Sustainable Innovation in Air Freight

A Conversation with Elise and Jurre from Air Cargo Belgium on Electronic Consignment Note (eCMR) and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

Elise Van Bastelaere has been working as a Project Coordinator at Air Cargo Belgium for three years. She’s  responsible for the steering groups for Pharma, Live Animals, and Perishables. This experience helps her gather requirements for the RFID project that she’s currently leading.

Jurre Scheyltjens

Jurre Scheyltjens works as a Junior Project Member. His main focus is on trucking and operational excellence. In his previous work experience, he has dealt extensively with paper CMRs. This has given him a strong understanding of their limitations and why digital documents offer a better solution.

Can you provide a brief overview of the eCMR and RFID projects? 

Elise: We are exploring the use of RFID technology to increase transparency and efficiency in the logistics flow at BRUcargo. Our aim is to accelerate the freight acceptance process at the ground handling agent and provide valuable insights to the different logistic actors. Automating the counting of goods with RFID could also help save time, manpower, and increase efficiency.

Jurre: The eCMR project replaces the CMR, the traditional paper consignment note for road transport, with a digital version. This is not only more sustainable but also improves the efficiency of operations. However, the global adoption of the eCMR remains very limited, so ACB has committed to a Proof Of Concept to test and evaluate the added value.

Who are the main stakeholders in these projects, and how do they contribute to the success?

Elise: Our project partners are Dnata, Expeditors, and Kuehne + Nagel. They facilitate the project in their warehouses and actively participate in the bi-weekly workshops, where we discuss improvements and modifications.

Jurre: For the eCMR project, we are collaborating with Swissport, Wallenborn, and Hainan Airlines. Pionira provides the software, and Air Cargo Belgium leads and facilitates the project.

What are some of the challenges so far, and how are you addressing them?

Elise: Fully automating the process is challenging. We have discovered that handheld devices are still necessary, and automation is not always feasible. However, we are exploring ways to replace these handhelds with automated equipment Additionally, data integration that fits everyone’s requirements is also a challenge that we have to address.

Jurre: Process changes are never easy, and the different parties involved need time to adjust. The software had quite a few bugs in the beginning. However, as time goes on and everyone gets more used to their tasks and processes, everything becomes a lot smoother.

How do you see the future impact of eCMR and RFID on air transportation and mobility?

Elise: We hope RFID will improve efficiency at BRUcargo. Our goal is to take the first steps in automation as a community and to create synergies with other communities.

Jurre: The eCMR is expected to be widely implemented in the far future. There are a lot of benefits but also some hindrances. We are exploring the possibilities of expanding our project to other dedicated lanes towards and from Brussels Airport. Aside from the sustainable benefits resulting from less paper use, there are also a lot of operational benefits. The creation of a CMR can be done more quickly; instead of paper piles, there is a digital log with a quick and easy search function; pictures and other documents can be added easily to a CMR, making it more secure and providing real-time information.  It also improves administration and increases accuracy… With connection By connecting to internal systems, the process of creating an e-CMR could be automated, and it can support other business functions more easily as well.

Air Cargo Belgium is leading the way in improving air freight processes through innovative technologies such as eCMR and RFID. The efforts of Elise, Jurre, and their teams play a crucial role in modernizing air freight transport, leading to improved transparency, security, and operational efficiency.