This Wednesday, the conference on the “Logistic challenges of air cargo in the automotive and electrical sector” was held in the auditorium of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, a meeting promoted by the Barcelona Air Freight Community, a working group belonging to the Barcelona Center Logistics Catalonia (BCL). The organization of the event was carried out by the GPA consultant.

The electric vehicle is changing the logistics of the cargo area
The electric vehicle is changing the logistics of the cargo area

The objective was to analyze how the appearance of the electric and hybrid car, and its current upward trend in sales, is impacting the air cargo business.

In this sense, different issues were raised. Such as the emergence of new opportunities for logistics agents.

As well as possible risks to consider and work to be done to address the needs of automotive shippers and electrical components.

Use of air transport: stock breaks, special needs, and high-value goods

The two invited issuing companies explained to what extent they use air transport within their supply chain.

Francisco Durán, director of Logistics of Nissan. Commented that, although the air is not the means of majority transport in terms of volumes sent. They do understand it as a fundamental part that covers their needs for stock breakages and timely shipments that require Maximum priority. Francisco Durán placed particular emphasis on the application of JIT (just in time) methodologies, where a total synchronization between the car manufacturer and the final customer is needed.

Paulo Pereira, Downstream Supply Chain director at Schneider Electric. Mentioned that the volumes sent by air by the manufacturer of electronic components represent a relatively low percentage within his organization. However, they are necessary for certain high-value products, which "cannot be 2-3 weeks in transit until their final destination."

Problems identified: high cost, lack of capacity and level of emissions.

The Japanese car manufacturer clearly identified the problem of air shipping, its high cost. However, the speed that allows mitigating possible problems/stoppages in the production chain is a cost that is assumed by the high added value provided.

On the contrary, the French manufacturer of components wanted to add, in addition to the cost, the problem of CO2 emissions produced by the air sector. This aspect negatively impacts their internal environmental impact indicators, so they try to “minimize as much as possible the use of air to reduce their level of emissions.”

Paulo Pereira also wanted to highlight the lack of capacity of the Barcelona airport in terms of routes to South America, a fact that sometimes penalizes or delays its logistics operations.

Solutions: better planning and transparency

One of the invited airlines, Air France-KLM Cargo, is committed to an improvement in shipment planning by shippers, to be more cost-efficient and have secured cargo space, either in pure freighters or in airplanes of passengers (belly cargo). Xavier Jané, sales manager of the airline, wanted to add that, with better planning, "even flat rate scenarios could be proposed to shippers," a fact that would optimize the cost of their shipments by this means.

Likewise, Xavier Jané demanded greater transparency to the automotive issuing sector due to the usual needs due to stock breakage. For their part, Francisco Durán (Nissan) and Paulo Pereira (Schneider Electric), stressed the need for greater transparency and simplicity about the prices set by freight airlines.

Battery transport: constant regulatory updates

The other airline invited was Emirates Skycargo. Which through its Cargo manager Marie-Laure Vuillermoz, pointed out a common problem in the sector. Lithium batteries and the associated regulations for their transport by air. Very complex and constantly updated. It requires having highly trained staff and the active collaboration of forwarders.

In that sense, Alexandra Escanero, Airfreight Manager at Noatum Logistics, wanted to highlight some of these regulations that directly impact the operation, such as UN3480, UN3481, and IATA Special Provision A99.

Brexit: Are we prepared?

Regarding Brexit, a fact that is expected to impact the logistics sector forcefully. Giancarlo Devoto, Air Department Manager at Nippon Express, confirmed some lack of information in the sector. On this matter, in addition to having noticed some widespread confusion.

Paulo Pereira, of Schneider Electric, added that his organization has developed different contingency plans to deal with the UK's exit from the Union. However, when the final door occurs, complications will arise, in any case.

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