In 2015 the IATA quality monitoring scheme Cargo 2000 sort of reinvented itself under the new brand name Cargo iQ. At the TIACA Forum and Exhibition in Paris, Executive Director Ariaen Zimmerman shared the programme’s new goals and ambition with CargoForwarder Global.
Dutch-born Ariaen reminded of the environment Cargo was set up back in 1997. “These were the days when the integrators were on the rise. They were able to keep the entire process in one hand and
their booking model was totally different. In the traditional air cargo industry the door-to-door process would take up to 7 days, with little to no tracking information. So we came up with Cargo
2000 to take some days out of the process. As the millennium was nearing, we added the year 2000 to our name.”
On the other hand, this ‘7-days’ chain was a rather rough division, says Ariaen, that somewhat oversimplified the situation. “We have so many different products on the market that move in 24 or 36 hours, for instance, so we cannot simply take two days out of the supply chain, everywhere. Besides that, we quickly found out we had bigger challenges, like speaking the same language. Just to give one example: At which particular point within the chain do you consider a consignment as ‘accepted’?”
Cargo 2000’s intention was to monitor the physical flow of the door-to-door process by setting up a Cargo Data Management Portal (CDMP). Ariaen: “We wanted the forwarders and the airlines to talk to one another. Cargo 2000’s ultimate goal was to allocate a route map to each consignment, allowing both monitoring and intervention to keep up to the commitment made to the customer.”
A new concept for a new environment
Above all the ‘2000’ was more of an ‘idée fixe”, Ariaen admits. “Everything changes. When Cargo 2000 was created, there was no such thing as digitalisation, at least not to the present extent. E-Commerce was something we had never heard of!”
“Eventually Cargo 2000 had been giving the wrong impression of being a non-recurrent project. We had created the expectation that Cargo 2000 would be ready in 2000.” An unrealistic vantage point.
In 2015, in order to revive the concept, a new management team was brought in. In July last year, the programme was given a second life as ‘Cargo iQ’. “We needed to change this ‘project’ idea into what we are: a committed group,” Ariaen explains. “Today we have 82 members who have committed themselves to working in a comparable way, by complying with certain standards.”
Not ‘one size fits all’
One of the recent conclusions of Cargo iQ is that it was imperative to bring about a better connection to the processes on the ground. “In the old days, all we evaluated was whether a particular shipment had overall been successful or not. Now we look into all the movement details of every shipment along their route map. This gives us the opportunity to not merely inform our members to what extent they have been able to deliver as promised, but to actually learn how their processes work and can be improved.”
According to Ariaen, the Cargo iQ quality standards are anything but a ‘one size fits all’. “We have agreed on a different target for each individual process of our individual members. The time needed to perform has to be in line with the true design of the processes involved. Nevertheless we still also track the customer promise for each shipment.”
The system also allows the members to compare their performance with others, which provides a better tool for process improvement within their respective organisations.
Taking some time out of the entire supply chain process has remained a relative notion, even if the entire processing time has now been reduced to 5.5 days. In this respect, Ariaen wants to point out that the time the consignment is under the actual control of the carrier is some 42 hours. “For the rest of the time something else is happening, which we need to understand better. Many consignments are delivered up to 30 hours in advance before their planned flight. Quite often they are not collected immediately either. This is something to bear in mind; in the present environment it is no longer possible to reduce costs, one must try to avoid them.”
Quality must be valued
Apart from taking the quality monitoring into another dimension, Cargo iQ has adopted a more outward attitude, says Ariaen. “We are talking to the World Shippers’ Forum, which represents the interests of our industry’s principals. We feel that quality must be translated into something that has value in a commercial and a financial way as well. Our members represent over 20,000 sales people, for instance, that should be supported by what we do and able to talk about this.”
Last but not least, Ariaen thinks that potential Cargo iQ members must be able to benefit from strong branding. “We identify with innovation, reliability, collaboration and trust. With support of our branding, members can bring their business forward by being Cargo iQ-certified. We are now in the process of subcontracting the certification process to a third party. Eventually this will show us as a group of members who will not talk nonsense. If you want to sell premium services, you are obliged to keep control of both your processes and your consignments.
We may not be able to prevent pressure on our rates, but we cannot ignore our margins either. Those margins have become so slim that we can no longer afford to make costly mistakes. We need to do the right things and we need to do them right. Quality works on both sides of that equation.”
Marcel Schoeters in Brussels