The highly demanding and competitive nature of the supply chain industry demands proactive collaboration amongst trading partners in the air freight community. More than ever, organizations not only need to exchange data between disparate systems in an efficient manner, but also require full visibility into each and every shipment and corresponding document. With the right solution, organizations can realize significant gains in internal efficiencies and processes, as well as have the foundations in place to adapt to newindustry initiatives such as the IATA e-freight program.  IATA has been leading the industry e-freight program aimed at taking paper out of the air cargo supply chain to reduce costs and increase efficiency for all participants. e-Freight solutions should enable forwarders, and other parties within the shipment process, to group air shipment interactions including:  Bookings, House and Master Waybills, Shipment Monitoring, Quality Performance Reporting and Customs Filing to provide a central repository that enhances electronic document exchange connections between back-office system and trading partners.

An e-freight solution allows users to easily share information with the appropriate parties, automate routine interactions, flag exceptions at an early instance, and provide a repository for retrieval of completed deliveries. In addition to automating air shipment processes, an integrated solution provides an interface and exception management facilities to repair specific classes of data problems. In areas where structured electronic documents are not available, the solution could also offer document imaging services to capture original documents and insert and link them into the shipment repository in a similar fashion as paper documents. e-freight solutions provide a highly flexible and scalable solution for forwarders, without the need for costly and complex back-office integration and infrastructure investments.  Key features to look for include:

  • Multiple options for  data capture across the trading partner community;
  • Seamless integration with   global logistics value added services ;
  • User-friendly web-based interface;
  • Electronic archiving;
  • Role-based access control to restrict document visibility throughout the shipment process;
  • Ability to nominate third parties within the shipment process; and,
  • Data quality and shipment status checks and alerts.
Written by Julie Calcunovitch

Vice President, Air Product Management at Descartes