Brussels Airport’s cargo community has eliminated some of the most compelling challenges related to landside freight handling. Using Nallian’s Slot Booking for Air Cargo, a collaborative application that enables the cargo community’s ground handlers, freight forwarders and trucking companies to better coordinate their freight handling processes, they have generated significant benefits such as the elimination of waiting times - resulting in time savings of on average 30 minutes to one hour per delivery or pick-up, smoothened peaks and idle times and more efficient handling at the gate.
From disconnected, paper-based to collaborative work
Brussels Airport’s cargo community includes about 25 ground handlers, freight forwarders and trucking companies. Every year, more than 600.000 tons of freight is being handled at the different ground handler’s facilities. Using mostly paper-based processes or disparate, disconnected systems, operations suffered from inefficiencies whereby the absence of proactive information lead to inefficient personnel and asset planning at the gates, peaks and idle times and long waiting times for freight handlers or trucking companies.
An application by Air Cargo for Air Cargo
Nallian’s Slot Booking for Air Cargo was introduced to enable a more collaborative way of working. Its implementation is yet another step in the BRUcloud project, an initiative of Brussels Airport to enable the different stakeholders of its cargo community to work more integrated and act as a network, using Nallian’s Open Data Sharing Platform. The Slot Booking application has been designed and developed together with the cargo community to perfectly fit the real world and adapt to a wide range of operational models.
Matching slot supply and demand
Via the app, trucking companies and freight forwarders can reserve time slots at a specific facility using a standard booking form. Information is submitted either via the online interface or via machine-to-machine communication. This means they no longer have to learn and manage different systems, but have one unified approach for all ground handlers. All slots and their statuses (available, reserved, pending) are presented in an intuitive calendar with day, week and month views. New slots can be easily reserved using the drag and drop functionality. Prebuilt templates allow bookers to easily upload information such as cargo type or truck type, which facilitates recurring bookings.
The ground handlers can make slots available for different warehouses and cargo types, in line with their capacity. The system matches supply and demand and, when needed, proposes alternative slots via a machine-to-machine communication or the web application. Handlers have a clear overview of and proactively receive information about all bookings, so they can organize personnel and assets at the gate accordingly.
Smooth implementation, fast adoption
Following a pilot phase in September 2017, the application went live in January 2018 with a user group including ground handlers WFS and Aviapartner and freight forwarders DHL Global Forwarding, Kuehne+Nagel, Skyfast, Nippon Express and Panalpina.
According to Sara Van Gelder, Cargo Business Development Manager at Brussels Airport Company, “the first feedback was very positive and the implementation ran smoothly and according to plan. From the beginning we have demonstrated the platform to all interested parties, which resulted in more parties lining up quickly to become part of the user group.”
Eddy Myngheer, WFS comments: “WFS supports this project for 100%. We strongly believe in the positive effects of the use of the Slot Booking App. The first go live was a success and the involved participants within WFS are more than ever enthusiastic about the further roll out.”
In March, the number of users was doubled, including amongst others freight forwarders Schenker, DSV, Ceva, and Yusen Logistics, and only 6 months after the first deployment partners representing 80% of the total cargo volume were onboarded. Ground handler Swissport, who will be using the application integrated with their own Dock Door Management Application, will onboard later this year.
According to David Bellon, DHL Global Forwarding, “The slot booking app has been a true game changer, improving efficiency, predictability and transparency throughout our cargo pick-up and delivery process. It has reduced waiting times by on average 30 to 60 minutes per pick-up or delivery, going up to up to several hours during peak times. Also at the gates we are saving precious time, thanks to much faster and more efficient handling. This allows us to make better use of our resources and deliver our customers a better, more reliable service."
Eliminating waiting time
Right from the start, important benefits have been recorded, as confirms Jeff Segers at Skyfast: “During the first days of the go live Skyfast could already eliminate a lot of waiting time at the ground handlers’ facilities. We have been able to deploy our staff more efficiently than before. On the long term the Slot Booking application will definitely result in cost savings.”
According to a satisfaction survey that was run amongst users of the application, freight forwarders and trucking companies are gaining on average between 30 minutes and 1 hour per delivery or pick-up - time they would usually lose before getting access to the gate. This generates important savings, as according to a recent study of ITLB, the Belgian Institute for Transportation & Logistics, 1 hour of traffic jams costs Belgian transportation companies on average 80€. It also increases safety and security on the cargo grounds as less trucks are hanging around idle, often parked illegally.
In addition, 100% of users indicate that goods are being handled faster at the gate, resulting in additional time savings. This mitigates the risk of missing cut-off times and unhappy customers. Freight forwarders or trucking companies also no longer need to learn and manage different tools, as slots can be reserved via a unified booking form.
As the ground handlers are proactively receiving comprehensive information about the bookings, vehicles are being allocated efficiently to the appropriate gates (equipped with automated pallet loaders, roller beds, …), personnel and ground handling equipment (such as ULD’s or pharma cool trolleys) can be planned accordingly and goods can be prepared proactively. This ensures efficient handling at the gate, with immediate productivity gains of 5-10% and an opportunity for further improvement, being reported.
Open approach for better insights
Nallian’s Slot Booking for Air Cargo marks the first step towards digitalizing landside management at Brussels Airport. “We are already planning on adding other applications, amongst other for freight management, driver management, traffic guidance, etc. Via the platform, they will all integrate with the Slot Booking app, allowing us to leverage the value of our pooled data”, says Steven Polmans, Head of Cargo at Brussels Airport. “This open, collaborative approach gives us faster access to more information and provides us with better insights in the overall performance of the cargo hub. As a result we can continuously improve the efficiency, transparency and reliability of our connected processes, and attract more customers with an unparalleled quality of service.”
"With the Slot Booking application we can better plan our resources and handle freight more efficiently. This gives us an efficiency increase of 5-10%, with opportunity for further improvement.”
Marc Claesen, Regional Vice President
WFS - Belgium
"During the first days of the go live Skyfast could already eliminate a lot of waiting time at the ground handlers’ facilities. We have been able to deploy our staff more efficiently than before."
Jeff Segers, Managing Director
“The slot booking app has been a true game changer, improving efficiency, predictability and transparency throughout our cargo pick-up and delivery process. It has reduced waiting times by on average 30 to 60 minutes per pick-up or delivery, going up to up to several hours during peak times."
David Bellon, Airfreight Product Station Director
DHL Global Forwarding
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