Digitalization of DGR processes in air cargo
Written by: Vivian Labrecque, Head of Commerce at DGOffice B.V.
Going beyond software
Usage of technology is incorporated in our day-to-day working- and private lives. By that, digital solutions, such as specific DG software, web services or online databases, for activities involving dangerous goods have become a natural habit because of its many benefits. These gains are not only related to safety and compliance, but also on improving efficiency and saving time.
As obvious as digitalization may seem, experience and history have shown that there are many steps to take to get it fully adopted, accepted, and implemented. Meanwhile, the global covid-19 crisis pushes this process and increases pressure on paperless shipments.
Looking back in time, exchange of data exists for many years already, but mostly intercompany. The first handbook for E-Freight was launched and published by IATA more than twelve years ago and shortly after, several trials were run in relation to dangerous goods. It was expected that 98% of international air freight volume would be E-Freight enabled within five years (as a side note, today it has reached 69.9% as stated in the IATA e-AWB report from July 2020). The dangerous goods trials became quiet for years but were relaunched in 2018.
Goals of E-Freight include to:
– Enable (existing) solutions to integrate with the document flow of transportation documents.
– Utilize necessary master data for its creation.
– Ensure document data is sent prior to the cargo and its verification.
– Have corrections made, in case of an error, by authorized persons digitally and updated directly in the system.
As beforementioned, adoption, communication standards and protocols, acceptance, and implementation are required to reach these goals. ICAO TI, and with that IATA DGR, as well as regulations for other modes of transport, is ready for it. Several initiatives are set up and different digital formats for implementation are created, such as DGXML (DGOffice’s own designed format, publicly available under Creative Commons license via www.dgm-sdg.com/dgxml) and IATA C-XML.
Simultaneously, are local laws and regulations, including customs, inspection, etc. ready for adoption of E-Freight? Communication standards and protocols are set up as well, but all partners in the logistics chain should be involved and convinced that E-Freight is working, secure and that costs are limited.
An example of a proof of concept that succeeded is with Lufthansa Cargo, who is the first airline to kick-off paperless declarations as their standard. It started its initiative for air cargo in Germany. Shippers could offer their dangerous goods shipments to Lufthansa Cargo in Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, and Stuttgart via the DGOffice.net E-Freight solution. Now, this standard is expanded to the rest of the world, enabling all parties involved to benefit from the improved processes as well, and bringing digitalization to a higher level.
What is next? The number of external web service requests we at DGOffice handle per day has almost doubled in only two years’ time. Digitalization is happening! Looking at initiatives from other transport modalities, one topic that jumps out is use of data by other parties. DGTINA (www.dgtina.org), the Dangerous Goods Transport Information Network Association, establishes a European standard that allows the use of and access to electronic dangerous goods transport documents by public bodies. Think of emergency responders in case of incidents, or authorities for inspection or route planning. A similar initiative is the so-called ‘Sandbox Project’ by Transport Canada and US D.o.T.
In July this year, the EU adopted regulation 2020/1056 (https://eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/reg/2020/1056/oj), also known as eFTI. It is applicable for road, rail, and inland waterway transportation within Europe. However, indirectly this influences air cargo as well, since at least road would be connected to get the cargo from shipper to consignee. The intention is that from 2025, all offered shipments via electronic data exchange must be accepted. Is air cargo ready for this as well?
DGOffice.net is the online software solution that contains everything to manage your dangerous goods related activities. Retrieve information relevant to your activities and create and share your documents in the easiest and most efficient way. In one system you get a powerful set of tools that makes it easy to adapt languages, regulations, and the many inevitable amendments. DGOffice is designed to operate together with the most common administrative computer systems and can be connected with your own back office system. To ensure continuous compliance with the applicable rules and regulations, DGOffice is updated constantly.
The company is headquartered in the Netherlands and has more than 25 years of experience in developing software solutions and services. Development offices are located in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway, whereas sales and support representatives can be found throughout the world. Across the globe, thousands of users benefit from DGOffice, supporting their transportation, handling, storage, production, and trading of dangerous goods.
If you want more information on how DGOffice can help you manage your dangerous goods activities in a safe, secure and simple way, visit our website www.dgoffice.net!