A time to transform

The annual CNS Partnership Conference is an important date in the air cargo calendar, and this year’s event was a chance to reflect on the pace of change in our industry.

Air cargo is a hugely complex business. It’s a $100 billion industry that can sometimes seem to move incredibly slowly, particularly where technology – and change in general – is concerned.

Slow to adapt

These concerns were touched on recently at the Annual CNS Partnership conference. The event – one of the premier events in the air cargo year – is an opportunity to bring together hundreds of the world’s leading air cargo professionals to discuss the latest developments in the industry.

This year’s keynote address was given by Ryan Petersen, the CEO of Flexport. His is a business that reflects the changing face of our industry – a software-driven freight forwarder that is at the forefront of modernising the business. Yet, as he pointed out in his speech, the industry is sometimes slow to change.

“Airlines offer something nobody needs,” he said – they “move cargo from airport to airport, but every single piece of cargo must go door to door.”

A patchy service

Petersen’s comments were echoed at the event by Blake Bowlin, global transportation procurement manager at Caterpillar. “The quality of supply chain is hit or miss,” said, adding that “Airport to airport is fine, but we look at it from a door-to-door perspective.”

This goes to the heart of one of the major issues facing the industry – that while shippers are looking for a door to door service, the complexity of air cargo with its multiple hand-offs makes this incredibly complicated.

A digital future

Unsurprisingly, given Flexport’s software-driven approach to the future of forwarding, Petersen used the speech at the CNS Partnership event to look ahead at how technology might transform our industry for the better. He talked about the potential impact of technology that can reroute cargo in transit, and autonomous, programmable freight that can even make its own decisions on the best route to the end customer.

An open approach

Ignazio Coraci, CEO of SW Italia comments: “The way that we adapt and integrate these new technologies into our industry, simplifying the complex processes and ultimately improving the quality of service for our customers is critical. We need to be flexible and open, while creating a robust network of interconnected systems that help our experts on the ground to do their jobs even better.”

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