The technology driving the future of air cargo handling operations
In Ashok Rajan's blog wrapping up the 2021 IBS Cargo Forum's first session, he highlighted how increased stakeholder collaboration, innovation, agility, and digitalization are key priorities in air cargo. During the event's third session on Wednesday, we looked at these priorities in more detail with our customer community.
While air cargo embarks many stakeholders across the value chain, and digital transformation needs to permeate throughout, cargo operations are the heart and soul of the industry. This is where "the customer promise" is realized through service execution and the physical shipment of goods.
During the day's sessions, dnata and Lufthansa Cargo provided insights on how the ground handler and airline are expanding and enriching their services, and continuously seeking to improve business performance. The crux of the matter lies in evolving industry processes and enabling end-to-end integration between airlines, ground handlers, and other stakeholders to deliver better customer experiences. And this is where technology has a critical role to play.
My colleague, Ajith Pancily, showcased iPartner Handler, our new digital community platform for enhanced process integration between air cargo stakeholders. The platform addresses a current gap between the design and intent of innovative freight products and their actual delivery in the marketplace, including tracking transparency. Digitalization is the key to driving the network effect, especially in specialized products and services like vaccines.
In another insightful session, IBS Software's Naveen Jacob highlighted four innovative areas where technology and innovation can provide strong levers to drive service quality and increase cargo's business offering without having to scale resources linearly:
1. Warehouse operations automation: Increasing efficiency in the reception, processing, and expedition of goods involves closer integration and controls across airline and ground handling systems. Enhanced load planning systems are crucial to optimizing space utilization and managing warehouse operations effectively. Increased automation leads to cost reductions, faster turnover times, error minimization, and more profitable space allocation.
2. Products and services diversification: Merchandising has become key to de-commoditizing existing business offers. Pressure is increasing on industry players to differentiate their value propositions to customers while increasing their revenues through ancillary upsell and cross-sell opportunities. Just as important is the actual delivery and servicing of contracted ancillaries in a consistent and predictable manner. A flexible cargo management platform drives innovation in this space and enables new business models to emerge across stakeholders.
3. Collaboration: Integrating mission-critical stakeholder systems onto a single platform drives holistic supply chain transparency. Through real-time information exchange and data-driven insights, stakeholders gain better end-to-end visibility on stakeholder activities, shipment statuses, and necessary actions. This provides more agility to deal with dynamic cargo operations, deliver better customer service, and drive operational efficiency.
4. Digitalization: Replacing paper-based processes and activities heavily reliant on manual intervention with mobile technologies and digital formats is a game-changer for cargo operations. Accelerating document verification across workflows can boost operational efficiency exponentially and facilitates regulatory compliance. A paperless and touchless cargo environment leads to faster processing of cargo, an enhanced customer experience, and more operational transparency while driving significant cost savings.
During the event's sessions, the resounding golden thread was the importance of data in the business transformation process. In an industry still characterized by paper-based processes and heavy manual intervention, the only way to reap the benefits of the data revolution is through digital transformation. Closer integration between stakeholders is the north star for the industry to benefit from the intelligence, collaborative opportunities, and transparency that data-driven insights provide on end-to-end cargo operations. Evolving legacy industry standards and ensuring consistent and widespread adoption of the emerging standards, like One Record, will also be instrumental to ensuring richer, real-time information exchanges across the value chain.
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.