Innovating the air: women redefine tech frontiers

Technology serves as backbone of the air cargo industry. Beyond automating processes such as booking and shipment tracking, technology has played a role in enhancing the supply chain’s agility and resilience. It has contributed to reducing dwell time, meeting sustainability targets, and eliminating unnecessary costs. Celebrating International Women’s Day this month, global women leaders discuss how tech integration can do wonders in air cargo and logistics business with continuous investments and advancements.

Ritika Arora Bhola

Technology has revolutionized the air cargo supply chain by enhancing efficiency, reducing costs, improving visibility, and providing better customer experiences. The integration of cutting-edge technologies such as AI, ML, IoT, and 3D printing have transformed various aspects of the sector. Real-time monitoring, precise route planning, and demand prediction enabled by these technologies have optimized last-mile delivery (LMD), resulting in faster, accurate, and reliable shipping solutions.

Technology has brought about advancements in cargo insurance too, enhancing efficiency, accuracy, data analysis capabilities, and overall customer experience. These revolutionary changes have made the insurance processes seamless and beneficial for businesses. The digital revolution, accelerated by COVID, has streamlined operations, allowing logistics companies to leverage data as a primary resource. Initiatives such as the ULIP platform, developed under the NLP, aims to integrate systems and APIs thereby fostering global cooperative networks. Infrastructure upgrades, regulatory enhancements, and strategic partnerships have played pivotal roles in enhancing competitiveness and fostering growth in India’s thriving air cargo industry. Overall, technology stands as the driving force behind the ease and efficiency witnessed in the air cargo business in recent years.

Today, according to IATA, airlines and air cargo planes transport 65.6 million cargo tonnes of goods a year, representing 35 per cent of global trade by value but less than 1 per cent of world trade by volume. That is equivalent to US$6.8 trillion worth of goods annually or products worth US$18.6 billion daily. Cargo handling is part of the supply chain, which processes products landside in an air cargo facility. From the delivery of materials at the airport of origin until it is ready for loading on an airplane, unloading at the destination and handing them over to the freight forwarder, many steps are involved with cargo handling, which must be closely followed to ensure shipments are delivered safely and securely. Here technology also plays a crucial role.

Global air cargo and logistics sectors have witnessed participation of more women in the past few years, who are not only utilizing advanced technologies to enhance cost efficiency and productivity, but also adding value to the overall business propositions.

CARGOTALK speaks to women leaders on how technology can drive success and growth and mitigate risks ensuring seamless multimodal cargo movement.

Intensifying tech to enhance operational efficiency
Sonia Nair, National Head, Customer Service, Blue Dart Express

We feel gender diversity is important for a business to run successfully. We have women at top positions taking the business ahead with our offerings such as Digital Prepaid Cards, which has altered transformed booking management by providing real-time payment visibility and secure OTP-based recharges. Our portal ensures seamless navigation and same-day shipping. We have leveraged AR & VR tech to enhance user engagement through our 5S training programme. Our tie-up with India Post has led to introducing automated digital parcel lockers, simplifying shipment retrieval without necessitating physical receipts. We are also intensifying our tech pursuits with generative AI to enhance operational efficiency, provide revenue insights, and optimize network enhancement.”

AI-driven logistics planning revolutionise operations
Jalpa H Vithalani, Director, Global Aviation Services, JTB Jupiter Express Services, The Global Group

Today, women in logistics are breaking barriers for successful business operations. In recent years, technological advancements have revolutionised the Air Cargo industry, elevating efficiency to unprecedented heights. Real-time tracking systems, automated warehousing, and AI-driven logistics planning have revolutionised operations, expediting cargo handling while enhancing accuracy and predictive modeling. These innovations facilitate coordination among stakeholders, fostering reliability and efficiency. Communication systems bolster seamless integration, paving the way for customer service and delivery. Leveraging digital applications and advanced software, our operations are integrated, with AI applications amplifying biz intelligence for exponential growth and industry-wide optimisation.”

