Our ports strengthen the economic performance along the coast and contribute to the conservation of jobs within the region and to the creation of new ones. An important benchmark of quality of our work is our customers’ satisfaction, for whom sustainability plays an ever-increasing role. To us, being competitive is only one part of the equation. We make our best effort to contribute to the strengthening of our region.
As a port company, we find ourselves on the cutting edge between land- and sea-bound transport and we are therefore an important link between industry and commerce. That makes us and our ports an important contributor for the well-being of our country's economy. Our core responsibility is to ensure that our customers can utilize our port facilities and surface areas around the clock.
Together with our customers, we continue to develop the coastal region. In collaboration with the services of the port economy and thanks to our port infrastructure and our expertise, we are turning our ports into high quality logistics locations. We adjust to various customer demands and, together with our customers, we are following new trends in need of attractive business solutions. Our activities create transparent added values for our customers, and thus for the region.
We are a 100% affiliate of the State of Niedersachsen and it is our task to operate and expand the port infrastructure with public funds. In contrast to private companies, our business performance must be categorized differently, because we fulfill public tasks and functions, for which we also receive subsidies from the State of Niedersachsen. Thus, our measures cannot merely be viewed from a business point of view, since they are much farther reaching. Through their direct and indirect effects, they strengthen the macro-economic developments and contribute to an economically strong region. Therefore, the state of the economy, political developments, and even the weather directly affect our bottom line. But at the same token, our income flows back into the economy in the shape of wages and salary, tax revenues, and as investments in the super- and infrastructure, and often times it even flows directly back into the regions.
NPorts creates economic added value to the coastal region of Niedersachsen.
|Number of Ships’ Calls (With Cargo Handling)||43.274||42.143|
|Total Cargo Handling (metric t)||29.619.568||28.338.318|
|Passenger Transports (in numbers)||9.867.059||9.665.981|
|Revenue (million €)||64||62|
|Balance Sheet Total (million €)||791||793|
|Personnel Costs incl. Social Contributions (million €)||37,4||36,7|
|Investments (million €)||21,9||18,5|
© Niedersachsen Ports GmbH & Co.KG
Generally, merchandise finds the way of the best price to performance ratio. In the global competition and in view of increasing regulation (e.g., lower emission values for ships in the North Sea), and in view of the great societal challenges, customer satisfaction is key for our competitive success.
We have numerous customers. This includes, among other things, German and international ship owners, cargo handling, logistics, and industrial companies, as well as service companies in the port areas. On the one hand, our customers consist of locally or regionally based companies, and on the other hand of regional branch offices or plants of global enterprises (such as Volkswagen in Emden, or Siemens in Cuxhaven).
Within the reporting period, we had 1,850 customers that generated a revenue of more than EUR 5,000, 69 of which generated a revenue in excess of EUR 100,000. They make up 82% of the total income. Of those 1,850 customers, 107 generate a revenue of more than EUR 50,000. They make up 86% of our total revenue.
This means that 1,743 of our customers only contribute 14% to the total revenue. This exemplifies that we have a large number of small customers.
Quality and Customer Satisfaction
In order to drive up the satisfaction rate of our customers, we have developed a corporate-wide Quality Management System (QMS). With it, we are striving to continually improve the internal processes and performances for our customers. Conformity of our QMS with DIN EN ISO 9001:2015 was certified for the first time in 2019 and our passing the external monitoring audit in 2020 with flying colors highlights the successful alignment of the quality management to the leading international standard.
During the process, we were able to identify 64 essential corporate processes, then we digitally captured them and made them available to all employees. In addition, a total of 24 core processes were examined and adjusted risks and opportunities in 2018.
We have established and compiled the demands of interested parties so that we can consider the requirements of our stakeholders. Since that time, we have uncovered a lot of improvement potential through our internal quality audits and have integrated it into the planning of measures. In 2018, we trained twelve male and female internal auditors in order to be able to completely autonomously perform the internal audits.
A central value and performance indicator of our QMS is customer satisfaction, which is also an integral part of our Sustainability Strategy. In 2018, we performed our first customer survey. As a result, we found that two thirds of the customers were satisfied or extremely satisfied with our service. The median of the total satisfaction score would equal a school grade of B+. A good grade, which we intend to improve upon during the next survey.
