Blazing a Trail for e-AWB in Thailand – Trans Air Cargo Partners with WIN
In today’s incredibly competitive air cargo industry, accurate real-time data and lower costs for data transfer are important factors that can provide freight forwarders with a competitive edge. The e-Air waybill (e-AWB) is one of the latest tools that Trans Air Cargo (TAC) uses to develop its services, making them faster, more modern and more environmentally friendly – keeping TAC at the forefront of the development of Thailand’s air cargo industry.
With the International Air Transport Association (IATA) pushing e-freight and specifically e-AWB over the past few years, increasing numbers of companies are gaining interest in e-AWB. IATA hopes that the industry will eventually transition to fully paperless processes, but progress remains slow. If all sectors of the industry collaborate, they can all benefit from the cost-savings, increased transparency and also reduced usage of natural resources. Nevertheless, according to IATA’s June 2015 report, e-AWB penetration is at just 28.8 perfect worldwide. By the end of this year, IATA hopes to grow that number to 45 percent.
In Thailand, e-AWB adoption has not been a priority for most companies, for a variety of reasons. Some are concerned that switching from paper air waybills to electronic air waybills will be complicated and costly.
Additionally, they fear that they may not be able to connect with carriers who use different or incompatible systems. But if Thai air cargo is to evolve, it needs people who are ready to change and open to new technology. TAC is the first of Thailand’s top freight forwarders that has not hesitated to begin using e-AWB. TAC’s aim is to enhance both the company’s and the country’s air freight processes to be equivalent to international standards.
We had an opportunity to speak with Trans Air Cargo’s Managing Director, Mr. Keree Chaichanavong, and Airport Manager, Mr. Suwicha Boontem, who shared their experience, their vision, and the advantages of adopting e-AWB.
TAC has been a leading Thai freight forwarder providing a full suite of services for 37 years. Having met internationally recognized standards for air cargo handling, the company became an IATA approved agent in 1981. TAC was also the first Thai forwarder to open routes to the Middle East and Africa. After achieving years of success in his business, Mr. Chaichanavong shared his views on how things have changed over time, “When we initially started the forwarding business, we focused on the Pratunam Market in Bangkok, where most cargo were garments sold domestically. Later we encouraged our customers to export their products internationally. After customers experienced our quality service, our client base grew significantly due to word of mouth.”
In the past, the industry was less competitive, but not without its difficulties. At that time, communication was difficult, and lack of technology made it harder to maintain relationships with airlines.
Nowadays, technology makes communication much easier, meaning we can develop long-term relationships with airlines and customers – which is an advantage in this very competitive market. We must always be active because the heart of our business is service. We have to enjoy learning and problem-solving.”
Over the years, TAC has gained expertise in all areas of freight forwarding. The company is experienced with transporting all types of cargo, including live animals like horses and dogs. TAC’s goal is to provide quality service to achieve the highest customer satisfaction. “Technology is useful, but without excellent service, technology alone is not enough,” said Mr. Boontem.
TAC Makes the Transition to e-AWB
When asked about the decision to use e-AWB, Mr. Chaichanavong said, “IATA has conscientiously pushed the industry to adopt e-AWB, but there’s no regulation that organizations need to follow. Therefore, many companies do not consider it a priority. But at TAC, we think that, even if we did not change today, we will have to change someday, so the sooner we do it, the sooner we will achieve success. Therefore, in March 2015 we began the transition to e-AWB.” With a vision of continuous development, and a sense of fearlessness when it comes to change, TAC has succeeded in implementing e-AWB and reaping the benefits of more efficient and effective operations.
TAC selected Worldwide Information Network (WIN) as their service provider to help make the transition to e-AWB easy and secure for everyone involved. WIN’s system can connect with many leading airlines, both domestic and international. It’s simple to learn and easy to use. Also, WIN provides essential after-sales support and continually follows up with their customers.
With WIN’s systems, TAC automatically uploads draft e-AWBs to WIN. Once the cargo is weighed by the ground handler, they will send the weight data through the WIN system to update the e-AWB. Once it’s updated, the company receives a notification. Then they can check each detail, such as the volume, weight and size of the shipment. Once it’s approved, TAC can send the e-AWB to the carrier, with the ground handler’s certified weight included automatically.
The transfer cost of e-AWBs is less than 10 percent of the transfer cost of paper air waybills. Aside from cost benefits, it also offers additional benefits such as improved accuracy and reduced risk of data loss, which is a major concern when using paper documents. Also, the process of transferring an e-AWB takes just a few seconds, making it much faster than transferring paper documents. Lastly, one of the most important factors is that using e-AWBs reduces the use of paper, saving resources and the environment.
Mr. Boontem added, “Recently, the government sector and leading airlines have begun to see the importance of e-AWB, and some have implemented it. At present, we have submitted over 1,000 complete e-AWBs.”
At the same time, to ensure a seamless operation, TAC continues to use paper data alongside e-AWB, enabling them to support some airlines which have not yet switched to using electronic data. However, the company hopes to encourage airlines to use e-AWB, because it will benefit everyone – shippers, carriers, and small and large forwarders. If everyone works together, IATA’s target of 100 percent e-AWB won’t be out of reach. TAC has proven that advanced technology, together with the company’s experience and skills, enables them to provide high quality service to customers, preserve strong relationships with carriers and also ensure that their transportation processes meet international standards.