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New information system speeds up Heathrow cargo, says CCS UK

[ November 9, 2018   //   ]

The CCS-UK User Group says its AIS (Advance Information System) is bringing real results at Heathrow Airport, and helping to reduce congestion at the UK’s busiest airfreight gateway.

Two years ago, CCS-UK User Group – the body which represents all users of the UK’s air cargo community computer system, CCS-UK – announced that it was starting work on a new module to enable freight agents, and transport companies working on their behalf, to pre-alert handling agents of loads being delivered and picked up, down to House AWB level, as well as submit Electronic Consignment Security Declarations (e-CSD).

This advance information – including vehicle, driver, cargo being delivered, handling agent and ETA – would be submitted either through a web portal or messages sent direct from the forwarder’s own system. The information would then be accessible to all relevant parties in the supply chain.

AIS decided to go it alone in developing the system, after Heathrow airport itself dropped out of the project.

CCS UK says that AIS has now been live for around a year and – although still subject to ongoing development – is already in use at a growing number of hauliers, handlers and forwarders.

One of the early adopters was Mixed Freight Services, which provides off-airport security screening for air cargo exports, and then feeds the screened cargo to Heathrow’s cargo sheds. As one of the largest operators at Heathrow, it had been suffering unacceptable delays for some years. Director, Steve O’Keeffe recounts: “On one occasion, one of our trailers was turned away five times over one weekend due to the handlers’ inability to cope with the volume of trucks already queued, and their warehouse facilities being at capacity.”

O’Keeffe said: “We can’t change the Heathrow infrastructure, so we realised we would have to change the way we worked. So we focused on capacity management: collating cargo off-airport, and then delivering just in time, ideally between 12 and 24 hours ahead of the flight.

“AIS is enabling us to work more efficiently with the ground handlers; we screen the cargo, submit the e-CSD and manifest to the handler,  and then deliver. It has dramatically simplified and streamlined our process, giving the handler visibility of pending export cargo which is security screened and ready for delivery.”

Lawrence Cockburn, Business Systems Manager at dnata, Heathrow’s largest independent handler , was involved in the original concept and design of AIS, and is reporting significant reductions in dwell time for 75% of the vehicles dnata processes: “dnata has led innovation with its gatehouse concept, streamlining the delivery and collection process. AIS is now building on this, giving us the ability to further enhance our gatehouse and counter processes. We no longer have to capture data: we just verify it.”

Dnata is now incentivising greater take-up of AISwith a ‘Blue Lane’ for truckers and agents, giving them priority over all other vehicles, regardless of the order in which they arrived.

Carl Aspital, Director of forwarder Air & Cargo Services, one of the AIS pilot testers, also reports: “We were dnata’s  first Blue Lane-approved operator. We have noticed a significant difference, particularly with night-time deliveries. As we use AIS, dnata has nothing to input, so the payback is faster handling: our driver is given a door immediately on arrival.”

“Forwarders can often suffer up to five hour waits at every shed. So, if everything else is equal, we would always now favour a carrier whose handler uses AIS. With a 20 minute turnaround, we can save £200 in driver costs alone. We need all of the shed operators to adopt AIS, so we can programme vehicles to visit multiple sheds.”

The AIS module is free of charge for all CCS-UK subscribers but has still to gain full take-up within the UK air cargo industry, says CCS-UK user group chairman, Steve Parker:

“All AIS requires is a modest change to ways of working. It’s hard to understand why many are still holding back, as AIS is free of charge, and its widespread adoption will help everyone in the community.

“With the uncertainties surrounding BREXIT leading to the possibility of more complex procedures and even dramatic increases in traffic, now is the time to take all possible steps to streamline the UK’s air cargo industry, which will become an even more  vital trading tool.”.

 

 

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