InHolland conducts a follow-up study to eLink

The cargo industry wants to achieve a more efficient and effective handling process at Schiphol. Air Cargo Netherlands
(ACN) has commissioned the Logistics and Economy section of Hogeschool InHolland Haarlem to undertake a six-month
investigation of handling agents such as KLM Cargo, Menzies, AviaPartner, WFS, Skylink and Swissport at Schiphol. Central
to the research is the use of eLink, a tool that allows for the optimisation of processes for export shipments at the airport. With eLink companies in the air cargo sector can increase efficiency by further digitalisation.

e Link makes the delivery process easier, clearer and more predictable. It provides a ‘real time’ insight into the status of a shipment and assesses whether the shipment meets the conditions set by the authorities. In this way, eLink ensures the speeding up of processing, easing and reducing paper work in the handling of export cargo.  The Schiphol cargo community and the international aviation industry want to be distinctive.


eLink is going well and ever more parties are joining in. The participation rate was 6% at the beginning of 2014, but now it is already over 32%!

eLink, the research
ACN, Cargonaut, Schiphol Cargo, Schiphol Area Development Company SADC, SmartLoxs and InHolland all collaborate in
the eLink project. The research is subsidised by the European Regional Development Fund. Students Daan Lute and Lennard Schaap are currently taking a look behind the scenes at AviaPartner. Students Lisa Jane Hoole and Corniels Wassenaar are studying the process at Swissport. The research takes place under the supervision of teacher/researcher Giovanni Douven, lecturer Don Ropes (Intellectual Capital) and student/project manager Justin de Vries. The InHolland team is actively supported by the handling agents, but also by Cargonaut and ACN.

The research will provide insight into the (financial) consequences of the introduction of eLink at Schiphol airport.
InHolland has previously conducted research through desk research, field research and interviews with employees of
all the parties involved. The first phase took place at KLM Cargo and Menzies World Cargo at Schiphol. The research is
exclusively focused on the delivery process of export cargo at handling agents. First of all, the current situation of every
handling agent is mapped as well as what they would like to achieve. The desired situation: a paperless delivery and doing away with physical counters. By comparing the current and desired situations, it became clear what the differences actually are between the two situations. From these differences, action points and recommendations emerge. Based on this, a calculation is made to
give an example of the follow-up investments required in order to realise the desired situation. Cargo delivered to the handling agent (goods flow) is  always linked to documentation (information flow, whether or not in digital form). The documentation must be checked before the cargo can be unloaded. eLink provides a solution by performing these documentation checks ‘under the
surface’. The basic principle works well, but the industry has put forward ten points for improvement that are now being realised. The researchers first mapped the situation at Schiphol in order to gain an impression of the delivery of cargo shipments. The process has been analysed on the basis of documentation and physical flows. After the analysis of the process, an environmental analysis has been conducted from which a few issues emerged.

eLink, the desired situation
With eLink, it will be possible in the future that a driver arriving at the entrance gates is immediately directed to a warehouse. The most ideal situation will be as follows:  when delivering export cargo, a driver arrives at the gate of one of the handling agents. He would scan his ACN pass through the SmartLoxs card reader. On the screen, the driver will see that he can either drive to a dock in order to unload his freight (Proceed to dock) or that he should report at the service desk because something is not yet quite right
(Proceed to service desk). This registration process needs to be set up in the optimal manner. A number of conditions will need to be met by the various parties within the cargo chain at Schiphol. These will include, amongst others, security requirements and Customs approval to actually export the goods (the so-called export conformity check). To realise this situation, a solid and ethical handling process is required. The data in eLink should be correct from the start of the chain. Preferably, the original data will be worked with in order to prevent unnecessary additional actions further down the chain. This means that the Warehouse
Management System (WMS) should be permanently linked with the eLink system. A connection between both systems
is necessary in order to timely identify and anticipate bottlenecks. Sufficient handling capacity in the warehouse will be
important in order to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

eLink, an accelerated handling process
The handling process of goods can therefore be accelerated as the driver goes directly to the warehouse to unload his
freight. This will reduce waiting time. This step in the process might have consequences for the organisation of work
locations and the working methods at the documentation counter. InHolland advises setting up a plan to plot possible
changes that might need to occur, to increase involvement in the eLink project and to keep employees informed. When there is more insight into the delivery of export freight, a better and clearer delivery plan can be made. Improved awareness of the arrival times of trucks and more reliable information could result in an active unloading dock management for the handling agent. On the basis of a software  system, a dock could automatically be allotted to the driver.  With such a system, agents might get the possibility to reserve time slots. An additional advantage is the generation of management information. The system should generate data based on shipments and run times. The handling agent can use this information in order to show customers  the time saving benefits (both the waiting period and the run time) of using eLink.  Finally, based on the action points and recommendations, an investment plan with sample calculations is drawn up.  This plan could assist the handling agent during the further  implementation of eLink in his business process.


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