E-freight the exception rather than norm


The biggest change in airfreight will come from the changing relations between shippers and freight forwarders, says CHAMP Cargosystems business development manager, Bart Jan Haasbeek.

He explains to Air Cargo Week digitising processes and new technology in the supply chain will “stimulate change and make disruptive initiatives”, as in other industries.

In Haasbeek’s view, the industry has to ask itself whether it has digitised the paper trail, rather than looking at business process change to make working without paper more effective.

There is still resistance to ditching paper, Haasbeek says: “It is not only the technology itself but fear around ‘who will do what with which data’.”

“It is also about having the confidence to operate with paper-free procedures, processes and supportive technology platforms to help eliminate the ‘hard-wired’ habit of depending on paper.”

Adoption of electronic air waybills (e-AWB) and other systems is critical in his opinion: “The answer is simple – no technology means no e-business and having to rely on paper, but it is also about having the right technology to do the job.”

“Companies who will remain passive and not willing to look at the benefits or invest in new technology will eventually pay the price.”

“E-business supported by electronic communication is not just a monetary cost saving, but will primarily improve data quality, reduce irregularities and increase efficiencies by helping to reduce the paper-overload throughout the supply chain.”

CHAMP has launched Logitude, a transport management system for small and medium sized forwarders. Haasbeek says it enables forwarders to manage paper-free consignments to International Air Transport Association (IATA) e-AWB, and e-freight standards.

He feels many airlines still have to centre their strategy around e-business and support paper-free operations. “There have also been the arguments from some within the forwarding community that e-freight has been designed by airlines, for airlines,” Haasbeek notes.

He says eliminating paper from the supply chain will benefit carriers, but also drive efficiencies and better technologies to support e-business. Haasbeek feels the reasons e-AWB statistics are not meeting IATA targets is a lack of strategy and awareness of available systems.

He feels adoption of e-AWB has been too slow: “There is a gap of clear information of e-AWB within many markets. Although many markets e-AWB is legally allowed and MC99 has been fully ratified, many airlines still requests original AWB copies. We have to ask why, as this situation creates a duplication of work which has probably impacted the take-up of e-AWB, making the transition period taking longer than expected.

“The business has not fundamentally changed since e-freight started in 2008. We believe the right blend of technology, standards transformation, business process change, willingness to change and regulatory enablement will see ‘e’ be the norm rather than the exception it is today.”