Air cargo industry must undergo digital transformation

August 7, 2017

Air Cargo Week Interview, August 7th, 2017

The air cargo industry must go through digital transformation to stay competitive, and Youredi is committed to help customers go through the necessary processes, chief executive officer Jaakko Elovaara tells Air Cargo Week.

He says Youredi is intent on helping customers digitalise and automate manual processes to boost efficiency and cost effectiveness, and the power of real-time data with full transparency gives clients the competitive edge they need.

Elovaara believes manual processes need to be digitalised to reduce paper documentation, manual labour and errors, and processes need to be automated for maximised efficiency.

He says: “The industry needs holistic, digital solutions from the booking process through tracking the entire shipping process to create a great customer experience. IoT [internet of things] sensors for tracking and RFID tags for replacing existing paper documentation could also make a difference in the industry.”

He adds: “The more the processes are simplified by digitalisation, the easier it could get for airlines to utilise their empty air cargo space better, so catch up with airlines that are already major air cargo providers.”

Youredi has a number of solutions the industry players to improve efficiency including services for digitalisation of e-freight documents and Track&Trace.

Head of professional services, Ari Haapaniemi says shippers use Track&Trace for end-to-end visibility, and customers can receive real-time updates through gathering Flight Status Updates (FSU), and the data can be visualised on a map, which is visible in Youredi’s user interface or the shipper’s platform.

He explains: “Some of our customers work with dozens of airlines simultaneously, so having all the data available in one single place for all stakeholders is extremely convenient. Tracking the shipments manually from the airlines’ websites is not an option.”

Efficiency of booking requests is another focus area; shippers send booking requests in their own internal formats to the airlines and Youredi automatically transforms them to the airlines’ format.

Youredi also offers services for booking requests, supporting validation of electronic air waybills, freeing airlines of the burden of manual labour and reducing the steps in e-AWBs from 40 to 20.

Haapaniemi adds: “All our services and solutions promote the digital transformation of the air cargo industry. Our products are suitable for many other use cases too.”

Youredi is also looking at how logistics providers can utilise IoT integrations, and Haapaniemi believes it can be used in the air cargo industry, with IoT and sensors network providing more in-depth, real-time views into supply chain processes.

He says: “We are looking to pilot sensor tracking on ULDs on a piece level, providing full real-time traceability for the pharma and perishables industries.”

Embracing new technology can be a problem for air cargo, chief technology officer, Sami Tähtinen says it is slowed by the high levels of regulation, and making investment is expensive meaning high financial risks.

Running on legacy infrastructures make adopting new technology more difficult and time-consuming as well.

He does not think there is resistance to embrace new technology but making the first step can seem risky, though says: “Force adoption to new innovations can help to overcome the resistance to embracing new technologies, just think of how IATA stopped updating Cargo-IMP so that Cargo-XML could become the new standard used industry-wide.”

Elovaara says customers want a fully digital service, and the technology to achieve this is already available.

Air cargo industry leaders need to find the most suitable services for their needs but technology providers and shippers need to play their part.

He says: “Technology providers need to have a better understanding of air cargo, so the solutions could be better tailored to the industry’s needs. Shippers can also provide useful information in terms of their needs and requirements for the air cargo industry.”

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