Issue 7 2020 - Freight Business Journal


Menzies keeps on track with Unilode

Airfreight unit load device (ULD) management and repair service provider Unilode Aviation Solutions is to equip all Menzies Aviation facilities around the world with its own Bluetooth ULD readers. It will give the operators and

their customers much more visibility of containers and their cargo. The devices read the Bluetooth

tag, which is already installed in a significant percentage of Unilode’s ULDs, and once the

digitisation programme is

complete will be a feature of every Unilode container and pallet. The data read incorporates information pertaining not only to the container or pallet’s location but the status of the cargo’s temperature, humidity, shock, light and pressure. Menzies Aviation’s executive

vice president of cargo, Robert Fordree, comments: “This new partnership between Menzies Aviation and Unilode will bring additional benefits to all our customers as they will be able to monitor the location and control the condition of their shipments in the aviation supply chain. “The

digital readers will

be installed at all Menzies warehouses and ramp locations, where several thousand ULDs are handled on a daily basis on behalf of Unilode’s ULD management customers.” Unilode chief executive,

Benoît Dumont, adds: “Unilode’s agreement with Menzies is another important step towards expanding our global ULD reader infrastructure at the facilities of

leading ground handlers at key airports.”


Unilode has about 140,000 units in its ULD fleet, which are managed on an outsourced basis on behalf of its airline customers at about 480

airport stations. Adding

Bluetooth tags to all those ULDs will take time, but the company hopes to more or less complete the process on the existing fleet by mid-2021. Managing director digital

solutions for Unilode, Martijn van Geest, explains that the ULD service provider chose low- energy Bluetooth 5 technology for track and trace because it obviates the need for heavy batteries, along with regular maintenance or replacement. However, a low- energy solution such as this requires data to be relayed via a dedicated reader device or smartphone or tablet with the appropriate app: hence the need to equip customers with such devices. Menzies will use dedicated

readers and has also shown interest in using the smartphone and tablet option, one which involves the secure app being loaded onto the device, van Geest confirms. While Menzies is expected

to use the technology mainly in its warehouses, the readers are equally usable in other locations: on road feeder truck services, for example, or even on-board an aircraſt (the technology is Federal Aviation Administration- approved for in-flight use, so

readers can be used to check – for instance – for any fluctuations in temperature in a sensitive pharmaceutical consignment mid-flight.) In addition to Menzies, Unilode

has also partnered with two other major ground handling companies – Swissport and dnata – to install its digital readers at their facilities worldwide. These agreements are instrumental in accelerating the

roll-out of Unilode’s ULD reader infrastructure at key airports.

AST footwork The beginning of September

also saw Unilode release the first version of its newly developed, in-house FAST - Flexible, Analytic, Secure and Tracking - customer access IT platform. FAST is designed to facilitate

quick and reliable data processing, as well as offer customers easy access to the tracking information such as is made available by Unilode’s Bluetooth tag-equipped digital ULDs. It is available in API format for customers to build into their own IT systems and as a Web browser-based app and as a mobile app. Customers can access ULD and cargo location and status data and

also set up automated alerts to inform them of selected shipment milestones or to let them know of fluctuations or infringements in status parameters (temperature deviations, for example). FAST will provide Unilode’s

airline customers with the greatest possible transparency into their ULD fleets, van Geest explains. The Unilode team will continue to work on fresh improvements.

Hapag-Lloyd offers ocean freight at your fingertips

At the beginning of September, Hapag-Lloyd announced that it had launched a new ‘Customer Dashboard’, a medium through which the shipping line’s clients can check on the performance against four quality ‘promises’: Fast Booking Response; Timely and Correct Bill of Lading; “Accurate Invoicing; and Loaded as Booked.

a direct added value and makes us unique in the container shipping industry.” Managing director global

commercial development Juan Carlos Duk adds: “This virtual handshake with the customer is the basis for our mutual success. Delivering on our quality promises will be the foundation of a new

customers, while on the other hand further strengthening our operational fulfilment capabilities.”

