Plans to build on the growing success of air cargo community systems include use of Blockchain, AI, Internet of Things, Big Data, and robotic integration, outlines Vineet Malhotra, director of Kale Logistics Solutions
What have you been doing to improve air freight operational efficiency and communications, and what will you do this year?
Our vision is to enable the entire logistics value chain to operate as a unified industry to accelerate global trade. We have been pioneers in introducing cargo community systems (CCS) that are built on the principle of mutual trust, transparency, and end-to-end visibility. These platforms help various players in the logistics value chain from shipper up to consignee to communicate and transact with each other electronically, thereby eliminating paper-based transactions which are prone to delays, errors, and duplication. Synchronising land and air side operations has been major gap for the industry – CCS ensures stakeholders at both sides are well connected and organised.
Throughput improved by 80%
We have case studies and industry studies which prove that these CCS improve throughput of airports and ports by 80%, bring 100% visibility to trade on cargo movement, and eliminate paperwork/documentation by 90%. We will continue to build on these platforms with new and future technologies like Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Big Data and robotic integration.
We are extending our portfolio with a Logistics e-marketplace, which connects all supply chain actors in booking door-to-door cargo transportation services, offering competitive pricing and total transparency of the best shipment options across all modes of transport. The system matches companies looking to ship freight using one or more modes of transport with service providers of suitable capacity, digitising the entire shipment process, including rates, schedule, booking, contracting, delivery, invoice, and payment.
How can you and other stakeholders in the air freight supply chain work more effectively this year to improve visibility and streamline cargo operational processes – to minimise some of the congestion, delays and volatility experienced last year at certain cargo handling stations and airports?
The last two years have been exceptional for air cargo as the pandemic induced just not uncertainty, staff shortage, and health risks, but also made way for an e-commerce boom with congestions and high dwell times. These times have said loud and clear that the logistics industry needs to stand unified to fight this battle.
As per WHO, the COVID-19 virus stays on paper for 72 hours, so contactless and paperless operations were the requirement of the industry. CCS promoted this with single window systems which were powered by autonomous data exchange, online payments, e-approvals, digital signatures, barcoded gate-pass, digital customs, and e-delivery orders. The stakeholders enjoyed benefits like improved customer satisfaction with better shipment visibility, improved data accuracy by 90%, security and reduced cost.
Truck slot management
One of the most relevant offerings from our CCS is Truck Slot Management. Here, all truck arrivals and departures are managed as per slots to avoid any gate congestion. Truckers experience much lower wait times at the terminal gates and all documentation is pre-done before the truck reaches the terminal. The handler is well equipped with advance shipment information to plan the resources, equipment, and warehouse. The airlines receive an IATA compliant e-AWB. So, all the actors are well synchronised and this ensures the cargo flow is seamless and quick, along with significant cost savings.
Another important offering is the Sea-Air Logistics. Usually 40% of the cargo moves between sea and air. Lack of coordinated systems and processes make cargo movement cumbersome and inefficient. Sea-Air Link will establish seamless cargo movement with advance information sharing and connecting the relevant stakeholders from both the modes of transport.
How can we better incentivise stakeholders in the air freight supply chain to support these aims?
Community adoption is the key for the above objectives to be met. They can be incentivised with free training on the applications, access to affordable technology (cloud-based and SaaS based), and local and national authorities can extend rebates and exemptions to the users as it supports sustainability goals of the airport, region and country. An airport can save 1500 trees annually by adopting paperless transactions.
What role will new and emerging technology play?
The future belongs to technology. New age technologies like Blockchain, AI/ML, IoT, mobile apps, robotics, and big data will shape logistics and cargo movement in the future. Let’s look at some of them:
Blockchain: Transparency and data privacy are critical issues for air cargo stakeholders. Right from sharing crucial advanced information safely to securing the information from phishing attacks and data thefts, the need to safeguard data is pretty high. That’s the time when Blockchain comes into play. The robust algorithm and encryption mechanism cut down the scope of phishing attacks to zero. Already, several frameworks for the air/maritime stakeholders are in place and assist in cutting down critical issues such as revenue leakage and data theft. Blockchain has seen an upward adoption in use cases like Bill of Landing, Crypto, Certificate of Origin, and Digital Trade Corridors.
Artificial Intelligence: Predictive and cognitive capabilities is the need of the hour for the logistics industry, especially for the transportation companies to identify faster routes to reach the airport/port terminal. Data sets about inventory, supplier performance, demand fluctuations and even conditions along a route, such as weather or customs delays, can be used to plan and/or act in real-time, facilitating decision-making and increasing speed. The ability to apply predictive analytics to the pharmaceutical supply chain offers end-to-end visibility like never before.
IoT and Wearables: In the past few years, wearable gadgets have engulfed the markets pretty well globally. The next trend is creating wearables that enable performing business functions remotely. 24/7 cargo movement tracking and receiving and sending advanced information are some examples of activities that can be performed with wearables.
Other expectations for air freight in 2022
Sustainability in air cargo is one of the mega trends for this decade. The topics of the environment, sustainability, and carbon footprints are becoming more widely discussed today, making it essential for the air cargo sector to consider these issues when deciding how to handle shipments. Airports and ports around the world will make sustainability a key goal, which will be driven by stringent measures and KPIs. We are already seeing this gaining ground in the maritime sector.
Connected World and the power of data: Stakeholders from the entire supply chain will be connected to each other with technology, both as simple as APIs, mobile apps, and portals and as complex as blockchain integration, hyper ledgers, and robotic integration. Data will be the new oil of the century; it will set the path for industry to grow and innovate. The focus is shifting from documents to data. The infrastructure is there, innovative technology is ready – it’s just a matter of moving to data and automating.
SME players raising to power
Small and medium players will raise the service bar for industry with tech adoption. SaaS based models and cloud applications will equip them with tools and techniques to improve customer service, offer innovative services at competitive rates, expand their markets and products, and offer very customised services with local advantage.
Air cargo will be a critical area of resiliency for airlines and airports for the foreseeable future. The air cargo market is being upended by the digitization of supply chains and demand increases from the explosion in e-commerce. The pandemic with its eye-opening experience points to the need to diversify the airline business model to protect against the consequences of similar unforeseen events in the future – Cargo is the best bet.