Call For Government e-Cargo Push

Call For Government e-Cargo Push

16 Mar 2015

With so much effort, it is hard to believe that we still see e-freight penetration at 3.4% versus potential e-freight shipments and 1.3% against the total air waybill volume.

With so much effort, it is hard to believe that we still see e-freight penetration at 3.4% versus potential e-freight shipments and 1.3% against the total air waybill volume.  

Certainly it’s worth remembering that in December 2004, the IATA Board mandated IATA to lead an industry-wide project whose aim is to take paper out of the air supply chain, and create the conditions to replace the existing processes with new processes where the industry, and governments, rely on the electronic exchange of information between the parties to facilitate the movement of freight. 

Will we be paperless by 2076?

Despite all the effort and conversation and promise directed toward e-freight, nine years later as an industry we are 1.3% implementation.

If we carry on at this pace, we will reach 100% e-freight penetration in the year 2706. 

The biggest objection from shippers is the investment required. 

Imagine the complexity and cost of developing a system that sends electronic messages for every document that currently accompanies a shipment. 

The issue is further complicated by the fact that several documents do not currently have a single globally accepted message standard. 

One of the options is to share scanned images. 

In my view this is actually an acceptable way of doing business. 

While shippers may complain that this process causes additional workload, in effect they might want to look at how they currently archive their documents. 

I am sure that many are archived onto disk storage for later retrieval and it may well be that they bring forward the archiving activity to be able to share scanned images with their trading partners. 

There are many forward thinking shippers and they have some fantastic systems, but there are still some who use the forwarder as their shipping department and are more than comfortable for the forwarder to take full responsibility for managing the entire documentation requirements. 

This then puts the burden on the forwarder to produce and send the relevant messages on behalf of the shipper. 

For this to happen the forwarder will need to develop his or her system to be able to do this. 

I believe that this is unlikely. 

As a bit of framework here the CALOGI solution allows shippers to share scanned images with forwarders, who can then add their specific documents and share them with both the import forwarder and the consignee. 

The best chance for e-freight to succeed is for it to be sponsored by governments. 

Government involvement is nothing new. 

The EU Commission issued the  Freight Transport Logistics Action Plan  in October 2007. 

The action plan introduced e-freight as: 

The concept of e-freight denotes the vision of a paper-free, electronic flow of information associating the physical flow of goods with a paperless trail built by ICT. 

It includes the ability to track and trace freight along its journey across transport modes and to automate the exchange of content-related data for regulatory or commercial purposes. 

e-freight was also touched upon by the Swedish Presidency in its  e-freight Roadmap - Vision, Goals and Implementation  published in December 2009. 

The Roadmap identified the following five objectives: 

  • A standard framework for freight information exchange covering all transport modes and all stakeholders. 
  • A single European transport document for all carriage of goods, irrespective of mode should be developed along with all the necessary legislative support (electronic waybill) 
  • A single window (single access point) and one stop shopping for administrative procedures in all modes. 
  • Simple, harmonised border crossings procedures for all modes of transport for all EU member states. 
  • Simple procedures and the necessary infrastructure for establishing secure and efficient transport corridors between Europe, USA, and Asia. 

We have also seen the Singaporean and Korean governments become actively involved in implementing e-freight. 

If governments will not take up the challenge then it is going to be down to the will of the stakeholders and those that can influence them. 

We will certainly do everything we can to help.

I don’t think we are doing anything wrong, I just think we need to be doing more of what we are doing. 

IATA needs to agree targets with airlines and drive this forward , FIATA and the local forwarder associations need to drive targets with their members. 

I also believe more case studies will help with description of where the savings have been made. 

Calogi Results Positive S/H

Our e-AWB and e-delivery order for the Dubai dnata terminals has saved the company nearly million dollars, with over 250,000 air waybills automatically updated in the GHA system upon air waybill execution,  500,000 delivery orders generated by the forwarder online, and 750,000 invoices for ground handling charges automatically generated through the system.

The feedback I get from the industry is there is still a lack of knowledge of e-freight and that knowledge still needs to be imparted to everyone. 

IATA’s efforts in this area with their e-freight handbook is an extremely comprehensive guide which explains in detail how to implement e-freight, however it is only available in English.Adding a Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, and Chinese versions would help. 

Also it would be great to see a simplified guide that explains to a freight forwarder what he actually needs to do to participate in the program. 

Calogi has developed a small presentation which explains in very simple terms what is required to do e-AWB, giving examples of FWB and FSU messages and the supporting documents such as the cargo receipt. This has been well received and is free to anyone who visits our exhibition stand at the World Cargo Symposium this week.

Pace Will Quicken S/H 

Despite the rather slow pace outlined earlier my feeling is that the time is coming around where we will see an increase in the migration toward e-freight ahead.

With broader cooperation and more government involvement led by forward thinking air cargo organizations like TIACA, IATA, FIATA and others up and down the line, we can imagine e-freight implementation reaching 15% penetration by 2016, perhaps slightly higher. 

My feeling is once the e-freight ball moves beyond the hopes and dreams stage, and there is some indication that may already be happening, momentum will  become catalyst of change for others , so that we might even see that total reaching 50% by 2018. 

But first things first. Our record thus far is not encouraging and we all need to do more.

IATA/FIATA/TIACA/GACAG, keep going, you have really raised awareness, now we need to raise understanding. An agreed simplified guide to the industry will remove the mystery and promote adoption. Use local industry meetings to explain what needs to be done and how to do it. 

Governments, some great examples above, please sign the required treaties to allow paper free trading. Work with trade to identify ways to simplify data exchange across all modes of transport. Use incentives. If anyone can make this happen, you can. 

Finally, as indivduals, we all have a responsibility for implementing e-freight happen. Over the last year mindsets have changed, but we still need to walk-the-walk and move from words to action. Why don’t we key stakeholders set ourselves a personal target to process at least 75% of the shipments that we are involved in as e-freight consignments by end of 2016 and then do everything in our power to meet this goal. Those of us that achieve this goal can look back and say ‘I really made a difference’. 

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