Renault Trucks switching to renewable energy with 17 hectares of solar canopies

The solar canopy project between Renault Trucks and TotalEnergies is set to be one of the largest in France. At its peak, the solar farm can produce over 22 megawatts which can cover the equivalent consumption of 17,500 people, or 43% of the population of Bourg-en-Bresse.

By Gemma Q. Casas

The company is aiming to equip the Bourg-en-Bresse industrial site with solar canopies covering an area of 17 hectares. This project, which is emblematic of Renault Trucks’ shift to low-carbon operations, marks a significant step in the transition to renewable energy production since its electricity output will cover the equivalent consumption of 17,500 inhabitants.

With renewable energy gaining more importance as the world grapples to fight global warming and climate change, one of Europe’s biggest truck manufacturers is pursuing its ambitious project to transition to solar power.

Renault Trucks, in partnership with TotalEnergies, is pursuing its energy transition with far-reaching impact on its production and the site where it’s building its own solar farm.

The company is aiming to equip the Bourg-en-Bresse industrial site with solar canopies covering an area of 17 hectares. This project, which is emblematic of Renault Trucks’ shift to low-carbon operations, marks a significant step in the transition to renewable energy production since its electricity output will cover the equivalent consumption of 17,500 inhabitants.

With a total output of over 22 peak megawatts spread over 17 hectares, this solar canopy project is set to be one of the largest in France. Its electricity production will cover the equivalent consumption of 17,500 people, or 43% of the population of Bourg-en-Bresse.

Part of the energy produced by the solar power station will be used by the plant. As a result, 30% of the site’s electricity consumption will be supplied by the canopies, which will also have the added benefit of protecting both employees’ vehicles and the trucks produced at the plant.

Biggest solar project in France

Renault’s solar canopy project is one of the most extensive in France, and reflects its joint commitment with TotalEnergies to decarbonize their activities.

Marin de Montbel, Managing Director of TotalEnergies Renouvelables France, said, “We’re extremely proud to be supporting Renault Trucks in its energy transition. Through this project, we’re demonstrating our ability to develop technically complex projects that create value.”

Karine Forien, Vice President Strategy & Sustainability at Renault Trucks, sternly said, “At Renault Trucks, we’re strongly committed to decarbonizing our industry and preserving our resources. We’re backing up our commitments with tangible actions, including the electrification of our vehicle ranges, which immediately eliminates CO2 emissions in use, and the decarbonisation of our own operations. The energy transition is at the core of our strategy and this solar canopy project is a prime example.”

The solar canopies are due to be commissioned in 2026.

The DOLPHIN Project

Continuing its investment in research to offer increasingly efficient, low-carbon vehicles that can adapt to changes in the transport industry, Renault Trucks unveiled in December the DOLPHIN Project.

Through the collaborative DOLPHIN project, Renault is set to develop an electric laboratory vehicle to pave the way for the future generation of electric long-haulage trucks. The aim is to assess the potential for technological innovation in terms of energy and environmental optimization, safety, ergonomics, and on-board comfort.

The DOLPHIN project which stands for Development Original truck Lab for PHysical INtegration is being led by Renault Trucks with a consortium of industrial and academic research partners based in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region.

The consortium comprises Lamberet, a manufacturer of refrigerated semi-trailers; SafetyTech- a Gauzy Compagny, a specialist in driving comfort and safety solutions for coaches, buses, motorhomes and trucks; the Laboratoire de Mécanique des Fluides et d’Acoustique, the Laboratoire Ampère, the Laboratoire de Mécanique des Contacts et des Structures, supervised by the INSA (National Institute of Applied Sciences), among others; and the Laboratoire de Psychologie Sociale et Cognitive, supervised by Clermont Auvergne University.

 

This collaborative project aims to build a demonstration vehicle, based on an all-electric truck, to test and evaluate technological innovations in three areas of research:

  1. Energy and environmental optimization, with research focusing on the aerodynamics of the all-electric vehicle and, more generally, on the energy efficiency of the entire assembly.
  2. Safety for road users, with the integration of specific equipment to enhance the detection of vulnerable road users.
  3. Ergonomics and on-board comfort, with a completely redesigned dashboard and new interior fittings, provide an innovative on-board experience centered on the driver’s well-being.
  4. New mobile applications enabling optimized management of bodywork equipment will also be tested.

For Renault Trucks, the DOLPHIN project is a way of preparing its future generations of electric trucks by exploring and advancing the maturity of new technologies. Production of the laboratory truck will start in the spring of 2024.

The DOLPHIN project is the winner of the “CORAM 2022” call for projects (Comité d’Orientation pour la Recherche Automobile et Mobilité), which supports innovation projects that will accelerate the transition to the vehicle of the future. It has been funded by the French government as part of France 2030 and by the European Union – Next Generation EU as part of the France Relance plan.

Renault’s legacy

Building on the legacy of more than a century of innovative French truck know-how, Renault Trucks has kept its headquarters in Lyon, France, since 1894, where all its medium and high tonnage trucks are designed and manufactured.

Renault Trucks also offers a range of services that includes solutions for financing and insurance, predictive maintenance, and optimizing fuel use, as well as the supply of spare parts.

With 60,000 vehicles sold in 2022, Renault Trucks is one of the world leaders in heavy goods vehicles. About 9,700 employees are involved in the design, production, and sales of Renault trucks and services worldwide. It is part of the Volvo Group, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of trucks and transport solutions.

(Source: www.renault-trucks.com)

How digital distribution is transforming the air cargo booking landscape

The global air freight software market is projected to grow from $6.34 billion in 2023 to $7.41 billion by 2030, at a CAGR of 2.3% during the forecast period (Fortune Business insights)

By Ayesha Rashid

Rapid advancements in digital technology have revolutionized the logistics and transportation industry in recent years, offering countless opportunities for air cargo companies to streamline their operations and improve efficiency.

As the demand for air cargo continues to grow, the industry needs to adapt and embrace the technological advancements that are shaping the way goods are being transported around the world.

From blockchain technology to artificial intelligence, these innovations are redefining the way air cargo is booked and managed, ultimately leading to a more cost-effective and customer-centric experience.

The global air freight software market is projected to grow from $6.34 billion in 2023 to $7.41 billion by 2030, at a CAGR of 2.3% during the forecast period (Fortune Business insights).

According to Web Cargo, in 2023, and over the last few years, airlines have provided digital air cargo offerings with impressively rapid adoption. Carriers representing over 50% of air cargo capacity are now digitized – a staggering 16x surge since 2018.

To cope with a daily landscape shift, caused by economic and geopolitical events, carriers accelerated their shift to digital tools (which is also the key stepping stone to enabling forwarder digital transformation).

Airlines realized that the only way to serve customers wherever, whenever they are needed, was by giving real-time access to carrier schedules, prices, and capacity for real-time eBooking.

Stephane Noll, Head of Digital Engagement and Transformation at CHAMP Cargosystems and Guillaume Crozier, dnata’s SVP of UAE Cargo & Global Cargo Strategy, discuss the latest developments in digital distribution and how they are shaping the future of air cargo booking. They also spoke in detail about the role of AI in the digital distribution industry in an email interview with Air Cargo Update.

Current Trends in Digital Platform Adoption

The current trends in digital platform adoption for air cargo booking revolve around the integration of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and blockchain.

These technologies are being leveraged to enhance the transparency, efficiency, and security of the air cargo booking process.

Additionally, there’s a growing emphasis on the development of user-friendly interfaces and mobile applications to empower shippers and freight forwarders with greater control and visibility over their cargo bookings.

The evolution of digital distribution platforms in air cargo booking is driven by the need to optimize operational processes, reduce costs, and meet the increasing demands of the market.

With the integration of advanced technologies, digital platforms are poised to reshape the future of air cargo booking by providing more agile and responsive solutions to the industry.

Crozier explains, “Airport community systems are certainly being adopted at a greater rate by the industry. They are an agile system when it comes to architecture and technology when we need better processing times and better security. Given the increase in cybersecurity threats, airport community systems are certainly being pushed forward more by many hub airports.

“dnata plans to implement our new-generation Calogi platform and airport community system, which is a scalable solution that we can implement across our network”.

CHAMP Cargosystems’ Stephane Noll said, “Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a transformative force, particularly accelerated by the e-commerce boom. From predictive analytics ensuring optimal inventory levels to route optimization minimizing delays, AI is reshaping logistics. Capacity planning, demand forecasting, and warehouse automation leverage AI for efficient operations. Supply chain visibility, risk management, and customer service benefit from AI tools, fostering the emergence of innovative players like Project44 and FourKites.

“Notably, AI aids document automation, exemplified by CHAMP A2ZScan, and enhances security screening for safer, compliant cargo transport. The air cargo industry’s journey with AI continues, unlocking new dimensions of efficiency and innovation.”

Digital Distribution Innovations

Assuming the role of technology in shaping the future of air cargo booking, it’s an undeniable fact that disruptive technologies are also redefining the industry.

From blockchain to artificial intelligence, these innovations are revolutionizing the way air cargo is booked, managed, and tracked.

At the forefront of disruptive technologies in air cargo booking is blockchain, a decentralized and transparent digital ledger that ensures the security and traceability of transactions.

By integrating blockchain into air cargo booking systems, stakeholders gain real-time visibility into the movement of goods, minimize the risk of fraud, and streamline the entire booking process. The use of blockchain technology also enhances data security and privacy, offering a level of trust and transparency that was previously unattainable.

Another essential component of the digital revolution in air cargo booking is artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies are optimizing logistics processes and decision-making. Intelligent algorithms analyze vast amounts of data to forecast demand, optimize routes, and automate pricing and capacity management.

