Every type of freight shipping can face challenges that delay customer cargo arrival. Although there is much overlap in what exceptions may arise for a shipment based on transportation modes, each mode has its own set of more commonly faced delays that should be analyzed to minimize their impact on the overall delivery timeline.
Shipping goods by air is the quickest way of getting cargo from point A to B, but what common challenges could that shipment be subject to, and how can forwarders help their customers plan accordingly?
Extreme Weather or Natural Disasters
Mother nature can impact every mode of transportation across the world. For air forwarding, serious weather conditions like hurricanes, wildfires, tornados, or blizzards can result in delays for shipments unlucky enough to be caught in their wrath.
High winds, hail, snow, and lightning can directly stall flights that are tasked with getting goods to their arrival destinations by a given deadline. In addition, truckers involved in transmodal orders, or final mile deliveries, can face an increase in accidents and delays from this bad weather.
While your team can’t solve climate issues or perfect the science of meteorology, there are steps that can be taken to lessen the impact of these delays and better predict them. This is why weather intelligence is becoming an important tactic in the airfreight industry, with some companies investing in weather platforms that can be integrated into your workflow.
Forwarders can also combat weather-related delays with real-time tracking functionality and the use of analytics software tools. The sooner you know that a shipment is off schedule, has hit a delay, or has been rerouted, the quicker shippers/BCOs can plan accordingly. Whether that means giving more visibility to the end-user or even placing backup order inventory before hitting a possible weather delay, your customers get the power of time to plan a strategy. Using historical analytics, your team can also share trends in delays based on time of year and location. Take that extra step to separate delays related to weather and you can look for patterns to share with your customers.
Rather than calling or emailing to ask where their cargo is, your shippers can log in and access this information on their own, anytime, day or night with Logixboard’s Live Vessel Tracking!
When you hear the word “Customs,” most people across the world think of requirements, exams/inspections, and, of course, resulting delays. Filling out the wrong forms, using incorrect identification codes for goods, and late submission of documents can all lead to these types of delays. Unfortunately, Customs delays are not only a result of errors, but can also be random occurrences based on type of goods or the export/import location.
Customs delays are another type of challenge that can profit from historical analytics and great shipment visibility. If you can inform your customers of where you have seen patterns of customs delays or what types of shipments your company has seen more delays in general with (and averages for those delays), you can better inform their supply chain scheduling and predicted timelines.
Having an end-to-end visibility solution that is accessible to all parties involved can create a single source of truth that minimizes the negative impact of customs delays. Like the weather, you can not always predict how your shipment will be hit by Customs. Having your team, customers, and any other relevant people involved in automatic updates when roadbumps have been hit can reduce any fees related to airport pickups by the next leg of the shipment journey.
One of the primary causes of air forwarding delays is poor infrastructure and lack of technology at airports. In contrast to the innovative and frequent improvements seen in automation on the passenger operations side of airports, truckers have complained about stalled growth when it comes to moving goods.
General practice has forwarders pre-file import/export documents and charges paid by the time an air shipment has taken off. This is in theory to reduce delays, but cargo is immediately marked for pickup when it has landed, leading to poor visibility during the “blackout” period.
Then, when a trucker is sent in to pick up the cargo at the receiving airport and waits hours in traffic, they can be rejected. Cargo marked as released and available online may still be being moved by ground handlers, causing major bottlenecks. While being moved and handled by ground workers at the airport, the shipment is largely unaccounted for.
Besides continuing to lobby for better and more updated protocols from the airports, your team can implement software solutions that can help reduce the delays on your side. Exception data can be compiled from an analytics tool to help predict how long it will take from “landed” status for truckers to be able to pick up cargo on an airport to airport basis. Then factoring in metrics on average lines and traffic at this location, you can create data-informed strategies for pickup scheduling.
Based on data released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), air cargo market demand has tracked near pre-pandemic levels, but is still below levels reached in 2021. Air forwarding is not going anywhere. Offering air cargo options for your customers must also come with strategies to help them get the best experience from this mode of forwarding. Successfully managing your air forwarding services as a freight forwarder is all about being able to provide as much reliability and transparency as you can to your customers – digital software solutions and automation are the answer.