SkyChain: Fast, reliable and efficient cargo management solution in the digital age

Published: Sunday, August 7, 2016

Air Cargo Management solutions play a vital role in enabling the air cargo industry operate more efficiently, decrease organizational workload and improve productivity.

The industry traditionally heavily relies on propriety ways and methods to a secure, reliable and real-time information exchange be it in terms of passenger, cargo or baggage.

But advancements in new technologies are changing the way the industry operates.

SkyChain, a next generation air cargo management solution that helps air cargo carriers move away from legacy-based systems by transforming their business performance and converting vital information into a powerful stream of business intelligence, maximizing organizational performance, boosting service quality and optimizing asset utilization and ensuring that the decision-making process is proactive, is one these new high-tech manageme t solutions.

Created and designed by Mercator, a leading provider of software and technology-led solutions to the global aviation industry, SkyChain, was developed with the help of Emirates SkyCargo which pioneered in the use of the system since 2006.

“Emirates SkyChain is a system designed to automate every aspect of an airline’s cargo business in a single integrated system to maximize performance, raise service quality and optimize resources. It is a comprehensive end-to-end IT cargo management system that holds essential information, validation and controls to make sure that freight can be efficiently moved through the shipment cycle,” explained Mr. Henrik Ambak, Emirates Senior Vice President, Emirates Cargo Operations Worldwide.

With speed and efficiency becoming the norm, only airlines and cargo companies with the smartest systems will thrive in this digital age.

Ahead of the game

With a flexible system that allows users to move fast, SkyChain also boasts of fast response time, scalability, high security and platform independence.

Using the latest Java technology, it is a smart and powerful product that drives intelligence, predictability, and adding value to customers’ business, hence, substantially improving business efficiencies across the air freight life cycle.

Mr. Sunil Patrao, Emirates Cargo Systems Manager, said, “For Emirates, it provides an adaptable technology platform for all future developments driven by our business needs.”

An information pipeline

The power of SkyChain is that it is an information pipeline. Anyone with authorized access to the system can obtain real-time data and make informed decisions.

At any time, the location of shipments is known which helps in advance planning and optimising efficiency. In the area of customer service, new features introduced by Emirates makes it user friendly.

“In our bookings page, customers can save templates, so they do not have to re-key information. They can also source their stock of airway bill numbers and book using their space allotment on flights. Regarding shipment tracking, we have the proactive Automatic Status Notification feature as well as customers can use multiple tracking tools, via the website and email or SMS, to check on the status of their cargo. They can track as many as 10 shipments at a time,” said Mr. Patrao.

Transforming operations

SkyChain is a flexible and scalable solution, making it easily adaptable as fast as airlines and rapidly evolving industry developments.

Today’s air cargo industry’s environment requires supply chains to be proactive rather than reactive, which demands a new approach that incorporates intelligent cargo to create a proactive and predictive supply chain.

SkyChain does exactly that by transforming the air cargo customer experience regarding visibility and driving intelligence and predictability throughout the supply chain.

“As SkyChain holds much information, it is very well-geared up to meet with regulatory and industry standards. For example, the system can produce reports to meet with compliance requirements at very short notice. If the customs authority of a country requires a report on the manifest, shipment, house shipment and sub shipments, we can configure the data easily and have the information ready for inspection in a short time,” Mr. Ambak explained.

The cargo executive stressed they have team of IT personnel who can deploy enhancements and new functions to the system as quickly as possible when the need arises.

“Emirates’ SkyChain is fully customisable to our needs. As such, we’ve been able to introduce new features faster, including some that are not available on other systems. It is about ability, adaptability, agility,” he said.

SkyChain optimizes revenue by forecasting and deploying available supply, resulting in improved revenue and profit.

Extensive automation will improve cash flow with tightly integrated processes. This allows for faster interline billing and detection of revenue leakage.

The solution also spells savings in terms of staff productivity as well as customer satisfaction.

“We can also use historical data to build trends and identify potential business opportunities. On the customer front, they can track their shipments online or get updates via our Automatic Status Notification. This means a lot less calls into the call center to check on delivery status, at the same time providing customers the capability to interact with SkyCargo 24/7,” Mr. Ambak noted.

SkyChain facilitates the movement of the freight regarding capacity and what aircraft it goes on followed by validating the shipment for customs clearance before the final delivery.

The system enables information flows between critical operations and customer touch points.

“In Dubai, we operate from two airports – our freighter hub at DWC at Al Maktoum International Airport and the passenger aircraft at Dubai International Airport. The movement of freight between the airports and airplanes is critical, and this is done by a fleet of trucks that operate 24/7. We’ve enhanced SkyChain to provide seamlessly and real-time information flows for multiple hubs.”


Emirates SkyCargo

Emirates SkyCargo is the freight division of Emirates Airline which offers comprehensive cargo solutions to more than 120 destinations in over 70 countries on six continents.

It uses belly-hold capacity in Emirates’ passenger aircraft, as well as maindeck capacity on its fleet of eight freighters, featuring four Boeing 777Fs, two 747-400Fs and two 747-400ERFs.

The Emirates fleet, with an average age of under 80 months, is among the youngest in the skies, contributing significantly to the reliability, fuel efficiency and speed of Emirates SkyCargo services, which account for 16.2% of the airline’s transport revenue – one of the highest rates in the world.

Since it was founded in 1985, Emirates SkyCargo has established itself as a major global player recognized by more than 100 international awards, while in the 2011/12 financial year it transported 1.8 million tonnes across its network.