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ONE Record: Enabling digital cargo


The development of the e-freight program has created the foundations of the digitalization of the air cargo industry and has driven the transformation of the industry with electronic processes and systems. The adoption of the e-AWB in particular, which is now used in more than 50% of the shipments, has been an important driver of this change. The e-freight program relies on a peer-to-peer messaging model with data being sent between air cargo participants in a complex supply chain. 

We are also seeing the relentless digitalization of many industries and there is an expectation of the air cargo industry to do so as well: in a digital economy, customers expect full transparency of the logistic and transport process, ultra-short delivery times as well as very competitive cost options. The peer-to-peer e-freight processes are not sufficiently scalable in part due to data quality issues such as inaccurate and inconsistent data due to lack of data ownership and duplication. 

Today’s digital capabilities are built on data sharing technology and there is a trend towards the development and deployment of data sharing platforms by air cargo stakeholders and communities. This a good development but we must ensure that these platforms are interoperable, i.e. that air cargo stakeholders can access these platforms uniformly via standard access protocols and with agreed standards for the data structures and semantics.

ONE Record vision

The ultimate vision is an end-to-end digital logistics and transport supply chain where data is transparently and easily exchanged in a digital ecosystem of air cargo stakeholders, communities and data platforms. This will further drive paperless processes and create a plug & play environment where companies can connect and re-connect their digital relations with ease. Key enablers of this vision are:

  • Data standards: a clear data governance needs to be defined and data ownership identified. The data should be only provided once to the supply chain by the data owner, enable to achieve high-quality data, ensuring data accuracy and eliminating duplication. A data dictionary should be available to ensure standards in data elements, data use and data specifications.
  • Data connectivity: the sharing of data should involve all participants of the supply chain, from shipper to consignee. Data should be accessible through a common protocol known as a web API (Application Programming Interface) that allows systems to connect to each other as required. This industry API should be defined based on the air cargo business requirements and implement the data standards mentioned above. Security and data access rules are paramount in such APIs and form an important part of ONE Record to ensure that only authorized parties can access data.
  • Single shipment record: By accessing relevant data from the stakeholders, we will be able to create virtual single shipment records that combine all relevant shipment data without duplication and with clear ownership.  

ONE Record kick-off

The ONE Record project was kicked off in Amsterdam on 14/15 November 2017 and gathered more than 40 participants from around the world. During this transformational event, the participants all agreed on the need for pragmatism and speed and the importance of developing data sharing standards. Very high energy and expert thinking during parallel sessions on exploring business needs and IT opportunities. We discussed the importance of data-centric design and a clear vision for a full supply chain inclusive scope.

e-Freight first, then ONE Record

ONE Record will enable digital cargo and provide new opportunities for the air cargo industry, not least the opportunity to become important digital players in the industry. But, e-freight is a prerequisite. Companies must be at least e-AWB capable to benefit from the ONE Record capabilities. So for those companies that have not implemented e-AWB yet, now is a very good time!

Next steps

Following the ONE Record scope and high-level strategy and requirements that were discussed at the workshop, IATA is drafting a project outline that will be submitted to the relevant governance groups for their endorsement. Once endorsed, we’ve got a busy year ahead to make ONE Record a reality.


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