By leveraging AI and machine learning, logistics companies achieve greater operational efficiency, reduce costs, and deliver a better customer experience. These technologies are revolutionizing the way logistics operations are executed, paving the way for a more intelligent and responsive air cargo booking ecosystem.

Stephane Noll says, “As the air cargo industry charts its course toward greater efficiency, the integration of blockchain technology, AI, and Machine Learning (ML) stands poised to redefine route planning, scheduling, and resource allocation. While ML is already optimizing passenger and integrator operations, its application in air cargo logistics is a strategic focus. From dynamic route planning, and predictive maintenance scheduling, to adaptive real-time decision-making, ML algorithms leverage real-time data and historical analysis. This transformative technology optimizes capacity planning, aircraft assignment, crew scheduling, and anomaly detection, ensuring a data-driven and adaptive approach. The industry’s journey with ML heralds a new era of increased efficiency, cost reduction, and customer service enhancement, emphasizing the pivotal role of high-quality data in seizing these opportunities.”

Online Booking Platforms

For dnata, Calogi has been a game-changer, allowing for seamless and efficient booking processes. With the use of this digital distribution, dnata now offers stakeholders a range of reliable, secure, simple, and cost-effective e-cargo business solutions without cumbersome paperwork and long wait times.

“Calogi is a comprehensive state-of-the-art air cargo services portal that offers stakeholders a range of reliable, secure, simple, and cost-effective e-cargo business solutions. Designed to simplify the cargo business, Calogi enables local supply chain stakeholders to interact seamlessly, thus enhancing the transaction process. Information is entered once by the originator and used throughout the shipment life cycle, making the process effortless and paperless.

“We position ourselves as a driving force for transformative change, making cutting-edge technology accessible and cost-effective for the air cargo industry. This enables us to connect with all our stakeholders, covering the handling operation from end to end, driving paperless volumes. This also helps us to comply with the increasing level of data exchange we need to have between customs or across countries ahead of the export of the shipment, using IATA’s Pre-Loading Advance Cargo Information (PLACI), or Inbound Control System,” said Crozier.

Real-Time Tracking and Data Analytics

Data is crucial in the air cargo industry, and with real-time tracking and data analytics, companies can make more informed decisions.

Having access to real-time tracking allows companies to monitor their shipments in transit, while data analytics provide valuable insights into performance, customer behavior, and market trends.

Crozier adds, “The ICS is a principle guiding countries to increase the level of data they are sharing with the consignees, ahead of the shipment being exported.

“This is all important because it will be implemented into the airport community system and our data strategy in our OneCargo system, which will then become more and more capable and compliant. dnata continues to implement the OneCargo system, which serves as the foundation of the company’s digitization strategy and aims to standardize procedures at all stations worldwide. By eliminating redundancies and manual check documents, OneCargo significantly increases operational efficiency.

“Calogi facilitates effective communication between GHA (Ground Handling Agents) and other industry stakeholders by providing a unified e-commerce platform. Calogi has changed the air cargo business forever in Dubai. Our tremendous success in the region is proof of the extent to which our solution meets the needs and expectations of the air freight community. And the bigger we became, the more benefits we offered to our subscribers”.

According to Noll, Conversational AI and Chatbots, Sentiment Analysis, Multilingual NLP, Contextual Understanding, Voice Recognition, Interactive and Dynamic Content, Summarization and Abstractive Text Generation and AI-powered virtual Assistants collectively contribute to the evolution of customer service and communication within the air cargo industry. As NLP technologies continue to progress, we can expect more efficient, personalized, and seamless interactions between cargo companies and their customers, ultimately enhancing the overall customer experience.

The Implementation of Computer Vision Technology

Computer vision technology is an application of artificial intelligence that enables machines to interpret and understand digital images. The air cargo industry is on the verge of adopting computer vision technology to improve safety and efficiency.

The fields of use are very broad and include recognition and detection of airplanes, airport security and management, plane identification, autonomous flying of drones, and even missile guidance systems.

“Computer vision technology is also something we see as becoming key. This includes the upward trend to digitize the acceptance and handling process and give more real time visibility of their shipments inbound or outbound, to the customer, stakeholders or authorities. This is what we are currently doing day in, day out, and we continue to invest in new technologies to provide better efficiency and value for money for our customers,” Crozier said.

Crozier further explains that diverse industry verticals are adopting emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, computer vision, data insights, and robotics process automation, among others. Therefore, air cargo must be at the forefront of its digital transformation.

“Building on our success, we are now branching out and taking our game-changing solution to the outside world, challenging traditional industry processes, and allowing all stakeholders, large and small, to conduct e-cargo” Crozier concludes our email interview.

Noll said, “to prepare for 5G Connectivity, Edge Computing, Autonomous Vehicles and Drones, Advanced Robotics, Explainable AI and AI Ethics, Digital Twins, Blockchain Technology, Natural Language Processing Advancements, Human-Robot Collaboration Frameworks, Climate and Sustainability Initiatives and other emerging trends and technologies, companies in the air cargo industry should stay informed about technological advancements, engage in pilot projects to test new solutions, and invest in training and upskilling their workforce to adapt to the changing technological landscape”.

According to Noll, by leveraging AI and robotics in Real-time Location Tracking, Sensor Integration, Cargo Screening, Image Recognition, Anomaly Detection, Secure Storage and Retrieval, Intelligent Surveillance and Integration with Regulatory Compliance, the air cargo industry can significantly enhance its security measures. These technologies provide a more proactive and efficient approach to cargo tracking, monitoring, and threat detection, ultimately reducing risks and strengthening the overall security posture of air cargo operations.

Noll further explained, “Air Cargo is currently experiencing challenges around attracting and retaining workers. New generations are not interested in moving boxes in warehouses or loading/unloading aircraft in challenging weather conditions. So, automation is no longer a luxury but an essential, as this is an opportunity to improve the attractiveness of our industry by making it more modern.”

Adding, “The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States or the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in Europe have both issued a roadmap for the implementation of AI and robotics. It is a learning process which will significantly evolve and requires piloting, like we have been doing for programs such as Advance Cargo Information (pre-loading and pre-arrival filings)”.

India’s burgeoning cargo industry needs tech and digitalization boost to reach potential

The country’s cargo tonnage and revenue increased by 520% in recent years but Indian freight forwarders believe more can be achieved if the government can provide better infrastructure and tech-forward digital systems for both imports and exports.

By R. Chandrakanth

Despite regulatory and operational constraints in some of the Indian airports, the freight forwarding community is gung-ho about the potential that exists, both in imports and exports. The reason for this optimism is pretty clear – Indian airports have done good business in terms of cargo capacities and tonnage carried and are expected to do better, even as the government is emphasizing capacity building.

In 2022, Indian airports carried 3.1 million tonnes of freight, up from 2.5 million tonnes in the previous year. The increase was noticed in both international and domestic freight, the former registering an increase of 29% (1.9 million tonnes) and the latter by 24% (1.2 million tonnes).

Mumbai airport which is stressed out infrastructure-wise, nevertheless, saw a 40% increase to 214,054 tonnes and this is attributed to the thriving Indian economy.

Indian Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, impressed by the 520% increase in cargo revenue, said the private sector, if it wanted to achieve the 10 million metric tonne targets in cargo, had to join hands with the government and also focus on the transportation of smaller cargo loads from Tier-II and Tier-III cities to metros. The government is establishing as many as 33 new domestic cargo terminals by 2024-2025.

Enthused by this potential, the Federation of Freight Forwarders Association of India (FFFAI) has been representing the government to overcome some of the infrastructure and regulatory hurdles that persist, even while it is internally encouraging the freight forwarding community to go digital.

Untapped regional markets

The Chairman of FFFAI, Dushyant Mulani, told Air Cargo Update the air freight sector has been having a good compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 5.5 percent and has the potential to expand as Indian manufacturing is coming of age. “Engineering goods, pharmaceuticals, information technology products, perishables and E-commerce, all are witnessing good growth.

Besides, India, which is recognized as a good transhipment hub, can provide transportation and logistics services to the neighboring countries of Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Vietnam, etc.

Mulani said this regional market has been largely untapped. “The capacities are there and if the proposed 33 domestic cargo terminals materialize, then it further opens up opportunities.”

Even while the present dispensation is trying to improve the logistics sector through various initiatives like UDAN (enabling regional air connectivity), Gati-Shakti (power of speed, improving logistics performance), etc, there are major infrastructural gaps.

“Take for instance, the Mumbai airport, it is stretched and stressed dealing with passenger and cargo growth, with almost no infrastructure development in decades. We are hoping that the Navi Mumbai airport which is slated to go operational at the end of 2024, will be able to facilitate increased cargo movement,” said Mulani.

Mumbai needs another airport fast

The Chatrapathi Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai is a mess, where both passenger and cargo movements are pathetic, to say the least.

“Mumbai infrastructure is very poor. Private players have not invested, unlike how the airports in Bengaluru, Hyderabad and New Delhi have done. Mumbai needs to gear up. The man-hours lost because of infrastructure issues are substantial. The only improvement we have seen has been the introduction of temperature-controlled systems, otherwise, there has been no improvement since 1995,” Mulani noted.

Despite these hurdles, Mumbai has achieved commendable cargo growth, as the city happens to be one import EXIM gateway.

In FY 2022, Mumbai airport registered a 26% increase in international freight to 556,899 metric tonnes, while Hyderabad saw an 18 % increase to 75,546 tonnes. As regards domestic cargo, Mumbai witnessed a 40% increase to 214,054 tonnes and Hyderabad saw a 38 % increase to 64,529 tonnes, as compared to the previous year. The top three destinations that observed the highest imports via Mumbai airport included China, Germany and the USA.

