A prosperous road ahead

Everybody is talking about digitization and everybody participates, including us, Schiphol. For us digitization is creating “thé smartest airport in the world”! That’s is our goal. But for whom do we do it and why?

The more attractive Schiphol becomes, the more business we have with each other.
With digitization we provide more efficiency and lower cost and moreover a better image.
And the more attractive Schiphol becomes, the more business we have with each other. A beautiful goal that we all can pursue, that means all companies involved in the airfreight at and around Schiphol, or the companies which directly support this industry.

For whom are we doing this?
Initially, of course, we participate in digitization for our own sake. But the parties that gain the most benefit with a smart airport are the shippers and their receiving customers, the “customers of the airfreight industry”. They are best served by an efficient and predictable airfreight process. Recently one speaks about “Supply Chain 4.0” to indicate that increase of sales is more important than reducing costs in the shippers’ choice for logistics.

And thus it is also important for the Dutch economy. A good air freight sector contributes to a good business climate. Shippers and logistics service providers create many jobs.

Logistics service providers need to be more innovative and proactive; digitization can help.
Given the importance to shippers, it is not surprising that they expect more of the airfreight industry. I have been active for nearly 25 years in the world of logistics and information. A debate that continues to return at seminars and in magazines over the years, is the call of shippers to the logistics service providers
• to be “more innovative”, to meet customer needs
• to be “pro-active”
• More to “invest” in improving processes.

In this call from shippers it is often asked to make more use of digitization to improve processes.
Every time the answer of the logistics service providers is that the price pressure blows away all innovation initiatives. Another objection is that they cannot calculate the costs in their prices.

Customer focus has always been an important success criterion
Fortunately in those 25 years there are examples of progress in the focus and attention to the “customers” of the logistics chain. Examples in the airfreight and other logistics areas. Customer focus has always been an important success criterion.
There are multiple solutions. As long as we keep in mind that the customer remains our ultimate goal.

In addition” perseverance” is important. Set out a course and stick to that. Rome was not built in one day. Success can only be achieved if you are committed to improvements over a longer period.

Digitization means transparency, there is no escape.
To stay on track we sometimes need to overcome some limitations. Transparency in the chain can be very good for shippers and for the Dutch economy; there are also companies who benefit from the lack of transparency. Not every company finds it a good idea if its customers are contacted directly.

Regardless the wish for lack of transparency we are forced to take action, due to the integrators and parties like Amazon, which give an insight in the end-to-end chain.
There is no doubt that improved transparency, made possible by digitization, is the final goal.

The airfreight sector should be open to change. And if the shippers have to gain so much from an optimized supply chain, you may well expect an active approach from that angle. Not only in making a call to the industry, but in cooperation with the air cargo sector with focus and perseverance. Which shippers will take up this challenge?

Luc Scheidel