Air cargo plays an important role when it comes to quickly transporting temperature-sensitive goods including life-saving medicines and edibles. Although until the recent past, it was difficult to track air cargo once it took flight, there have been huge advances in the direction with the help of EDI systems like Cargo iQ. But there’s still something missing in the air cargo tracking scene.
As per an IATA report, air freight represents nearly $6 trillion worth of goods, which makes 35% of the overall global freight volume.
Additionally, the recent global financial crisis and the US-China trade war impacted air freight demand and left the air freight market in a vulnerable state. The spike in jet fuel price added to the misery, and air cargo saw some of its lowest figures in August 2019.
In such a volatile and turbulent environment, the air cargo space has become more competitive by the day, and survival of the fittest makes it necessary to adopt more efficient and optimized operations. This is where a well-planned and implemented tracking system steps in.
EDI Systems Like Cargo iQ Have Helped
But Can We Stop There?
Cargo iQ — an IATA initiative that sets air cargo quality and efficiency standards for its members worldwide — helps set the bar for processes and service quality at each step.
While this standardization helps to a great extent, it still has one hiccup — it doesn't automatically tell you what happens to your cargo after you bid adieu to it while the check-in, check-out, customs check, release, and tens of other processes are taking place without someone manually updating ‘events’ into the EDI.
6 Reasons You Need to Set Up a Robust Air Cargo Tracking System
Existing EDI systems like Cargo iQ have come a long way in maintaining quality air cargo operations, but there are still some things that need to be addressed.
1. You Need Coverage Right From the First Mile Until the Last Mile
Once you are at the airport, you at least have partial visibility, but how do you know if your cargo made it there in the right condition to begin with?
Make sure that the system you set up tracks the cargo during warehousing, airport activities, and everything else that happens from the origin until it reaches the destination.
2. You Need More Than Just Your Cargo's Location
Is your cargo sensitive to handling? Are you running a cold chain operation? Damaged or partially missing cargo arriving promptly is no good!
In addition to data on where your cargo is, whether it’s on the road, stuck at customs, or has reached its destination, the air cargo tracking system must also keep you updated on the condition of the goods, or if any inventory is missing at any point during the journey.
3. You Need to Bridge the Gaps in Your EDI System
What if your goods are sitting at the tarmac and getting warmed up? Who is noticing this in a busy airport?
This can only be achieved if your tracking solution can gather data about your cargo at every point of its journey, especially details on its location and condition. It should be able to tell you how your cargo was treated — if the temperature or humidity went below or above the set limits, if someone handled it roughly, or even if someone opened it and didn't put it back in order.
4. You Need Dynamic Route Optimization
Which are the best airports to choose from? What is the best delivery route? This information based on past and real-time data will enable you to make quick decisions.
Ensure that the system you use can provide real-time data on the cargo's location clubbed with analytics for insight to help you optimize the routes for future shipments. These analytics will tell you if there are issues with a particular route so you can take precautions, or if possible, switch to a better route if necessary.
5. You Need to Facilitate Inventory Management
Do you know how the ETA change of your air shipment can affect your stock situation?
Adopt a system that enables better inventory management by providing timely stock-keeping information, shortage alerts, and everything you need in order to keep your inventory in check while making sure you don’t over/understock.
6. You Also Need AI-Driven Prescriptive Intelligence
Imagine your ETA has changed; wouldn’t it affect your window of delivery and cause detention?
You need recommendations on which new delivery window to pick. Prescriptive analytics and AI make the information actionable and useful in real sense. If you have real, real-time, relevant data backed by a 24x7 control tower, you will always stay on the top of your air cargo and never have to wonder if it is doing okay.
Technology has enabled us to keep track of everything, but when it comes to precious cargo up in the air, just tracking and tracing your cargo isn’t enough. If you want to be with your cargo through every moment of its journey from origin to destination, it is wiser to not only track but also monitor it and get data that enables correct and timely action. A well-planned and implemented air cargo tracking system can help limit the overall losses owing to inventory management issues, suboptimal route decisions, delays that you aren't prepared for and the likes.