Amsterdam ‘frontrunners’ pilot integrated lanes

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streamlined cargo and information flows between air freight industry stakeholders can cut costs in the supply chain by 15%, reports Will Waters

Air freight ‘frontrunners’ in the Netherlands have created their first two fully integrated and streamlined end-to-end air freight lanes, underpinned by open and transparent data exchange processes between all the parties in the air logistics chain, with more planned to follow.

As well as reinforcing Amsterdam Schiphol Airport’s reputation as a ‘smart hub’, the Smart Cargo Mainport Programme aims to provide greater visibility, improve the speed and predictability of cargo and product flows, reduce supply chain costs, improve asset utilisation of the participants, and expand the effective catchment area of Schiphol airport and its cargo stakeholders. The latest initiative for shipments from flower shippers claims to cut costs in the supply chain by at least 15%.

The programme projects centre on cargo flows, encouraging cooperation between the different parties in the supply chain, as well as data sharing, says Jonas van Stekelenburg, head of cargo at Schiphol.

“This is a tangible innovation push for members of the Schiphol cargo community, aimed at realising efficiencies, reducing costs, and enhancing services,” he says. “The community is putting in the effort, with companies willing to take risks and spend resources, and we are seeing results.”

The initiative’s steering committee includes Schiphol Cargo as chair, KLM Cargo, Dutch Customs, and air cargo community and data specialist Cargonaut. In addition to investments from its participants, the programme has attracted €375,000 of Dutch Government funding and the backing of the University of Delft and Hogeschool van Amsterdam.

Last month, KLM Cargo launched the first pilot scheme, aimed at “speeding up and enhancing the efficiency of European supply chains”. It focuses specifically, at least initially, on cargo brought from Frankfurt to Schiphol for subsequent international shipment. The pilot’s consortium of participants includes Schiphol Cargo, Jan de Rijk Logistics, Swissport, Kuehne + Nagel, Cargonaut, and Dutch Customs – all the main key actors in the air logistics chain.

“Under the scheme, a distinction has been drawn between shipments with shorter connecting times and those with less time pressure, and a new schedule is being trialled,” the participants say. “The schedule marks the first step towards setting up a Cloud platform facilitating data exchange among the cooperating parties. Once data has been delivered in real-time it can be reused, supplemented or modified where necessary.”

The information is also automatically verified against the applicable Customs regulations and safety standards. Not only will this support the exchange of administrative data, it will also facilitate the exchange of status information relating to the shipments, the participants said.

Cargo Airports & Airline Services (CAAS) understands that all of the participants are able to draw down data about the shipments and their level of time-pressure priority in order to create the most efficient transport plan for the shipments and the vehicles used for their transport.

Marcel de Nooijer, EVP of KLM Cargo and MD of Martinair Holland, comments: “We constantly have to deliver value in the hyper-competitive air freight market. In the ideal supply chain it is all about co-operation and optimisation of the movement of shipments, both in the air as well as on the ground. Therefore transparency and access to data through digitisation is key.

“The Smart Mainport Programme is all about that; to ensure maximum value to our customers and strengthening the ground processes with all stakeholders. That is the power of innovative co-operation.”

Nanne Onland, executive director of Cargonaut, told CAAS that the participants in the programme recognise that industry initiatives to create an integrated air logistics chain industry-wide, including shared data from all participants, would take a long time to realise, in part because of an apparent reluctance among some parties to share their data. The Smart Cargo Mainport Programme is a demonstration by like-minded “frontrunners” of what can be achieved when the participants in the air logistics chain collaborate and share data on shipments, having established sufficient mutual trust.

“The Smart Cargo Mainport Programme (SCMP) is The Dutch partnership of frontrunners to realise our vision of the smartest cargo airport,” Onland says. “It is about facilitating the design and delivery of data-driven, predictable and compliant air cargo processes. It is not about the Cloud, it is about what we do with it.”

At the heart of the programme is the question of how to effectively implement a ‘long term vision, short term results’ vision, the participants say. A blueprint has been developed by the team outlining where the project aims to be by 2025, at the same time as establishing numerous shorter-term pilots with airport stakeholders.

The second pilot scheme currently underway also brings together all of the participants of the supply chain to work collaboratively towards improved services through the hub. The newly formed Holland Flower Alliance’s data transfer initiative has both importer Fresco Flowers and Royal FloraHolland on board.

“The strategic Royal FloraHolland programme FLOW aims at increasing margins for our stakeholders and reducing costs in the supply chain by at least 15%,” says Edwin Wenink, programme director for FLOW at Royal FloraHolland. “Cooperation and the integration of IT systems is essential to do that.”

Schiphol Cargo intends to back further projects aimed at finding innovative schemes to improve cargo flow through the Amsterdam hub, underpinned by the transparent exchange of data. The Smart Cargo Mainport Programme is also expected to attract further Dutch government funding.

Van Stekelenburg says; “The insight and learning we are gaining from the programme is open to all Schiphol cargo community members and we are seeking more projects and asking for more innovative ideas.”