SHANGHAI – At the end of four days of meetings, workshops, networking and a fair amount of derision from the shipper community, IATA’s 9th annual World Cargo Symposium drew to a close yesterday with thoughts about the future of the industry and it’s rather urgent need for innovation.
Such was the backdrop for IATA’s inaugural Innovation Award ceremony, honoring individuals and companies that had created products or services aimed at making the air cargo business more competitive compared to other modes of transportation. The three finalists included a self-powered, GPS-trackable ULD called CANTrack, developed by CHEP Aerospace Solutions; an intuitive decision support tool called CLIVE; and an online claim management system called Cargo Claims, by CargoHub.
After the manager of each project gave a short presentation about their innovations, the audience of several hundred delegates was given paper ballots to choose a winner – an irony that was not lost on Glyn Hughes, IATA’s global head of cargo, who apologized, tongue in cheek, for the balloting system at a conference that was advocating paperless air waybills.
In a short time, the votes were counted and the CANTrack team was announced as the winner. According to CHEP, the CANTrack is powered by solar-charged batteries and contains a GPS/GSM tracking system that allows operators to record its movements in real time. The units also have a temperature sensor that can alert shippers, handlers and forwarders if the contents are getting too warm or too cool, as well as an impact sensor that can help determine liability in cases of damaged cargo.
In addition to a trophy, CHEP’s IT director Floris Kleijn accepted a US$20,000 prize for coming up with the winning idea. The two runners-up – Niall Van de Wouw, managing director at CLIVE, and Kiona van de Burg, business development manager at CargoHub – each accepted checks for US$8,000 for being a finalist.
IATA also recognized its up-and-coming leaders with a panel discussion featuring members of its Future Air Cargo Executive Summit (FACES), who suggested ways that the airfreight business can attract, develop and retain young talent to be the next generation of leaders.
FACES participant Jennifer Haigh, of Morpho Detection LLC, suggested a need for broader outreach to college campuses and cargo clubs to find people interested in making airfreight part of their careers. Joost Van Doesburg, of the European Shipper’s Council, said the industry should try harder to satisfy its younger customers and embrace digital technology.
“I represent your customer and, I must say, your customer is not really happy with your industry,” he said. “We need to invest in people who can create what shippers are asking for. We need to support more IT people instead of investing in another salesperson.”
By the end of the last session of the 2015 conference – which attracted more than 1,000 delegates, 140 speakers and 54 exhibitors – Hughes announced the location and date of next year’s symposium: Berlin, March 15-17, 2016.