"We will move to our box ASRS system in 2021, which will prepare orders automatically allowing us to quadruple our current capacity. We are also preparing to serve e-pharmaceutical warehouses so we will have the ability to serve pharmacies and patients."
Could you briefly introduce Ekol?
Ekol provides best-in-class international freight, warehousing, domestic distribution, foreign trade, customs, and supply-chain management services, with distribution centers covering more than a million square meters, unit trains that enable intermodal transport with 52 runs per week, and a 6,000-strong vehicle fleet. We opened a new era with our Ekol R&D center, established in 2012 under our Technology Group, as we grow with our innovative solutions. We have operated on our own operational software since the 1990s. We became the first company to be included in the TURQUALITY® program, allowing us to export more.
Ekol serves a range of industries by offering comprehensive services. How significant is the healthcare industry, and especially the pharmaceuticals industry, within the broader focus of Ekol?
We need special regulations and requirements for warehousing and distribution services for the healthcare industry due to its prominence. Ekol has the ability to meet the needs of the pharmaceutical industry as we have done since 2010. We operate on principles of minimizing error and damage. Therefore, we are investing in fully automated solutions for collection and packaging operations. We will move to our box ASRS system in 2021, which will prepare orders automatically allowing us to quadruple our current capacity. We are also preparing to serve e-pharmaceutical warehouses so we will have the ability to serve pharmacies and patients. We already consolidated our healthcare warehousing and distribution operations into our Lotus facility.
The International Pharmaceuticals Tracking System is only one of the distinctive features of the pharmaceutical industry. How does Ekol cater for these special requirements, including quality and safety standards?
The world’s first Pharmaceutical Track and Trace System was introduced in Turkey in 2010. We provide 2D QR-code and aggregation services and we inform the ministry for both local manufacturers and imported products. We invested in the software necessary for these processes. Our current daily capacity is one million boxes. These secondary processes take place in clean areas, separate from the warehouses
Ekol operates a model of “green logistics”. What does this entail in effect, and how do you believe environmental concerns will shape the logistics sector in coming years?
Achieving sustainable growth is our highest priority. We cooperate with NGOs to raise awareness for our employees through training on reducing carbon footprints. In 2014, we succeeded in becoming Turkey’s first and only logistics company to obtain the Green Office Certificate. We design our work spaces in an eco-friendly manner and implement improvements in savings of waste management, electricity and paper usage.
With the intermodal transport system that we launched in 2008, we lowered our impact on the environment and saved enough diesel fuel to save 730 soccer fields of forest and to travel around the world 360 times. In a single intermodal trip we save 823 liters of fuel, 2,221 kg of CO2, 5.8 kg of NOX and 0.08 kg of particles by not using the road for 2,429 km. We measure our carbon footprint in accordance with ISO 14064-1 and publish results concurrently and we continue to align our investments with our sustainability strategies.
How does Ekol fare in adopting new technology and how would you comment on the broader impact of this trend?
With the developing technology and Logistics 4.0, we are moving out of traditional logistics services to smart warehouses with flexible designs and lower costs. Logistics 4.0 is a trademark of Ekol, as we are turning data into meaningful information by making objects detectable, performing studies on self-determining technologies through the data gathered from sensors, and conducting pilot projects.
How would you describe Ekol’s strategy of entering and consolidating a presence in new markets?
We have recently added Sweden to our service network and we manage our operations there under “Ekol Nordics”. With this operation center we will connect Scandinavia with Turkey, the Middle East and other countries. Next, we plan on connecting with all European countries.
What do you identify as being the biggest challenge for the logistics sector in Turkey?
The biggest structural problem is the unfair practices of the European Union where we experience unequal restrictions on vehicles and driver IDs in a market with free movement of goods. Our drivers waste time and effort obtaining visas and are only allowed to work abroad for six months a year.