Two important topics that our customers mentioned during our last survey were “Sustainability” (15%), and “Innovations” (14%). We took this opportunity to tackle these topics even harder together with the customers in conjunction with various projects.
One good example is the project “dashPORT”, where we, together with the port handling company J. Müller AG, are trying to utilize technical know-how to increase the energy efficiency, both, on the side of the cargo handling company, and on the port infrastructure side, thereby decreasing the costs on both sides. In the project “WASh2Emden”, we want to utilize the potentials of excess amounts of electric power from wind turbines. Instead of switching them off on windy days, we are trying to convert the electricity into a storable energy source (hydrogen), and to use this energy at the port.
The external performance assessment from our customers, combined with the internal assessment of processes and improvements, helps us to develop goals and measures for our consistent improvement of quality. Therefore, the customer satisfaction is an investment in advancing our company together with our partners on a broad front.
Regional Business Effects
The port economy plays a central role in international supply chains. Therefore, it has a significant impact on the job market and the macro-economic value creation. Here, the regional business impact is often separated into direct (employment effects, taxes, and value chains) and indirect (intermediate consumption and consumer spending) impacts (see chart on this page).
In a relatively economically challenged region like our coastal region, the employment impacts of the port economy play a vital role. Not only do they ensure the well-being of the people that live here, but - through the value chain - of the people in all of Germany (see graphic). The number of directly port-dependent employees in 2017 was estimated to be 36,100 (1 and 2). An additional 140,000 can be attributed to the port-dependent transport chain (3), and 1.35 million to the port-dependent industry (4).
If you also take the so-called indirect and induced impacts (5) into account, we are talking about some 5.6 million employees nationwide that are working for the German ports and/or in the port-dependent industry.
On a regional business level, the employment depending on the Ports of Niedersachsen for all of Germany (without the indirect and induced impacts) is estimated at 166,000 employees in 2017. Of those, there are 69,000 employed in Niedersachsen. A majority of these employment impacts are created by the companies directly located in the port, by companies in industrial zones in the vicinity of the port, and by companies located in the catchment area of the inland ports. As the largest operator of infrastructure in Niedersachsen with close to 700 employees, we make an essential contribution to the above-named employment impacts.
The indirect positive effects of our work relate to infrastructure projects that - in turn - benefit other participants and the community or the region at large. One example that we are particularly proud of can be found in Cuxhaven. Here is where the Federal Freeway, the Autobahn, ends right in the port. Nowadays, the wind power turbine blades that get transshipped in Cuxhaven are so huge that the heavy haul trucks that carry these blades cannot clear the cloverleaf on- and off ramps of the Autobahn without a problem. As a response to this conundrum, we have revamped the traffic circle and installed a traffic light together with some of our customers. The result: The rotors of the wind turbines with a length of up to 100 m can now pass through this Autobahn circle without a hitch. On the one hand, we are promoting the competitiveness of the site through this measure; on the other hand, we are promoting the deployment of regenerative energies. Because the large turbines that are more efficient and make more sense environmentally, can finally be transported and installed.
Another initiative is the expansion of Berth 4 in Cuxhaven. By fall of 2018, we had put Berth 4 into operation as an extension to Berths 1 through 3 that were already at capacity. And even here, a complete exhaustion of the capacity is in sight. Therefore, in 2019, we submitted the documents for the zoning approval procedures for the construction of Berths 5 through 7 to generate more capacity. In Brake, we strengthened the infrastructure by constructing a second berth for large ships with a deeper draft. That was our response to the change in cargo streams.
The impact of such measures is clear: In terms of business progress, we are providing the powerful infrastructure that the market demands and that gives our business partners an upper hand when it comes to competitiveness. Berths with a greater water depth make the processing of larger ships possible. That, in turn, lowers the freight charges for each ton of cargo. And the added value for the environment: Less energy consumption and less CO2 for each unit of transport. In addition, we have the right legal conditions in place so that even LNG ships, which are typically more eco-friendly, can be fueled up at their berth.
