the programme, the company has strived for sustainable logistics by, for example, simulating and optimising transport routes in real-time, investing in modern equipment, and coaching drivers in eco-efficient driving. Among other things, route optimisation and the opportunity for the drivers to monitor their own driving to minimise fuel consumption are made possible by the development of digital tools and systems.
“A kilometre not driven is the most environmentally friendly, as we say. In 2019, we had already achieved the EU’s environmental target by reducing our emissions by 59 percent compared to the industry level in 2005. In 2022, the percentage was 62.5, and the work is still ongoing”, says CEO Ida Saavalainen.
Ahola faced big organisational changes in 2021–22. The company decided to leave the stock market behind and went back to being a family-owned business. Soon after this, the Ahola Group went through a generational change, making Saavalainen the new CEO. At the same time, the company’s brand was updated and its three business units were renamed – now they are all unified by the Ahola name.
“Our goal was to make all units recognisable parts of our Group. Our largest unit, Ahola Transport, specialises in road transport while Ahola Special focuses on challenging special transports and project logistics. Ahola Digital, on the other hand, offers digital solutions for logistics. This unit has a decisive role in producing tools that allow the optimisation of transport, real-time monitoring, and emission reductions”, Saavalainen explains.
In the midst of all these major changes, Ahola has determinedly focused on making its operations more environmentally efficient.
“In 2021, our new automated truck wash was completed in Naantali. With its closed water purification system, 90 percent of the water is reused.”
We strive for sustainable logistics by investing in optimised routes, modern equipment, and eco-efficient driving
By launching the Ahola Green environmental programme and producing annual sustainability reports, the company has made sustainability an even more solid and visible part of its strategy. One of the future targets is to measure and report the emissions of the whole transport chain including road, sea, air, and railway.
“We can already offer our customers reports on the actual carbon footprint of their road transports. This is rather unique in our field. We want to provide our customers a competitive advantage by offering comprehensive reporting covering their actual transport emissions.”
Another of Ahola’s objectives is to make battery charging optimisation possible. The company can optimise routes and transport times for trucks running on fuel, but as new electrification solutions emerge, taking battery charging into account when making route choices becomes essential.
“In the beginning of 2023, our first electric truck hit the road. Although these trucks currently have a smaller range and they carry lighter loads, we need to be prepared for the growing use of electric vehicles in heavy transport”, states Saavalainen.
In recent years, the Ahola Group has grown significantly when it comes to the special transport services that Ahola Special provides.
“A lot of wind power is being built in Ostrobothnia, for example. In 2021, we carried out over 1,000 wind turbine component transports, and the number is only increasing.”
Growing demand also means a growing need for more driver personnel. Although a study conducted by Ahola showed that 80 percent of young people see the transport sector as meaningful, there are not enough young workers gravitating towards the field. According to Saavalainen, this creates its own challenges for the future.
“To attract more workers, we are focusing on providing good working conditions for our personnel. For example, every driver gets their own contact person that speaks their native language. We have also responded to our drivers’ wishes and needs by building an outdoor gym and investing in state-of-the-art social facilities for them.”