Seminars aim to tackle Heathrow truck congestion

CCS-UK User Group – the not-for-profit body which represents users of the UK’s air cargo community data system – is hosting a series of seminars to showcase its solution for streamlining collections and deliveries of airfreight at Heathrow’s cargo terminal.

Advance Information System (AIS) is a bolt-on module for CCS-UK that has been in full operational use for over a year among a cross-section of airfreight agents and hauliers, and a major cargo handler.

The system has “dramatically reduced” the time taken to process trucks either delivering or collecting cargo. CCS-UK User Group believes AIS is an “effective, no-cost solution for reducing truck queuing times” at Heathrow’s congested “Horseshoe” air cargo area, where agents’ vehicles can be tied up for up to 12 hours at peak times.

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. The information is then accessible to all relevant parties in the supply chain.

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.

“This will help to reduce the number of vehicles on the cargo terminal, and cut queue times,” CCS-UK said.

CCS-UK User Group Chairman Steve Parker of DHL said: “AIS is already fully proven in daily use, and has demonstrated significant benefits for all parties. All handlers on Heathrow’s ageing cargo terminal should now adopt this new system, so that freight agents and hauliers can use a single system to deliver to all transit sheds, and achieve the same benefits everywhere.”

Peak-time truck congestion at Heathrow has been a hot topic for many years, and the airport owner  recently floated the idea of a new system involving barriers and charging.

“This is not necessary,” continued Parker. “We don’t need a new system, we don’t need barriers that will worsen congestion, and nobody needs to pay anything. CCS-UK already has a proven solution, which is free to all CCS-UK users. We just need more handlers and more agents to come on board with AIS, so that it benefits all users of the cargo terminal.”

He concluded: “Whatever shape Brexit takes, it may well result in a boom in air cargo. That’s yet another reason why the UK air cargo industry must take every possible step to streamline its operations. AIS could make a major contribution to increasing efficiency and speed.”

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