To us, acting in compliance with the policies and legal provisions, is both a commitment and a matter of course. Because, as a public infrastructure company of the State of Niedersachsen, we get a whole lot of attention. And it is our intention to do our self-conception justice and be perceived as a company that acts sustainably and with integrity, and to perpetually ensure a trustworthy collaboration with our shareholders and stakeholders. Therefore, it is crucial to us to invest in preventative measures. Because our Compliance Management ensures perpetual legal conformity and compliance with important standards and standards of behavior.
Not only NPorts is active in the implementation of the Compliance Management, but also external participants such as customers and authorities. For us, the Compliance Management is an integral part of the Process and Quality Management System. Especially in the environmental arena, we are invested in a comprehensive cadaster of relevant legislature (cf. Environmental Management System PERS). The additional monitoring measures encompass specialized magazine subscriptions and legal panoramas, they also include newsletters from the chambers of commerce and industry and gazettes from commensurate ministries, and attending expert meetings and training, and the consultation of external legal advice.
It took a whole bunch of measures for us to ensure the currentness of the legal basics. In particular, two developments are worth mentioning for the reporting period: Our Corruption Vulnerability Atlas, and our Whistleblower System.
Corruption Vulnerability Atlas
In 2018, we created our Corruption Vulnerability Atlas. This atlas depicts the results of the Corruption Vulnerability analyses of all departments, areas of business, and locations of NPorts. From an organizational chart, you can see the degree of potential corruption for any of the organizational units at a glance. With it, we want to sensitize especially those employees in an area with an increased potential for corruption and put a focus on the safe design of and compliance with the process workflow. There are five potential criteria for an increased vulnerability for corruption:
- Possibility of granting undue advantages ≥ 10,000 EUR/year
- Regular invitation for offers
- Possibility of manipulation of evaluations, test results, access to confident information
- Concentration of competences: e.g., decision and execution
- Frequent external contacts to persons that may experience advantages or disadvantages from the decisions of the employees
[Translate to EN:]
2019 haben wir zudem ein Hinweisgebersystem eingeführt. Das System gibt jedem/jeder die Möglichkeit, unserer externen Vertrauensperson über das Internet anonym Hinweise auf Korruption oder ein Fehlverhalten zu geben. Ebenfalls besteht die Möglichkeit, mit der Vertrauensperson allgemeine Fragen zu klären.
In 2019, we introduced the Whistleblower System. The system gives everyone the opportunity to give our external confidant anonymous tips regarding corruption or a misconduct via the Internet. The confidant may also be able to answer general questions.
The whistleblower message is relayed to our independent external confidant via an IT system (ISO 27001) that is also certified in a privacy law compliant manner (EuroPriSe Seal). This person will verify the tips, counsel us on the further steps, and will at the request of the whistleblower - stay in contact. The system is low-threshold and can also be used by external persons. The system can be accessed through our compliance site.
With this large step, we intend to decrease the risk that such acts are perpetrated, and to facilitate the resolution of such cases. With it, we can also uncover actual flaws and loopholes within the system, and keep people from being tempted to commit such acts. It is primarily our intent to protect whistleblowers with this system. Even going forward, they should be able to trust in the system and feel, like they can question things, without imperiling or losing their position or their reputation within the company.
We see such tips as an opportunity: They show us key instances in our company that we can first internally investigate here. This way, we can internally discuss and solve such problems, without them being brought to our attention from the outside, for instance from the media, which might damage, or put in question, our reputation, for no good reason. Up to this point, we have not had any tips regarding any case of corruption, neither have we had any litigations due to anti-competitive behavior, the formation of cartels or monopolies, or any other misconduct.
In order to inform our employees about this, we have introduced the system in all branch staff meetings. Even the external confidant was always present and has explained their role in detail. We inform any of our business partners about the whistleblower system as part of our automated e-mail signatures. Thus far, we did not have to register any such case. To us, this is a great sign and we are proud of it.
Beyond this specific information, we perform a general sensitization around the topic “Corruption and Bribery”. There is continuous reporting about important developments at the supervisory board meetings.
In addition, the employees are informed in writing each year about the internal policies. There is also regular training. It is offered to those employees that work in areas that are at a higher risk of exposure to corruption (see Corruption Vulnerability Atlas). Each year, this training offer is directed at a different branch, and participation is generally obligatory. In addition, our employees can voluntarily attend further training sessions within the scope of further education.