Air-Cargo-Logistics-Freight

The Complexities of Air Cargo: Breaking It Down with an Industry Expert

29/03/2021

The freight and logistics space is a complex beast with thousands of moving parts — literally. The key to maximizing productivity? Keeping everything connected, streamlined and moving together.

In our increasingly globalized world, air cargo is one of the most vital components of freight and logistics. Our latest episode of Anyline, Anytime features a conversation with Salesforce’s Michael Pichler, who leads the company’s Go-To-Market Strategy & Business Transformation for Travel & Transportation the UK & Ireland.

A well-recognized expert with years of experience in air cargo and related industries, Pichler shares invaluable insights into the cargo market, its unique challenges, and how businesses can endeavor to stay ahead.

You can listen to the full interview here:

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Understanding the Air Cargo Market

While the air cargo market is encompassed within logistics, it is unique in many ways. Not only do air cargo providers run different models, but they often don’t own the end-to-end transportation train. Instead, they may work for freight forwarders or may be embedded in some other form into the transportation train. Air cargo providers are also usually B2B.

Another defining characteristic of the air cargo market is that it typically utilizes two shipping methods: via freighters, AKA dedicated cargo aircraft, and in the hold space of passenger aircraft.

Lastly, Pichler points to the fragmentation of the cargo market with hundreds of thousands of freight and cargo markets in the UK alone. “So, connectivity, integration, and automation are clearly among the top technology drivers,” he asserts.

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Key Challenges Facing the Air Cargo Industry

Pichler also hones in on what he sees as the primary challenges facing the industry, starting with service quality. In an era in which Amazon has transformed customer expectations, air cargo companies — even while not dealing directly with consumers — must still do their part to improve the customer experience in order to be competitive.

This goes hand-in-hand with another market challenge: scale. Given the industry’s low-profit margin, increasing shipping volumes while maximizing throughput and minimizing cost is a balancing act.

Both of these challenges are compounded by the fragmented transportation network. With so many connections along the way, accuracy is everything. Data and integration are positioned to play a pivotal role.

The Automation Imperative

On that note, the value of automation cannot be overstated, according to Pichler. With so many touchpoints in the air cargo transportation chain, automation can be a game-changer. Specifically, data scanning can be used to optimize processes, reduce redundancies, and save time and manual labor.

“Automation drives up throughput, drives up quality, and reduces mistakes. Get more stuff done with what you have. And that’s how we tackle the cost challenge: do things faster and better. Make cargo businesses intelligent and help them anticipate what’s next, rather than busy work,” says Pichler.

Pichler also stresses that while the air cargo industry is not B2C, the customer should still be at the center. “Make it simple for them: your buyers, your influencers, and their customers,” he concludes.

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