With the latest version of the ONE Record ontology, IATA is setting a milestone in the field of digital cargo and IoT, which not only includes significant improvements for e-AWB data fields, but also encompasses other key components such as ULD tracking and the measurement of CO₂ emissions during transports. Above all, the enhanced data model ensures greater transparency, ongoing digitization of processes along the supply chain, and thus optimal transport conditions by connecting physical and virtual objects and making them work together through information and communication technologies.
Paperless air freight handling
Entirely paperless air freight handling? What used to be pure wishful thinking is now a reality. Organizations like IATA have been working for many years to digitize processes and unify the data standard. One industry-wide program from IATA that supports the establishment of an end-to-end paperless transportation process for air cargo is e-freight. Riege has also been working hard for many years to digitize logistics processes to enable paperless handling and simplify the work of freight forwarding companies. Last year, we developed ONEverter for this purpose, a free tool to support the air cargo industry, which enables the conversion of data from the IATA Cargo XML format to ONE Record JSON. The latest version of the ONE Record ontology is fully e-AWB compliant and has already been included in the ONEverter open-source converter library.
The following changes in the ONE Record data standard have been published by IATA:
Air Waybill (AWB): Archiving and documentation now possible
The air waybill can now be recreated at any time, as all the necessary information is contained in the data model and can be retrieved via the linked data. The so-called memento protocol is used to document the signature of the waybill. It enables a short recording of the documents for the archive (similar to a snapshot). Together with the creation of a separate event linked to the waybill, this can ensure data used for the waybill signature is properly recorded and can be retrieved at any time.
Scope is already able to create an e-AWB automatically upon shipment completion. The one-time entry of shipment data and an automatic transfer into the e-AWB leads to a reduction of errors and associated delays in the clearance process. The e-AWB does not require paper or external systems. In doing so, we comply exactly with the specifications of the IATA e-freight initiative and consider both the ecological and economic advantages of the electronic AWB.
Transport cycle: Events and milestones traceable in the booking process
Events and milestones required on the business side of the offer and booking process contain a minimum amount of information that is nearly the same for both. The booking confirmation thus completes the quote and booking process and is intended to ensure all key data has been previously validated and agreed upon. Since key shipment data such as weight can change during the quote and booking process, the shipment status should be traceable throughout the shipment's transportation cycle. In some cases, the sales and booking process precedes the actual operations. To accommodate these cases, some data properties have been added at the Booking Option/Request level, which according to IATA should be used exclusively for the purpose of requesting a quote.
The memento protocol again provides the option to take a snapshot at any time. Sharing events and mementos ensures that all data is stored and properly labeled so it can be easily browsed later. This not only promotes clarity for all parties throughout a booking process, but it also provides more transparency during order processing.
The automated validation in Scope enables forwarding companies to perform plausibility checks at different levels while data is still being entered. A warning is displayed if data fields that are not essential are left blank. If, on the other hand, false data is entered, an error message appears. Erroneous entries can thus be corrected directly without interrupting the workflow.
Tracking on ground: Flight number and departure time details
ULD tracking has gained importance on a global scale, long before the outspread of e-commerce. The requirements for tracking ULDs imply a categorization into different events that can map the handling on the ground and/or in the overall process of the shipment. The ontology has been enhanced in this area as well:
The transport field now contains details about the associated flight, such as the flight number and departure time. A newly added field also captures the exact loading position of the ULD in the aircraft, e.g., lower deck or main deck. For better transparency, IATA recommends splitting the ground transfer into two events: ULD transfer and ULD reception. This allows more accurate tracking in each segment of the air cargo handling process.
To track shipments seamlessly on the ground, we have developed a QR code-based procedure on the first and last mile in Scope, which enables fast, reliable and, above all, barrier-free data transmission on the technical level on the part of the truck drivers. After confirming the loading and unloading of the freight on a mobile device, the data is automatically transmitted to Scope and added to the milestones. The solution was developed specifically for domestic transport and offers full transparency along the entire route, filling the last gaps in the transport chain.
Sustainability: CO₂ measurements for all transportation modes
The measurement and evaluation of CO₂ emissions in cargo shipments is an essential issue on the way to a more sustainable industry. IATA has been working with ICAO on CO₂ emissions measurement methodologies, with the aim of providing the necessary information in the data model to calculate CO₂ emissions for transport movements. While the ontology provides the guidelines for measurement, details about the method used for calculation are to be managed outside the data model.
Scope offers a free tool for its customers to measure CO₂ emissions for individual transports in all transport modes. The electronic air waybill (e-AWB) has already been the first milestone along the road to sustainable transport, the electronic dispatch of further documents is another one. However, digitization is only one step along the journey. The updated ontology conditions of e-AWB, ULD tracking and tracing, and CO₂ emissions not only render the outdated paper waybill redundant, they also significantly speed up and simplify air freight shipping, while at the same time ensuring greater transparency within the supply chain.