The Dutch government’s project to promote paperless air cargo through Schiphol airport has resulted in a five-fold increase in E-freight shipments through the Amsterdam Airport.
The €1.2 million (US$1.6 million) E-Freight@NL project was launched in July 2010. In 2010, only 1,665 shipments were sent as paperless e-freight. By December 2012, the annual total had risen to 21,176.
Schiphol’s top 10 e-Freight routes are now Singapore, Hong Kong, New York, Tokyo (Narita), Vancouver, London Heathrow, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Los Angeles and Atlanta.
Other achievements of e-Freight@NL include the establishment of a help desk and the e-Freight@NL Online Academy, to give advice and provide online training to the industry and potential users.
A business case for all supply chain parties has also been drawn up, and five master theses have been written covering topics such as the key steps towards global adoption of e-Freight, benefits of e-Freight for shippers and forwarders, and the role of e-Freight in revenue management.
The e-freight@NL project included 6 “workpackages” that involved assessing the requirements of the industry, identifying gaps in IT systems, setting up an open platform for data exchange and transmission, testing and validation of data, and reporting and making recommendations.
Several pilot projects were started between shippers and forwarders, using OCR equipment to transform paper documents into the required “e-Freight ready” XML format. These pilots resulted in substantial time savings, and several companies have now adapted their processes to continue to working in this way.
Among the many findings of the project were that innovation in logistics is difficult, that such fundamental change requires a longer timeframe than originally thought, and that international law creates resistance to change.
Schiphol Cargo – the airport’s dedicated cargo development arm – played a neutral liaison and facilitation role between the various parties in the supply chain throughout the project, establishing what would be required to improve the cargo process at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.
“The e-Freight@NL project may be completed, but e-Freight will not stand still now, and the process of digitising supply chains will certainly carry on at Schiphol,” said Saskia van Pelt, Schiphol cargo development director and a founding member of e-freight@NL, and a member of its steering committee. “Amsterdam Airport Schiphol considers paperless transport as one of the top priorities to improve efficiency in the supply chain.
“IATA’s target for this year is to start two pilot programs in the BRIC countries, to increase global coverage from 33-45 percent, and to achieve 20 percent e-AWB use across the industry. By the end of 2015, it is hoped that E-freight will be live in 80 percent of all world trade lanes, that the industry will achieve 100 percent paperless substitution of the three core transport documents (airwaybill, house manifest and flight manifest), and that the document pouch will be eliminated for most general cargo shipments.”