Case: Cargotec responds to sustainable development transition with proactive technology strategy


Looking to renew the technology strategies of its business areas Kalmar and Hiab, Cargotec launched a project to identify essential changes and trends in the business environment. The aim was to support decision-making, ensure vigilance in a constantly changing world and to initiate continuous foresight work with applicable methods. With the support of experts in sustainable development, electric transport and heavy machinery – and in close cooperation with the Cargotec team – VTT's foresight specialists created business-specific Future Radar views for Kalmar and Hiab.

Key results

Identified over 70 opportunity areas within the themes of sustainability, technology and regulation

Based on these opportunities, identified broader transitions and relevant disruptions for the customer's business

Provided support for developing the customer's foresight capabilities and technology strategies for business areas

Cargotec is a global supplier of cargo and load handling solutions. Cargotec’s sales in 2022 totalled approximately EUR 4.1 billion and it employs around 11,700 people. Hiab and Kalmar are Cargotec's core business areas. Hiab is the world’s leading provider of on-road load handling equipment, intelligent services and smart and connected solutions. Kalmar is the global leader in sustainable cargo handling solutions for ports, terminals, distribution centres and heavy industry.

Sustainable development as part of entire organisation’s operations

The global climate crisis and digital transformation have created pressure to develop regulation on an international level. Therefore, a controlled transition of technology strategies requires taking notice of sustainable development, technology and regulation as necessary elements of the future business environment. However, the speed and extent of these changes make forecasting difficult.

Cargotec wanted to ensure that the company's business areas are ready to create long-term technology strategies. Achieving the goal requires understanding the interrelationships between technologies and sustainable development. Consequently, Cargotec chose VTT to produce a long-term Future Radar view for supporting the development of technology strategies and identifying business opportunities.

Hiab XHipro

Reports, discussions and survey ensured wide visibility

Future Radar is VTT's visual tool for identifying and reviewing emerging trends and signals. It enables an agile and visually stimulating way to address future trends.

We set out to foresee the future with Cargotec all the way to 2050. In addition to a wide qualitative and quantitative data source base, our analysis was based on group interviews with VTT's specialists. In connection with the Future Radar view, we also carried out a stakeholder survey for the customer, with which we validated the identified trends and mapped out new opportunities and threats more extensively. Based on the Future Radar view, we organised an additional workshop aimed at examining disruptions and the business opportunities and threats they provide.

“We felt that we should first take a view further before we look closer and thereby reflect on our own choices,” says Soili Mäkinen, Senior Vice President, Sustainable Business Development at Cargotec.

Support for development of technology strategies

As a result of the three-month-long project, we identified more than 70 trends relevant to the customer’s business operations. Opportunities and threats were described in more detail in the final report through related implications, a practical example and a quantitative indicator.

“We have understood which of the things that we had already identified are things we are starting to face, and which are completely new issues that we hadn't even thought about. I would imagine that many of us will have some eureka moments with these discoveries,” describes Lasse Eriksson, Head of Green Technologies at Kalmar.

In addition to the Future Radar views, the project resulted in identifying wider transitions in the business environment and disruptive factors affecting the client's business.

At the same time, the project helped Cargotec to connect its different business areas and employees to consider what sustainable development and digital transformation mean in practice for the company's business. By including experts and decision-makers from the customer's different fields of operation in a versatile way, we were able to consider the issue in its entirety throughout the organisation.

“We were pleased to notice how extensively people from customers and other stakeholders participated in the process. This created an opportunity for comprehensive discussions about future trends and driving forces. At the same time, active participation contributed to a continuous learning process on both sides,” says Juuli Huuhanmäki, Research Scientist, Corporate Foresight and Strategy at VTT.

Cargotec’s Mäkinen also sees clear benefits in the cooperation: “The results of the project will serve as a validation tool and sparring partner for us in the future."

Kalmar ECG180330 heavy electric forklift truck

Project carried out in close cooperation

The work was implemented in close collaboration with the customer. Around a dozen experts and managers from Cargotec participated in several different phases of the work, from the workshops that focused on clarifying the starting points all the way to the review of the final results. While the Future Radar views evolved, the client was able to review and comment on identified trends throughout the project and influence the progress of the analysis.

The discussions around the radar were really rewarding. For example, we received a good analysis of the maturing of technologies.
Lasse Eriksson, Head of Green Technologies, Kalmar

“VTT facilitated the project really well,” adds Hannu Hyttinen, Hiab's R&D Director.

VTT also found the cooperation fruitful. “The project created a good basis for cooperation and opened up opportunities for continuous proactive strategy work. An important guarantee for the project's success was the strong commitment of both the client and VTT's management, as well as the competent staff,” says Kalle Kantola, VTT’s Vice President, Foresight and Data Economy.

“I was impressed from the very beginning by how the customer had high expectations and, at the same time, trusted VTT’s foresight process and was also willing to work in close cooperation. We learned a lot from this project ourselves,” sums up VTT’s Jyri Rökman, Research Scientist, Corporate Foresight and Strategy.

Timo Salmu
Timo Salmu
Customer Account Lead
Juuli Huuhanmäki
Juuli Huuhanmäki
Research Scientist
AnttiJussi Tahvanainen
Antti-Jussi Tahvanainen
Research Team Leader
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