- The air cargo industry must work together to adopt new technology, build transparency and expedite a complex documentation process, according to a new position paper by The International Air Cargo Association's (IATA) Shippers' Advisory Committee, American Shipper reports.
- All stakeholders must work together to diminish the 20-step, 21-document process needed to process cargo by air, per the paper. The committee is formed by seven representatives from various industries, which face diverse challenges when shipping by air.
- The ultimate goal is to employ an open platform system allowing for a shared environment that creates seamless integration and transparency to reduce or eliminate wasteful information re-entry.
Transport by air is supposed to be the fastest method of shipping, but antique ways of operating seems to be slowing the industry's potential at times of most need. Freight forwarders may have the process down to a science (some would say an art), but the advisory committee's report shows the process is becoming a nuisance to shippers who see digitization as a necessary transformation.
They are not alone. In fact, the CEO of IAG Cargo recently described the industry's inefficiencies as criminal, lending his voice in support of the IATA's drive to digitize processes. The industry group has long been working on this initiative, which is hampered by differences in how international customs categorizes goods and other bureaucratic challenges. The group scored a big win in August, however, when the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agreed to adopt the association's Cargo-XML messaging standard, pushing shippers and freight forwarders trading out of the U.S. to do the same.
Goods transported by air are worth roughly 5.7 trillion dollars each year, and with cross-border sales increasing generally and boosted by e-commerce, the need for air freight is expected to increase as well. As fulfillment needs grow and various modes of transportation compete to drive value to shippers, the air cargo industry will be pressured to digitize, and not just in terms of transferring paperwork. The committee's position paper also includes plans for using Big Data and improving the sector's lean processes, for example.