Freight 4.0: Towards a Digital Collaborative Ecosystem, now or never.

Freight 4.0: Towards a Digital Collaborative Ecosystem, now or never.

By Arnaud Lambert, CEO CHAMP Cargosystems

Is the freight Industry finally going to experience its 4.0 revolution? What do we mean by 4.0?

Industry 1.0 was in the 1800 and the revolution was led by the introduction of mechanical production powered by water and steam.

Industry 2.0 in the 1900 was about mass production with machines powered by combustion engine or electricity.

Industry 3.0 in 1970 was about IT, electronics, robotics, automation and the internet, the 1st steps of the digital age.

Each of these changed the world. Industry 4.0 today is about digital supply chain, smart manufacturing, and the power of smart data analytics, all centered about data and collaboration.

In an air freight industry where the bar code took over 30 years to reach worldwide penetration and where the eAWB adoption has been struggling in the last five years to reach 50%, how will the 4.0 revolution happen? Well, it is now or never!

Focus on the end customer experience

The end-customer in air cargo is the shipper, not the airline nor the forwarder nor the ground handler. His own customer experience these days is driven by the B2C, not anymore by the B2B like it used to be.  Think about a few years ago, your IT experience in the office was setting your customer expectation regarding computer, network speed or application usage because the equipment and the software in the office were more advanced than the ones you would have had at home. But for the last 10 years, your private equipment and software usage are driving your customer experience of IT. Nowadays your customer experience is coming from your mobile device and the services you use on your smartphone or tablet and the B2C solutions, like Amazon, Facebook, Google, YouTube, WhatsApp, Netflix, Spotify…

Asking (not typing!) the weather or what is on TV to your Alexa of Google device or having full transparency from the purchasing process to the delivery from merchant sites and be proactively notified in case of disruption is the new norm in terms of customer experience, and it must be highly graphical, interactive, intuitive and fast! This is exactly what drives the standards of the shipper in terms of customer experience when he ships a piece of cargo.

 Collaboration is more important than digitalization

Still today one of the main complain of the shippers is the non-visibility of the shipping process: once it is in the hand of the forwarder, it enters into a “black box” and they lose complete visibility until it arrives on the other side, hampering significantly their service to their customers.

Yes, shipping worldwide implies one single air freight logistic chain in an industry of over 9000 forwarders, 400 airlines, 500 GHA, 250 customs, not counting the trucking companies, safety and security bodies… Without sharing the information across the chain, you can’t satisfy your end-customer nor optimize your own part of the end-to-end process. You rely on the others as they rely on you.

Going digital is no more an option, it is a must

The days where the cargo information was travelling at the speed of the freight are over. Now all members of the ‘shipper’s promise’ need to have permanently access to all relevant information of the shipment to optimize its own process and the cross-processes. Digitalization of the information is the only way to allow sharing the information across the chain, real-time.

It is about visibility, not only at the data level but also at the process level.

Integrators have complete data sharing and integrated processes, allowing them not only to optimize their processes but also to offer a very different customer experience, including end-to-end visibility of the shipment flow progress.  Amazon might also bring in the future a very different norm in the air cargo industry… think about your customer experience when you order something on their platform! This could be the shipper’s experience.

To close, let ‘s remember that today one third of Global trade in value is transported by air which is worth 6.5 trillion USD. Air freight volume is expected to double in the next 20 years. Changing the game for the future is about collaborating in a digital manner with the end-customer experience in mind. Welcome Freight 4.0!