WCS: Self service freight boosts Qantas

Qantas Freight is seeing major efficiency benefits after adopting a “self service” system for import collections, writes Martin Roebuck.
Bob Labrun, head of operations, told the World Cargo Symposium (WCS) that truck drivers are able to input import collection notifications online at the carrier’s cargo terminals in under a minute, removing a former bottleneck that could see them taking a ticket and waiting in line for an hour or more.
By synchronising cargo requests with the warehouse system, the entire import collection process can be completed in principle inside 10 minutes.
“The consignment is often available before the driver returns to his vehicle and reaches the dock,” Labrun said.
Qantas made the switch to express check-in at its first station in just eight months. Labrun said that 64 regional ports across Australia are now processing freight electronically, including small “one-man band” facilities.
This is just the latest component of the carrier’s long-term conversion to a web-based system which began way back in 2008 and is now entering its third phase.
The IBS system manages all cargo processes from rates and sales to scheduling, load and capacity management and handling operations.
Process improvement became a more urgent priority after Qantas acquired Australia’s largest domestic airfreight network three years ago. The carrier now tranships 70 per cent of international cargo to and from outstations, but has integrated its international and domestic business on a shared IT platform.
Qantas Freight today is an A$1bn business delivered via group airlines’ belly capacity and 11 regional and long-haul freighters.
The introduction of mobile technology and smart apps enables customers to monitor departure and arrival times and track freight more efficiently, Labrun explained. It has also put Qantas “on the pathway to a paper-free environment,” he said, with 34 per cent of air waybills now electronic.
This covers most intra-Asia routes, with Europe and North America set to go paperless soon.
Despite “far exceeding Cargo 2000 milestones” in terms of process efficiency, Labrun was forced to respond to criticism that Qantas’s technology is not cloud-based and thus failing to reflect the fast-changing needs of business.
In five years, a delegate claimed, wouldn’t the carrier be “just where you were?” Did its service improvement justify the massive investment it had made over such a long period?
Labrun countered that automating manual processes and reducing customer waiting time in terminals would provide a payback in less than two years. “For every step we take forward, there’s two more we could go,” he said. “That’s the modern era.”
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