Picking up the pace

posted on 9th April 2019
Picking up the pace

IATA Cargo Committee calls for faster adoption of industry projects, reports Donald Urquhart

The 13th IATA World Cargo Symposium in Singapore concluded after three intensive days of conference discussions and meetings, with over 180 speakers presenting 1,600 slides in the 12 conference tracks.

Among more than 20 industry committee meetings and workshops was the key IATA Cargo Committee – currently chaired by Peter Gerber, CEO and executive chairman of Lufthansa Cargo – which evaluated the current status of industry projects, directing IATA to pick up the pace of adoption.

“The message that they would like us to carry through for the next 12 months is: ‘We have to embrace and adopt far, far, far quicker’,” says Glyn Hughes, global head of cargo at IATA. “No longer have we got the time available to say: ‘Not this year, but next year’. The time is now and as an industry we have to embrace the changes.”

One Record vision

The Cargo Services Committee had a number of key actions, endorsing the One Record vision (which envisions end-to-end digital logistics and transport supply chain where data is easily and transparently exchanged in a digital ecosystem of air cargo stakeholders, communities and data platforms) and adopting a recommended practice to standardise internet-based data sharing.

The Committee also adopted recommended practices to provide the necessary business processes to support communications between carriers and their supply chain partners. And initiatives to help standardise and harmonise training requirements and training standards across the various disciplines were also endorsed.

The Cargo Agency Conference engaged in discussions on ways to improve the relationship between forwarders and airlines and looked at how they can, together, accelerate the adoption of standards. The Horizon workshop that met a day prior to the official start of the event showcased innovations supporting cargo operations.

The FACES (Future Air Cargo Executives Summit) event saw a record number of attendees and focused on how the industry can collectively address the growing need to support and educate cargo leaders of the future.

Support for digitalisation

In the Dangerous Goods track, unanimous support was voiced for digitalisation – a common theme through much of the discussions in all of the tracks, Hughes notes. He also highlights that Singapore Customs has acknowledged that digitalisation leads to improved compliance and therefore enhances safety, “and that was a very powerful message, well-articulated”, he adds.

The ULD track celebrated the historical contributions that the humble Unit Load Device – now celebrating 60 years in the industry – has made to both aviation safety and efficiency. The track also focused on the importance of developing standards for enhanced compliance as ‘smart ULDs’ evolve.

The Digital Cargo session agreed there was an absolute necessity for industry-standard APIs (Application Programme Interfaces), as the way forward, enabled by the One Record initiative.

Addressing the air freight challenges and concerns over collection and sharing of data in a partnership based approach was a key focus of the Pharmaceutical track. “There are solutions that exist, but the industry needs to be convinced of how they can embrace those collaboratively, to make sure the pharmaceutical shipments that are being transported today are handled in the best possible fashion,” Hughes says.

The Live Animal track looked at continuous learning and the increased competencies necessary and again, how the industry can embrace new technologies to ensure that the transport of live animals is in full compliance with regulations.

Cargo Operations saw a keen focus on airlines and handlers and how they can embrace the need to implement common handling standards. An important emphasis was placed on partnerships in order to improve global safety and efficiency.

Standardised practices

Again the issue of standardised practices was paramount in discussion in the Perishables track, with an overall recognition of the need to increase standardized practices leveraging digitalization in the handling and transport of perishable Products. The pressing need to embrace training was also highlighted.

Asia came into focus with its own track, that underscored the need and necessity for collaboration between regional and international trade associations and how collective collaboration could improve initiatives, implementation, awareness and understanding of things like the Belt and Road initiative, which will benefit the ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) community as well.

Freighter challenge

The Freighters track looked at challenges and the pros and cons of freighter operations in uncertain times, with the unanimous view that freighters were more important than ever, given the strong need going forward due to rising numbers of global middle-class consumers.

The cargo security track discussed the use of new technology solutions and non-technology-based solutions such as canine and other methods of security screening. Also highlighted was that the integration of multiple platforms for more efficient decision-making is absolutely an imperative.

And lastly, the popular E-commerce track examined global volume and projections. It also looked at the transformations and operational developments necessary to support the growing commerce sector and how everybody along the supply chain needs to effectively transform their operations.

Discussions also centred around the role of communities and e-commerce and how innovations need to be accelerated to serve the e-commerce environment.