Thanks to a flood of venture capital funding finding its way into logistics, the digital revolution has finally reached the air cargo industry. Whether it’s wearable tech like the “smart glasses” featured in September’s issue of the magazine, Bluetooth tracking of ULDs or screening so advanced most cargo can be cleared by customs while it’s still in the air, technology promises to solve most of the problems shippers face on a day-to-day basis. Still, one may wonder, at the end of the day, what does all that expensive tech add to the shipper’s invoice?
To answer that question, Air Cargo World recently spoke with Chris Gregg, vice president of airfreight, North America, at Hellmann Logistics, about how to evaluate new opportunities presented by technology advancements to provide the most important information to shippers without making costs prohibitive.
ACW: Hellmann launched a new tracking service last year. Which digital offerings are essential to competing in the market today, and which are nice but may not be worth the extra price tag for shippers?
CG: Just for clarity, Hellmann has had track-and-trace visibility for decades. We did late last year launch a new multi-use real-time tracking device, which can simply be dropped in the mail upon completion of the shipment. This unique hardware not only constantly monitors the shipment’s current position, but temperature, humidity, vibration and other details. We continue to offer this unique product to our customers.
Additionally, we at Hellmann Worldwide Logistics are constantly looking at new technological opportunities to not only provide added visibility of our customers’ supply chains, but also to make ourselves more productive and competitive in the marketplace. New opportunities such as RPA [Robotic Process Automation], along with system and process enhancements, will keep Hellmann at the forefront of the digital evolution and will help us meet our targets while delivering best-in-class value to our customers.
ACW: Last year, Hellmann began cooperating with digital cross-airline booking platform cargo.one. Is this having a major impact on how Hellmann books air cargo space?
CG: There are many competing types of cargo that need to be booked every day in this industry. Hellmann Worldwide Logistics is a non-asset-based provider, which allows us the ultimate flexibility to review each individual customer’s needs and work backward to a solution that will meet the customer’s transit and service-level expectations at as economic a rate as possible.
One method for doing this is through a marketplace where last-minute excess capacity is sold at economical rates to those who have cargo for destinations served by those flights. This type of pricing will certainly be a portion of what we do in the future, but it also has to be a fit for the customer that has freight ready and available for the parameters set by that particular offer.
ACW: Regarding specialty cargo, carriers are increasingly developing products that cater to these markets. Is that necessary?
CG: It is absolutely necessary for carriers to continue to develop these products. Secure and compliant speed to market is what customers expect of this mode of transport. Whether it be perishables, AOGs [aircraft on ground]/ship spares, healthcare, goods requiring added security, live animals, etc., they all require some extra measure of monitoring or handling above and beyond the standard general cargo shipment.
Nearly all the customers shipping these types of goods have additional requirements of the forwarders and carriers that move their freight. We at Hellmann Worldwide Logistics take pride in our management and execution of these products. We work exclusively with carriers that have demonstrated best-in-class capabilities to move the product in question and which we are certain will meet the customers’ needs.