Congratulations, ACB! Today (21APR21), the Belgian freight association celebrates its fifth anniversary. Would the club not exist, it would have to be invented. In the past 5 years, it has proven to be a dynamic driving force in the development of Brussels Airport’s cargo business, the digitalization of processes, and the collaboration of the air freight industry in Belgium, including the Benelux region as a whole.
Old school is out
Cakes are symbolic. They not only convey a visual message, but also a delicious celebratory occasion. Such as the one on 21APR16, when 7 cargo managers from different companies came together for the official founding of ACB, celebrating the culmination of months of intense preparation and consultations. The common goal welding the septet together, was to bundle the forces of cargo players and do away with the usual old school, lone-wolf approach of air freight companies. A goal that has not only worked out well but that has been excellently implemented. This can be attested after 5 years of ACB existence.
Back to its history: Shortly after the organization’s inception, other logistics players such as the Belgian Airfreight Institute ((BAFI), cleaning specialist CTC, or the Association of Air Cargo Managers Belgium (ACMAB), joined the club, growing ACB’s influence and enabling it to make a name for itself within the country’s cargo landscape.
State support helped
One major success was obtaining the recognition of the Flemish Government as an Innovative Company Network, coupled with substantial subsidies. This provided the organization with financial support for three years, and enabled ACB to set up a professional cluster organization, hiring experts who knew the different facets of the air freight business.
Looked at with a mix of interest and envy
Steven Polmans of Brussels Airport Cargo, became ACB’s first Chairman, paving the way for a cluster structure of the organization, thus giving it an overarching framework. Retrospectively, the manager, who is now head of TIACA and plays a leading role at IT specialist Nallian, resumes: “I firmly believe that ACB has brought together the various players [doing business in the cargo complex of Brussels Airport] to jointly seek solutions for the greater good. I think that, thanks to ACB, BRUcargo is a perfect example of a modern and forward-looking ecosystem, and the value that such an ecosystem can generate for its participants as well as the wider environment. Moreover, from my international position as president of TIACA, I can say that, in a very short time, ACB has built a reputation and an image worldwide for the work they do and the role they play and, above all, the results they achieve. Quite a few other airports look at Brussels with a mixture of interest and envy when it comes to ACB.”
Sustainability is added to the tasks
It was he, who, in close coordination with ACB Director Geert Keirens and the entire team, set the course aimed at making BRUcargo the most attractive, efficient, innovative, and successful logistical platform. This was the mission from the start and is now being expanded with sustainability as a key goal. Meanwhile, 9 different steering groups exist, focusing on Digitalization, Pharma, e-Commerce, or Live Animals, to name but a few.
Many voices, one tune
Their orchestration is conducted by Geert Keirens: “The magic lies in the close cooperation within the community. We think, act, and work as one integrated supply chain within a multi-company environment. Over 100 individuals from more than 80 companies are participating in different steering groups or projects. All community initiatives are managed as projects with a bottom-up approach linked to a strategic vision,” states the manager.
On today's anniversary day, ACB can present important successes:
Brussels Airport has become the ‘Preferred Pharma Gateway of Europe’. Thanks to data sharing on BRUcloud, cargo players are enabled to share information, making processes transparent for all participants. Last, but not least, only a short while ago, a Digital Green Lane for landside transports and handling processes was introduced, speeding up the supply chain, and avoiding truck jams.
No standstill: work goes on
Finally, the organization’s current chairman, David Bellon, looks ahead and outlines future tasks: “We can be proud of what we have achieved over the past 5 years, and look forward to the future with hope. In the coming years, the road to digitalization of the mutual business processes will be further pursued, thus making Brussels Airport a permanent reference for an efficient and digital cargo platform. This will benefit all companies.”
Mr. Bellon assures that Air Cargo Belgium will continue to focus on facilitating dialogue between freight companies, informing its members, and making the necessary resources available to enable further success.
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