30. March 2022

Interview with Johannes Mikula

Mr Johannes Mikula – For more than 20 years in the logistics industry with a strong focus on North America. Spent several years as President and Regional Director in the United States. Since 2019 serving as Regional Director at CH Robinson driving the development for Global Forwarding in Central and Eastern Europe. CHR is one the largest logistics platforms globally and continues to strengthen the footprint Europe utilizing the network with strong local expertise. Working for CH Robinson has been one of the best choices in my life!

1. CH Robinson as of the big US players in the global field of transport became in recent years very active in the CEE region – where are your focus areas within CEE?
The COVID pandemic has for sure adjusted our strategy for CEE. We reacted very quickly to the new environment and decided to strengthen our existing set-up in all aspects. First and foremost we have rolled out a rock-solid Sales and Account Management structure that allows our customers to have full global access to the entire CH Robinson technology and infrastructure. The core focus remains without a doubt on our home market – Trans Atlantic. Here we make big impacts on the Supply Chains of our customers and contribute to their success.
2. Can you please share one of your recently realized best practice projects in regards to digitalization?
With the ongoing port congestion and delays, C.H. Robinson enhanced the vessel routing and tracking features within our transportation management system, Navisphere, to increase the efficiency and accuracy of port ETAs and automatically send updates if changes were discovered. This is important because ocean shipping is only one piece of the equation. Having visibility to changes in real-time gives our team and customers a chance to react and adjust other tactics down the road.
Further, we entered into a strategic partnership with Waymo’s autonomous trucking division in the US. We will use its test fleet of self-driving Class 8 tractors to haul freight between Dallas and Houston for our customers. We see a great opportunity both in the near term and the long term for autonomous vehicle technology to make supply chains more efficient and sustainable, and ultimately we think it’s going to transform the way supply chains operate.

3. Do you see a difference in the approach towards digitalization between Western and Eastern Europe?
Yes, there is. Western Europe goes more into contractual business commitments than EASTERN Europe. Consequently, digitalization plays a strong role in contractual agreements. However, with our unique TECH Platform NAVISPHERE, we are connecting every part of the world with every little part of the shipment, which we see becoming more important in CEE. This is very important to keep our customers competitive in their business with our provided data, e.g. landed costs per piece.
4. How do CH Robinson HQs in the US support digitalization projects within your company?
Most of the tech developments are driven in the USA, supported by our global IT teams. Digitalization is one of our key pillars for global success as data is considered the new gold. Our committed 1BN USD investment into technology over 5 years drives lots of new global initiatives combined with huge increases in efficiency for our customers and CHR.

5. How would you judge the importance of the WOF Summit and WOF Expo within the Central and Eastern European region as a platform for the Logistics and Supply Chain Industry?
We are very excited about the WOF activities. This gives everyone in CEE the regional platform surrounded by global touch which comes with overseas visitors and exhibitors. CEE is a very unique region in all aspects. Just look into all the currencies we have, port infrastructure etc. It is important to have a platform to promote our region. And last but not least, after such a long time without such events, it is an important restart of networking.
6. What was the impact of Covid19 on your core business and what do you expect for the rest of 2022?
The impact was visible in all business units, with different challenges as we went and still go through the pandemic. The biggest priority was and is for CHR is always the safety of our employees. Our robust technology and paperless environment allowed us to have from the beginning a friendly Remote Working environment.  We continue to have this even after the pandemic globally. Additionally, we could and still can provide needed capacity for our customers, especially on our core trade lanes. The current worker shortage has presented an ongoing challenge for the entire shipping industry itself. We have seen unpredictable changes in labour availability due to quarantines and COVID-19 outbreaks, which are directly at odds with the increased demand the industry has been experiencing over the past two years. The pressure of e-commerce on logistics, combined with low labour-force participation, are conditions we expect to persist long after port congestion clears. Growth in e-commerce requires more inventory in more places than before and correspondingly more trucks, trailers, drivers, and warehouse space than before. Every one of those things is still in short supply.

7. How do you deal with the impacts on the supply chains caused by the attack of Russia on Ukraine?
We strictly follow the rules and laws of the sanctions. We have dedicated teams who are supporting our customers and our divisions to comply with it. The direct business impact for us mainly on the China Rail product into Europe. Our business activities with Russia and Ukraine itself
Our global product teams have established new routings and solutions which are compliant with the existing rules. We will continue to see further disruptions based on adjusted vessel rotations, port closures and closed air spaces. CHR continues to do what we always did for our customers:
Remain flexible and provide transparency via our technology.

8. What is the main benefit for your customers in the cooperation with CH Robinson in Austria and CEE?
First and foremost, on top of our humble and excellent staff, it is the access to the strongest network, capacity and infrastructure in the North American market. Followed by our unique strength in Oceania in all modes. Customs and Compliance expertise is key in every country, but this is setting us apart from the competition in the United States and Australia/New Zealand. We serve those markets with our own capacity and stable services. Completed and driven by our unique technology platforms.

C.H. Robinson solves logistics problems for companies across the globe and across industries, from the simple to the most complex. With $21 billion in freight under management and 19 million shipments annually, we are one of the world’s largest logistics platforms. Our global suite of services accelerates trade to seamlessly deliver the products and goods that drive the world’s economy. With the combination of our multimodal transportation management system and expertise, we use our information advantage to deliver smarter solutions for our 105,000 customers and 73,000 contract carriers. Our technology is built by and for supply chain experts to bring faster, more meaningful improvements to our customers’ businesses. As responsible global citizens, we are also proud to contribute millions of dollars to support causes that matter to our company, our Foundation and our employees.