Air carriers may not be able to provide an Airbnb or Uber-like experience just yet. However, the basic value proposition of speed, reliability, and quality that defines these Silicon Valley prodigies is also the key to superior cargo operations. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) forecasts that air cargo volumes will grow at 4.1% per annum over the next five years. Having a robust technology backbone to handle logistical challenges linked to increasing volumes, especially those posed by offline and multi-airport cargo trucking, will prove critical to success.
Trucking, an important element in the airline cargo value chain, can be extremely time-consuming and expensive. Multiple flights, different warehouses, time sensitive cargo products as well as dual airport operations within the same city add to the complexity. In addition, disparate virtual and actual truck schedules can make trucking operations highly unpredictable.
Developing a symbiotic relationship with trucking companies through an innovative technology platform can enable airline companies to achieve greater process transparency as well as seamless communication. It also keeps you aligned with evolving customer expectations while improving your bottom line.
Smart surface transport management system is the answer
An intelligent, integrated, and innovative surface transport management system streamlines trucking processes as well as improves visibility and control over end-to-end cargo operations. Superior accounting and reconciliation processes address challenges related to raising truck orders and obtaining confirmation from trucking companies, leading to lower costs. Such a system not only provides the required information to intelligently connect and transfer cargo, but also offers real-time information on trucking operations. Let’s look at how the system works:
Contract management: A web-based system is equipped to help carriers update and maintain contracts with trucking companies, including information such as tariff and other charges. Copies of contracts and any other supporting documentation are uploaded and stored in the system.
Order management: Every order is tagged with a unique ID issued against a specific flight, and service providers are set up to receive an automatic alert once the order is raised in the system. Users select the ‘asset type’ to ensure it is compatible with the special handling requirements for a particular shipment.
Invoice management: Once the service provider confirms the truck order, it is marked as ‘departed’ and the system generates the invoice automatically. When the service provider accepts the invoice, an alert is sent to the airline accounting team for verification of invoice details. The invoice is finally integrated with the airline accounting system for payment processing. This approach eliminates manual reconciliation of incoming invoices, and supports accurate and timely billing for enhanced cash flow.
Flight order dashboard: This dashboard displays all surface flights scheduled to operate within the next 24 hours in chronological order, based on the estimated time of departure (ETD). The system also displays data such as truck order number, flight number, date, origin, destination, estimated time of arrival (ETA), service provider, asset ID, temperature, order status, flight status, and comments, if any. Armed with complete details of the flights and cargo booked, carriers can strengthen offline-online truck connection.
Innovation is key to putting air carriers on the path to profitability
Technology isn’t just about driving efficiencies in the air cargo industry any more. It is precipitating fundamental shifts in the industry, and carriers must be ready to innovate to deliver real value. Mobility, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, and drones are expected to dramatically transform cargo handling and management by enabling greater flexibility, transparency, and predictability across the air cargo value chain. Simply put, a next-generation air cargo management system gives you a competitive advantage: it enables you to collaborate with trucking companies to provide on-time performance and world-class customer service while increasing profitability.