Combating Truck Congestion at Airports
The Air Cargo sector is growing at a rapid pace and the advent of COVID-19 has raised the stakes high for it. Yes, for rapid transit of medical supply chain from one geography to the other and recently for vaccine distribution air cargo has been leveraged significantly.
However, cargo congestion has gone from bad to worse at most Airports like Chicago, New York, Boston, Miami and Ted Stevens. The problem stems from the rush of ad hoc all-cargo aircraft being substituted for grounded passenger jets amid the travel downturn combined with the surge in e-commerce orders, inventory replenishment and ocean shipping backlogs that have companies turning to air to move their goods. The onslaught of shipments is colliding with staffing shortages at airport warehouses, which are unable to quickly break down or consolidate shipments for transfer to other supply chain parties.
However, the processes can be a little smarter and more robust so that the overall functioning turns out to be on-times faster than usual for on time delivery. Currently, the delivery of cargo at the destination is delayed by more than 24 hours. With life-saving equipment and COVID vaccines taking precedence in Air Cargo, this delay could be detrimental.
Why is there an acute truck congestion? How is it causing the delivery of shipments at the destination? Is there a way to overcome truck congestion in North America? Let us explore.
Why Truck Congestion is so rampant in North America?
Every major airport in North America is facing this issue. The primary reason being the high influx of cargo trucks reaching the airport without prior intimation. It is believed that at least 100-200 trucks are said to drive-in and wait in long queues that could go on till the highway.
This also causes socio-economic issues such as chaos in the highway where civilians drive. Therefore, it is causing chaos beyond the airport cargo complex. While airport authorities came up with specific measures such as an exclusive yard to contain 100s of trucks, the problem persisted even after that.
Hence, congestion flare-ups at Airports across North America where delay in air cargo shipments underscores the broader challenge of serving up higher transportation costs to shippers. In addition to this, pressures from steeper fuel prices and higher trucking rates are other notable points.
All these delays could add up to wait time surcharges and in some cases, storage expenses tacked on to already steep transportation bills that can disrupt logistics budgets.
What is the real solution?
The smart way out for this situation is to have a community system that can connect all stakeholders and enable digital interaction among them. The Airport Cargo Community System (ACS) is build to mitigate these challenges effectively.
An Airport Cargo Community System aims at establishing not just a data-sharing platform but a fully functional digital system that provides several features and benefits to each stakeholder in cargo like the shipper, consignee, forwarder, customs broker, ground handling agents, trucking companies, GSAs, security agencies, regulatory agencies, airlines, and truckers.
The most primary feature of any ACS would be a truck slot management. Under this, truckers are equipped with a mobile application with which they can pre-book slots at the airport terminal before leaving the Shipper’s warehouse.
This way, the terminal operator/ground handler will also be ready with the relevant resources to handle the shipment and move it to the next level. Moreover, the truck driver can reach the airport terminal at the right time when there is no/less number of trucks.
It can perform monitoring of vehicle movement beginning from the entry of the truck, until it exits the airport. The entire journey of the truck will be monitored through scanning of unique QR coded Vehicle Token in real-time. Moreover, through a common e-dashboard, all documents can be submitted by the freight forwarder and all stakeholders can visibly see the processes happening one after the other sequentially.
The most attractive aspect of the Airport Cargo community system is geo-fencing where Truck drivers gain more autonomy with mobile self-check-in at various milestones and checkpoints. This is validated by a combination of GPS, radar and video cameras.
It is a location-based service in which mobile application uses GPS, RFID, Wi-Fi or cellular data to trigger a pre-programmed action when a mobile device or RFID tag enters or exits a virtual boundary set up around a geographical location.
How can the stakeholders benefit from Airport Cargo Community System?
The system enables the airport authority to get enhanced visibility of their operations as well as streamline incoming/outgoing cargo. It also provides for digital payment mechanism. The seamless connectivity to internal operations enables transparency and efficiency in the handling of shipments.
The system allows the Freight Forwarder to create an air waybill on the portal or via the interface with the freight forwarder system. It enables the freight forwarder to submit Advance Shipment Information to the Cargo Ground Handler and send Carting Order request to the airline to get pre-approval for shipment handover to Ground Handler.
Ground Handlers could get Advance Information on cargo coming to the airport as well as all documents online. An Airport Cargo Community System portal enables them to view and manage the slots and docks for their terminals. Perform Dock-In, warehouse Acceptance/POD and Dock-out events in the GHA mobile app.
Transporters could benefit by getting online vehicle tokens and slot booking for dropping/pick up of cargo. Truckers also have a provision for recurrence and advanced slot booking.
Airlines could approve carted cargo, accept EDI on booking and air waybill, this helps them adhere to the regulatory norms. Airline Delivery Order (e-DO) are issued online. They are able to effectively participate in IATA eAWB and e-Freight program.
A roadmap to digitization
Forward-looking airports in the world like Atlanta, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Brussels have adopted ACS.
These airports are seeing transformation not only in terms of paperless trade but also in terms of cost savings from redundant operations and manual processes.
This has enabled them to meet sustainable development goals consistently. One airport is believed to have saved 7 million copies of paper by leveraging the airport cargo community system.