Heathrow truckers benefit from reduced waiting times

By Damian Brett

Trucking firms have noticed a reduction in dwell times at Heathrow airport’s congested cargo sheds following the launch of a community data system.

Air cargo data community CCS-UK launched its Advance Information System (AIS) more than 18 months ago and various logistics players are now using the system, which provides shipment updates and data through a centralised platform.

Speaking at a seminar to raise awareness of the system, DHL Global Forwarding National transport manager Jamie Peacock said that since it has started using the system it had noticed a reduction in dwell times for its trucks.

This is particularly true when using ‘blue lanes’, which give users of the system priority over other truckers when arriving at participating handling facilities.

Other benefits included greater visibility of a shipment’s progress along the transport chain and the ability to analyse the cause of delays.

Peacock said he had just received sign off to develop APIs to link directly into AIS, which will reduce the need to duplicate information entry.

He added that DHL is able to provide information to handlers around 45 minutes before the arrival of its trucks.

Road feeder service provider Wallenborn manager, development and key accounts, Jason Breakwell said that the company began using the AIS portal just over a year ago and had since used it to replace all of its manual systems.

“That means all our teams over Europe; London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Liege, are using AIS and no longer reporting by email.

“It was a smooth transition. Our team likes AIS – they thought it was easy to use and it was simple to upload data.”

Breakwell said that the company will also soon use APIs to link into the system, which should smooth the entry of data.

He added that Wallenborn uses geo-fencing to automatically update the system with a time of departure and estimated time of arrival (ETA).

At the seminar, Guy Thompson, CCS-UK user group programme director explained that AIS enables freight agents to pre-alert handling agents of loads being delivered and picked up down to House air waybill level, as well as submit Electronic Consignment Security Declarations (e-CSD).

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

Thompson said that by receiving this information electronically in advance, handlers can populate their systems with the shipment information, reducing paperwork and delays on arrival of the truck, and eradicating re-keying errors.

By obtaining advance warning of cargo en route, handlers can also anticipate workloads, schedule resources, and allocate handling slots for the trucks.

“The challenge is being able to get people to buy into the system and use it. One transit shed operator said that they won’t use it properly until 90% of the truck are on there,” said Thompson.

“But how do you get 90% of the tucks on the system if they are putting information in for the benefit of the transit sheds but getting nothing back?

“It is a matter of persuasion. We have a few good users and they are working out how they can do things better and smarter.

“One handler, for instance, is using the system to try and avoid racking certain pieces of freight and bring it straight to the door.

“To do this they need systemisation and decent integration between systems and a mind-set that says using AIS can save the transit shed effort and reduce truck dwell times.”

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