Digitalization in air cargo has long since ceased to be a “nice to have”. Whether it is developing an algorithm for optimized ULD buildup, finding the best truck routes, or forecasting cargo demands – all benefit when we share data beyond traditional silos of the industry. However, in practice, still too much data is sent via communication channels that hinder real data-driven innovation. Instead of exchanging data efficiently and exploiting what is technically possible, companies transmit documents bilaterally accepting an efficient information exchange with varying data quality.
There is a great potential for a modern data ecosystem, notes our author, Dr. Daniel A. Döppner of Lufthansa Industry Solutions.
Platform for end-to-end digitalization in air cargo logistics
With ONE Record, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) claims to have found a solution that lays the foundation for end-to-end digitization of the logistics and transport supply chain, where data is exchanged between air cargo operators of all sizes in a standardized and modern way. Bundles with an industry-wide data standard and licensed as free and open-source, the initiative aims to enable high-quality sharing of traditional data, plus new data types, e.g. IoT sensor data, making novel digital solutions and data-driven business models possible.
Representation of the physical world with clear ownership and real-time updates by design
ONE Record is designed to get air cargo information right from the start, track shipments, and share data quickly, securely, and accurately so that all supply chain participants, regardless of size, can use the same communication chain. All relevant information along the transport chain, incl. booking data, handling instructions, tracking data, ULD information, even serial numbers of individual pieces are captured by the ONE Record data model and can be made accessible to partners via the standardized ONE Record interface. This brings cost savings for all participating members of the ONE Record Network, as each participant only needs to implement the ONE Record interface once and can reuse it to communicate with other users.
To achieve this, each company needs to have a ONE Record server that hosts their own data and provides access to air cargo stakeholders if needed. Every object of the physical world is represented in this distributed dataspace with a unique identifier. This is comparable to a web server that hosts specific web page and returns content for a given unique URL. The original data remains with its owner who is responsible for its quality and has the access control.
As a result, instead of creating and distributing documents and data copies such as air waybills or consolidation manifests, data consumers can request the data directly from various data owners on demand and compile the documents they know and process. Time-consuming manual data entry and manipulation are no longer required.
Furthermore, as we know from social media, it is very useful to be notified when new information is available. However, instead of following people at LinkedIn or Instagram, in ONE Record, companies subscribe to the data objects of interest and receive update notifications when changes occur, such as when a shipment is marked ready for carriage or needs to be re-iced. What follows the notifications is left up to the recipient who can use them to trigger internal processes, such as the fully digital pre-check of freight documents, automated ramp planning at acceptance or to identify which incoming customer´s trucks are stuck in traffic with which shipments – so they can bring shipments forward on site. As a result, delays, associated costs, and resource consumption through unnecessary data forwarding can be avoided.
Collaboration is helpful to make the change happen
It is important to keep in mind that ONE Record is more than a replacement of existing data formats like CargoIMP or CargoXML. Not only, because the standard is open source and free to use for everyone. But, its benefits and opportunities for a digital ecosystem are also accompanied with a rethinking of communication, processes, and IT infrastructure.
Lufthansa Cargo, for example, has already teamed up with its IT service provider Lufthansa Industry Solutions to tackle this challenge. Doing so, they set up and integrate the ONE Record server into the Lufthansa Cargo IT landscape, model legacy data models and business processes to ONE Record, and develop individual ONE Record modules. Furthermore, together with other digital cargo innovators such as Cargo Handling International (CHI), Sovereign Speed, FRAPORT, Fraunhofer IML, and Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences – who are all part of the federally funded “Digital Testbed Air Cargo” – they connect stakeholders along the transport chain.
Lufthansa Cargo – one of the pioneers when it comes to ONE Record – believes in its potential to automate processes to a much greater extent and increase the efficiency of cargo transportation. With ONE Record, they expect to improve communication with ground handling agents and increase the quality of customer data. However, as Dr. Philipp Billion from Lufthansa Cargo emphasizes: “It is still a team effort across the industry, because the value of the ONE Record data network increases with each participant. To get everyone on board, we are trying to keep the barrier to entry low so everyone can join and quickly reap the benefits for themselves."
Both Lufthansa companies are active drivers and contributors of the ONE Record standard – not only by participating in the IATA working groups, but by incorporating learnings from implementation projects back to the community and into the further development. In this way, they keep the momentum of ONE Record going, and welcome and support every new supply chain player in the ONE Record network.
Dr. Daniel A. Döppner, Lufthansa Industry Solutions
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