Innovation and digitization will allow the logistics industry to catch up with the evolution its shipping clients are experiencing. The first of four ‘Airfreight Upward’ webinars, a new project organized by Air Cargo Belgium, brought some insights.
Air cargo is considered to be the fastest of all transport modes, but that quality generally refers only to the actual time in the air, said ACB’s Digital Green Lane Coordinator, Han Van
Steenwinkel. So, speeding up the process must be achieved through digitizing the landside management process.
This is still performed by different stakeholders often engaged in 1 to 1 communication and lacking the overall picture. “As a result, capacity cannot be planned, which leads to peaks as well as idle time,” said Mr Van Steenwinkel.
Paperless environment this year
Supported by its BRUcloud platform, ACB is working on a digital green lane consisting of different apps connecting forwarders, haulers, and ground handlers in a swift process that should considerably reduce time on the ground. According to Mr Van Steenwinkel, ACB’s focus for 2021 is to achieve a fully paperless process.
A testimonial in this respect was given by Bart Hauwaerts, warehouse manager at Expeditors. Since the implementation of the apps, he has experienced a dramatic drop in errors and waiting times, the latter by 50% in exports and 25% in imports. At the end of the day, it has changed the ground handling process and has allowed Expeditors to revamp its operations, Mr Hauwaerts concluded.
Port of Antwerp leads the way
A former ACB board member, Geert De Wilde is now the Chief Operating Officer of NxtPort, the platform of the Port of Antwerp which, like BRUcloud, is powered by Nallian technology.
Mr De Wilde elaborated on the extensive connectivity of the platform both within the own port community and on the international level. He is a staunch advocate of ‘Logistics 4.0’, robot-driven and IT supported warehouses, which are the only way forward to support the transition the industry has made from steam-powered plants to smart factories.
“The logistics industry is still lagging behind that way of thinking. Competition is no longer coming from similar companies offering comparable services, but from digital freight forwarders and direct shipper platforms”.
Education must follow suit
This message was clearly understood by the Thomas More University of Applied Sciences which, a mere five years ago, was experiencing an exodus of students put off by the too academic approach. Part of the program overhaul was the integration of innovation, said Peter Verspecht, Head of the Department of Logistics and Supply Chain Management. He referred to the successful Virtual Reality courses, especially for warehouse management simulation that proved their worth.
Marcel Schoeters in Brussels
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