Optimizing Air Cargo Shipments

Surging oil and jet kerosene prices, increased security measures, and government focus on compliance are just a few factors currently impacting the air cargo industry. These trends and others make it more critical than ever that shippers optimize their use of air cargo transportation.

Scott Aubuchon, director of international airfreight marketing for UPS, offers the following advice to help transportation buyers get the most out of their air cargo shipments.

1. Implement and use shipping software solutions. Generate shipment labels and all required paperwork electronically. Using shipping software can save time and significantly reduce the risk of errors. The best-performing shipping programs on the market can be integrated with your company’s information systems and facilitate your internal reporting and customer service processes.

2. Partner with your transportation providers. Limiting the number of providers you work with creates efficiencies and optimizes rates. Identify and partner with trusted transportation providers that can do it all: large or small shipments, domestic or international, and urgent or routine.

3. Utilize the right service levels. Shipments often have different weight and size characteristics, and time-in-transit requirements. Be careful to select the right option for each of your needs. Simply taking the time to match the correct type of airfreight service to your needs can be an easy way to reduce costs.

4. Double-check your documentation. Missing or incomplete commercial invoice information is a common cause of customs holds for air cargo buyers who don’t utilize shipping software. You can easily avoid these delays by making accurate and complete shipment documentation a priority.

5. Broker through your carrier. If possible, manage customs through your carrier’s customs brokerage house. This will minimize hand-offs, which can cause unexpected delays in the supply chain.

6. Centralize your payments. Take control of transportation costs by centralizing service payments through either a consignee or third party. Managing all your payments through one party will help you avoid additional transportation mark-ups charged by independent shippers.

7. Insist on visibility. Having full tracking visibility of your air freight from the time of shipment to delivery is critical. Visibility enables you to identify problems and keep your shipments on track, avoiding potential negative impacts on time, money, and credibility.

8. Set up alerts. Many full-service logistics providers offer automated proactive notifications to alert you of any issues with your shipment en route, and notify you at final delivery. These automated proactive notification tools can play a major role in managing unexpected delays.

9. Maximize your pallet. Optimally package and consolidate goods to maximize pallet space. While weight is a factor, space also matters. Packing your shipment efficiently will reduce your chance of incurring dimensional weight fees.

10. Weigh your costs. If speed and reliability are critical to your business, don’t use price as your only carrier criteria. The repercussions of a missed deadline or upset customer can end up costing you more in the long run. You might end up stepping over a dollar to pick up a dime.

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