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e-AWB and the Logistical Transformation to Digital Cargo

May 25, 2018

 

The world is changing, growing, expanding – rapidly. Technology is a multifaceted notion that drives our way of living and is largely responsible for the global expansion. The assiduous paper trail is evidence that the logistics and supply chain industry have, in many opinions, been relatively slow in adopting and utilizing electronic options. Technology seeks to simplify. Digital cargo is no different. Where there were once stacks of papers to sign, print, fax, send, and archive, there can now be a simplistic digital record, beginning with the e-Air Waybill.

 

The Air Waybill (AWB) is a crucial air cargo document signifying the contract between the shipper and the airline. The Electronic Air Waybill (e-AWB) removes the need for the paper AWB, saving time and resources - ultimately simplifying the entire process. Reports from May 2018 show 53.1% of Air Waybills in circulation are, in fact, electronic and closing in on the 68% targeted for the year.

 

We are on the cusp of a fully functioning, electronic world. With effortless feats of security and complete transparency promised through Blockchain , we begin to see other outdated areas scramble to alleviate tedious work and repetition. The Multilateral e-AWB, offered in partnership with IATA (International Air Transport Association), proposes an agreement that both the air freight forwarders and airlines sign only once as a single standard document. From there, forwarders can issue the e-AWB to all other clients and customers privileged to the agreement. The Multilateral e-AWB delivers the legal foundation for all parties to finalize air freight contracts electronically. This allows air cargo forwarders to send all e-AWB shipments to various airlines in multiple airports, internationally. Air freight forwarders can join the Multilateral e-AWB agreement for free.

 

What are the advantages of moving to e-AWB, you ask?

  • Reduced processing costs

  • Real-time status updates from anywhere

  • Faster handling process

  • Improved reliability

  • No more paper archiving

  • Better handling of regulators and customs electronic information requirements

  • Increased service quality

The all-encompassing adoption of the e-AWB has been a slow implementation for sure, but the fact remains, electronic efficiency will prevail. Not many, if any, air freight companies argue that applying the e-AWB will positively impact business. However, flipping the electronic switch on the trade is a whole other problem and a topic of discussion for another day.

 

Lufthansa, the German airline CLN uses for exporting bulky air freight, has recently applied fees for paper-based air waybills in an attempt to move to a more digitized shipping platform. Electronic-air waybills are an industry wide initiative and the digital solution for all air cargo exporters. In addition to Germany; China, Saudi, Nordic, and Baltic countries are all quickly reaching and fully executing electronic AWB implementation as well. Global enactment has increased by 39.7% over the past 4 years. This is slow progress – but progress nonetheless.

 

Manual and electronic AWB charges are submitted differently. It is imperative to find a logistics partner who understands the differences and notes any applicable changes. For more information regarding air waybills of any kind, contact us HERE.

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