While hailing the government’s plans to develop multi-modal logistics parks (MMLPs), Mulani mentioned that the cost of operations for those leasing properties here needs to become economical.

“The cost of operations is high and unviable for many medium and small businesses in some of the parks. The new MMLPs have to keep that in mind, otherwise it does not make economic sense,” said Mulani.

Talking about the phenomenal growth of the e-commerce sector, Mulani mentioned that it has huge potential as not all imports come through the ‘courier channel’. Most of the products take the normal cargo channels – air freight or by sea – where the clearances are much faster.

Mulani said there are many issues that the regulators need to sort out, one of which is the dwell time of cargo. “We are working closely with the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) and a time-release study analysis has been done. Time-bound clearances are urgent and it has to be a joint effort of the trade/industry and customs,” he said.

The freight forwarders have to be compliant with a lot of agility. They should pay customs duty online and on time, ensure that there is timely segregation of goods with the custodians, keep the documentation in order, among other things, if they have to see clearance of imported goods within two hours of arrival.

Mulani said unless the government comes up with a mandatory diktat that all stakeholders have to go digital, the adoption rate will not be as desired.

“The Customs department has gone digital, but other stakeholders, including some custodians such the Plant Quarantine unit, Assistant Drugs Controller, etc. are yet to go fully digital. Yes, the freight forwarders too have to move to the digital mode, away from all the paperwork. The FFFAI is actively working with the CBIC, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade, the Ministry of Civil Aviation, and the Shipping Ministry on the areas that need to go digital, starting with licensing,” he said.

The FFFAI regularly conducts training programs, seminars, and workshops, among others, to encourage the freight forwarding community on various compliances. “But I believe, the government should make it mandatory for all stakeholders to go digital, leaving it to the stakeholders will be a gradual process as firstly it requires a mindset change. The government should take a clear position,” said Mulani.

During the pandemic years, the cargo sector emerged as a promising area not just for Indian aviation but for global aviation and there was accelerated adoption of digitalization, which now has slowed down.

The Indian cargo sector which saw a growth rate of 9-10% since 2013-14, witnessed a huge jump in the last two years, registering 520% increase in cargo revenue. The cargo revenues touched Indian cargo revenue was at $2.4 billion with 3.1 million metric tonnages having a CAGR of 13%. Today, India has 21 international and 35 domestic cargo terminals.

The Minister said, “Air Cargo had started as an underdog during the difficult Covid times but the industry was able to adapt and change to the new environment. During the times of Covid, we have rapidly expanded from having 7 Cargo Freighters to 28 Cargo Freighters in a short period of 3 years.”

The Minister said it was imperative to work on ease of doing business in the cargo sector by making processes paperless, adapting automation, and digitalization which can make cargo processing swift.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation will be spending close to $11.76 billion over 4 years in terms of setting up new greenfield airports and expansion of existing brownfield airports. Out of this, $7.44 billion will be invested by the private sector and $4.32 billion by the Government of India through the Airports Authority of India.

The Minister gave the example of jackfruit from Tripura which is finding market in the United Kingdom and Germany while King Chillies and Lemon from Assam are getting exported to London. This is a classic example of A2A i.e., Agriculture to Aviation, the link of two seemingly unrelated sectors being linked due to air infrastructure now coming up in remote areas in the country. It is for the freight forwarding community now to tap into these opportunities.

 

From Finger tips to Doorstep: How e-Commerce Takes Flight with Air Freight

Imagine ordering a high-value gadget, a time-sensitive gift, or even fresh flowers online. Air freight becomes the unsung hero in ensuring these items reach you swiftly and intact.

Step into the dynamic world of e-commerce, where just clicking a button can bring products from across the globe to your doorstep. This digital shopping revolution has not only changed the way we shop but has also given new engines for growth to the air freight industry, turning it into a crucial player in the delivery game.

The e-Commerce and Air Freight Symbiosis: Imagine ordering a high-value gadget, a time-sensitive gift, or even fresh flowers online. Air freight becomes the unsung hero in ensuring these items reach you swiftly and intact.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA)’s latest air cargo data from 2023, e-commerce accounted for 20% of global air cargo volume, from only 15% in 2019. Fast forward through the COVID-19 pandemic, and the numbers have soared to record high, showcasing the pivotal role air freight plays in the e-commerce world.

In this journey through the skies, we encounter trends that propel the air freight industry into new directions.

Need for Speed and Convenience: E-commerce customers now expect nothing short of magic when it comes to the delivery of their orders. Speed and convenience have become the name of the game, with demands for same-day or 72-hour international shipping. This puts immense pressure on the air freight industry to not only speed up their operations but also compete with alternative transportation modes.

Embracing the Digital Age: In a world where information is power, e-commerce requires a seamless flow of data and transparency from the point of order to delivery. This necessity has nudged the air freight industry to invest in digital technologies for real-time tracking, communication, and collaboration among all stakeholders. Digital transformation isn’t just a luxury; it’s a lifeline to operational efficiency, customer satisfaction, and informed decision-making.

Greening the Skies: As awareness about environmental impact grows, e-commerce customers are leaning towards greener options. This poses a challenge for the air freight industry, caught between the need for speed and the call for sustainability. Finding the balance involves adopting eco-friendly practices such as fuel-efficient aircraft, optimized routes, and exploring alternative fuels. While these trends paint a promising picture, challenges loom on the horizon.

The Digital Dilemma: The air freight industry finds itself at a crossroads where the lack of digitization hampers its ability to keep pace with e-commerce expectations. Manual and paper-based processes create inefficiencies, errors, and delays. The industry needs to shed its analog skin and embrace digital solutions that streamline operations and enhance customer service.

The Price of the Skies: Air freight, though swift, comes at a cost. Factors like fuel expenses, airport fees, security charges, and customs duties make it one of the priciest modes of transportation. This high cost could deter online retailers and consumers from choosing air freight. The industry must brainstorm ways to cut costs, perhaps by optimizing capacity, negotiating better rates, or offering value-added services.

Capacity Crunch: A surge in demand for e-commerce goods and a limited fleet of aircraft create a capacity shortage. The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the situation with canceled or reduced passenger flights, leaving less cargo space. To meet the growing demand, the industry must explore options like dedicated cargo aircraft, chartering flights, or collaborating with other modes of transportation.

Technological Innovations:

Jonathan Fredericks, Managing Director at ECS Group’s Mail & More, emphasizes the pivotal role of technology solutions in achieving seamless integration between e-commerce platforms and air cargo companies. He stresses the need for precise, technical, and detailed logistics chains.

According to Fredericks, “Digital tools are instrumental in elevating visibility, ensuring timely and reliable transportation solutions for online businesses.” The discussion unfolds with Fredericks shedding light on real-time tracking, where technology enables airlines and cargo operators to provide accurate information to customers.

He outlines the post-COVID digital transformation in parcel movement, incorporating technologies like EDI messaging, parcel-level tracking, and tracing, with a growing shift towards AI for efficiency.

Fredericks extends the conversation to the transformative impact of technological advancements, particularly automated cargo handling systems, envisioning a future where airlines evaluate handling agents based on their digitalization and infrastructure capacity.

“The focus is on speed, cost efficiency, reliability, and universality,” he emphasizes.

Addressing the increasing reliance on technology, Fredericks delves into how air cargo companies address cybersecurity challenges. ECS Group prioritizes cybersecurity through a multi-faceted strategy aligned with GDPR guidelines, recognizing the paramount importance of data privacy.

Charter Services and Collaboration:

Yossi Shoukroun, the CEO of the Challenge Group, introduces a fresh perspective, exploring how charter services can meet the specific needs of e-commerce clients. He highlights the comprehensive charter programs involving long-term agreements with specific delivery commitments.

In his words, “Stability is a paramount consideration, and our approach is tailored to meet this imperative, aligning operational plans with the delivery promises of e-commerce entities.”

Shoukroun shares success stories, notably a collaboration with Cainiao, Alibaba’s logistics arm. Challenge Group’s operations were initiated with four weekly flights and swiftly scaled to a daily schedule, serving key markets in Israel and Europe.

He underlines the evolving dynamics of e-commerce, emphasizing a shift from China to Global (C2G) to a Global to Global (G2G) business model. In addressing the relationship between charter services and commercial airlines, Shoukroun emphasizes the foundational role of freighter operators in providing continuous and reliable capacity for substantial e-commerce volumes.

The complementarity extends to utilizing belly capacity as both a buffer and for less urgent destinations or products. Shoukroun navigates through the regulatory challenges faced by charter services, focusing on the transportation of lithium batteries. With a multi-faceted strategy and three Air Operator Certificates (AOC), Challenge Group is well-equipped to meet these challenges.

The discussion shifts to investments in infrastructure and technology, where integration with clients streamlines customs clearance processes.

E-commerce’s Influence on Global Trade Dynamics: To truly grasp the impact of e-commerce on the air freight industry, it’s essential to delve into its broader influence on global trade dynamics.

Market Expansion and Access: E-commerce opens up new markets for businesses, allowing them to reach customers globally. This expansion necessitates an efficient and reliable logistics network, with air freight playing a pivotal role in connecting sellers and buyers across continents.

Changing Consumer Behavior: The shift to online shopping has altered consumer behavior, with expectations of quick and secure deliveries. This shift places increased demands on air freight to provide not just speed but also reliability and transparency in the delivery process.

Customs and Regulatory Challenges: Global trade brings with it diverse customs regulations and trade barriers. The air freight industry must navigate through this complex web of regulations to ensure seamless cross-border movement of goods, further highlighting the need for robust digital solutions.

Future Horizons and Collaborative Synergies: As we peer into the future of e-commerce and air freight, collaborative synergies emerge as a key theme. The integration of technology, regulatory compliance, and sustainable practices is vital for the continued success of this dynamic alliance.

