It was a firework of ideas, news, impulses, post-Covid business models, and forward-leading initiatives that were presented by managers of the air cargo industry at the recent live event organized by the Frankfurt Air Cargo Community (FACC). The key take-aways that stood out at the conference, held for the sixth time in a row, are summarized below, complementing our other reports on the event.
However, even more important than the discussion of sparkling logistics and intriguing air freight topics, was another aspect: the community finally coming together in person after a long, frustrating period of lockdowns and video conferences.
Ashwin Bhat, COO Lufthansa Cargo
This physical aspect was emphasized by Ashwin Bhat, COO of Lufthansa Cargo, in his opening remarks of his presentation titled: The Future of Air Cargo: “It’s just great to be standing in front of an audience again. Something I was unable to do for 18 long months.” By blending physical and digital, the manager spoke of a “phygital future” of air cargo, lifting the business to the next level. “Sell online, create value from data, connect with partners, and share information are the key digital enablers of the new normal. This must go hand in hand with customer centric human services, winning talents that are willing and able to work in a borderless and hybrid phygital world.” He predicted that the industry is “moving from a supply chain to a value chain based on transparency, reliability, collaboration, and sustainability.”
Susanne Klingler-Werner, Managing Director, UPS Supply Chain Solutions
In 2020, 4.05 billion express and parcel shipments were sent by the integrator in and out of Germany (+11% year-over-year). Between 30% and 50% were addressed to, or sent by, first-time clients. UPS expects this trend to continue at an even higher speed due to the convenience of online shopping. This requires new solutions for the airport infrastructure, and a high degree of flexibility and willingness to cooperate between all parties involved.
Turning to the current mess at Pudong Airport, which is literally drowning in an avalanche of shipments, she urged to divert production from China to nearby Asian countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, or Vietnam, for instance, to secure a steady flow of goods. “Flexibility, cross company collaboration, a wider geographical distribution of production, sustainable transport solutions, and automatization of ground handling processes will craft a new era in global transportation.”
Klaus Dohrmann, VP Innovation Europe & Trend Research, DHL
All DHL business indicators, such as the Logistics Trend Radar, forecast a very positive and bright outlook for the industry, Klaus Dohrmann stated. Provided, the players are constantly innovating processes and operations, and are willing to connect by sharing data. At the end of the day, these key requirements will have a positive impact on the entire product range and serve to open new markets to achieve exponential growth figures. “We live in an era determined by logistics that is transforming from being cost driven to value creation.” Further to this, Mr. Dohrmann announced plans to build Risk Management Platforms in order to identify critical hotspots at the earliest convenience, map supply chains, and build risk profiles to foster the smooth flow of goods. Supply chains will reshape and become more diversified, focusing on resilience, flexibility, robustness, and sustainability, the DHL manager predicted.
Patrik Tschirch. Chairman of Frankfurt’s Air Cargo Community and MD LUG aircargo handling GmbH & Co. KG
In his presentation, Mr. Tschirch made a drastic comparison to illustrate the development or rather the slow development of air freight processes in the past decades. A comparison that was meant as a wake-up call to the industry. "My mother worked in PanAm's air cargo department in the late 1960s,” Patrik stated.
“To fill out documents, such as AWBs, she used a typewriter. The only difference from then to today: we use computers or cell phones, but an import shipment must still pass through 5 different control and clearance or acceptance points before it can be loaded onto a truck.
Innovative technical solutions exist, we just need to finally apply them. For example, let robots or drones take care of warehouse inventory, instead of having storekeepers check the items off manually on a piece of paper,” the manager recommended. “It is high time to become more phygital,” he urged.
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