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Made to Measure

Cargo 2000 underpins the most important initiatives in the air freight sector

Des Vertannes, IATA Head of Cargo, describes Cargo 2000 as a means of measuring the contractual promise.

“A contract basically states that a shipment will be delivered to the correct destination by a given date,” he says. “Cargo 2000 is a mechanism and automated program that provides measurable milestones along the way. Tracking events allows companies to identify problems and rectify mistakes.”

It may be almost 2013 but Cargo 2000 is still an active player in the air cargo sector. The project was formed in 1997 as the first collaborative effort between airlines and freight forwarders aimed at developing quality standards. It set up a series of parameters in the cargo process that allowed the partners to measure quality against a benchmark standard. It even incorporates an audit possibility so any shortfalls within a member’s quality management process are highlighted.

Henrik Ambak, Vice President Ground Services at Cargolux, says Cargo 2000 increases the visibility of a shipment. “We can now ensure corrective action through real time planning,” he says. “Cargo 2000 is a recognized quality management system that has allowed us to improve internal and external processes.”

Moving with the times

In 2005, Cargo 2000 expanded to include ground handlers, another important part of the chain. Soon after, all other relevant parties, such as IT providers and trucking companies, were invited to join the project. This development has proved vital as the sector searches for efficiencies throughout the value chain. In total, there are now some 85 participants in Cargo 2000 and certification has become a hallmark of a member’s commitment to quality.

Helping to keep the project up-to-date is a revamped Master Operating Plan (MOP). This has the backing of all the major players in the industry and measurements can now be made in specific categories.

Cargo 2000 has quantifiable advantages. It reduces operational costs through improved messaging quality and its influence even extends into customer service. It was found, for example, that while messaging shows that a package has arrived at its destination when the agent goes to collect it, the premises could be shut. So location specific information, such as opening hours of a particular collection point, is being factored into the messaging.

Data quality

Cargo 2000 isn’t only about what the project can achieve in itself, however. It is also about what it enables. Cargo 2000 is a building block of the modern industry and underpins many of the initiatives that are driving efficiency in the air freight supply chain.

Focusing on the quality of data in the messages sent between companies in the value chain has enormous consequences. “Cargo 2000 established the standards for the air waybill (AWB) that eventually became the basis for the e-freight initiative,” explains Vertannes. “Going paperless meant replicating the Cargo 2000-inspired AWB in the online arena. Of course, e-freight is more than a paperless replication of Cargo 2000. It has moved on to tackle regulatory issues and much more.”

Cargo 2000 doesn’t stop at being a cornerstone of e-freight. The Secure Freight program also owes a lot to the older initiative. Secure Freight really came into the spotlight in October 2010 when bombs hidden in printer cartridges were discovered in Yemen on cargo flights destined for the United States, one via Dubai and the other via East Midlands Airport in the United Kingdom.
The United States understandably upped its security measures after the incident and began asking for a more complete set of data all along the shipping process, including where the package originated and how the package was screened.

“It was immediately obvious that e-freight was important because that particular project was already looking at establishing this data set and passing it along the chain,” says Vertannes. “And underpinning all of this is Cargo 2000 as that sets standards for the quality of that data.”

Getting involved

The challenge going forward is to ensure greater participation in Cargo 2000 so that more companies can take advantage not only of Cargo 2000 quality standards but also of e-freight and Secure Freight. Although Cargo 2000 isn’t a prerequisite for these programs, the commitment to quality would give the air cargo sector a stronger platform on which to build.

Franco Nanna, Head of Network Support at Cargolux, agrees that underlining the program’s importance will help get more companies interested.

“The beauty of the inter-connectedness of the programs is that it feeds back into Cargo 2000 and creates a virtuous circle,” concludes Vertannes. “Any new standards are being absorbed by the Cargo 2000 MOP. It is a living document that will continue to build a robust foundation for the sustainability of the air cargo industry.”

Air Cargo Advanced Screening

The call for greater participation in air cargo programs isn’t limited to Cargo 2000. A critical element of Secure Freight is being trialled and needs greater involvement from the air freight value chain. The Air Cargo Advanced Screening (ACAS) program is being run by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency. The CBP wants as many participants as possible in the ACAS pilots. But while some 95 airlines run cargo operations into the United States only about 34 are involved in ACAS at present. And of the 40,000 freight forwarders, many of which do business with the United States, less than 30 are participating in the ACAS pilots.

“IATA is a strong supporter of the ACAS pilots and we’re working with all partners to analyze the information and produce harmonized standards,” says Des Vertannes, IATA Head of Cargo.

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