Business / Reading time: ~ 2 Min.

Classification optimizes terminal operation

Die Terminal-Klassifizierung führt zu höheren Standards an den Standorten

For over a year, DHL Freight has been carefully analyzing its operations, taking a close look at its workflows and asking whether employees are truly informed about its processes. Terminal Classification provides a snapshot of the status quo at various terminals – and sometimes reveals surprising insights. 

It's about gold, silver or bronze

Think of DHL Freight's Terminal Classification process this way: Every terminal takes a good hard look at itself, and asks: “Is everything running just as we think it is?” The key to Terminal Classification is the 360-degree operations assessment. As part of the assessment, terminal heads rate themselves first with the help of a detailed questionnaire that covers all the main aspects of the site such as:

  • productivity,
  • quality,
  • performance dialogs,
  • terminal appearance,
  • scan process security and
  • GoGreen.

Only then do the auditors come into play to review the answers given. The terminals are then graded and depending on the result, they can receive gold, silver or bronze status.

The incentive: the superclassification

“Sure, people wondered at first why we need yet another audit, but the classification is not just a one-off. It's a holistic tool focused on the long-term,” explains Annika Scharbert from Global Quality Management at DHL Freight. Unlike the standard audits for ISO certification, for example, the Terminal Classification process covers Freight-specific KPIs. It's like a type of super-certification.

Annika Scharbert DHL Freight “Ultimately, it's all about improving.”

Annika Scharbert, Global Quality Management, DHL Freight, wants all employees to always have their requirements in mind.


Brian Moreno Sanchez Hansen, Operations Manager at DHL Freight Denmark, certainly sees it that way: “The classification process is a great opportunity for us to dive down deeply into our daily operations and to ask ourselves: How good do we think we are, and how good are we really?” he says. “In our case, the certification uncovered some pretty astounding insights. What surprised me the most was that some of our core processes, which we assumed everyone understood, were practically unknown to our newer employees.”

Recognizing the need to catch up

Hansen and his team acheived Bronze status, so there's room to improve. “After the evaluation, it was clear to me and my management team that our processes meet all of DHL's excellence standards on paper, but that we have some work to do when it comes to our people. That's where we want to focus now,” says Hansen. “So we've launched a training program to make sure they're all familiar with our key processes here at the terminal.” Hansen and his team decided in favor of the “Training Within Industry” (TWI) approach. “We hired an external trainer and within a month we had trained ten of our own employees and team leads as certified TWI trainers. Since May we've made sure that all employees receive regular training.”

Driving standardization

Freight is already reaping the rewards of its investment in Terminal Classification. “Freight has historically always been a very heterogeneous network”, says Scharbert. “So our overall objective has been to make further progress on the standardization front and, with the help of Terminal Classification, reach a more consistent level of performance.” That’s why the entire team is dedicated to further site development, with the support of Cheaf Operations Officer Thomas Vogel.

In the minds of all employees

In the meantime, at Freight everyone's talking about the Terminal Classification project. “In the end, what we really want is for our people to internalize these standards and requirements so they become rooted in the daily mindset,” says Scharbert. “The certification has made it easier by formalizing existing processes, an added incentive.”

Terminal-Klassifizierung in Gold, Silber, Bronze
By receiving a gold, silver or bronze status, DHL Freight´s terminals improve their standards .

Classification in numbers:

  • In 2018, 129 out of 208 terminals participated in the classification.
  • There were 71 bronze, 20 silver and – for the sites in Maintal and Koblenz (Germany) – two gold awards.
  • In 2019, 78 terminals have already participated.
  • Currently the re-audits are running to see if the follow-up has been implemented.
  • 70 auditors work for the project, who have been specially trained for on-site use.
  • The awards are given for two years.

Further information


Canan Doğan


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