A new era awaits


The air cargo industry is ripe for a digital revolution. It has missed out on many of the advances other industries have undergone, but that is changing.

“Many people are surprised how conventional and conservative the cargo business is, particularly when it comes to digitalization,” says Janne Tarvainen, Finnair Cargo’s managing director. 

One of the problems holding back development in the industry is fragmentation. For instance, with a host of different players it is difficult to standardize the sharing of information. Since it can’t be shared digitally, the information remains on paper.

“We are years behind the passenger airline industry,” Tarvainen continues. “But there is a will to develop. There are many areas where we can use digitalization to improve performance, and this is something we are very interested in.”

One idea he has is for customs. A flight between Helsinki and Asia might only take ten hours, but it may take days for cargo to clear customs. A well-integrated data system between carriers and customs could allow the clearing process to begin earlier, while the cargo is still in the air. 

State-of-the-art COOL

New entrants to the industry could act as disruptors, like Amazon’s recent move into air cargo, but Finnair Cargo has no intention of waiting for others. 

“We need more transparency for all stakeholders in the value chain,” says Tarvainen. “This is important for some special and high value cargo with particular needs.”

Pharmaceutical companies are interested in data and temperature trackers, which could be provided by connected sensors in the Internet of Things. Not coincidentally, Finnair Cargo will have special zones dedicated to pharmaceuticals and perishables such as seafood in the new COOL Nordic Cargo Hub.

“Our new terminal will take digitalization to the next level,” he says. “We will have a high level of automation in an integrated acceptance and storage system as well as with unit load devices. The backbone will be the SkyChain cargo management system. This will be a unique integration and when it opens next year we will have the most modern air cargo terminal in Europe.”

Adding cloud value 

Tarvainen is particularly excited about the utilization of cloud-based digital services. Not only will it give Finnair Cargo new features and tools, it will also help data integration with customers’ systems.

He points out that the process of digitalization is not simply new products and services, or even new technological tools. It takes a completely new strategy, new skills and a whole new way of doing business. Yet the rewards are great. Finnair Cargo can create real added value by embracing these new innovations.

“The bottom line is that everything will improve for the customer,” he concludes. “We will have better cost efficiency because waste will be reduced in the system. Quality will improve because of better transparency. Deliveries will be quicker because of automation. We will have all these improvements thanks to digitalization.”

Text by David J. Cord
Photo by iStock



Published November 11, 2016

Category: Finnair Cargo