Kalmar’s terminal automation and energy efficient cargo handling solutions are revolutionizing the sector 

Kalmar advert

Kalmar is passionate about its industry and customers, developing intelligent solutions to shape the future of cargo and material handling to improve its customers’ every move. 

“Innovation has always been core to our business,” begins Garry Jones, Sales Support Coordinator. “We have consistently revolutionized container handling solutions for the benefit of our customers. We developed the first industrial straddle carrier in the 1940s, and the first RoRo tractor in the 1970s. To meet the need for more efficient container handling, Kalmar commercialized the first generation of reach stackers in the 1980s and, a decade later, introduced the first container handler for rough terrain operations. Our first steps in terminal automation were taken over 20 years ago.” 

Kalmar is the largest terminal tractors manufacturer in the world, having manufactured over 85,000 units and delivered these worldwide. In 2024, the company still has the biggest global market share, offering medium and heavy terminal tractors for different applications in various segments. 

“What sets us apart,” he continues, “is our dedication to innovation and our commitment to providing customers with the best possible service. We are constantly developing new technologies and solutions that help our customers improve their efficiency and sustainability. We also have a strong focus on customer service, and we work hard to ensure that our customers are always satisfied with our products and services.” 

Innovating operations 

Kalmar’s global team comprises more than 4800 dedicated professionals who prioritize collaboration, innovation, customer-centricity, and a relentless pursuit of excellence. Working together with customers and partners, the company fosters a culture of teamwork and creativity. With multi assembly units in Poland, the USA, and China, Kalmar also has innovation centers in Sweden and Finland. The counter-balanced products have their roots in Sweden while terminal tractors have a strong legacy in Finland and the USA.   

“Headquartered in Finland,”  Garry continues, “our presence extends to the UK, with our main hub situated in Shrewsbury. Here, we boast an expansive workshop facility dedicated to repairs, refurbishments and continuous service enhancement. Furthermore, we have strategically positioned mobile engineers across the country to swiftly address our customers’ needs. Our primary UK office is staffed with a dedicated team spanning multiple disciplines. Together, they ensure seamless operations and comprehensive support, empowering our customers to keep their operations running smoothly. 

“Kalmar focuses on three key aspects in customer operations: safety, decarbonization and productivity. The key technologies to address these industry challenges are battery electric vehicles (BEV), electric and hybrid equipment and automated solutions. Our product range is available fully electric except for terminal tractors. However, we already have two generations of electric medium terminal tractors and are currently designing the third generation BEV that will effectively address the decarbonization challenges that our customers face as the demands for greener operations increase. Meanwhile, we are also looking at other alternative power sources as we acknowledge there are still many immature technologies that might rise in the future.  

“To address productivity and safety, automation is a key focus area in terminal tractors. In March 2024, we signed a joint agreement with Forterra to partner around the automated terminal tractor. Kalmar will be responsible for developing the automation-ready terminal tractor, including the drive-by-wire solution integration,  and the Kalmar One Fleet management system to manage the operation of automated fleets. Forterra, meanwhile,  will be responsible for integrating its AutoDrive platform for autonomous operations. Autonomous vehicles (AVs) can improve efficiency at terminals by increasing the speed of the movement of containers and reducing the operational risks that occur from human fatigue.” 

Driving carbon neutrality

The transformation towards a sustainable world impacts Kalmar’s business. In pursuing its vision of becoming the global leader in sustainable cargo flow, it impacts the world in many ways. “We believe we can help by solving our customers’ sustainability challenges,” he elaborates. “At the same time, we act to ensure that our environmental ambitions are founded on safe, inclusive, transparent and ethical business practices. Sustainability is at the core of our business, and it is equally important to all our stakeholders across the cargo handling industry. People will continue to purchase goods from suppliers across the globe, but they want to do so knowing that they are not significantly increasing their carbon footprint. We, and our partners have a role to play in this, ensuring that cargo and material handling operations move towards carbon neutrality as decisively as possible, thereby helping our customers along their own eco-efficiency journeys. 

“Working for Kalmar is very rewarding and challenging. We offer many different career opportunities and strive to keep our people engaged and motivated. Leadership is the key to making Kalmar a better place to work. We believe that with good team climates we achieve great results. Our leadership approach is crystallized in three themes: lead with purpose, empower for performance, and collaborate to win. These themes are applied throughout the whole organization. We want every employee to feel they are doing meaningful work.” 

Improving productivity 

Looking to the future, Garry anticipates growth during 2024 and beyond. “Our vision is to be the preferred business partner of our customers. We work in close collaboration, even when they operate a different brand of equipment or terminal operating system. As such, we will continue to be a global leader in sustainable cargo handling. Kalmar aims to become a service-driven solutions provider ensuring availability and performance for its customers and will drive the transformation of cargo and material handling through openness and collaboration and with innovative, digitally enabled and eco-efficient solutions.” 

Tommi Haavisto, Terminal Tractors Sales Development Lead, Europe, adds: “In five years, I would like to see Kalmar as the number one electric terminal tractor provider in the world, supporting customers in finding ways to run their operations safely, sustainably and productively. In the UK, I would like us to have achieved a step change in our presence in port and distribution segments.”   

“We can make a difference,” concludes Garry, “and help customers shape the industry by working together according to Kalmar’s values of driving innovation, doing it together, and delivering on our promises. We have a single focus on our customers and that is helping them to improve their productivity. This is the reason why we exist and what we strive for in everything we do.”