Women breaking barriers & excelling in leadership roles
Rajni Patwardhan, Head of Marketing, Kale Logistics Solutions

Women play crucial roles in the industry, from operations and management to technology development and innovation. Women in the logistics industry have made a mark by breaking barriers and excel in leadership roles. They contribute diverse perspectives, communication skills, and enhancing collaboration and innovation. Introduction of ACS marks tech advancement, as it brings all supply chain stakeholders under one roof. This facilitates exchange of information, resulting in improved cargo visibility and throughput. We have been pioneers in introducing Blockchain, AI, IoT, ML, and Big Data to our ACS. We have integrated these techs to enhance sustainability throughout the supply chain and simplified compliance with global mandates by eliminating 90 per cent paperwork.”

Cloud-based software augments agility, efficiency
Padma Handa, Director, Hans Infomatic

Hans Infomatic’s breakthrough software WiseGSA has been a game-changer, which is a cloud-based software solution for aviation cargo GSAs with interactive interface that reduces manual intervention and increases operational efficiency. We are proud to offer a customised CRM software and Visitor Management System. Recently, we developed CCS, a cutting-edge digital platform serving as a single window solution for the cargo community. This platform facilitates seamless movement of products and info between all stakeholders. We designed WiseCargo, a 360-degree turnkey solution to facilitate integrated cargo ops. Our WiseDox software was helpful in saving two lakh papers daily thanks to our dedication to environmental sustainability. All our software is available in mobile versions.”

Respond to challenges of adopting cutting-edge tech
Michele Lawrence, Director, Marketing, Airline Services International

Several technological advancements have streamlined the operations and enhanced efficiency. However, it is quite important here to acknowledge that the adoption of new cutting-edge technologies has also posed several challenges, particularly in terms of staff training and adjustment to the changing tech landscape. As a General Sales Agent (GSA), it is quite important that our technological advancements work seamlessly with that of the airline partners. Airlines Services International (ASI) has also implemented Awery’s cargo management system and supplementary products. This cargo management system has improved the overall operational efficiency, enhanced visibility and tracking, optimized resource utilisation, and ensured adaptability and scalability.”

Cargo insurance to make delivery safe, sustainable
Patrizia Kern, Chief Insurance Officer Breeze

Technology has brought about significant advancements in cargo insurance, enhancing efficiency, accuracy, data analysis capabilities, and overall customer experience. These changes have made the insurance processes seamless and beneficial for businesses. Digital insurance platforms, such as Breeze, play a vital role in streamlining and enhancing the efficiency of air cargo operations by optimising quote generation, policy binding, and claims processing. This significantly reduces time and effort needed to supply accurate cargo protection, countering the inefficiencies of traditional insurance options. Digital cargo insurance platforms enhance customer experiences making it easier to purchase and provide cargo insurance for shippers, helping to facilitate transformation of the industry into one more safer and sustainable.”

AI & innovative ideas to take air cargo industry forward
Rachael Negron, Head, Operations, Events and Outreach, TIACA

It has been an amazing time for tech advancement in the past few years. The success of air cargo industry requires the various supply chain partners to share information in a transparent fashion. New tools, leveraging innovative ideas and Artificial Intelligence have resulted in significant leaps forward in rate and capacity distribution, border management compliance, disruption management, and customer interfaces. TIACA is a member-driven organisation whose objective is to support the air cargo industry and one of our vital services is that we provide member to member connectivity. So, we launched a digital member platform enabling the association to share information, connect with new partners, and expand upon existing relationships. This platform also enables our members to connect with each other during events.”

We encourage use of technology amongst members
Laura Rodríguez, Manager, Implementation & Quality Assurance, Cargo Iq

CargoiQ’s methodologies deliver an innovative system of shipment planning and performance monitored air cargo based on common business processes and milestones. New technologies allow our members to fulfil those requirements better and more efficiently every time. At Cargo iQ, we encourage use of new technologies amongst our members. An example is the Care Protocols project. To plan, share, and measure the care activities performed on a particular cargo shipment. Care Protocols use linked data, a communication protocol, which is more sophisticated than traditional messaging, provides visibility and transparency. With a more diverse workforce, we ensure to generate fresh ideas and points of view. So a conscious effort is being made to attract more women into workforce of logistics industry.”

