#1: Increased automation and digitalization
While the conventional narrative states that the airfreight industry is reluctant to adopt digital innovations, developments this year suggest the times may be changing, with executives from logistics providers, such as SEKO Logistics’ global vice president of airfreight, Shawn Richard, saying it is increasingly necessary to implement these changes. The cargo industry has made strides in the last year towards increasing its automated and digitalized processes and is expected to continue doing so in the coming year.
Various airlines have begun to cut out traditional paper-based systems by implementing use of digital processes, including digital devices that measure ULDs, apps for dangerous goods declarations and online platforms for booking and tracking shipments in real-time. Forwarders, integrators and airports are also investing in technology. Increasingly, airports require ground handlers and providers to reserve slots via digital platform, thus increasing efficiency and lowering costs and carbon footprints through visibility and data-sharing.
At the end of 2018, IATA also announced that the electronic airwaybill (e-AWB) will become the default contract of carriage for all air cargo shipments on enabled trade lanes, effective Jan. 1, 2019, which received mixed reactions from our sources – some optimistic at the news, and others expressing their reservations.
Either way, in the coming year, we expect to see more digital cooperation between various logistics chain partners, some through private agreements, and perhaps more as part of air cargo communities.