Meet Mukesh Mudholkar, Associate Vice President at Kale Logistics Solutions with more than three decades of experience in the aviation industry. He plays a critical role in bridging the understanding of business and formulates IT strategies for operational excellence. In this interview, he advocates the adoption of the best industry practices to be future-ready and talks about the impact of sustainability.
Q1. With the airports working nonstop during the pandemic, what are the major concerns of the cargo handling today?
The demand for cargo has increased over the last few months. IATA has stated that Air Cargo demand grew 9.1% in September compared to pre-COVID levels. To counter the disruptions in the supply chain, air transportation is preferred however, capacity is one major constraint.
Dwell time at the airport has increased thus, increasing the pressure on the infrastructure as well as, the available resources. There are several instances of trucks queuing up at the airports leading to chaos, congestion, and commotion. In the past, cargo spent more time on the ground than in the air on account of several factors including excessive paperwork, security compliances, customer permissions, etc, and now with constrained capacity, the dwell time has compounded.
Tracking cargo in the warehouse, segregating cargo based on its nature, planning for uplift based on the available capacity are a few challenges faced by cargo operators. To further multiply the problem, several resources are still not physically available. Skilled resources for uplift of special, odd-size cargo and dangerous goods are also limited thus, further constraining the uplift of such cargo.
Claims on negligence and losses are on the rise thus, impacting the quality standards of the Airline. The cargo business has contributed to the top-line airline revenue; however, this has come with its own set of challenges including carriage of cargo in passenger cabins, flexible containers, bags for the carriage, guidelines for carriage in terms of weight, nature of goods in the cabin, etc.
Q2. Covid -19 has accelerated the focus on sustainability. How is the aviation sector responding to this trend?
Co-operation at various levels is required to attain sustainability in the aviation sector. This is not limited to the use of bio-fuel, reduction in the use of plastic but also developing a set of skilled resources that will nurture and grow the business.
Technology plays a critical part in the sustainability program where carbon emission can be tracked along the shipment life-cycle. While cost is one factor, end customers also look at carbon credits that they would get if a shipment moves on a specific route. Reducing paper also plays a critical role in the sustainability program. Less paper means fewer trees cut down consequently, increasing the oxygen levels and reducing the carbon in the air. Vertical take-offs reduce the fuel consumed hence controlling the carbon emissions.
The Industry must have an open market for transportation that will cover more geographies rather than running multiple flights to a single destination with cut-throat competition among each other. Not only is the capacity fully utilized, but it also adds to the carbon emissions. Several technology companies are providing such solutions that the aviation industry is incorporating, the environmental factor in their DNA.
Q3. GALAXY is the gen-next cargo handling system and has already been implemented in more than 85 airports. How do Kale Logistics Solutions plan to keep its platform relevant with the dynamics changing rapidly in the aviation industry?
Simple! Eliminate paper and redundant processes. If there is any activity that can be done without visiting the cargo terminal, then that should be readily possible. One data, multiple uses is the simple axiom followed in GALAXY. This data is sourced from several stakeholders including, airlines, freight forwarders, terminal operators, customs, shippers, etc.
Not only is data integrity achieved but this also forms a single source of truth for business planning and growth. GALAXY complies with the industry requirements for security and data requirements in digital formats while maintaining quality checks on the captured data.
An intuitive workflow reduces the errors in the operational flow. Extensive use of hand-held devices helps the data capture in real-time for subsequent downline processes. Integration with weight and volume calculators brings in further operational efficiency and accuracy. Finally, accurate billing to Agents and Airlines in compliance with statutory requirements rounds off the operational flow with minimal human intervention.
As we shape the future, optimizing the loads on an aircraft or ULD through smart loading considering the aircraft type, ULD position, and connecting flights are some of the initiatives that we have embarked upon.
The use of drone technology to track and retrieve the cargo, use of IoT for temperature tracking, Interactive warehouse, and man-power management will help optimize the available resources. Right data to the right person would be available in real-time without compromising data privacy.