Air cargo industry pushes for paperless shipments

To the IATA, the amount of paper accompanying air cargo shipments is excessive.

In most sectors, a benchmark of 5 percent of all processes being performed electronically can be cleared without any difficulty – if it hasn't already been surpassed long ago. Google and the other members of its "Paperless Coalition" are pushing for even more aggressive adoption of electronic processes.

When studying the air cargo transportation industry, though, 5 percent is still the standard. That's the percentage of monthly shipments – about 90,000 – that are sent with electronic air waybills. The rest are accompanied by pouches of paper, often full of up to 30 documents.

Despite that figure, the industry has set ambitious goals to replace paper documentation – the International Air Transport Association (IATA) calls for 100 percent adoption of digitized commercial air cargo documents by the end of 2015. The IATA is optimistic that with these changes, the industry could save nearly $5 billion.

"We have to accept that the eAWB has been harder to drive forward than we anticipated," IATA director general and CEO Tony Tyler told Air Cargo World. "We have slipped by a year. It's not satisfactory, but it is the reality in the present economic circumstances."

As supply chain operators consider a new way to overhaul paper tracking systems with electronic record-keeping practices, many are also adopting automated solutions that whittle down the amount of time their employees spend processing shipments. Before proof of condition solutions entered the market, cargo had to be photographed with a digital camera and processed using an inefficient series of workarounds.

The amount of time it takes to perform those same tasks can now be reduced to mere minutes.

Imagine if every supply chain stakeholder got on board with a sophisticated electronic documentation and used CargoSnapshot to track each shipment as it enters or exits their facility. The amount of shared resources and time saved would be enormous.

Posted in Cargo

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