Kühne + Nagel: From Forwarder to E-Warder with KN FreightNet

Hardly a month goes by without at least one new start-up entering the logistics market. These new companies have a major objective: to employ digitized business processes to gain market share from the established haulage companies. Obtaining and comparing tenders, placing orders, tracking shipments – these are time-consuming and costly processes for the companies involved in the logistics chain, and it is not only the start-ups that are seeking to radically slim them down. Nor is this course of action new for Kühne + Nagel.

With almost 130 years of experience, Kühne + Nagel is one of the leading providers worldwide of logistics services, and according to its own information is the second-largest global shipper of air cargo. Over a million tons of airfreight is moved each year from some 300 offices of this airfreight specialist. The new digital challengers are not causing Dr. Hansjörg Rodi, CEO of Kühne + Nagel Germany, to lose any sleep: “We are watching what the start-ups are doing with great interest,” he said in a recent interview. “We are also working together with some of these companies. However, it is still our own aim to be the technological market leader. Because of this we offer, for example, our KN FreightNet online platform.”

In fact, the things that the logistics start-ups can do today have been offered by Kühne + Nagel for a number of years – since 2014 to be precise. KN FreightNet is an online platform for customer enquiries, bookings, and above all, for tracking. This system was initially developed for the airfreight division. Its success was such that the company made KN FreightNet available for the uncomplicated booking of sea transportation from 2015, and has recently also made it available for land-based shipping. With this platform Kühne + Nagel seeks to attract all shippers who do not seek tenders for their air cargo business, but rather obtain the necessary quotes through the internet and then make their bookings online, rather than by telephone, mail or fax.

How KN FreightNet works

The customer begins by entering postal codes for the collection and delivery addresses and chooses between various options, such as preferred delivery times. Based on the entries given about the goods, the volume and the weight, the platform finally calculates the chargeable weight in accordance with IATA standards. Finally, KN FreightNet prompts for information about the delivery date and terms of payment, before offering the customer three delivery tariffs: “KN Extend”, which represents the basic tariff, “KN Expert”, which offers more rapid transportation, and “KN Express”, which delivers the goods to the destination in the shortest possible time. All these offers are all-in, that is, they include fuel and security surcharges and also include the estimated transit times in each case. A click-to-track function further enables customers to obtain up-to-date status information for all air freight shipments for which orders were placed on the platform in the last 90 days.

The widespread introduction of KN FreightNet across all modes of transport has altered the requirements of the company and its employees, stresses Dr. Detlef Trefzger, CEO of Kühne + Nagel International AG: “We have evolved from a forwarder into an “e-warder”, in other words, a specialist operator that can use the data obtained to optimize the customer’s supply chain even predictively.” Against the background of this transformation, one point is particularly important for him: “We will continue to be a traditional haulage and logistics company, but one with high technology and IT competence.”

Text by Behrend Oldenburg
Sample photo: Fotolia/ake1150
Screenshot: Kühne + Nagel