VIDEO Air Freight: Smoothing The Bumpy Skies With Smart Tracking

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Uncertainty is never good news for logistics operations. The air freight industry has battled with many challenges and more information is needed to create a real-time, accurate picture. We spoke to Lena Haartje, Key Account Manager Smart Solutions at Hellmann Worldwide Logistics, about an innovative solution the company offers that combines real-time visibility of air freight and tracking goods conditions. You can watch the full video below and learn more about the Smart Air! platform here.

Lena, what are the problems with monitoring goods in air freight?

All the uncertainty and challenges we have been experiencing lately mean that companies have a real need to know where their goods are. This is so they can plan better around ETAs and even production capacity. It’s important to know if there are any delays or if there has been a split of the shipment.

The main focus is usually around optimisation. This often means choosing between multiple airlines and trying to find the best one. That is quite hard as you don’t have the information in one place and have to go from a website to a website all the time.

The condition of the cargo is another critical point. You often need to know what the temperature is, the humidity, etc.

It is all very hard to follow and often, if you have detected a temperature breach, you wonder where it happened and why. As there are many supply chain parties involved, it is difficult to find the responsible one. Overall, there is a huge lack of visibility in the sector.

Have companies managed to return to pre-Covid levels of service?

I would say that things are back to normal. But Covid showed us how important transparency is. Due to the number of delays and problems, organisations have realised the need to have that visibility.

What solutions are companies using to monitor their air freight?

Currently many rely on the airlines’ websites and manually check the status of the cargo. This takes a lot of time. And when it comes to the condition of the cargo, there are two ways.

The first is what we call active loggers, where you can receive the data in real-time and can track the progress. These types of solutions are very cost intensive. The other solution is Passive Tracking where you receive the data at the end of the trip. They certainly are cheaper but provide no location information at all. You can detect a problem but can’t find where it happened and who was responsible.

What has Hellmann Worldwide Logistics created to solve these problems?

We have a Smart Solutions Team that works at creating different tracking solutions across our supply chain. One of them is our platform SmartAir!. With it you have all milestones in one place and do not need to go from website to website to find what is happening.

The platform allows monitoring departure and arrival dates, whether there has been split shipment or not. In addition, with the help of different reports organisations can compare different airlines and are not dependent on what someone claims.

As a next step, we extended our portfolio with a new Passive Logger which we call Smart QR. The measured data is received after the transport by scanning the dynamic QR code on its screen with a smartphone. Compared to other loggers, there is no need to use a USB and transfer the data to a computer and share it via mail.

Your phone works as the transmitter of the data and in the same second it scans the QR code, the data is sent to the cloud. Other parties in the supply chain, like the origin, can instantly see the report. This functions simply save a lot of time in operational processes.

But this was not enough and this is why we combined our real-time air freight tracking platform with the Smart QR.

Each location point from SmartAir! is now connected to the logger’s data and any temperature breaches along the route are displayed. Instantly, people can tell where the problem was and who is the responsible party. This changes the whole passive logger market as it’s now a nearly active tool with the price of a passive one.

Can you walk us through the installation process?

The first thing is to add the shipment to SmartAir! which is done by the AWB number. Loggers are activated by a button on the side and then a QR code is displayed. This QR code is dynamic and changes every 15 minutes to update the information. Whoever is the responsible party can scan the QR code with their phone and a link directs them to the page with the measured information.

SmartAir! provides all flight data in real-time, including CO2 emissions. You can track the flight and now add loggers to a shipment.

Demo of SmartAir! Platform

Then you can see all of the temperature, light, humidity and shock data. If, for example, your goods should not exceed 6°C then you can check the whole journey for a possible breach. With the integration of the logger, you do now see the location information of airports or scans combined with the sensor information (A full demo of the platform is on the left).

With these Smart Solutions Hellmann Worldwide Logistics can offer not just logistics services but also innovative tracking.

That is also for customers who do not use our logistics services. Another unique role we are taking over is that we are now the exclusive distributor of the product in South Africa, Mexico, Australia, and New Zealand.

Where do you think air freight tracking will go in the future?

I think that with our solution we are making the first step towards a cost efficient tracking as saving money is always a main goal. I also believe that in the future it will really be necessary for companies to have a tool like SmartAir! to provide a fully transparent picture to their customers.

You can watch the full video interview with Lena Haartje, Key Account Manager Smart Visibility at Hellmann Worldwide Logistics, below. You can also learn more about how Hellmann can help you with your air freight tracking here.

Hellmann can also help you with your ocean cargo. You can learn more about Smart Ocean here.

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