2018 Industry Trends: Air Freight

With air freight shipping on the rise, the industry is scaling up dramatically as shippers and retailers expand their operations to new markets all over the world. But the industry still has a long way to go in terms of modernizing and aligning its transportation efforts. The global parcel supply chain is still full of bottlenecks and inefficient processing systems that can hold up orders and delay industry growth. Airlines and shipping companies are trying to get everyone on the same page by adopting more efficient technology and shifting to a common operating procedure. See how the air freight industry is addressing these issues in 2018 as it continues down a path of rapid growth and expansion.

Flexible, Autonomous Warehousing

As more consumers request express and international shipping services, the industry is developing ways to help it manage rising consumer demand. Instead of using more warehouse employees who have to manually search the shelves for a certain product or package, the air freight shipping industry is using autonomous robots and smart inventory systems to better manage their warehousing efforts. If a customer requests a product from a distribution center, a warehouse robot will know exactly where to find the item, so it can bring it to the loading dock and get it ready to ship in a matter of minutes. This is reducing the industry’s dependence on human capital as more shippers and receivers are placing their trust in autonomous warehousing.

But these robots aren’t the mindless servants you might see in a science fiction movie from the 1980s. In addition to grabbing and preparing packages, these smart bots come with built-in cloud computing, so they can receive and respond to changing demand in real-time. They’re made with precise pressure sensors that allow them to handle delicate packages with care instead of randomly stacking boxes on top of one another. This improves logistics throughout the supply chain to ensure package management is reliable, efficient and predictable.

Common Standard Operating Procedure

The air freight industry can work more efficiently if suppliers, distributors, airlines, and manufacturers are all using the same operating procedure. As part of the overall push towards digitization, the trade group known as the International Air Transportation Association is pushing for airlines and air freight companies to adopt a common standard operating procedure that allows for increased connectivity and collaboration in the industry. If a plane is rerouted or a distributor needs access to a new supply chain, all parties will be able to align their shipping efforts more easily because they will be using the same processing system.

If this project is widely adopted by the industry, companies, and distributors will no longer have to manually transfer shipping data from one system to another. Everyone will speak the same language, which will help the industry expand to new markets and regions around the globe. The project has already been adopted by 37 high-volume cargo airports with 43 participating airlines. More are expected to join in the years ahead.

Blockchain and the Supply Chain

The blockchain is breaking down barriers in almost every industry, including air freight shipping. From cryptocurrency to real estate transactions, the blockchain has been able to revolutionize the way companies and their consumer’s exchange goods and services. Unlike a single vendor or shipping company that uses its own system to manage orders, the blockchain is decentralized, which means it exists outside of a single physical location. Transactions are approved by a series of self-sufficient nodes or individual computer servers. Every time a transaction is approved, another block of data is added to the chain.

But the blockchain is having its own particular effect on the supply chain. This technology is making the global shipping market more autonomous. Suppliers and manufacturers can execute transactions using a mutually agreed upon verification procedure without having to rely on costly middlemen to execute every transaction. When a shipment arrives at a distribution center, the blockchain will only release the shipment if the terms of the original contract have been met. The company receiving the package will need to verify its identity on the blockchain so the package can be released to the right party, reducing fraud and improving security.

The industry’s slow adoption of the blockchain is expected to continue in the years to come. This has the potential to allow for greater transparency as all parties are free to verify and analyze previous transactions. It also reduces operational costs, gets rid of the human error and improves efficiency throughout the supply chain.

The IoT Revolution

As the supply chain becomes more dependent on smart technology, we’re seeing more airlines and shipping companies incorporating the Internet of Things into their operations. This includes all kinds of smart devices, including scales that can automatically log and share information about a package’s weight, smart thermostats that can communicate the changing temperature of a product to real-time and GPS tracking systems that sync their data with the rest of a company’s shipping logistics. This is improving efficiency and package management services, expanding the potential of the air freight industry.

Pharmaceutical companies and farmers can use this technology to ensure their temperature-sensitive shipments arrive as needed. Considering the weight limitations that go along with air travel, air cargo storage capabilities can be improved if the company can automatically track and monitor the weight of each shipment heading towards the plane. Numerous companies have created innovative smart devices that are transforming the way we think about air freight shipping, improving consumer confidence across the board.

More changes lie ahead for the air freight industry. Companies are beginning to invest in remote-controlled air transportation vehicles that can deliver packages autonomously. Artificial intelligence and big data will continue to inform and influence industry trends as shippers and receivers learn more about changing consumer spending habits. Overall, we’re slowly seeing the major players in the industry syncing up their processing efforts in a way of making the supply chain more efficient and flexible as orders change and companies expand to new markets.

Justin Bright – CEO Brighter Logistics