Blockchain and Supply Chain Transparency: Blockchain technology holds immense potential in enhancing supply chain transparency. E-commerce companies and air freight operators can leverage blockchain for real-time tracking, authentication, and secure sharing of information, addressing concerns related to fraud and counterfeit goods.

Sustainability Initiatives: Meeting the dual challenge of speed and sustainability requires innovative approaches. The industry can explore biofuels, electric cargo planes, and other eco-friendly solutions. Collaborative efforts between e-commerce giants and air freight companies can drive investments in sustainable technologies.

Regulatory Frameworks and Standardization: The establishment of global regulatory frameworks and standardization in the air freight industry is critical. This can streamline processes, reduce complexities, and ensure a level playing field for all stakeholders. E-commerce players and air freight companies should actively engage in shaping these frameworks to meet the evolving needs of the industry.

Think of it as a high-altitude game of chess. Industry experts like Fredericks and Shoukroun see technology as the kingpin, orchestrating a seamless flow of goods from click to doorstep. Collaboration is the other key piece, forging alliances between e-commerce giants and air freight veterans. Together, they can build a future where drones are pawns zipping through urban grids, and sustainable fuel powers transcontinental cargo planes like eco-conscious knights.

This isn’t just about keeping up; it’s about dominating the skylines of global trade. Imagine a world where lightning-fast deliveries and carbon-neutral footprints are the new standard. That’s the future air freight and e-commerce are building together, brick by digital brick, shipment by eco-friendly flight.

So, buckle up, fasten your innovative seatbelts, and prepare to witness a sky-high revolution in how goods move around the world.

Al Futtaim Logistics unveil plan for future growth

“Driven by a customer-centric and solutions-oriented approach, our 24/7 AOG operations with 300+ stations, combined with our end-to-end solutions, including storage and distribution hubs within the UAE, make us the go-to partner for aerospace companies of any size.” -Dr. Raman Kumar, Managing Director, Al-Futtaim Logistics

In the rapidly growing logistics industry in today’s interconnected digital world, Al Futtaim Logistics stands out for its fast and innovative supply chain and logistics services and solutions for different industries.

Established in the 1980s in the United Arab Emirates, Al Futtaim Logistics is today a leading provider of integrated logistics services not only in the country but the entire Middle East with its global network of strategic partners in more than 150 countries.

Just before 2023 ended, Al Futtaim Logistics expanded its services with the launch of its Aerospace Logistics Division, specifically tailored to meet the industry’s growing demand to transport parts for aircraft and spacecraft worldwide.

The Aerospace Logistics Division’s launch was held at the mega-aviation event, Dubai Airshow 2023. Prior, a soft launch was made at the MRO-AIME Middle East 2023.

Dubai, the UAE’s business hub, is the 7th largest importer of parts for aircraft and spacecraft in the world. And over the next 20 years, Al Futtaim said the Middle East is predicted to see 3.2% continued growth in the MRO services market, setting the region for soaring demand for efficient and rapid aerospace logistics.

“As part of a UAE-based conglomerate with a global network, we are uniquely positioned to deliver unmatched service quality and flexibility to meet the needs of our customers in this burgeoning sector,” said Dr. Raman Kumar, Managing Director of Al-Futtaim Logistics.

“Driven by a customer-centric and solutions-oriented approach, our 24/7 Aircraft on Ground (AOG) operations with more than 300 stations, combined with our end-to-end solutions, including storage and distribution hubs within the UAE, make us the go-to partner for aerospace companies of any size,” he continued.

Consider these facts: An aircraft that is stalled on the ground due to technical issues can cost an airline up to US$150,000 an hour in losses, which is why prompt and time-critical ground solutions are needed to ensure seamless continuity of operations.

Diverse Clientele in the Aerospace Industry

Dr. Kumar explains Al-Futtaim’s Aerospace Logistics Division caters to a diverse clientele, including Airlines, Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul (MRO) operators, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), Parts Suppliers, and Asset Leasing Companies.

The division provides a comprehensive range of solutions that includes airside deliveries at major UAE airports, multiple carrier options, Technician Onboard Charters (TOC), and 24/7 centralized aerospace operations with global coverage, covering all time zones.

“Airside delivery,” Dr. Kumar said, “is one of the big requirements for aerospace logistics,” which is why, he added, the company is moving forward in the air freight logistics field as a matter of a growth plan

The company also provides storage solutions compliant with the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) and ASA-100 standards.

“With 1.2 million square meters of storage and operational centers located in major air and sea hubs in the UAE, our service capabilities extend to global freight forwarding, local services, warehousing, contract logistics, and cross-border transportation. We provide fast and reliable integrated 3PL solutions to diverse industries, including the aerospace industry,” Dr. Kumar noted.

Al Futtaim Logistics is geared toward further global expansion. First to Egypt, then to Hong Kong and the rest of East Asia in the next few years. Its Aerospace Division has expertise in engine movements, parts movements, surface transportation, service cargo, routine cargo, airside deliveries, and time-critical solutions to suit urgent customer needs.

Trained associates and special security permits allow Al Futtaim’s Aerospace Logistics to execute smooth airside deliveries for AOGs. The services comprise a full range of integrated third-party solutions (3PL) to meet all the needs of aerospace MRO and other clientele.

Moreover, Al-Futtaim’s Aerospace Logistics assures time-critical air freight solutions with reliable transit times, and cost-saving opportunities integrating consolidations and multimodal transportation. Time-critical expertise extends to the provision of chartered fights, AOGs, out-of-gauge, hazardous cargo, exhibition shipments, and transport insurance.

Al-Futtaim Logistics is an authorized economic operator by the UAE Federal Customs Authority and Dubai Customs compliant with the specifications of the World Customs Organization (WCO).

In 2023, the company was recognized for its innovative approach to aerospace logistics, receiving the Emerging Aerospace Logistics Company Award at the Arabian Cargo Awards 2023.

The company is part of Al Futtaim Group, a business conglomerate established in the 1930s, which today is one of the most diversified and progressive, privately held regional businesses headquartered in Dubai, structured into different operating divisions, including automotive, financial services, real estate, retail, and health.

Al-Futtaim Group employs more than 33,000 employees across more than 20 countries in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. It has partnerships with over 200 of the world’s most admired and innovative brands.

Growing Aerospace Industry

Since the pandemic’s lifting, the Middle East aviation industry has seen record growth in passenger traffic, thus, necessitated demand for more supplies and upkeep on aircraft and facilities it use.

In the UAE alone, the country’s four major airlines—Emirates, Etihad, flydubai and Air Arabia—have more than 480 aircraft in operation. Across the Middle East, the total fleet size tops 1,211 in 2022. By 2032, it is projected to more than double to 2,382.

With that many planes in operation in the region, the UAE has successfully positioned itself as a top 10 importer of aircraft parts with world-class logistics infrastructure. The country’s strategic location between the East and the West makes it an ideal logistics hub for the global aerospace industry.

The Evolving Role of Air Charter Services in Global Trade”

The World Trade Organization (WTO) in October had forecast that the volume of world merchandise trade would witness a 3.3% growth in 2024. But as we head to another year, this growth projection may not hold well as geopolitical tensions (protracted conflicts of Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Hamas) are expected to have an adverse bearing on trade, particularly sea lanes.

Four container-shipping companies—the French shipping and logistics company CMA CGM; German shipping giant Hapag Lloyd; Danish shipping behemoth Maersk; and Switzerland-based Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) have suspended their services in the Red Sea as shipping flows are affected due to attacks by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in a bid to force a ceasefire on Israel’s attacks against Gaza.

Israel continues to bombard Gaza with bomb attacks and military assault as it pursues the Palestinian militant group, Hamas, which attacked Israel on October 7, 2023, resulting in the death of 1,200 Israelis and the kidnapping of about 250 people, including foreign workers from Thailand and the Philippines. As of press time, nearly 23,000 Palestinians have lost their lives from Israel’s attacks and more than 58,000 have been injured.

Almost 10% of global trade sails through the Red Sea. The US has since created a multinational naval coalition force that will patrol the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden in response to the Houthi attacks. More than 20 nations have joined the coalition so far. And major shipping firms like Maersk announced they will resume operations on the route.

In 2023, the cargo industry also faced severe challenges. The fall-out of the Russia-Ukraine conflict has been that Volga-Dnepr Airlines IL76 and An-124 fleets are not available in the EU, UK, or US markets due to the sanctions. Only 8 An-124 aircraft (seven from Ukraine and one from Maximus) are operational, but not fully. This certainly has hit capacities and also resulted in higher charter rates.

Macro-economic headwinds

Nevertheless, there has been a slowing down of demand due to macro-economic headwinds and a slowdown in global trade, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) which states that overall cargo tonne-kilometres are expected to remain below in 2023, compared to the previous year and the growth forecast for 2024 is 4.5%.

Industry leaders at the recent executive summit of The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) pointed out weak demand, amidst rising capacities and lower rates, further accentuated by the impact of geopolitical tensions.

Going into 2024, air cargo demand could be flat. The Chief Cargo Officer of Turkish Airlines, Turhan Özen, while being optimistic about demand cautioned of geopolitical risks that could jeopardize demand. Similarly, Chief Cargo Officer of Brussels Airport Company, Geert Aerts, mentioned how the geopolitical situation in West Asia had pushed air cargo’s recovery back by a year.

Capacities available

It is here that the air charter operators play a crucial role in directing cargo business. Says Dushyant Mulani, Chairman of the Freight Forwarders Association of India that the charter business has to be fully aware of the happenings around the world, particularly geopolitical to ensure seamless transhipments.

The sales teams of air charters should be able to provide solutions to trade-in eventualities such as the Red Sea. There are capacities and there are aircraft available.

