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Optimising air cargo processes with advanced technologies

Airfreight companies have battled through many challenges but advanced technologies are set to help the industry grow.

The air cargo sector has witnessed a steady ascent, despite challenges from lingering supply chain issues, labour shortages, and capacity constraints.

Other negative factors such as high fuel costs, regulatory changes, geopolitical tensions, and the aftermath of the pandemic are not slowing down long-term growth either.

As of September 2023, data shows a 6% increase in volumes and a dynamic load factor improved by 2% to 58% compared to September 2022 (source: CLIVE Data Services).

As the sector aims for continued growth, the focus has shifted towards leveraging advanced solutions to enhance operational performance.

The air cargo market is expected to reach $130.19bn by 2030, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.9% from 2020-2030 (source: Market Research Future). Plus, forecasts anticipate a rise of 19.5m tons between 2023-2027, projecting a CAGR of 5.3% during this period (source: IATA).

Advanced technologies, including AI, machine learning, and predictive algorithms, will be pivotal in achieving these projections. Furthermore, the rise in e-commerce correlates with an uptick in cargo aircraft. Cirium predicts that by 2041, the number will exceed 4,100, including 1,060 new aircraft and 2,480 conversions from passenger aircraft.

To meet this rising demand, the air cargo industry will need to invest in creating efficiencies.

Suggestions to bolster air cargo operations range from creating cargo-friendly airports for quicker loading and unloading, to improved collaboration with Airport Cargo Community Systems.

These systems offer a digital platform that fosters a smooth interface among airport cargo community members, reducing paperwork and redundancy. Digital airfreight corridors, efficient unit load device (ULD) handling and digitisation are crucial for optimising resources.

Photo: INFORM GmbH

Advanced cargo software solutions significantly optimise:

Resource management.
Capacity utilisation considering opportunities and risks across various flights.
Telematics applications to increase situational awareness and offer dynamic planning based on live traffic data.
Efficient task assignments to meet Service Level Agreements (SLAs) while considering cargo importance.Enhancing Ground Handling: Telematics tools provide vital information on the location, status, and condition of ground support equipment, leading to efficient fleet management and cost savings. Combined with advanced cargo software, real-time ULD assignments and identifying damaged equipment becomes seamless.

Innovative Cargo/Baggage Transport: New software systems integrate cargo and baggage handling, allowing dispatchers to view and manage tasks from a unified resource pool. This approach maximises efficiencies, providing a comprehensive view of available resources and tasks.

Tour Optimisation: Cargo optimisation software facilitates a detailed view of tours, ULDs, locations, and vehicles. Integrated telematics trigger progress indicators and forecasts the upcoming tasks. Users can navigate seamlessly, optimizing the tour process.

Enhanced Driver Assignments: Modern optimisation software digitises driver assignment processes, replacing manual methods. It provides a detailed view of tasks, priority orders, and SLA terms. Easy adaptability to regulations and flexible allocation of resources enhances efficiency.

Embracing cutting-edge technologies positions airlines, airports, and ground handlers favourably in the expanding air cargo domain. As metrics improve and long-term airfreight contracts become commonplace, leveraging advanced software for resource management, visibility, and operational excellence is paramount for navigating future challenges.

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