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E-freight is the past, the future is digital

E-Cargoware chief executive, Ramesh Darbha

E-freight is the word of the past, the future will consist of other technologies including big data, e-Cargoware chief executive, Ramesh Darbha (pictured) tells Air Cargo Week. He points out the e-freight was defined more than a decade ago, based on the technologies of the time. Since then, new technologies including artificial intelligence, distributed ledgers and big data have arrived and are changing the way the air cargo industry operates and does business.

Darbha says: “Airfreight industry has to embrace digitisation at a faster pace starting with e-AWB and move onto digitising entire supply chain so we can provide end-to-end track & trace and reliability in delivery.” Electronic air waybill (e-AWB) penetration rates have been a discussion point in the industry for some time, and though adoption rates are improving, they continue to miss targets set by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Darbha welcomes the news that airfreight volumes increased nine per cent in 2017, describing it as “fantastic”, the penetration rates did not improve significantly and he is surprised that penetration in the Americas and Europe has lagged behind other continents.

The good news is e-AWB penetration broke the 50 per cent barrier and hit 53 per cent in January 2018. Darbha says: “It would be good to see Europe and North Americas do some catch-up with the rest of the world on the digitisation route. E-AWB is no longer about just replacing paper air waybill, to attract e-commerce we must provide full end-to-end visibility and it starts with electronic air waybill.”

E-Cargoware is helping customers embrace new technology; along with e-freight compliance it provides API access to partner airline, handling and forwarder systems to integrate with clients in real time. Darbha says: “We’ve launched a platform called fr8booking.com for the forwarders to quote, book and complete e-AWB for multiple Airlines. With some support from IATA and airlines in Europe and North America providing API access to eAWB360 platform and airline systems respectively, we could get Europe and North Americas get back on track of the digitisation route.”

The boom in e-commerce means the industry must embrace digitisation as customers demand real time track & trace, service reliability and on time delivery. Darbha says: “Stakeholders should be open and accommodate real time data sharing between IT systems and API access. We must move away from using legacy, message based updating data between airline, handling, forwarding systems to real time on demand data updates using API.

Underlying IT systems must be geared to support IATA StB [Simplifying the Business] initiative.” E-commerce will not go away, and Darbha says this makes even more essential that the industry embraces e-freight and digital cargo. He says: “With the likes of Amazons and Alibabas posing a threat to the incumbents, our industry realises the need to embrace the digitisation to stay in business.

I expect a gradual in shift in focus from e-freight to digital cargo which has wider scope and is based on today’s technologies.”



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