He mentions that demand is only in some sectors such as e-commerce, automotive and electronics which gets addressed by air cargo as speed of delivery is the criterion. It is for the air charter operators to look at other sectors, create demand, and service them. They are to be the beacons in the air cargo supply chain, even as the global air charter services market (all inclusive) is poised to touch nearly $30 billion by end-2023, with a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.3% and $36.11 billion in 2027 with a CAGR of 5.1%.

North America continues to dominate charter market

There has been an increasing demand for cargo charters as they offer more destinations, and are reliable, secure, fast, and flexible. As per IATA, Global air cargo tonne-kilometres (CTKs) registered the third consecutive year-on-year (YoY) growth in October by 3.8%.

Compared to the pre-pandemic level, industry CTKs were 2.4% lower.  Air cargo capacity, measured by available cargo tonne-kilometres (ACTKs), increased by 13.1% YoY in October, owing to the continued strong return of international passenger belly capacity, thus industry ACTKs surpassed 2019 levels by 2.8%. The demand for air cargo is a significant driver pushing the air charter services market growth with North America being a dominating region, followed by Asia-Pacific.

The Chief Executive of Air Charter Association, an industry body in the United Kingdom, Glenn Hogben, has attributed the growth to the higher demand in sectors such as e-commerce, electronics, oil and gas, and automotive, with special mention of growing routes being Asia and Europe.

For the air charter market to grow, product innovation is key and the charter operators have to think on their feet. One example of product innovation is the ACS Critical Time from the stables of the UK-based company Air Charter Services (ACS) which offers a comprehensive package of door-to-door service, incorporating integrated trucking solutions, on-demand cargo airplane charters, and next-flight-out alternatives.

Hogben says that the charter market is fairly disjointed and the Association is trying to bring cohesion and advises its members on looking at technologies to enhance charter efficiencies, while not neglecting traditional personal service.

Air charter’s many benefits

As mentioned earlier, air charter operators should have real-time access to aircraft movements worldwide, have an exhaustive database and have quick and reliable communication systems. One of the best examples of a charter company is Chapman Freeborn, an industry leader, which analyses routes, payloads, and timescale, proposing the most suitable cargo aircraft for freight forwarders. They also organize part-charters, backloads, and other commercially innovative solutions for ad hoc, peak-season, and project cargo. Added to that is the company’s leverage of volume buying power and airline relationships, ensuring competitive pricing.

Chapman Freeborn lists the many benefits of air charter and they include reliability; speed (advantageous for time-sensitive cargo such as perishable goods, urgent medical supplies, or emergency relief aid); flexibility (shippers can choose the departure and arrival times, routing and airports of their choice); more destinations (including remote locations, served and unserved regions); varying load capacities; security (less risk of theft, damage or loss, compared to flights that contain cargo from various vendors); tracking (charter providers offer web-based aircraft tracking); less warehousing (quicker transport times means less need for warehousing); less packaging (fewer packaging materials as cargo shipped in lightweight materials, compared to sea freight); cost-effectiveness; and viability (in times of crisis, such as the disruption in the Red Sea air charter is a viable option for cargo transportation).

2024 decent projections of cargo volumes 

The air cargo sector is poised to maintain an upward trajectory, though there are geopolitical issues that need to be kept on the radar. The 2024 projections, as per IATA, are an increase of cargo volumes by 4-5% in comparison to 2023; enhanced capacities as airlines are back to normal; digital adoption (blockchain and artificial intelligence integration) improving efficiencies; enhanced security; and move towards sustainability.

The slowdown in general air freight demand has increased charter capacity, causing a marked decrease in charter prices; although high fuel prices are preventing a return to pre-COVID rate levels.

Even as the sector grapples with fluctuations in fuel prices and geopolitical instability, the aviation sector is becoming innovative, trying to leverage AI enhancements and other technologies to drive efficiencies in charter operations and that is going to pay dividends over time.

In conclusion, air charter operators need to traverse 2024 with utmost care as rising geopolitical tensions in different parts of the world can negate growth, slow down e-commerce expansion, and global trade. Despite the flux of global trade, air cargo will remain an indispensable link, continually evolving, and innovating to address the demands of economies and it is for the charter operators to guide the shippers.

Saudi Arabia’s NEOM and DSV establish US$10 billion logistics joint venture

The joint venture which is expected to commence in 2024 will provide a full suite of ground, sea, and air logistics services for the multibillion-dollar mega project.

NEOM and DSV announced in December a US$10 billion exclusive logistics joint venture to support the development of the ambitious projects taking shape in NEOM, a new urban area planned by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia being built in northwestern Tabuk province, which is north of the Red Sea, east of Egypt across the Gulf of Aqaba and south of Jordan.

NEOM’s total planned area is 26,500 km² with distinct eight regions and many sectors. Backed by Saudi’s Public Investment Fund, the new futuristic city’s total cost is estimated to be more than US$500 billion once fully completed by 2039.
NEOM and DSV’s partnership will focus on providing logistics services for NEOM in the coming years. NEOM will hold 51% of the joint venture with DSV holding the remaining 49%.
Under the agreement, the joint venture will provide end-to-end supply chain management, development and investments in transport and logistics assets and infrastructure as well as transport and delivery of goods and materials within NEOM.
NEOM envisions unparalleled demand for construction logistics through 31 December 2031, with sustained growth in non-construction logistics thereafter. In addition to its impact on the logistics landscape, the venture is expected to boost the Saudi economy, through infrastructure development and creating more than 20,000 job opportunities.
“The projected demand in both construction and non-construction logistics will make NEOM one of the largest customers in the world, and this partnership allows NEOM to create value from its demand. Working alongside one of the world’s leading logistics companies, the joint venture with DSV will build on expertise and know-how to drive innovation and sustainability throughout the logistics value chain. The economic benefit to this partnership will not only provide tens of thousands of jobs, but it will also enable growth to capture local and regional market share. It’s a living example of Saudi Vision 2030 in action, fostering job creation and building a future-leaning economy,” said Nadhmi Al-Nasr, CEO of NEOM.

Jens Bjørn Andersen, Group CEO, DSV, commented: “NEOM is one of the largest and most complex projects in the world. It provides a unique opportunity for DSV to support a development that is at the forefront of innovation, technology and digital transformation. DSV already has a strong presence in Saudi Arabia, and this is a significant growth opportunity for us in the region and we look forward to working with NEOM Company and bringing our logistics capabilities to the table.”
NEOM and DSV affirmed their commitment to driving innovation and will allocate a portion of the JV’s revenues to foster the development of ground-breaking technologies and commercialize new sustainable next-generation logistics solutions.
The vision extends further by establishing a dedicated innovation centre at NEOM’s clean and advanced manufacturing hub, Oxagon.
The new joint venture is a significant milestone demonstrating NEOM’s commitment to revolutionizing Saudi Arabia’s logistics sector and paves the way for pioneering sustainable logistics solutions, marking a new chapter in its journey towards realizing Vision 2030.
Completion of the partnership is awaiting customary regulatory approvals, which are expected to be obtained in the second quarter of 2024.

DSV, the global transport and logistics powerhouse
Since its establishment in 1976 in Denmark, DSV has seen a series of mergers to maintain a key position in the global transport industry. Today, it is one of the largest transport and logistics companies in the world with more than 75,000 employees in over 80 countries.
DSV’s parent company, DSV A/S is listed in NASDAQ Copenhagen and included in the C25 index as one of the 25 most actively traded shares on the Copenhagen stock exchange.
DSV A/S has three divisions: DSV Air & Sea, DSV Road, and DSV Solutions.
DSV Road is one of the leading road freight operators in Europe with distribution networks in North America and Africa. It handles more than 30 million shipments loaded onto over 20,000 trucks.
DSV Air & Sea offers alternative routings and flexible schedules to suit even the most demanding logistical requirements to and from all parts of the world. The company handles 2,600,000 TEUs of sea freight and 1,700,000 metric tonnes of air freight every year.
DSV Solutions designs and delivers logistics solutions, adding value by increasing operation and cost efficiency. Its logistics facilities total 6,000,000 m2.
In 2021, DSV acquires Agility’s Global Integrated Logistics business (GIL), a leading global transport and logistics provider with a strong footprint in emerging markets and with a broad span of strong offerings within logistics. With this addition to the organization, DSV becomes a global top-three player within transport and logistics.
DSV reports good H1 results and strong cash flow, adapting to soft market conditions by leveraging its asset-light business model. Gross profit was down 14.2% and EBIT before special items 31.6% from last year’s extraordinary results but compared favorably to pre-pandemic levels.
DSV’s joint venture with NEOM will not have any material financial impact on DSV for the financial year 2023. Source: DSV and NEOM newsrooms

AI is reshaping jobs and opportunities in air cargo operations

By Ayesha Rashid

“From my point of view, I would recommend pursuing degrees in computer science, data science, or related fields. A competitive advantage would be specialized courses or certifications regarding machine learning and AI applications in logistics. AI technology is something that is constantly and rapidly changing. It is like other technical aspects: you must keep up with it and continue to learn, for example, through workshops and conferences. That’s essential.” – Martin Bernemann, Chief Technical Officer, BlueBox Systems

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) takes flight in the air cargo industry, its applications extend far beyond enhancing operational efficiency and streamlining logistics.
From autonomous drones managing last-mile deliveries to predictive analytics optimizing supply chain routes, the integration of AI is redefining traditional job roles and creating new opportunities for professionals in this ever-evolving field.
Martin Bernemann, Chief Technical Officer, BlueBox Systems talked to Air Cargo Update about the multifaceted impact of AI on jobs in the air cargo industry, examining both the challenges and the promising prospects it brings,
From the cockpit to the warehouse floor, the synergy between human expertise and artificial intelligence is shaping the future of air cargo operations, and understanding this dynamic interplay is key to navigating the evolving employment landscape in this vital sector.

