“We outsource our ground handling at most of our airport locations, with the exception of our Riverside hub, which is run exclusively by DHL employees,” Alexander says. “In many cases, we have employed a hybrid approach, using both DHL employees and third party ground handlers, for example, we ‘self-handle’ the A-container aircraft at some locations.”
Alexander says managing the company’s GSE network to accommodate both the standard A-container aircraft and DHL’s legacy C-container aircraft is one of the greatest challenges his ground handling department faces. DHL’s A-container is the standard U.S. freight container with a pallet base of 88 feet by 125 feet and is utilized for wide-body aircraft. The C-containers are designed for the DC-9 aircraft and are also used for 767s which have not been converted into a full freighter.
“We have a very diversified fleet,” Alexander says. “In Europe we operate the Boeing 757 freighter and Airbus A-300s. In the Asia pacific region we use A300-600 freighters and in the U.S. we use the A-300, Boeing 727 and 767s, DC-8s and DC-9s. Because we operate various aircraft and containers, we try to get similar GSE materials so we don’t have too many spare parts that are not interchangeable — so we can become more self sufficient and more importantly, the inventory levels do not have to be duplicated. With the completion of our network integration in September 2005, we brought the A-and C-container GSE together in one network.”
According to Alexander, DHL purchases FMC and TLD K-loaders; Tug Technologies (Tug) tractors, air starts and belt loader; Wasp dollies, crew stairs and container sort platforms and Hobart and Tug KVA’s. And judging by the rate at which DHL is expanding globally, it looks like the company will be needing all the equipment it can get. In the spring of this year the company announced it will open a new facility in Vermont, expand its Louisville, Ky. Location, combine its Atlanta operations and inaugurated a $41 million facility at the Kansai International Airport in Japan.
“We are striving to standardize the GSE across our network and will look to further leverage our global purchasing power as a global operator,” Alexander says.
Dalsey, Hillblom and Lynn would surely be amazed at their tiny currier business’ growth.
“Globally, we aim to forge closer links between customers and markets, thereby leveraging the importance of the international flow of goods,” Alexander says. “Thus, we are expanding our intercontinental networks and continue to grow and invest in our international trade lanes, including Transpacific, Transatlantic, between Europe and Asia, and across North America, to assure that we continue to meet our customers’ needs.”