The need for contactless cargo and remote working have forced through technological advancements that have kept the industry connected, changed our ways of working, and delivered significant time savings from the new workflows, highlights David Linford, director for global sales at CHAMP Cargosystems
As the pandemic struck in early 2020, our industry was brought to its knees as planes were grounded around the world. Crucial revenue was lost before supply chains could be re-established and the air cargo supply chain would be redeployed as the lifeline of our collective recovery from the pandemic. Responding to the immense pressure on the air cargo industry, this year has already seen delays and postponements in the digital transition of regulatory bodies and other organisations. The pandemic remains the key driver for the next year, with the key focus on the basics: fulfilling demand and streamlining operations.
While many of us transitioned to remote working, and others operating with reduced workforces and resources – the industry has proven itself resilient to sharp shocks to the system. Air cargo is the lifeline for a world in urgent need of PPE and other medical supplies, as well as doing its fair share of the distribution of the much-awaited vaccines. Likewise, air cargo has also become a lifeline to airlines with a grounded passenger fleet.
An industry traditionally slow on the uptake for adopting new technologies, air cargo has been agile at this crucial moment. As we have seen from the examples – airlines, forwarders, GHAs, and GSAs are investing in technology and tools to remain competitive and serve the industry.
For 2021, there is reason for some cautious optimism as many airlines have shifted their strategy and looked at optimisation. With air cargo demand outstripping capacity, rates rocketed to unseen levels justifying the effort for airlines to reconfigure their passenger cabins for cargo, or ‘preighters’.
“Many airlines have shifted their strategy and looked at optimisation”
The immediate challenge for such conversions remains the safe and efficient cargo load planning for aircraft designed for pax travel. To meet this challenge, CHAMP has adapted its load planning solution, Weight & Balance, to accurately accommodate new weight distribution for cargo loading in passenger aircraft cabins, as well as the conventional cargo holds.
CHAMP’s Cargospot Mobile application has supported GHAs going contactless and establishing COVID-secure working operations while simultaneously enhancing productivity in warehouse operations by 12-17% – offering long-term benefits to short-term problems.
APIs and portals offer flexibility
Solutions such as APIs and portals offer stakeholders the operational flexibility our industry needs to be responsive to changing circumstances and optimise their capacity. APIs allow shippers to keep updated on the progress of their shipments, GHAs to capture ULD weights from a weight scale directly into their cargo management applications, and forwarders to see lists of eligible flights for a routing and the prices for each. Personalised portals, enabled by such APIs, power airline and third-party sites to provide information and booking for available flights and rates based on latest data from their cargo management system, such as Cargospot Airline.
Others will use this moment to expand their service offerings. In recent years, visibility offerings have grown in demand from our customers’ customers. As call centres operate remotely, and self-service portals and functionalities reach new peaks, forwarders choose to offer online tracking services – automating repetitive administrative tasks often done with time-zoned restrictive phone calls. As a result, both customers and providers operate more efficiently and happily with a superior service.
Even with travel restrictions in place, CHAMP and its clients still have been able to bring technological projects to life through the pandemic and will continue to do so in order to serve the industry’s demand for air cargo capacity. Likewise, with the help of CHAMP Academy, customers have been able to on-board efficiently and safely by training staff remotely, bringing them up to speed wherever they might be.
‘The new normal’ is a phrase thrown around often lately – for our side, operations do continue as normal. As travel is still at essential-only levels, our technological advancements have kept the entire industry connected. All the while, everyone in air cargo has made significant time savings from these workflows. Indeed, being thrown into the deep end on such ways of working has resulted in many of us personally and professionally changing our means of working internally, as well as to the wider air cargo industry.