Exclusive – Swarm Intelligence is Swiss WorldCargo’s Key to Success

Take about 300 creative minds working at Swiss WorldCargo’s Zurich HQ and ask them to join different councils to elaborate pioneering solutions for further enhancing the product quality and to optimize the flow of goods. What do you get after some months of collective pondering? Refreshing out-of-the-box ideas providing food for thought and stimuli to take the freight carrier to the next level. And - a team of competent and highly motivated staff, that strongly identify with their work, adds Ashwin Bhat, Head of Swiss WorldCargo.

Head of Swiss WorldCargo Ashwin Bhat relies on internal know-how to constantly improve the carrier’s freight business  -  pictures: Swiss
Head of Swiss WorldCargo Ashwin Bhat relies on internal know-how to constantly improve the carrier’s freight business - pictures: Swiss

It’s the old grass roots approach in new packaging, Ashwin and his colleagues feel committed to, developing solutions for tomorrow and times after from sources within the company. A bottom-up principle favored by the management, contrasting the hierarchical top-down model exerted by many other carriers. Relying on internal expertise to improve processes constantly is seemingly a much wiser way compared to engaging external wisemen to suggest improvements, be it McKinsey or alike know-it-all consultants. “We give our people confidence and we strongly encourage them to take their own decisions within the given framework of our airline and freight division,” describes Ashwin the wide field of action.

Collective approach to individualize services
The carrier’s overriding objective is creating so called “quality corridors,” be it in the pharma field, mail services or to make data access easier and transmissions more transparent, speeding up decision making and work flows. Ashwin illustrates the solution finding processes of his staff by giving some examples: “As an outcome of many suggestions we push our agents that handle pharmaceuticals and alike temperature critical products to be CEIV certified. This assures equal standards throughout Swiss WorldCargo’s global network.” The project includes tasks like the monitoring of warehouses used by the carrier at their different destinations, offering training courses for employees dealing with pharmaceuticals and temperature critical products to bring them all to the same level and offering customers active tracking opportunities. Pharma is becoming an increasingly personalized commodity, states Ashwin. “Our Pharma Council, which consists of experts caring about the product development, area and station managers, comes up with suggestions how to tailor services to customers’ needs and decides in close coordination with the Cargo Management Team about the implementation of the findings.”

Swiss operates eight cargo friendly Boeing 777 passenger jetliners, with two more to come
Swiss operates eight cargo friendly Boeing 777 passenger jetliners, with two more to come

“It’s all about speed”
One visible result of the carrier’s swarm intelligence strategy, among others, is better control of the pharma container management in close cooperation with special service providers. More to come in the future, announces a spokesperson of the airline.
Other managers belonging to the “Mail House Council” keep track of latest trends in e-commerce, develop internal investment strategies in order to be a step ahead of the development and propose operational enhancements. “In e-commerce it’s all about speed,” tells Mr Bhat. To achieve this, IT connectivity is required, as well as a standardized database with controlled data access for all the parties involved along the supply chain and state-of-the-art ground service provided by handling agents along the carrier’s entire network, he adds.

Rapid tail-tail transfers
Based on this understanding, Swiss WorldCargo has taken many individual steps to improve ground handling processes, particularly at their Zurich hub where most of their e-commerce goods are transferred from flight to flight. Along with our handling agent, Swiss WorldCargo can offer tail-tail transfers at the carrier’s home base taking no more than 60 minutes.
It’s all about speed! And quality, flexibility and expertise, the main supporting pillars of SWC’s business model. “How do we take quality to the next level, where can we improve efficiency, reduce the acceptance times of pieces and which steps must be taken to further intensify the relationship with our suppliers,” Ashwin asks, outlining the program of some councils driven by the aim to convert the entire network into so called quality corridors.


Dream run
Thoughts are free, taboos don’t exist. All proposals submitted by the councils’ members fitting the overall framework of the freight carrier are welcome by the top deck. Free, innovative thinking of their employees is Swiss WorldCargo’s trump card, shown by many innovations that have given the freight airline an excellent reputation worldwide.
The fruitful fine-tuning of its operation and customer service is reflected in SWC’s business performance, underpinned by the burgeoning cargo market. “Currently, we experience a dream run,” enthuses Ashwin. “During the last two months, the load factor ex hub Zurich stood at 89.5 percent. The very stiff 2017 target “we are positive to meet.” Except for exports leaving a few stations, the vast majority of the carrier’s routes are running extremely well, both ways, he resumes, expecting the trend to carry on unabated in 2018.
Then, there will be some fleet adjustments. The Swiss operated seven A340 passenger jets will be transferred to their subsidiary Edelweiss, who intends enlarging their intercontinental network. Swiss expects to add two Boeing 777 passenger aircraft to their fleet, upping the number of this Boeing variant belonging to the Helvetian airline to ten.

Heiner Siegmund

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