Five decades of improvement

In September, Hapag-Lloyd AG will celebrate its 50th anniversary. In 1970, Hapag and North German Lloyd, two big German shipping lines, merged to form the container shipping group of today. From owning just four

“Our customers now have a

clear and consistent visualisation of our performance,” explains Jesper Kanstrup, Hapag-Lloyd’s senior director customer quality. “With the introduction of the Customer Dashboard, we can finally prove to our customers that we keep our promises and continue to deliver the best quality possible. “Giving our customers this full visibility of our quality performance provides them with

partnership with our customers as part of our ongoing efforts to advance quality improvements in our industry.” The line’s performance against

these four parameters can be viewed through the Hapag-Lloyd Navigator platform. A further six quality promises that will also be available for checking via the Customer Dashboard will be introduced on a quarterly basis between now and the end of next year. The shipping line’s managing

Forward thinking, Forward moving Since purchasing ForwardOffice in 1998, our business

has evolved considerably. ForwardOffice has developed with us throughout this period. We have developed a

fruitful relationship with FCL and see them very much as a strategic partner, rather than just a software supplier.

Jerry Cook, IT Manager, Meachers Global Logistics

director IT – commercial products, Ralf Huesmann, told FBJ that the Customer Dashboard is part of the group’s wider Strategy 2023. “Our aim is to be the No. 1 for quality,” he says. “We do not just want to talk about, but measure it and prove it to our customers. Only, if we can measure our performance can we can continuously improve it. This is further supported by our very strong backbone of standardised business processes.” Thus, he points to a twin-track

quality improvement strategy: “On the one hand, to measure it and make it transparent to our

container ships at the beginning of the 1970s, Hapag-Lloyd now has around 240 ships and operates 120 liner services around the world. It moves about 12 million containers a year, and so ranks among the world’s largest container shipping lines. Those 50 years have also

seen big changes in the way the container shipping line operates, not least in terms of the IT developments that have profoundly shaped the industry of today. The changes in IT that have

impacted the business have perhaps been most pronounced in the last 30 years or so, in Huesmann’s opinion: “In the early 1990s the idea grew of having worldwide standardised business processes, supported by global IT systems. This was an important step in the industrialisation of container shipping and Hapag- Lloyd was a pioneer in this. “At the same time, the exchange

of data between shipment parties and authorities via electronic data interchange (EDI) enabled big efficiency gains and automation. In this context, platforms like Inttra and GTN became important players in our industry. “In the early 2000s,

optimisation and forecasting algorithms became important and they are still growing, nowadays supported by artificial intelligence

(AI). Without this advanced

system support, neither complex vessel networks nor container fleets can be managed efficiently.” And, bringing things up to date,

Huesmann suggests: “Current trends involve AI supporting various business contexts, in terms of natural language processing, robotic process automation, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Blockchain. In

the marine environment,

certainly there are other modern technologies that

are also

important, including satellite navigation and communication, weather forecasting and routing, hull optimisation, and advanced/ optimised stowage planning.” Hapag-Lloyd was a pioneer in

the field of globally standardized, centralised systems, Huesmann says. “A few other carriers also have fully integrated global systems, but most still have loosely coupled systems. It is the same for EDI: we have had advanced skills there for more than two decades. “In relation to network

planning and management of our container fleet, we have had advanced systems for about ten years. Other carriers are also active in this field, but with not so much transparency. “We believe we are well Some

positioned. years ago

we successfully introduced QuickQuotes, a fully automated web quotation. This was a game changer in our industry and was a result of our consequent automation strategy.” As for the future, Blockchain still

technology needs more

time to really deliver on its potential, Huesmann considers. IoT is already important for such simple-use cases like container tracking or moves at the terminal, he believes, but will certainly become more important throughout the supply chain.

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