Current AI Applications
Currently, AI plays a pivotal role in predictive maintenance, ensuring that aircraft and cargo-handling equipment operate at peak performance, minimizing downtime and optimizing maintenance schedules.
Route optimization and dynamic pricing strategies leverage AI algorithms to navigate the complexities of global supply chains, maximizing efficiency and cost-effectiveness in the process. The utilization of data optimization further streamlines logistics, providing real-time insights that empower decision-makers in this fast-paced industry.
New research from a variety of sources including Goldman Sachs, Open Philanthropy, Andressen Horowitz, and OpenAI, all point to potential major growth in national and world gross domestic product (GDP).
For instance, Goldman Sachs forecasts a $7 trillion increase in annual global GDP over a decade due to the adoption of AI.
However, research conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests that the adoption of AI and its contribution to the world’s GDP could be between 30 and 50 years away.
Martin Bernemann, Chief Technical Officer, BlueBox Systems, said, “AI is currently used in the air cargo industry in different ways. Present applications include predictive maintenance, for example, as well as route optimization, data optimization and dynamic pricing.
“In the future, more opportunities will emerge, such as advanced predictive analytics for demand forecasting and autonomous, AI-driven vehicles that will take over cargo handling. I am also sure that enhanced security through AI-powered surveillance and threat detection systems will be a common standard”.
Here are the top 4 areas in the air cargo industry, where AI is being leveraged:

Warehouse and Inventory Management
Using advanced algorithms and machine learning, AI systems can accurately track and manage inventory levels, optimize storage space, and streamline the movement of goods within the facility. By automating these tasks, air cargo companies can significantly reduce human error and improve overall efficiency.

Predictive Analytics for Demand Forecasting
By analyzing historical data, AI algorithms can identify patterns and trends that heavily influence future demand for air cargo services. This enables companies to adjust their operations proactively, ensuring they have the necessary resources and capacity to meet customer needs while minimizing excess inventory and costs.

AI-Enhanced Security and Safety Measures
AI-powered systems can identify potential risks and anomalies in real time, helping to prevent security breaches and unauthorized access to cargo. Additionally, AI technology is being used to improve the screening process for dangerous goods, ensuring compliance with stringent safety regulations.

Customs Clearance and Documentation
By automating tedious paperwork and compliance checks, AI systems can expedite the clearance process, reducing delays and improving overall efficiency. Furthermore, AI helps to ensure accuracy in documentation, minimizing the risk of errors or discrepancies that could lead to regulatory issues.
Shift in AI Skillsets
The introduction of AI in the air cargo industry will necessitate a shift in the skill sets required in the workforce.
Employees will need to adapt to working alongside AI systems and develop new proficiencies to remain competitive in the evolving job market.
This means that continuous upskilling and training programs will be essential to prepare the workforce for the AI-enabled workplace.
Training in data analysis, machine learning, and AI system management will become increasingly crucial.
Companies will need to invest in providing opportunities for their employees to upskill and gain expertise in these areas to ensure that they can effectively work with AI technologies. Embracing the upskilling and training of the workforce will be imperative for the successful integration of AI in the air cargo industry.
To meet the demands of this dynamic sector, air cargo companies are on the lookout for skilled professionals who possess a unique blend of expertise.
Harnessing the power of machine learning stands out as a cornerstone skill. Prospective candidates are expected to demonstrate proficiency in machine learning techniques, algorithms, and frameworks, showcasing their capability to apply AI solutions to intricate challenges unique to the air cargo domain.
A solid foundation in programming languages such as Python or R is equally essential, as these languages form the bedrock for developing and implementing cutting-edge AI solutions.
Moreover, expertise in data analysis is a key prerequisite for professionals aiming to make a mark in AI within air cargo companies. The skill to extract meaningful insights from vast datasets and navigate diverse data sources is crucial for addressing the nuanced complexities of air cargo operations.
Statistical modelling further enhances a candidate’s profile, emphasizing their ability to derive actionable conclusions from data and design models tailored to the specific needs of the industry.
“When looking for employees with AI-related skills, there are multiple qualifications that are important: ability in machine learning, data analysis, and programming languages such as Python or R, statistical modelling, and their ability to effectively translate complex business challenges into actionable AI solutions. Degrees in computer science or data science are valuable, to name two examples. When working with AI, employees should also have practical experience and skills that allow them to solve problems. Also important are strong communication skills. This makes collaboration with cross-functional teams much easier,” Bernemann explains.

Recommended AI learning
Think of AI technology as a dynamic force, always evolving and transforming, much like the changing landscapes visible from an aircraft window.
Staying relevant isn’t just recommended; it’s the key to unlocking the doors of opportunity. Just as a pilot constantly refines their skills, the same applies to navigating the ever-changing world of AI in the air cargo industry.
As technology continues to evolve, AI is poised to play a critical role in driving innovation and transformation across the sector. This includes advancements in autonomous cargo handling, the development of intelligent air traffic management systems, and the implementation of predictive analytics to optimize supply chain operations. Furthermore, AI has the potential to enhance safety and security measures by detecting and mitigating potential risks in real-time, ultimately improving overall operational efficiency and customer satisfaction.
“From my point of view, I would recommend pursuing degrees in computer science, data science, or related fields. A competitive advantage would be specialized courses or certifications regarding machine learning and AI applications in logistics. AI technology is something that is constantly and rapidly changing. It is like other technical aspects: you must keep up with it and continue to learn, for example, through workshops and conferences. That’s essential.
“For me personally, online courses, regular workshops and attending industry conferences that deal with AI are a good way to ensure ongoing training. Collaborations with educational institutions are also a very good option because it is fostering a culture of innovation and keep employees updated about the latest AI developments.”

Primary recruiting challenges
As AI continues to evolve and take on more complex tasks, it will undoubtedly impact the nature of jobs, the skills required, and the overall workforce structure within the industry.
One of the most significant implications of AI in the air cargo industry is the potential for job displacement and creation.
The automation of certain tasks through AI could lead to the elimination of some traditional roles within the sector.
For example, routine manual labor positions may become obsolete as AI-enabled systems and robots are deployed to handle repetitive tasks more efficiently.
However, it’s important to note that with the integration of AI, new job opportunities will also emerge. AI will create the need for roles such as AI system operators, maintenance technicians, data analysts, and AI ethicists, among others.
Additionally, there will likely be an increased demand for individuals with expertise in AI and technology to develop and manage these systems.
“One of the biggest challenges is that there are not enough specialized professionals and the demand for those professionals is high. At BlueBox Systems, we offer competitive compensation, a stimulating work environment, and a commitment to professional growth. We are also proud of working closely together with academic institutions and mentorship programs to ensure that talented people receive excellent training,” Bernemann said.
He continues, “Predictive maintenance is a good example. AI algorithms can predict equipment failures and thus reduce downtime. AI applications also have transformed air cargo operations in terms of dynamic pricing because AI-driven pricing models adapt to market conditions. Another example is the impact on job roles. AI technologies necessitate upskilling for jobs in data analysis, AI development, and system maintenance.”

Ethical Considerations
Notwithstanding the potential benefits of implementing AI in the air cargo industry, several challenges and considerations need to be addressed.
One of the primary concerns is the ethical and legal implications of using AI technologies in this sector.
Data privacy and cybersecurity concerns also need to be carefully managed, and significant investment and infrastructure requirements must be met.
“This is a very complex, but also very exciting question. What many will think of first are data protection concerns. When dealing with sensitive cargo data, every customer requires robust solid data protection. Of course, companies always should be transparent to their customers and communicate when AI is used,” said Bernemann.
“Another important topic is to ensure, that AI communication is unbiased and fair. To solve these challenges, BlueBox Systems addresses these topics by incorporating ethical AI principles into its developments. We also engage in open dialogues on ethical considerations regarding AI,” he added.
According to Bernemann, Air cargo companies need to invest in robust cybersecurity measures to protect sensitive information and ensure the integrity and confidentiality of their data. This includes implementing encryption, access controls, and regular security audits to mitigate the risk of cyber threats and data breaches.

Job Displacement and Creation
The automation of certain tasks through AI could lead to the elimination of some traditional roles within the sector.
For example, routine manual labor positions may become obsolete as AI-enabled systems and robots are deployed to handle repetitive tasks more efficiently. However, it’s important to note that with the integration of AI, new job opportunities will also emerge.
AI will create the need for roles such as AI system operators, maintenance technicians, data analysts, and AI ethicists, among others. Additionally, there will likely be an increased demand for individuals with expertise in AI and technology to develop and manage these systems.
“AI will have a big impact on traditional jobs in the air cargo industry. The new technology will transform old role models by automating routine tasks, for example, allowing employees to work on higher-valued tasks. Companies will have to invest in reskilling programs to prepare their employees for this role-changing development. AI will also affect the collaboration with employees, for smooth adaptions it’ll be necessary to include decision-making processes,” said Bernemann.
“If someone wants to work in the field of cargo AI Jobs, I recommend a strong educational foundation. That includes degrees, and certifications in AI, data science or related fields. Practical experience is also needed: Gain hands-on experience through internships or projects! Networking is another factor, get to know professionals at industry events and expand your connections. And finally, stay curious and continue to learn about AI and its emerging technologies,” he concluded.

