Enabling seamless air cargo partner integration and connectivity for efficient and transparent end-to-end operations
Businesses can't operate and triumph on their own. Success is built upon collaboration within a broader stakeholder and partner ecosystem. While many industries have adopted digital technologies to drive deeper collaboration, innovation, efficiency, and business models, the air cargo industry has been remarkably slow to do so. Fragmented legacy systems, outdated industry standards, and manual (even paper-based!) processes permeate air cargo. Within this context, real-time tracking of shipment statuses and service fulfilment reporting is impossible for airlines, ground handlers, and end-customers.
But a select group of forward-looking airlines and ground handlers foresaw how digital transformation would shape the foundations of their continued success. For air cargo ground operations, where the physical movement of goods takes place, efficiency and transparency are key. Only a modern technology landscape can provide the required seamless integration and connectivity to enable complete and instant visibility across the entire value chain.
Stakeholder connectivity, integration, and real-time collaboration
Air cargo ground operations' stakeholders typically include airlines, their airline partners, ground handlers, freight forwarders, and even customs authorities to name but a few. Seamless connectivity between all stakeholders ensures the efficient movement of goods, real-time visibility on shipment statuses, and the fulfilment of service level agreements. Through a central platform, stakeholders can request specific or recurring handling services depending on the specific needs of a particular shipment, such as ongoing temperature control. Once fulfilled, the service delivery gets reported automatically into the system.
Given increasing air cargo volumes, keeping track of shipments, especially those with different handling procedures and services attributes, is challenging. Especially when stakeholders are working off multiple systems reliant on heavy manual intervention. Closer upstream and downstream integration enables digital collaboration that translates into better customer service across each step of the value chain. Automation accelerates throughput, authorizations, reporting, and customs clearance, while improved transparency on shipment statuses and the realization of contracted services drives greater customer-centricity for all stakeholders. This is especially true in the case of high value shipments, where consistent service quality and transparency is key to winning and retaining customers.
Hours before arriving at the airport, the trucking company already knows the exact cargo drop-off gate. After clearing digital airport security checks, the truck proceeds to the warehouse gate.
The airline's ground handling team waiting to receive the goods knows exactly where the truck is at any given time and can optimize its workload by knowing in advance exactly what's coming its way: volume, weight, and delivery time. As the cargo has been pre-cleared for all requisite checks, both parties can process the necessary formalities directly through mobile-enabled workflows and contactless technology upon handover, which gets recorded in a shared central system.
In turn, the airline's ground handling team knows exactly where its assigned aircraft is located and when the cargo can be loaded hours beforehand. The handling team is clearly guided through specific process steps and requested services for different shipments. The team is also immediately notified of any potential risks, such as temperature variations or failed battery checks. Meanwhile, the airline knows the exact dimensions and weight of the unit load devices so it can optimize hold space in advance. Shipment loading is confirmed digitally, accelerating departure.
Once the flight arrives at its destination, the contracted ground handler can confirm receipt of the cargo digitally and speed through customs and post-arrival checks online to authorize delivery of the shipment.
Throughout the entire process, information is flowing seamlessly across all stakeholders, enabling real-time visibility on each step of the shipment process right through to receipt by the end-customer. Real-time reporting on shipment statuses and the execution of contracted services along with the integration of leading payments providers, like Pay Cargo, enable instant payment transactions across the value chain.
No paper exchanges, no manual systems entries, no spreadsheets…
While the above illustration may sound like a dream to air cargo stakeholders stuck in the legacy world, IBS Software's iCargo platform and iPartner solution are already enabling the dream for over 30 leading cargo airlines and ground handlers worldwide.
Through a single and fully integrated platform, our customers natively share real-time, end-to-end shipment information. The platform's rich set of open APIs also enables the integration of third-party cargo management systems as well as direct connectivity with customs authorities around the world. Automated workflows, mobile-first applications, and self-service capabilities accelerate the end-to-end throughput of air cargo efficiently and transparently.
Radhesh Menon heads product management and strategy for IBS' offerings in the Airline Cargo Solutions line of business. In this capacity, he is responsible for short and long term product goals, competitive benchmarking, product roadmap and innovation practice. He is also responsible for running the product community model. He has over 16 years of experience in the air cargo and logistics business systems in air cargo, industry best practices and new industry initiatives. Radhesh played a pivotal role in conceptualizing and developing the blueprints for IBS's new generation product line for air cargo management.