Tackling Supply Chain Disruptions & Improving operational efficiencies of terminal operations by future-proofing Cargo Management System
Keeping the core product updated to ensure that it is able to scale up & support the changing industry trends is key to extending the product life of any solution. Naveen Jacob, Lead Product Manager – Cargo & Logistics shares his view on what are the major focus areas in the air cargo space, and how the leading product in the area – iCargo is gearing up to meet these changes,
What do you foresee as some of the major thrust areas, which will need to be focussed on from an air cargo product perspective?
Though historically ships move more cargo than flights, airfreight is much faster and has always proven to be much more reliable than other alternatives like sea freight.
Hence, we can, expect the air cargo growth to be bullish, but overall capacity constraints & supply chain disruptions could prove to be the Achilles heel for the Air Cargo Industry.
The major reasons for such interruptions could be attributed to the lack of collaborative platforms that can support the seamless transfer of information between the plethora of participants in the supply chain; overflowing warehouses due to inefficient usage of material handling systems, lack of automation & integration capabilities, etc. The primary focus within the industry will be to integrate & automate as much as possible between all the stakeholders & thus improve overall efficiencies.
From an industry relevance perspective, what are those initiatives that you are building into the product with a short/medium-term view?
We are seeing the advent of products with a view of solving very specific problems within the air cargo industry. The ability of a Core Cargo Management System to integrate with providers like these will help in substantially improving the competence in those areas. Integration Capabilities with such new-age products is hence expected to take us a long way forward. Examples of those initiatives include:
Provider Integrations :
By establishing integration capabilities with third-party payment providers like pay cargo, a Cargo Management System will effectively bring about the following advantages:
- Higher percentage of shipments that are 'ready for collection' increasing possibilities for 'Direct-to-Dock' thereby enhancing customer experience.
- Seamless integration with operations flow thereby eliminating the need to visit counters leading to the need for reduced counter staff for payment processing.
- Overall reduction in processing times at the warehouse.
- Better 'Invoicing to Realization' timelines with reduced day sales outstanding.
- DG Auto-Check
DG AutoCheck is a digital solution initiated by IATA that enables airlines, ground handlers, and freight forwarders to automatically check the compliance of the Shipper's Declaration for Dangerous Goods (DGD) against all relevant provisions of the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations. A POC has already been done with the DG Auto-Check tool and work is underway to soon have this rolled out in production. This is expected to bring down the data entry requirements and cut short the average handling time to complete a DG shipment, which is now over an hour now to less than 10 minutes.
Between, pre and post pandemic are there any significant changes in the operating model that you have noticed and how do you look at supporting these sorts of changes?
Pre-pandemic, it was primarily an independent mode of working, without any close collaboration possibilities between Freight Forwarders, Trucking Companies, Truck Drivers, and GHA's. Post-pandemic, there has been a serious focus on improving this & making the overall process as "Contactless" and "Seamless" as possible. This was one of the primary reasons, which prompted us to build and offer an integrated platform in iCargo: A combination of the below is aimed at drastically improving the landside turnaround times and making the entire experience as Contactless as possible for all the involved parties.
- An online portal that can facilitate lodgement or collection creation by providing clear visibility of the data quality & security details
Driver Apps, that can help Drivers view those tasks assigned to them, skip the
queue and drive straight to the assigned docks
- GHA Dashboard function which will give the warehouse staff a birds-eye view of the utilization of the docks at the warehouse
How do you ensure that one of the most pointed out difficulties faced now is that "Capacity Constraints" in the warehouse are addressed in core cargo management systems?
To optimize the shipment flow within the warehouse, an effective Cargo Management System needs to ensure that picklists & delivery lists are triggered just in time with just the right set of shipments to the right set of people. A configurable auto picklist framework and a capability in the core cargo management system to view the progress of work against each build-up and breakdown docks can ensure that the shipment flow within the warehouse is seamless thus leading to lower bottlenecks, service disruptions, and able to deliver an overall improvement in the process.
"Automated Cargo Centres": What are the opportunities that you see as shaping up for air cargo products?
With the growing demand for Air Cargo Services, heavy investments are being poured into building Fully Automated Cargo Centres. These Cargo Centres typically have Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems, Pallet & Container Handling Systems, ETVs, Sorters, and Automated Guided Vehicles.
It is imperative that Cargo Management Systems are able to work together and establish close connectivity with these material handling systems so as to ensure that the substantial investments made here are best exploited. iCargo's Automated Warehouse module is a big step in this direction and the standardized services that have been built enable iCargo to maximize the benefits.