Multimodal 2018: Common language needed to optimise supply chain performance

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May 03, 2018: The answer to the age-old question of ‘what do shippers want?’ needs to be answered if meaningful Key Performance Indicators (KPI)s are to be produced.

Of course, not all shippers want the same thing, so it is important that everyone in the supply chain works together to find the best solutions, a panel of air freight experts agreed at Multimodal 2018. UK’s freight transport and logistics exhibition Multimodal 2018 is taking place at the Birmingham NEC from May 1 to 3.

A session entitled ‘Developing KPIs for air freight shippers’ focused on the work of Global Shippers Forum and Cargo iQ, an IATA interest group, to develop a route map with 19 agreed steps against which performance can be measured.

Ariaen Zimmerman, executive director of Cargo iQ, explained that there was need to speak a common language and increase shipment control in order to optimise performance.

“In the cargo community we use a lot of industry standard acronyms, but does that give clarity to the shippers?” he asked.

“We want to encourage them to talk to us, so we include the steps that are important to them.”

Lothar Moehle, director Security Standardisation, DB Schenker, said forwarders would not even be considered for a contract unless they can supply more visibility.

“We have been implementing steps for several years, but it takes time and money to implement these systems, including some change management and training at all levels, including sales people, who need to have a good idea of what is available.”

Mark Olney, general manager – Cargo, Europe, Middle East, India, and Africa at Air Canada Cargo, suggested that airlines need to work closely with sales agents and ground handlers in order to establish KPIs and maybe “build conditions into our contract with them so we can all improve”.

“We need to remove the fear of failure. This is a journey where we all can improve,” he said.

For Tristan Koch, managing director Cargo Sales, Europe, Middle East, Africa (EMEA), American Airlines, the existence of true end-to-end data will “give us all a chance to sort out any wrinkles that might be there”, but he stressed that it was important that KPIs were relevant to the shippers, especially in this world of e-commerce, rather than based on historical data.

Zimmerman agreed. “Customers want a reliable solution, not necessarily a specific flight. It is like when we search for a website. We don’t care what optic fibres are used, just that the provider gives us the best route.

“Many customers just want to know when their shipment will arrive – and if there is a delay, how the problem will the solved.”

He called on all members of the air freight supply chain to talk to Cargo iQ so that as much data as possible is gathered to help identify the areas to improve performance and work on the most efficient use of the infrastructure, to cut both the financial and environmental costs.

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