Impact of women in logistics is still limited
Svettlana Chatterjee, Director, S Cube Trans Continental Group

Within the logistics industry, the mark of women is more than stifled by the silent presence of systemic barriers, minimising their potential aspirations. Although some of the companies welcome female leadership with open arms, the impact of women professionals on the whole in the logistics sector remains quite constrained by limited opportunities and prevailing stereotypes. The logistics industry is built on the concept of manpower and manual labour and has shifted to a more cerebral approach in the logistics operations. The logistics industry remains the backbone of a patriarchal ethos. Even though most women make significant contributions, realising their potential requires dismantling gender barriers, fostering inclusivity, and creating space enough for a logistics landscape where every talent could flourish.”

Tech speeds up loading & unloading, reduces TAT
Swapna Parmar, Regional Director, Fast Logistics

Technology has revolutionized cargo operations, facilitating efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Advanced tracking systems provide real-time visibility, optimising logistics management. Automation in handling processes speeds up loading and unloading, slashing TAT. Leveraging data analytics enables precise route planning, curbing fuel consumption and expenses. AI-driven predictive maintenance ensures fleet reliability and safety, minimising downtime. These innovations enhance efficiency, transparency, and profitability in cargo ops. Embracing technology streamlines processes and fosters a sustainable and competitive industry, meeting evolving market demands effectively. Our company stands at the forefront of tech advancements in the logistics sector. Our focus lies in enhancing transparency and accountability throughout the supply chain.”

Data analytics and route planning for smoother ops
Nomita Kothari, CEO, New Globe Logistik

Advanced tracking systems offer real-time visibility to shipments, optimise route planning and minimise delays. Automation and data analytics tools facilitate smoother operations, from booking to delivery. Predictive analytics and other technologies helps forecast demand and optimise inventory management, enabling resource allocation, and cost savings. We are active in implementing technology in our business. We have introduced advanced data analytics platforms, end-to-end transparency, forecasting, and offer automation solutions via Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). These innovations have resulted in cost-effective deliveries. Stress on cloud-based solutions has facilitated seamless communication and collaboration across the supply chain. Our commitment is for Research and Development (R&D) so that we remain at the forefront of technology innovation.”

Leveraging real-time data to gain global cargo trends
Kritika Seth, Head Business Development and Marketing, Allied Aviation

Technological advancements have significantly streamlined the air cargo operations in recent years, enhancing operational efficiency and reliability. We at Allied Aviation also leverage real-time data from reliable sources. This allows us to gain instant insights into international air freight trends and market dynamics, enabling us to promptly identify the gaps, support our partner airlines, and enhance overall performance. Furthermore, one of our subsidiaries, Speedbox, provides white-label digital solutions to the logistics companies internationally. This platform pioneers a range of tools and features, empowering the logistics companies to digitise, optimise operations, and expand their market presence, and showcase our commitment to technological progress in the air cargo and logistics industry.”

Our focus is on seamlessly integrating new tech systems
Reshma Zaheer, CEO, TT Global

While we have a long way to go, technological advancements have revolutionised the air cargo sector. A major improvement has been the fostering of seamless connections among industry stakeholders such as customs, freight forwarders, and airlines. Additionally, technology-driven distribution channels have improved market penetration and the commercial decision-making processes. At TTL, substantial investments in cutting-edge technologies such as RPA, AI, OCR, among others are pivotal components of our solutions. By integrating sales, operations, and finance activities, we ensure real-time visibility for stakeholders. At present, our focus lies in seamlessly integrating these systems with CRM platforms to elevate the customer experience even further.”

Tech to optimise efficiency and reduce logistics costs
Sakshi Gupta, Country Manager, India Air Logistics Group

However ironical it may sound, but ‘Hardwork’ is now obsolete & is replaced by ‘Smartwork’. There is a calling from the blue skies above filled with clouds of abundant opportunities, ready to burst & shower our cargo fields with tech tools, to reap the harvest of an intelligent future. Ever since Covid- IoT, came forth as the beacon of hope not only to connect freight but people and their dreams. Tech brings with it ‘A Sky of Change’- lightening and automating the air cargo ecosystem with sparkling stars of transparency and efficiency thus enhancing agility, making work more simplified and error free, optimising operations and reducing costs. It is imperative for each entity, to incorporate cutting edge technology in order to be in tandem with global practices, global competition and fulfilling customer demands.”