Multimodal: data reveals airfreight moves in five and a half days, not seven

The traditional air cargo industry is 23% faster than most people think, delegates at last week’s Multimodal heard

London, UK, Wednesday, 12th April 2017 – There has been a significant improvement in average air cargo shipment times, which stand at five-and-a-half days, not the seven days traditional critics of the industry claim it takes.

No one seems to have noticed that there has been a significant improvement in average air cargo shipment times, Ariaen Zimmerman, Executive Director, Cargo iQ, told attendees at the Multimodal 2017 seminar on Valuing Cargo Performance last week.

“In January 2016, we introduced a new way of measuring this – with a couple of hundred thousand shipments a month, so we are producing robust numbers – and we saw it was 5.3/5.4 days,” said Zimmerman.

But the industry is still using the figure of an average of seven days, he added, a measurement produced in 1997 and part of a process, which saw the establishment of Cargo iQ’s predecessor Cargo 2000, the first industry-wide effort to improve transit times.

“So we are 23% faster than we think. And no one noticed,” he said.

Panellists at the event agreed that all stakeholders in the air cargo industry need to talk the same language and use the same words for targets and goals in order to reach meaningful agreements and be able to compare data.

“We need a shared version of the truth,” said Zimmerman.

“We need to truly understand what we all want from each other as it is easy for misunderstandings to creep in.”

Chris Welsh MBE, Secretary General of the Global Shippers’ Forum and Director of Global and European Policy for the Freight Transport Association (FTA) said shippers want reliable, predictable, secure, and sustainable distribution.

And increasingly they want more transparency and the ability to make changes even after the shipment has left its origin.

“They want to see regular, reliable statistics as well, so that they can benchmark both carriers and forwarders,” he said.

“That is the best way to drive enhanced performance.”

Lothar Moehle, Director AVSEC and Governance, DB Schenker, welcomed the development of Cargo iQ’s Master Operating Plan (MOP), which provides milestones for each airfreight journey to plot against.

“It shows the industry wants to listen to its customers,“ he said.

“There is a lot of co-operation nowadays with respect to process control and quality improvement but improving quality is something that never stops. Shippers talk to us all the time about performance.”

Improvement depended to a large extent on technology, according to Mark Olney, General Manager – Cargo, Europe, Middle East, India and Africa, Air Canada Cargo.

“There is still a lot of manual intervention and this is where mistakes can happen.

“The industry has a good take up of e-AWBs in places like the UK and Germany but it is not the same in other places, and we have to be honest about that.”

Paul Glaser, Managing Director, Cargomind, said the air cargo process is still highly fragmented.

“It is very important that we discuss in detail what the needs and possibilities are for all stakeholders so we can understand where the potential problems are.

“Visibility in real time is important so that we can react while the shipment is on its way.”

The panel all welcomed the launch of a new certification programme for Cargo iQ, with SGS as an external auditor, which would also help ensure a ‘shared version of the truth’.

“Having more data, in the same language, verified by an independent body will help shippers make choices and lift procurement of air cargo services to a new level,” said Welsh.

Multimodal celebrated its tenth anniversary this year and 325 exhibitors as the record-breaking show welcomed 9,449 supply chain decision makers.

The air cargo workshop was part of a series of educational sessions, which saw 82 industry experts share their insight.

Next year’s Multimodal will take place between 1st – 3rd of May 2018 at the Birmingham NEC.

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