“Digitisation is set to revolutionise the air cargo industry”

Air freight is a key enabler of cross border trade which becomes especially critical for express deliveries, long-distances and efficient transportation of sensitive and critical cargo. Customers for these products now want to know where their items are, and in what condition, at any time while in transit. This requires digitalisation and data. Being a technology solution provider to the cargo industry, here comes the responsibility of Hans Infomatic to support the industry and introduce them to new digital solutions, shares Parvinder Singh, Managing Director, Hans Infomatic with Apace Digital Cargo. 

How has been the changing scenario of the air cargo industry in terms of digitalisation? How do you see the contribution of Hans Infomatic towards the industry? 

The pandemic accelerated digitalisation in some areas as contactless processes were introduced in a much shorter span of time. So the same momentum has been built up, not only to drive improvements in operational efficiency but to meet the needs of our customers. Air freight is a key enabler of cross border trade which becomes especially critical for express deliveries, long-distances and efficient transportation of sensitive and critical cargo. Customers for these products now want to know where their items are, and in what condition, at any time while in transit. This requires digitalisation and data.

Being a technology solution provider to the cargo industry, the responsibilities these days are more on our shoulders to support the industry, that too in challenging times. We facilitated businesses by providing solutions on cloud thereby providing seamless and result oriented productivity even during the crisis.  We came out with some new digital solutions which are cloud based and can be remotely used by any device with an internet connection. We enabled “Work From Home” model rather smoothly, providing business continuity to clients without lowering quality or productivity. Few mobile apps were also launched during pandemic like HR App with Geo tagging to facilitate work from home, remote workforce management and operations.

Hans also facilitated the air cargo community in handling cargo operations right from paperless, contactless to gate pass management. Our cargo community system brought together all stakeholders including customs, customs brokers, airlines, land transport, ground & cargo handlers, freight forwarders and shippers under one roof, thereby facilitating the seamless movement of goods and data across the logistics ecosystem. This eliminated unnecessary documentation and delays, hence bringing transparency in the supply chain and improving upon ease of doing business in the sector. Moreover, Hans and PHD have joined hands for online generation of Certificate of Origin (e-COO) through the PHD chamber. This avoids manual and physical processes, increased delays and transaction Costs.

What are the expansion plans at Hans Infomatic and how will it be beneficial to the air cargo fraternity?

Hans Infomatic is a pioneer in providing technology solutions to the cargo and logistics industry in India, with over 30 years of domain experience. The solutions from Hans come with a very deep understanding of the domain. This makes our solutions easy to implement and use, thereby increasing business process efficiencies and effectiveness, right from the word go. 

We are definitely looking for more opportunities this year as we will be expanding our footprint to outside India. Further we will be concentrating on large infra products like warehouse management at airports, container freight stations and inland container depots.

We are also working on providing better data analytics to business houses. Data plays a key role nowadays, hence we are assisting organisations wherein, data can be accessed and shared at the click of a button. This helps the industry to take informed decisions while building a more optimised infrastructure. Many logistics players are already using our new resources to improve their systems and supply chain networks, reduce costs and are looking for better opportunities to generate more revenue too.

Digitalisation is the buzzword. How do you see the competitive scenario? What are the opportunities and challenges?

Digitisation is set to revolutionise the air cargo industry and the logistics industry as a whole. It is also paving the way for many new startups. Though technology is the driving force in the digitization process, it must be implemented carefully so as not to make things complex and rather remain beneficial to productivity and providing value addition, which ultimately should improve upon data-driven decision making. 

As a major challenge there is a need to change the mindset towards technology. Still, many industry players handle a lot of paper documents and they have dedicated staff to process these documents. Wherein, they will manually check the correctness of the data and then key in the important aspects into the systems and this requires physical presence of people working on it and the numbers may be many. Electronic documents, like eAWB would have easily allowed this work to be done remotely. 

People need to recognize technology and need to use it in day to day working operations. ‘Digital fitness’ will be a prerequisite for success: the winners will be those who understand how to exploit a whole range of new technologies, from data analytics to automation & platform solutions and those who don’t, risk obsolescence. 

Adoption of technology in logistics has come up a long way since last decade but still the penetration is shallow and slow. Especially the small and medium segment logistics service providers are still very slow in adoption and cut corners as they see this as a cost rather than an asset which is giving them competitive edge.

Logistics is not just moving of cargo, it does mean moving of documents as well and moreover, with automation, comes more efficiency. So, all the trade partners need to be agile in adopting new technologies and new business models.

In regard to opportunities, be it securing data, file management system, HR management, employees performances or booking orders & fulfilling them and all major financial transactions including invoicing and receipt generation, everything is going to be digital and handled from remote areas. Companies within the logistics and supply chain sphere must continue getting ready for all of these bigger changes with innovations.

Moreover logistics is there in the whole cycle of living beings. With increase in logistics, small towns will be in network by both air and sea. Cargo will also move through the rail and road network.

There is no doubt that digitisation is set to revolutionise the logistics industry. Through digitisation of documents the government has started a massive initiative to move office records where only e-files will move in office departments. Major trade associations across the globe are also pushing for an end-to-end paperless transportation for cargo industry through regulatory framework, modern electronic messages and high quality data. 

Presently, India is on a fast track to development, powered by innovation and disruption across key sectors, encouraging government policies and also robust and aggressive growth in IT. Compared globally, in India, the logistics sector is undergoing an unprecedented transformation which is fueled by innovations in IT and digitisation.

At the same time, during and post pandemic major companies across the globe initiated steps to shift their operations from old traditional ways to the new digital one and now will remain digitally activated in this technology driven sector.

ACAAI 46th Convention is all set to take place in Bangkok from 24th to 27th Nov, after a gap of 2 years due to pandemic situation; what is your anticipation for the convention as post pandemic scenario and resilience of the industry will be key topics of the discussions at the convention? 

During the pandemic, the air cargo industry has been a lifeline for society. In fact it was the all-important mode to transport and deliver critical medical supplies, vaccines and other essentials across the globe while driving international supply chains. Air cargo has proved its resilience during the pandemic and it is emerging stronger. Now there is a need to maintain the same momentum and continue building resilience post pandemic. Hence, the theme is apt for further discussions during the convention.