Call it the Amazon effect if you like, but the expectations for cargo are changing rapidly.
Between the rise of ecommerce and online shopping, consumers now demand complete visibility into their shipments – from the moment it’s picked up, until it arrives on their doorstep. They also want absolute guarantees for a shipment’s condition during travel, and exact precision in arrival time estimates.
A disconnected ecosystem
Making this a reality in the logistics sector is much easier said than done, however. In the air cargo sector, the supply chain is made up of multiple parties working hand-in-hand to transport a shipment to its eventual destination. Because not every party can view or share their data in real-time, the result is a fragmented ecosystem that cannot deliver the visibility that customers demand.
The data exists, but is trapped in silos. In the meantime, each party in the supply chain are forced to create their own version of the truth for their customers. Lack of visibility aside, the absence of data sharing can also lead to low cargo capacity utilisation. Without the ability to accurately say what is stored in warehouses or what is currently in transit, it is impossible to gain maximum operational efficiencies.
For air cargo, this translates to planes that fly with underutilized carrying capacity one day, while a larger shipment the very next day might be delayed due to inadequate capacity.
According to the International Air Transport Association, the air cargo industry had a low load factor in 2018, with less than 50% of capacity being filled on average. With so much unused space, it isn’t hard to see how a lack of visibility affects bottom-line profitability in air cargo. Certainly, the ability to connect the air cargo ecosystem with new technologies and processes can rectify this equation.
Connected data means that both the air cargo sector and end customers can benefit from reliable predictability with the ability to optimally plan flights with real-time insights into shipments and goods stored in the warehouse. Compliance and fraud reduction are achieved through more open and accountable processes that leverage shared data.
Connected devices can eliminate paper processes, which significantly speeds up operations on the ground for faster delivery of air cargo. Devices can also be used to detect the conditions of cargo by analysing temperature, lighting and oxygen levels, which are essential data for cargoes such as pharmaceuticals. With the ability to verify each person in the process, devices also reduce fraud while enabling last-mile shipping excellence.
Connected processes recognise that air cargo is not just a logistics game. For the businesses involved, it includes finance, marketing, IT, health and safety, and customer service – all of which may be using disparate processes and differing datasets. By unifying the collection and standards for data across these processes, we can greatly reduce the errors that lead to inefficient decision making and increased costs.
Connected partners understand that while each organisation involved in the supply chain can connect data, devices, and processes, they still need to develop collaborative partnerships and standards with other organisations in their supply chain. To offer customers the visibility they expect in the air cargo shipment journey, each organisation needs to work cooperatively together to meet these new expectations.
Connected partnerships that leverage data sharing wherever possible will be far more profitable across the board due to increased capacity utilisation.
At Unisys, we’re proud to say that more than 20% of the world’s air cargo shipments are processed on our solutions, representing 100 million air cargo transactions per month. We can help you drive bottom-line profitability by shifting away from outdated traditional models and systems. With the ability to connect data, devices, and people, you can use connected cargo to build a new competitive advantage.
Visit here to find out more about connecting devices, data, processes, and people across the air cargo supply chain.