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heart rate monitors are ideally suited to airfreight, and market pressures make this the only feasible option. These are products that have to be brought to market quickly, and with factory orders promised to the customer in four weeks, there is no realistic prospect of sea transportation. Airfreight is arranged though a small number of forwarders that select the most suitable airline. "Effective routes, reliability, assigned shipments from the airline, a reporting and tracking system, and a working system of securing customs clearance," are on the list of logistics requirements detailed by company transportation specialist Heli Rajavaara. She also stresses the value of securing all of this at a reasonable price. Smooth shipments are commercially important as well. Effective logistics mean less need for warehousing. TWO DISTRIBUTION CENTRES »Polar Electro's Heli Rajavaara (left.) and Mari Kähkönen. in partnership with Adidas. These new intelligent textiles and running shoes incorporate Polar Electro technology for monitoring heart rate, speed and distance covered. Polar Electro has not abandoned its roots in Kempele. The company's head office and centre of R&D, design, marketing and testline production are still based in this small municipality of only 14,500 people just up the road from the city of Oulu. Production proper was transferred to China about 15 years ago, a long time before it became fashionable to speak of the new China syndrome. "From the very beginning we were seeking a foothold in the international market," Kähkönen observes. Indeed 95 per cent of production is Polar Electro technology can be found in new intelligent textiles and running shoes. exported, mainly to North America and Europe, with most buyers in the US, Germany and France. This global market leader now enjoys a market share of about 50 per cent worldwide, and has faced little serious competition until quite recently. "We have only tapped a fraction of our growth potential. People everywhere are increasingly paying attention to their health and looking for ways to become more physically active and monitor their fitness," Kähkönen points out. THE ART OF LOGISTICS The logistics chain that brings Polar Electro products from the R&D stage to the consumer is impressive. Lightweight, miniaturised upmarket products like portable Polar Electro heart rate monitors are assembled, and some are also packed, at a factory in Guangzhou, China. From here they are taken by road to Hong Kong 120 kilometres away for airfreight to markets in the Far East and North America. Some of the monitors are also shipped to Amsterdam for packing. Transported in this way the cargo takes up very little space, thereby saving on freighting costs. After retail packaging in Amsterdam, the monitors are despatched to destinations in Europe, Africa and Latin America. "Shipments from Amsterdam to European countries go by road, as the distances are shorter and the time saved is no longer so important," Rajavaara explains. Polar Electro also appreciates the services that enable its people to get around easily in a global market. Like many businesses operating in the Oulu region, Polar Electro is a frequent user of Finnair connections between Oulu and Helsinki. The company has 260 employees based at its Kempele headquarters. "Some of these people are always on the go, and hardly ever see the office," Kähkönen says. Finnair earns high praise for its direct connections from Helsinki to destinations in the Far East. The airline offers four flights to Guangzhou every week. This direct service has significantly eased the travel arrangements of Polar Electro staff and saved them many hours in journey time. 3 | 2007 CARGO NEWS 5

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