Shippers call for more airfreight data

ShanghaiSHANGHAI -- The current shortcomings of airfreight – and the opportunities for its improvement – came into full view during IATA’s World Cargo Symposium this week, as shippers pressed for greater accessibility to shipping data.

Robert Mellin, head of distribution logistics at electronics company Ericsson, was particularly vocal about the need for more data within the airfreight process. Mellin described how more information and data should be passed on to shippers. This data should not just be about pickup/delivery times, but also, for example, data “on when things go wrong.” Presumably, this would include more substantive geo-tracking data.

Airfreight “is so old-fashioned,” Mellin said, adding that “everyone knows what the problem is.”

The “problem” is not solved just with electronic air waybills (e-AWB), he said. Rather, the entire airfreight system needs to be wrapped in greater data and information transmission. If it is, the satisfaction levels with airfreight among shippers will climb above the current level of 7.08 on a scale of 1 to 10, as per IATA’s recent survey of shippers.

“If we get the solution in place … you will take out cost, and I, as a shipper, am interested in investing in this,” Mellin said.

Mellin called for the creation of one common airfreight data cloud for all parties to access – and leverage.

Ericsson has annual sales of about $35 billion.

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