Truck lines as far as the eye can see. That’s how it looked like a year ago in the harbor of Hamburg. Meanwhile, most jams belong to the past, thanks to a Dakosy-developed IT tool enabling truckers to book a slot for picking up or delivering containers at a predetermined time. As outcome the flow of goods has remarkably increased, the supply chain became more transparent and truckers’ daily work was eased.
Many trucks, limited space
The port of Hamburg is only one example where traffic is extremely heavy but space a rare commodity. Another place is Frankfurt Airport.
Evidenced last fall when the tonnage went through the roof, causing chaos and huge backlogs of imports and exports for weeks. Some trucking companies complained about waiting times exceeding 20 hours and more.
According to the industry, the situation got out of control among other things because the community at FRA was missing an electronic tool allocating fixed loading and unloading slots for trucks at any of the local ground handlers’ freight terminals. “Instead, all happened in an uncoordinated manner, leading to jams, long waiting periods at peak times, severely aggravating the already existing problems caused by the fast-rising tonnage,” complained CEO Stephan Haltmayer of Frankfurt-based agent Quick Cargo Service at that time.
RSS does away with traffic jams
However, this shortcoming belongs to the past. On May 15, the handling agent Frankfurt Cargo Services (FCS) and ground handler LUG aircargo handling kicked off an electronic slot booking scheme for pick-up and delivery of goods. The Dakosy-developed Ramp Steering System (RSS) enables ground handlers an overview of goods trucked to and from their freight terminals. Hence, it provides a solid basis for planning purposes. The tool can be used as an integral part of the IT manager’s electronic platform Fair@Link.
Practically, RSS is quite easy to manage: forwarding agents send their shipment data to the platform, including weight, number of packages, product specifications, desired time of loading (imports) or unloading (exports), air waybill number and other specs. Right after, they are automatically matched with the ground handling agent’s warehouse ramp availabilities at FRA.
As an option, forwarders and truckers can also execute slot-bookings at Lufthansa Cargo.
Simultaneously, truckers on the way to Frankfurt are informed if the requested slot is confirmed or a new unloading/loading time has been assigned or must be requested by them according to the drivers’ individual needs. “Our entire Ramp Steering System is based on an algorithm, offering extremely flexible and individual application options, tailored to the needs of our partnering companies,” claims CEO Ulrich Wrage of Dakosy.
Although only three weeks in operation, the system has proven its worth, confirms managing director Patrik Tschirch of LUG. “The data quality submitted by forwarders has improved remarkably, seen by a reduced error rate. Furthermore, the slot allocations prevent trucks standing in long lines waiting for delivery or pickup of shipments at our warehouse,” says the manager.
In a nutshell, faster flows of goods and higher product quality are the first visible RSS results since its introduction. Forwarders, handlers and truckers benefit from time savings and cost reductions, holds Mr. Wrage. In addition to this he points out that the system is able to check if a trucking company has obtained the status of regulated agent and if the driver meets all security provisions.
Fast rising participation
Meanwhile, 300 trucking companies have signed up for RSS - free of any charge. All they need for planning their road transports and booking a loading or pickup slot at FCS, LUG or LH Cargo respectively is an access code. At present, more than 70 forwarders partake in Fair@Link.
But all that glitters is not gold. Before becoming a reliable and fully functioning product, RSS has still to overcome minor teething troubles, confirms LUG chief Tschirch. “It is therefore positive that the platform was launched in times with normal volumes, enabling it a learning curve until cargo’s peak season begins later this year.”
And Dakosy’s Mr Wrage speaks of a time where his product still needs some “grooving in.”
According to him, most of the big forwarding boys have joined Fair@Link / RSS meanwhile. “Only last week one of the leading global logistics companies jumped on board,” he proudly says.
Next to come
Asked about implementing Fair@Link / RSS at other airports, Herr Wrage is cautiously optimistic. “This is part of our strategy. Currently we are in advanced talks with some airports in Germany but want to target other European airports as well,” he says.
Future projects are paired deliveries, first LUG, after FCS or LH Cargo, respectively vice versa, he says. A closed data circuit for DGR shipments will be launched next autumn with Fraport supporting this approach and LH Cargo as a prominent pilot partner, he announces. This will be complemented by slots booked by truckers for having their loads security controlled by sniffer dogs. This RASCargo (Remote Air Sampling for Canine Olfaction) called scheme is standard at a number of EU air-ports and is basically approved by the regulator for use at Rhine-Main as well. How-ever, no time for its launch has been determined yet.