Operational excellence the focus for Delta Cargo

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Delta Air Lines Boeing 747

2017 is set to be a year of growth following a year of reconstruction in 2016, Delta Cargo president Gareth Joyce tells Air Cargo Week.

He says the intention is to create a clear strategy to grow the business in these challenging times, focusing on what he describes as “operational excellence”. Delta is also aiming to grow its customer base in the fiercely competitive marketplace.

Joyce says: “We see customer service is at the centre of the validity to compete in a market like that. When customers have a surplus of choice if you’re not outstanding at delivering on time every time with that added piece of customer experience on top then you have no USP to offer the market.”

Making sure goods move on time every time is the common component anywhere in the supply chain, and having spent many years developing front end customer service, Joyce wants to bring this to Delta as he thinks it has not been as evident as it should be.

Delta Cargo president, Gareth Joyce

“We have got to layer that on top of the processes we are building, to bring that premium brand service to the cargo industry,” he says.

Delta is investing in premium products such as its DASH Express and International Air Transport Association CEIV Pharma. Robust processes are essential for a premium product.

Joyce says: “You can’t perform on time every time if you don’t have robust processes and system implementation. To do that you have to harness technology.”

Delta performs over 5,500 flights a day in the US, both domestically and internationally and of DASH, Joyce says: “We can get a product onto a plane 45 minutes before departure and we can get it off a plane in 45 minutes too so when you have that kind of speed connecting so many destinations directly you have a product that has value in a market where speed is critical.”

Critical goods are usually high value so customers demand to know where it is so Delta has fitted GPS trackers on every single packet for medical shipments under DASH Critical. “We are harnessing the technology on top of the process to deliver a flawless product for the customer.”

CEIV is more about conforming to processes to give customers confidence it is shipping within standards that can be trusted so high value products are not compromised. “It gives customers peace of mind that you’re doing things the right way,” Joyce says.

Delta was the first carrier to install RFID readers across its network for passenger bags, and Delta Cargo is busy piloting that technology.

He says: “We are running pilots for the United States Postal Service with the intent of rolling that out across the cargo system because we’ve seen the benefits that it can bring for process improvement and consistent delivery and the added benefit of customer peace of mind.”

The industry has an abundance of capacity, something set to continue as more aircraft are built for belly demand. Joyce says only the strong will survive and companies will need to be outstanding to do so. He is confident Delta will be a survivor, increasing its notification for delivery metric by eight points in the last year, pushing into the top half of industry performance after years of lagging, and he expects to be near the top by the end of the year.

He says: “All the improvements in operational performance that were developed during our strategic review are starting to pay dividends in our on-time performance.”

Joyce adds customers are not bothered about yields or capacity, they want to know about operational performance, delivering on-time and recovering from unexpected issues: “At the heart of what we are doing lies that focus on truly understanding your customer’s business and then making sure that we can react to their demands and needs every single day so that they appreciate what we bring to their business.”