Technology is now playing an increasingly important role in the Aviation /Air Cargo business. This covers a range of applications that include : Air Cargo Security and the manner in which cargo is handled at the Airports, the monitoring of goods in transit, Certified Cargo screening in accordance with US Aviation and Safety regulations, improvement of communications and real time data access etc. This paper examines the different uses of technology within the Air freight business in the determination of whether this has resulted in increased levels of efficiencies and cost improvements. In addition the strengths and weakness of technological applications, together with the opportunities and threats provided by same (SWOT Analysis). Can Air cargo operations operate successfully without all of the technological innovation provided or is this just an extra layer of cost that is ultimately passed on to the end consumer ?
TYPES OF MODERN TECHNOLOGY
Within the context of air cargo transportation the business is assisted with the following types of technological support:
SECURITY | Covers that range of options involving the inspection, handling, screening and security of goods in transit. A vast range of technological applications now support this process including sophisticated scanners, computer systems, database applications and personnel trained in the technology in order to support these applications;
COMPUTERS | An extensive range of technology that supports the back office function in terms of managing the administrative side of the business and the legal documentation requirements to support the business operations. This has also extended to the front office or handlers of the goods using wireless handheld computer devices for scanning and recording of goods in transit information;
SOFTWARE | Microsoft Cloud has been widely adopted in the Air Cargo business area for the improvement of integration of information technology and communications, thereby providing a more sophisticated holistic solution to the integration of computer technology to the business.
THE USE OF TECHNOLOGY IN SECURITY
With the advent of globalization and the ability for Air freight to despatch goods throughout our planet, there is an increased need for vigilance and security measures. Potential threats arise not from just acts of terrorism but may be threat of potential pandemic diseases resulting from the air transportation of animals or hazardous materials. In addition materials that may contain toxins, radioactive materials and other goods that may require special handling or treatment. “If you intend to move dangerous goods by air, you must ensure that your goods are packaged, labelled and certificated in compliance with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Dangerous Goods Regulations.” (British International Freight Asscn, 2011). Different countries will have their own legal sets of compliances and Air Cargo companies will need to comply with these. In the UK failure to comply can be treated by legal remedy as a breach of the Air Navigations Act (2005).
One firm providing Air Cargo security services is that of Rapiscan®. “Rapiscan Systems is an established leader in the air cargo security market, with long-standing, successful relationships with both commercial firms and government agencies around the world.” (Rapiscan Systems, 2011). Rapiscan uses an advanced screening system to scan air cargo. This includes that of small parcel inspection, baggage and large parcels, pallets and bulk cargo screening. The advanced X Ray systems provide an intense scan of the goods and thereby help to minimise the risk of potential threat. “The U.S. 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 requires The Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) to establish a system to screen 100 percent of cargo transported on passenger planes by 2010” (Rapiscan Systems, 2011).