Schiphol’s smart future


Schiphol Airport is gearing up for a smart digital future, determined to be at the forefront of cargo operations innovation. A key initiative driving this transformation is the Smart Cargo Mainport Program (SCMP), which aims to optimise air cargo processes both within the airport and in the surrounding areas.  

“The programme was born out of a drive to constantly optimise air cargo processes in and around the airport. Smart land-side logistics and data sharing is central to the SCMP,” Joost Van Doesburg, Head of Cargo at Schiphol, said.  

Missions and milestones 

Schiphol Airport recognises that cutting-edge digitisation and IT solutions are essential. “We are committed to making our airport sustainable, and state-of-the-art digitalisation and IT are a prerequisite to these goals,” he highlighted. 

One significant milestone in this direction is the ongoing development of Cargo City Amsterdam in collaboration with dnata. The fully automated cargo city, set to be operational by the summer of 2024, is expected to further enhance efficiency and reduce processing times. 

“Digitalisation and improved customer experience go hand-in-hand,” Van Doesburg explained. By moving away from paper-based processes, the airport is making its operations more efficient, smarter, and environmentally friendly. The introduction of an app-based land-side pick-up and delivery project empowers hauliers to book time slots and access real-time information about handling and waiting times. This data-sharing approach fosters seamless communication among all stakeholders, leading to reduced delays and smoother cargo movements. 

READ: Schiphol Airport cargo community digitalise planning to tackle landside congestion

Pushing for progress 

Last year, Schiphol Airport took a significant step towards digitisation by switching to digital declarations. The introduction of the now-mandatory Automated Nomination innovation has expedited cargo handling processes, with import shipments automatically assigned to the correct forwarder before physically arriving at Schiphol. “This has been helping ground handlers plan their operations more efficiently and has reduced throughput times,” Van Doesburg stated. 

Furthermore, Schiphol Airport is overhauling its Port Community System (PCS) Platform. The fully acquired Cargonaut technology platform is being upgraded to create a top-notch PCS within the next ten months. This investment aims to facilitate the acceleration and streamlining of cargo movements at Schiphol, while enabling end-to-end digital tracking and expediting Customs clearance.  “We are working to create a 100% pre-announced export process, with which handlers can announce their arrival ahead of time and will only require handlers to swipe an ID card to process their shipments,” Van Doesburg added. “It will be a complete end-to-end, fully digital system.” 

READ: GEODIS opens new Schiphol-Rijk temperature controlled facility

New generation 

Despite the traditional reliance on paper in the airfreight industry, the digital transformation is making steady progress. The air cargo community recognises the importance of collaborative efforts and is actively embracing innovation to streamline operations. Schiphol Airport takes pride in leading the charge in this digital transformation of cargo operations. 

“It is in the best interest of everyone in the supply chain to work together to digitalise and streamline the industry – and the air cargo community is already making great strides in this area,” Van Doesburg stated. “It is the future, and we are proud to be leading the digital transformation of cargo operations.” 

Schiphol Airport sees immense opportunities in digitalisation, driven by a new generation of developers and management with a strong digital focus. Their enthusiasm for progress and innovation will undoubtedly push the boundaries of what the air cargo industry can achieve through digitalisation. 

“Digitalisation will be pushed forward by an exciting influx of new generation developers and management within cargo that have a digital focus and are ready and willing to really push forward progress in innovation,” Van Doesburg said.