Flip thinking is thinking in terms of opportunities rather than problems. It is a way of thinking whereby you look at reality as it is and think about what you can do with it. Flip thinking is a Dutch idea and one of the reasons the Dutch do so well in international logistics. Flip thinking and innovation are entering the traditional world of air cargo. At the moment it is still with the smaller process improvements making day-to-day life a little easier for users in the supply chain. There are many examples where pure innovation has been applied: Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality andBlockchain – these are not just ‘buzz words’ but have become daily reality in
contemporary air cargo processes.
“From trend to reality …”
Digitisation is as old as the computer. Scanning documents, faxing, automatic processing, we’ve been doing it for decades. Digitalisation was the next step and required a new mindset: change being the new norm. Digitalisation seems similar to digitisation but its scope goes so much further and also, therefore, its possibilities. Digitalisation is building a digital company or transforming complete processes. This requires creative flip thinking. A conservative approach is no longer appropriate today. Even the most traditional B2B air cargo professionals have adapted to the world of B2C e-commerce and can envisage the role their companies can play in the digital reality. However, while the aim of companies in the supply chain remains the same, it is their strategy, business operations, business model and company culture that will have to be redefined.
“Digitisation and Digitalisation are not the same”
There are so many examples: in the Rate Management world digitisation began with sending eRate sheets and PDF documents and by posting standardised tariffs online. The next, digitalisation, phase has already commenced. Dynamic pricing is a good example but also the financial digital payment systems that show costs in real time at the HAWB level. Various digital freight forwarders are entering the market and are making full use of digitalisation and innovation. Their market share is not yet large enough for these digital forwarders to be disruptive but this will not take much longer.
We waited 20 years for the “Internet of Things” but there are already good examples in air cargo where digitalisation and IoT are fully integrated. An example is the transporting of Biopharmaceuticals with “IoT-enabled Unit Load Devices” with Real Time dynamic tracking and remotely regulated temperature. And, Augmented Reality can be adapted for every depot and warehouse; from shipper to distribution centre and from forwarder to handling agent.
There are countless opportunities to implement process improvements and I am delighted to see that innovation is in full swing in the cargo industry. I hope you will enjoy reading this latest edition of Cargo Magazine.