Frozen Frontiers: Defining tomorrow’s cool chain standards in air cargo logistics

The transportation of temperature-sensitive items is a vital symphony within the larger orchestration of air freight logistics in the complicated movement of global commerce. The Cool Chain, a precisely orchestrated sequence ensuring the safe transport of pharmaceuticals and perishable items, has undergone a dramatic evolution highlighted by technical advances, increased regulatory standards, and industry collaboration.
Air Cargo Update explored the inner workings of this intricate network, seeking insights from three renowned individuals who are defining the future of the air cargo sector. Fabrice Panza, Etihad Cargo’s Manager of Global Cool Chain Solutions, Daniela Vial, Latam Cargo’s VP of Product Development, and Matthieu Casey, Air Canada Cargo’s Managing Director, Commercial.

With the global demand for the safe and efficient transportation of goods that are sensitive to temperature, these cargo executives provide insight into the tactics, advancements, and difficulties that characterize the Cool Chain industry.
Their collective wealth of experience and leadership within prominent air cargo organizations positions them as flag bearers steering the industry toward a future where the Cool Chain not only meets current demands but anticipates and addresses the evolving complexities of a dynamic global market.

Etihad Cargo: Fabrice Panza, Manager Global Cool Chain Solutions
Fabrice Panza, Manager of Global Cool Chain Solutions at Etihad Cargo, articulates the airline’s unwavering commitment to ensuring the integrity of temperature-sensitive cargo.
“Our commitment is precisely why we sought out and achieved the International Air Transport Association (IATA)’s Center of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV) Pharma certification. This certification and its stringent requirements for quality assurance and quality management are fundamental to our operations and commercial activities,” asserted Panza.
In emphasizing the significance of the CEIV Pharma certification, Panza extends the benefits beyond the carrier to Etihad Cargo’s customers. He states, “Through our dedicated Cargo Pharma management team, we constantly monitor and analyze the quality and safety of Etihad Cargo’s PharmaLife product performance. We demonstrate a high level of attention to standards and the safe transportation of pharmaceuticals across the entire organization. Pharmaceuticals are identified as a critical product within our operations and commercial activities.”
Highlighting the comprehensive nature of their commitment, Panza details that CEIV Pharma Certification extends to cargo handling and warehousing at Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH).
Etihad Cargo’s vision includes a multi-phased cargo infrastructure development strategy, featuring an expanded pharma facility and the establishment of a Cool Chain Centre of Excellence at their UAE hub.
Panza underscores the importance of investing extensively in training, acknowledging that highly trained staff are essential to maintaining quality throughout the pharmaceuticals’ entire journey.
Panza provides a nuanced view of the enhancements made to Etihad Cargo’s IATA CEIV Pharma-certified PharmaLife product. He says, “We have enhanced Etihad Cargo’s PharmaLife product to meet not only the pharmaceutical transportation challenges of today but also the life sciences challenges of tomorrow. We offer two main solutions: open cool chain and closed cool chain. Whether transporting temperature-sensitive cargo via active and hybrid containers as premium products or via customers’ passive autonomous packing, Etihad Cargo offers specialized handling and transportation solutions to ensure the safe and efficient transportation of pharmaceuticals.”

Technologies and Innovations in Cool Chain Logistics
Etihad Cargo’s commitment to innovation is evident in its continuous enhancement of the PharmaLife product through technology. Panza shares insights into their pivotal role in establishing Pharma Corridor 2.0 between Abu Dhabi and Brussels. He says, “The main objective of this project is to provide the highest levels of assurance in the quality of handling to pharmaceutical shippers and forwarders through the establishment of pharma corridors between airports with cargo handling communities certified under the IATA CEIV Pharma program.”
Collaborating closely with government bodies, including the Department of Health and Abu Dhabi Customs, and industry associations like Abu Dhabi Airports Company, Brussels Airport Company, and Pharma.Aero, Panza emphasizes the importance of reliable data. He notes, “Reliable data, and the ability to freely share this data, will enable every stakeholder to track shipments in real-time and react dynamically as and when required.”
Discussing the impact of the Pharma Corridor initiative, Panza provides impressive statistics. “Through this first-of-its-kind pharma corridor, Etihad Cargo has already shipped 71 percent more pharmaceutical and life sciences cargo volumes than before its creation. This ensured the smooth and efficient delivery of more than 1,900 tons of medicines and treatments to those in need across more than 32 countries.”
Panza also details Etihad Cargo’s active contribution to Pharma.Aero’s pharma green lanes initiative. He highlights a key advantage, stating, “A key advantage of these green lanes is the reduction in waiting time through the efficient use of data.”
In terms of exploring artificial intelligence (AI), Panza shares the airline’s vision, “We are exploring the utilization of artificial intelligence to improve forecasting and automation to enhance our current capacity and capabilities to support the sector’s growth.” He details a key development, stating, “One key development in this area is Etihad Cargo’s deployment of AI-powered solutions to boost efficiency, digitize, and standardize cargo handling across Etihad Cargo’s network, and enhance service levels for the carrier’s customers and partners.”
Panza explains the utilization of AI to enhance the quality of operations. “We are utilizing AI to enhance the quality of our operations through the integration of the third dimension to generate ULD-level load plans. This ensures we can maximize the cargo carried on our flights and significantly reduce the risk of needing to offload a shipment due to overbooking or having to load cargo in a way not anticipated.”
Highlighting their utilization of technology to ensure traceability, Panza notes, “Utilizing technology to ensure the cargo Etihad Cargo transports is fully traceable and trackable has enabled us to simplify interactions with our customers and continue to provide them with a seamless end-to-end experience during all touchpoints throughout their cargo’s journey.”
In a nod to environmental sustainability, Panza concludes, “Finally, to improve efficiency and reduce our environmental impact, Etihad Cargo only works with CSR and ESG-compliant partners.”

Latam Cargo: Daniela Vial, VP of Product Development
Daniela Vial, VP of Product Development at Latam Cargo, provides insights into the critical role of temperature monitoring and data logging in maintaining the quality and safety of perishable goods within the Cool Chain.
In explaining the importance of temperature monitoring, Vial states, “Temperature monitoring and data logging are crucial elements in maintaining the quality and safety of pharmaceutical and healthcare products during transportation and storage in the Cool Chain.” She underscores the dual aspects of their monitoring approach, covering both storage facilities and shipments.
“When it comes to our temperature-controlled storage facilities,” Vial explains, “we monitor their temperature in real-time and have established proactive alerts in case of deviations, enabling proactive measures to be taken in case of temperature excursions.” This proactive monitoring approach minimizes the risk of spoilage, degradation, or ineffectiveness of pharmaceutical products.
For their PHARMA shipments, Vial details the use of passive data loggers. These loggers provide a comprehensive look into temperature conditions throughout the transportation and storage process. Vial notes, “This data can be analyzed to identify trends, patterns, and potential issues that may impact the quality of pharmaceutical goods.” The ability to detect temperature excursions or fluctuations initiates investigations to identify the root cause, enabling continuous process improvements.

Handling Disruptions and Ensuring Customer Satisfaction
Vial sheds light on Latam Cargo’s approach to handling unexpected disruptions or temperature deviations in the Cool Chain. “When a temperature deviation or disruption is detected,” she emphasizes, “it is crucial to initiate rapid response and corrective actions.” This may involve adjusting temperature controls, repositioning pharmaceutical products, or activating contingency plans to transfer goods to alternative storage facilities if necessary.
Latam Cargo has proactively developed robust contingency plans to address various scenarios, including power outages, equipment failures, or extreme weather events. Vial notes, “These plans outline alternative storage options, transport routes, and backup facilities.” Clear communication channels with all stakeholders are maintained to coordinate effective responses. “We ensure prompt communication with customers and other stakeholders in the event of a temperature deviation or disruption,” Vial states. This communication provides accurate and timely information about the situation, the steps being taken, and any potential impact on product quality.
As part of its continuous improvement process, Latam Cargo actively learns from disruptions and deviations encountered in the Cool Chain. Vial explains, “We look to learn from the disruptions and deviations encountered in the Cool Chain to improve and incorporate these lessons learned and update our standard operating procedures, training programs, and quality management systems.” This commitment to learning and evolving ensures that Latam Cargo remains agile and adaptive in the face of unforeseen challenges.

Regulatory Compliance and Impact on Cool Chain Operations
Vial addresses the impact of regulatory compliance, including Good Distribution Practices (GDP) and other industry standards, on Latam Cargo’s Cool Chain operations. She emphasizes, “Regulatory compliance is crucial for Cool Chain operations as it ensures the integrity, safety, and quality of temperature-sensitive products throughout their journey.”
Highlighting their commitment to excellence, Vial notes, “LATAM Cargo got CEIV PHARMA certified in 2017 and is going through their second recertification.” This certification ensures that all processes are designed and implemented following the highest industry standards. The external validation by a certified auditor (CEIV PHARMA) contributes to building consistency and reliability in the services offered to clients, thereby increasing trust.
Vial underscores the significance of certification, stating, “Getting our processes and products reviewed in-depth and validated shows our commitment to enhancing our audit and quality management processes and to continuous improvement in a context that constantly evolves.” The certification serves as a testament to Latam Cargo’s dedication to staying at the forefront of industry standards, ensuring compliance while prioritizing cost-effectiveness.

Air Canada Cargo: Matthieu Casey, Managing Director, Commercial
Matthieu Casey, Managing Director, Commercial at Air Canada Cargo, provides valuable insights into the meticulous processes and robust measures implemented by the airline to ensure the integrity of temperature-sensitive cargo throughout the entire Cool Chain process.
Casey begins by emphasizing Air Canada Cargo’s commitment to maintaining the integrity of temperature-sensitive cargo. “As a CEIV Pharma air cargo airline,” he states, “we ensure the integrity of temperature-sensitive cargo throughout the entire cool chain process by implementing stringent protocols and specialized procedures.” This commitment is further solidified through the establishment of comprehensive Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) designed explicitly for handling temperature-sensitive cargo.
The execution of these processes is entrusted to a highly trained team, ensuring not only adherence to established protocols but also preparedness for unforeseen circumstances. Casey notes, “These processes are executed by a highly trained team that not only ensures that the established processes are followed but is also prepared to handle unforeseen circumstances or contingencies that may arise during transportation.”
Additionally, Air Canada Cargo places a strong emphasis on maintaining temperature-controlled storage facilities. Casey elaborates, “We focus on maintaining adequate temperature-controlled storage facilities, either own or through our GHA partners, with proactive monitoring systems, maintenance, and regular calibration of equipment.” This approach underscores their dedication to providing a reliable and controlled environment for pharmaceutical cargo throughout the entire cool chain process.

