In a dynamic environment, planning is more important than ever, ‘because only when we know where we plan to go do we know when to adjust our course’, highlights Ariaen Zimmerman, executive director of air freight quality initiative Cargo iQ
Is a new normal (or ‘pre-new normal’) emerging for the air freight sector, or your organisation’s role within air freight, as some countries and their economies begin to emerge from the initial effects of the pandemic?
We wouldn’t call it a ‘new-normal’, but it is clear that we will continue to further our efforts for improving the industry’s quality control. The pandemic has clearly shown the world the importance of a reliable logistics solution through air. Our members see that importance too.
The situation going forward may be that our members – as most all companies – will put a higher focus on getting tangible results for their efforts and resources. The industry as a whole – and its customers – will continue to feel the financial pressure from the COVID situation, making them more focused.
We believe this (focus) to be a good thing. As said, quality management will be a part of that focus and we are confident that a more pragmatic attitude will help us in our implementation of some still necessary improvements in processes and their planning, control and evaluation.
To what extent has your business and/ or your area of the air freight sector adapted to the emerging new normal and/ or recovered from the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and measures taken to limit its spread?
We are an industry interest group and for us cooperation is at the core; our mission is: Plan. Deliver. Learn. Together. A lot of what we do, therefore, is organising a way for our members to meet and exchange ideas in a fair and balanced way that represents the whole industry. Those meetings have now all been taken online and I believe in some way we may have even become more open that way.
We created other online alternatives as well, such as remote audits that guarantee the same level of membership dedication at lower cost and without the need to physically visit our members’ facilities and offices.
To what extent have perspectives on, and approaches to, planning had to change as the effects of the pandemic have progressed?
We were seeing new routes and alternatives emerge that we didn’t plan for. That in itself made it clear that we may have to look for more flexible planning options, but that was already part of our strategic roadmap.
To what extent can companies or organisations meaningfully plan ahead at the current time?
The continuously shifting goal poles in current times may make us feel planning is impossible. That is a fair point. Planning is nevertheless more important than ever, because only when we know where we plan to go do we know when to adjust our course. A more dynamic environment means we may need to be more ready to adjust our planning. Contingencies and alternative scenarios actually help in letting you know on what signs to focus on that indicate relevant change in our world.
What are the implications of these changes for your organisation?
We will rationalise our expenses, focus on what is important and look for ways to reduce the costs of implementation to our members.
How sustainable is this situation?
We need to get back to being driven by opportunity rather than necessity, but the current focus on tangible results and efficient effectivity is a healthy attitude to keep on board.
Any other observations?
We see some of the things that were never possible now become possible, such as remote audits and our teleworking attitudes. Overall IT has proven itself as a real enabler. Hopefully we will be able to take some of that momentum into accelerating our industry’s agenda on improvement.