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There is a notable movement within the air freight industry taking place right now. It seems to be circling around an adapt or be left behind notion. Notwithstanding, rather theoretically transcending, is the idea that air cargo and the forwarding of these shipments have been stuck in a systematical and paper prioritized “dinosaur age”. Evolution is a must. Ground-breaking disruption is inevitable and is often the catalyst of forward development. We are seeing this type of progressive chaos happening right now. This is perhaps the genesis of air freight adaptation into the digital world.

The question is this: How does the traditional air freight industry adjust to the progressive digitized supply chain movement and maintain competitive structure in a sales race against start-up tech companies, specializing in logistics, offering shippers service with an app?

These two questions were brought up for panel discussion at the “What’s next in logistics innovation?” session during the Frankfurt Air Cargo Innovation Lab conference. Dr. Pilar Fresnillo, of Lufthansa Cargo had the following to say on the matter:

“In the near future there won’t be supply chains any more but supply networks. The air cargo industry needs to cooperate and we need [to] integrate our data and material flows. This will lead to transparency, speed and customer satisfaction.”

If traditional companies show a willingness to progress and integrate, they too can expect a heightened level of functionality with compounded advancement. Some logistics and freight forwarding companies are partnering with digital agencies in an attempt to effortlessly implement technology and refine their current strategies. Collaboration is a huge topic of discussion in this digitized era. Things move so quickly, having the right software and know-how in place is a crucial step currently being overlooked by the masses, particularly in the air cargo industry. Digitalizing specific processes and automating procedure will soon be imperative. Clients and customers will not opt to pay for manual actions that can be done automatically and void of charge at another.

There is, however, an advantage to human interaction. Full autonomy leads to questions of resets, stuck or lost shipments, and connection issues. Perhaps the adaptation answer is not a full technological take-over, but rather an integrative partnership with traditional freight forwarders.

Robert Mellin, strategy development manager at Ericsson, feels that the air freight industry is “just walking in circles.” He later went on to say, “we should segregate such things as filing rates on a platform, and the execution of the operation. If we can fix the operational execution, increase and improve that first, we would have done a great job in reducing lead times and removing steps from the whole chain of docs, removing risk and improving quality. We have a lot of work to do. We need to cooperate and collaborate, we are all on the same page. It is just a matter of doing it now. If we can get the big five freight forwarders on board we can do quite a lot of good things. The technology is there, trust me.”

Industry disruptors, like Amazon and their newly operational freighter aircrafts, are the preconditioned wake-up calls needed in air freight forwarding. Scarcity, lack, and a fear of the unknown will become unacceptable in air cargo justification. Advancement, implementation, and specialist training are the new norms. It is imperative now, more than ever, to have these types of conversations with your logistics partner. How are they adapting? Are they implementing updated strategies? Are they automating processes where processes can be automated?

Have this conversation.

If you have any other questions or concerns about how this effects your shipments and supply chain, feel free to reach out to us HERE.

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