Addressing Challenges and Risks
Casey acknowledges the multifaceted challenges associated with managing the Cool Chain for pharmaceutical products. “Successfully managing the cool chain for pharmaceutical products requires a combination of robust infrastructure, regulatory compliance, temperature control management, supply chain visibility, and security measures,” he states.
To address these challenges, Air Canada Cargo has made strategic investments in temperature-controlled infrastructure and established processes to minimize exposure times during cargo transportation. Casey notes, “We have invested in having the proper temperature-controlled infrastructure, as well as processes in place that ensure that exposure times are minimized within the cargo transportation process.”
This commitment extends to the implementation of a robust and comprehensive cold chain management system, accompanied by regular training for staff to ensure compliance with established processes and regulations. Casey affirms, “Implementing a robust and comprehensive cold chain management system and providing regular training to staff ensures compliance with the established processes and regulations.”

Conclusion
These in-depth views from air freight industry professionals provide light on the careful efforts, innovations, and collaborative ways used to negotiate the complex Cool Chain ecosystem. From certifications to technological advancements, contingency planning, and regulatory compliance, these professionals exemplify a collective commitment to ensuring the safe, efficient, and sustainable transportation of temperature-sensitive cargo.
As the Cool Chain industry continues its evolution, its focus on collaboration, adherence to regulatory standards, and ongoing technological advancements will undoubtedly shape the future of air cargo logistics. The journey through the Cool Chain is not merely about transporting goods; it’s a dynamic expedition driven by expertise, innovation, and a relentless pursuit of excellence in air cargo logistics.

Ensuring safety in the lithium supply chain: The CEVA Logistics way

By R.Chandrakanth    

Lithium which is termed as ‘white gold’ for electric vehicles (EV) is in high demand worldwide as the adoption of EV has been unprecedented in recent years. The demand is worldwide, but production is limited to Australia which accounts for 52% of the world’s lithium, followed by Chile 25%; China 13%; Argentina 6%; and Brazil, Zimbabwe, Portugal and the United States 1% each.

China, however, is the most dominant player in the lithium supply chain, having acquired $5.6 billion worth of lithium assets and hosting 60% of the world’s refining capacity for batteries. The demand for lithium is expected to reach 1.5 million tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent by 2025 and over 3 million tonnes by 2030. The global lithium-ion battery market size was valued at USD 48.19 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.9% from 2023 to 2030.

India among top importers of lithium battery

India is the topmost importing country of lithium battery with 209,245 shipments in 2022, followed by the United States with 195,490 shipments and Vietnam with 88,445 shipments. Nearly 96% of India’s lithium-ion cell and battery imports are from China and Hong Kong.

The Indian government has created momentum through its Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid & Electric Vehicles schemes that encourage, and in some segments mandates the adoption of electric vehicles (EV), with a goal of reaching 30% EV penetration by 2030. Worldwide the target is 100 million electric cars by 2030 while the demand for technology and healthcare devices is also exponentially growing.

Accidents related to carriage of lithium

Lithium batteries have to be moved across the world and that itself is a challenge, as safety while moving is of utmost importance. There are instances of accidents related to lithium while being transported by air and three accidents are cited – first on February 7, 2006 in Philadelphia a DC-8 aircraft was destroyed by fire; September 3, 2010 a Boeing 747 crashed in Dubai due to an inflight fire; and on July 27, 2011 in South Korea, a Boeing 747 crashed into the sea, again due to in-flight fire. All the three aircraft reportedly were carrying lithium, calling regulatory authorities to put stringent standards of carriage.

IATA charter on safe carriage of dangerous goods

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has often called on governments to support the safe carriage of lithium batteries by developing and implementing global standards for screening, fire-testing, and incident information sharing. The IATA has insisted governments to step-up enforcement of safety regulation, including stiffer penalties for rogue shippers of and criminalization of egregious or willful offenses while transporting lithium batteries. The IATA has asked governments to shore up activities with additional measures such as development of safety-related screening standards and processes for lithium batteries; development and implementation of a fire-testing standard that addresses lithium battery fire containment; enhancing safety data collection and sharing information between governments.

These measures would support significant initiatives by airlines, shippers, and manufacturers to ensure lithium batteries can be carried safely. The IATA actions have included:

Updates to the Dangerous Goods Regulations and the development of supplementary guidance material.

Launch of a Dangerous Goods Occurrence Reporting Alert System that provides a mechanism for airlines to share information on events involving undeclared or misdeclared dangerous goods.

Development of a Safety Risk Management Framework specifically for the carriage of lithium batteries.

The launch of CEIV Lithium Batteries to improve the safe handling and transport of lithium batteries across the supply chain.

“Airlines, shippers, manufacturers, and governments all want to ensure the safe transport of lithium batteries by air. It’s a joint responsibility. The industry is raising the bar to consistently apply existing standards and share critical information on rogue shippers. But there are some areas where the leadership of governments is critical. Stronger enforcement of existing regulations and the criminalization of abuses will send a strong signal to rogue shippers. And the accelerated development of standards for screening, information exchange, and fire containment will give the industry even more effective tools to work with,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

CEVA Logistics first to get CEIV lithium battery certification

One of the top logistics companies that is involved in movement of lithium is CEVA Logistics. In 2021, CEVA Logistics became the world’s first company to receive IATA’s new CEIV Lithium Battery certification after teaming with IATA to support the development of the new certification program. CEVA’s Amsterdam and Singapore air freight stations were CEIV certified in the handling of lithium batteries. The certification confirmed each facility’s ability to properly handle and store lithium batteries, as well as validated the necessary training and expertise of on-site employees.

In an email interview, the Chief Operating Officer, Air Freight, CEVA Logistics, Peter Penseel tells Air Cargo Update that the company is in the forefront of ensuring safety while transporting dangerous goods, including lithium.

He mentioned how after teaming up with IATA to develop and pilot the CEIV Lithium Battery Certification in 2021, CEVA Logistics became the world’s first company to receive this IATA CEIV certification at our Singapore and Amsterdam locations. CEVA now has a global network of nine strategically located air freight stations certified under the program: Amsterdam, Atlanta, Detroit, Hong Kong, Frankfurt, Incheon, Shanghai (PVG), Singapore and Tokyo.

CEVA Logistics footprint in India

Asked specifically about CEVA Logistics footprint in India which is a top importer of lithium batteries, Penseel said “India represents a fast-growing economy and an important market for logistics and supply chain companies. CEVA Logistics is currently present in 75 locations across 35 cities in India. In addition, we recently announced that we are acquiring 96 percent of Mumbai-based Stellar Value Chain to advance CEVA’s regional and global growth strategy through scale and local expertise. CEVA will acquire approximately 7,700,000 square feet of space across more than 70 facilities in 21 cities across India. Also, we look forward to welcoming the Stellar workforce of nearly 8,000 full-time and temporary employees, who will enable us to further develop our presence in India.”

“This enhanced scale will enable us to not only serve domestic customers looking to expand internationally, but also support multi-national customers looking to boost their reach in India. With new manufacturing trends and supply chain routes developing across APAC, we believe air freight in India will continue to grow as a result of these factors,” he said.

Challenges of handling lithium batteries

On the challenges of handling lithium batteries, Penseel mentioned “Air freight shipments of lithium batteries, or products containing them, face extensive restrictions due to the critical risk of thermal runaway if the shipments are mishandled or stored improperly. A situation involving thermal runway can lead to fires or explosions, which could endanger lives. Consequently, not all airlines are inclined to accommodate these batteries. Many impose stringent weight limits and other regulations, such as a maximum state-of-charge of 30 percent of their rated capacity. Other airlines choose to ban batteries exceeding 35 kg (like EV batteries) in passenger cargo compartments”.

Adding, “At CEVA, we have processes and procedures in place that help us detect undeclared goods—which is a major concern for this topic. The IATA certification is an important step, and we firmly believe that it will improve the safe handling and transport of lithium batteries across the supply chain. However, we also believe that the industry needs the support of regulatory and governmental bodies to enforce existing regulations to deter those who would jeopardize safety through means of false declarations or paperwork. Such practices pose a safety threat to air cargo handlers, transport crews, and in the case of passenger cargo transport—the passengers and crews on board. Our industry can dedicate itself to safety in this area, and we are taking significant steps to improve safety at every step of the transport process, but there must be much stiffer penalties and real, consistent enforcement from local and international bodies to curtail false declarations from shippers willing to risk lives to avoid properly declaring shipment contents. People’s lives are at stake.”

CEVA has significant experience in transporting all types and sizes of batteries for customers in automotive, technology, healthcare, industrial and consumer & retail industries. In the automotive market, CEVA’s expertise in new electric vehicles (NEV) batteries includes working with 14 of the 15 largest global automotive original equipment manufacturers.

While the certification boosts CEVA’s air freight credentials for transporting lithium batteries, it supports customers along the battery lifecycle through contract logistics and freight management services in air, ground or ocean transport. CEVA Batteries Solutions are compliant, tailored, end-to-end global and local logistics services, ensuring the integrity of customers’ battery shipments.