This year represents the 38th year since DHL began providing services in the then Yugoslavia and 30 years since DHL registered as a Serbian company with 100% foreign capital. This company has always been a leader in the field of transport and logistics. And that is still the case today, when the company pays equal attention to improving its operations and preserving the environment.
At the global level, we show our responsibility towards the world in which we work and operate. In Serbia, 70% of our vehicles will be electric by 2025, regardless of state incentives regarding electric vehicles, announces DHL MD Darko Babić in this interview for CorD Magazine
You are this year celebrating the 30th birthday of your company. Those have been beautiful years, but what marked them?
– We have been operational for every single day of all 30 years, which is the greatest possible success for us, considering the turbulent times that we’ve endured. We worked under the conditions of sanctions, UN resolutions 757 and 820, hyperinflation, the exterior wall of sanctions, bombing, political unrest and all other challenges. The period behind us, particularly over the last decade, has been marked to a great extent by the accelerated development of technologies, which is simultaneously the factor that has the greatest influence on changes to which operations are adapting. Technological development and innovation will inevitably also influence all forms of business in the future. It is nice to recall our history and all our successes, but my focus is directed towards the future. There is the future that is being created and the future that we are creating.
The pandemic has inflicted heavy damages on many industries, but it has also encouraged accelerated growth in your industry. What do the figures suggest?
– As with most companies, doing business between March and June 2020 was very uncertain, because the world was confronted by a global crisis. The pandemic has changed lots of things, changed ways of working and the habits and needs of clients, but it quickly became clear that DHL has a purpose which, under these circumstances, became clearer than ever before. We showed that the purpose of our existence is not to compete in a race for profit, but to connect people, connect economies and connect the world with the clear goal of making lives better.
We reacted quickly, at the end of February 2020, to the early signs of the coming crisis so over the course of 10 days, at the level of Europe, including Serbia, we transferred over 9,000 people to work from home. We reacted even before the pandemic was officially declared, because – as a global company that has a presence in over 220 countries and territories – we have plenty of experience of dealing with various crises. We secured, in a timely manner, all essential protective equipment, preventative measures and education for employees aimed at ensure the continuity of operations. I would emphasise the good cooperation and understanding of state bodies, particularly the Customs Administration and their officials, with whom we traversed this challenging period together, every day.
Following the stabilising of the situation in China, we started catching up with our results from 2019, only for us to end 2020 very successfully and above expectations.
We have shown that the purpose of our existence is not to compete in a race for profit, but to connect people, connect economies and connect the world
The costs of logistics in Serbia contribute twice as much to the price of products than in the developed countries of the West. Does this leave room for optimisation?
– The overall costs of transport and logistics have increased significantly worldwide, due to the fact that demand exceeds the capacity on offer. I expect a certain stabilisation to come in the next few years, which will contribute to reducing logistics costs as a factor of the price of products, through new business models and innovative solutions. In any event, I don’t expect any drastic changes in the next 48 months. Apart from costs, it is also important to reduce environmental pollution. How will you achieve your goal of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases to 0% by 2050? – We view that with great certainty and are convinced of that which we’ve proclaimed. We are taking action on both the global and local fronts. We are this year, for the first time in Serbia, introducing electric cars to our fleet, as well as hybrid vehicles, in order for us to reduce the level of environmental pollution.
By 2025, we will use electric vehicles for at least 70% of all deliveries of shipments, both in Serbia and all other countries around the world. All of that requires corresponding infrastructure. DHL in Serbia plans to invest 20 million euros in new business premises over the next two years, which will include the latest cutting-edge solutions and equipment, while we will significantly reduce emissions in all working processes. The full benefit for the environment in which we live and work will only be possible when we, as a country, produce electricity from cleaner sources, including renewable energy sources.
We have various activities under the scope of our sustainable development programme. This includes, first and foremost, educating employees and developing an awareness of the contributions and obligations that we, as individuals, have towards the environment in which we live.
Digitalisation, the automating of processes and robotisation have already arrived in our country. Is it correct to suggest that delivering goods by drone, paying with cryptocurrencies and driverless vehicles are not something in the distant future, but rather a certainty?
– Artificial intelligence is already being applied in some warehouses, performing certain tasks in interaction with employees. Through the Virtual Assistant, clients can today ask various questions related to all operational segments that will direct and lead them to the information they seek in the simplest possible way. The entire logistics industry is at such a high technological level that there is also functional use of robots, drones and autonomous vehicles. The question is how the applying of modern technologies will impact on social life and human development.
At this moment, approximately four million people are employed in warehouses in the United States and earn 120 billion dollars a year. If we imagine that half of that amount is being invested in the full automating of processes in warehouses, how many people could lose their jobs? On the other hand, according to some studies, experts believe that by 2030, in Europe alone, there will be a shortage of about 50 million experts with new skills, and not only in IT, but certainly among those who possess those new skills and knowhow. This certainly represents great potential, primarily for developing countries, because we are already seeing that our experts are building successful careers thanks precisely to their knowledge of modern technologies.
Does our legislature monitor developments in the transport and logistics domain to a sufficient extent?
– Serbia is on track to harmonise its legislation and norms in accordance with European standards. We expect the period ahead to see the creation of such a framework that will enable the accelerated automating of processes, with full control and risk analysis, as well as simplified customs clearance procedures aimed at speeding up the flow of goods. This is an indispensable and urgent measure.
You mentioned a campaign to plant trees. Could you tell us more about that?
– We previously noted environmental impacts and the actions being taken by DP DHL in this regard. Our intention is for a million trees to be planted every year by our 580,000 employees worldwide. Through this global action, DHL in Serbia provides its own contribution to the afforestation of territories that we select in cooperation with our partners: Srbijašume and Zelenilo Beograd. We will thereby contribute at least a little to Serbia achieving its goal of having 41% of its territory covered by forests as soon as possible. I expect us to agree on new locations this autumn, and for our employees, under the scope of the Volunteer Day, to plant another 300 trees again this year.