Digitalizing DFW's airport community - interview with the cargo team on benefits achieved and future plans
From L to R: Bill Nesbitt (DFW), Karen Herberger (DFW), Sara Van Gelder (Nallian) & Kristine Couck (Nallian)
Nallian recently visited Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Texas, U.S., to meet with the airport’s cargo community members in person after having successfully launched the DFW Cargo Cloud during the pandemic. Nallian’s Cargo Community Solution Manager, Sara Van Gelder (SVG), along with DFW Airport’s Karen Herberger (KH), Senior Strategic Projects and Business Development Manager, and Bill Nesbitt (BN), Senior Manager Cargo Business Development, shared more about the project with CargoForwarder Global.
CFG: Is this the first Cargo Cloud for Nallian in the US?
SVG: DFW Airport was the first airport in the U.S. to start using a Cargo Cloud. As such, the DFW cargo stakeholders were Nallian’s first customers in North America. In the meantime, we are also working with other companies in the U.S., such as ground handler Menzies at Los Angeles Airport (LAX), who is using our Truck Visit Management solution to coordinate the freight pick up and drop offs at its premises. Today, Nallian has a true global footprint, also working with airports and air cargo stakeholders in Europe and Asia.
CF: Why did DFW turn to Nallian?
KH: DFW Airport was looking for a solution to reduce congestion at our cargo areas in 2019. The Airport issued an RFP and, through that process, Nallian was selected based on the robustness of its solution, the flexible architecture, and its successful track record with other major European cargo hub airports.
CFG: What does the Cargo Cloud do? What are the positive effects re sustainability, efficiency, complexity reduction?
SVG: The objective of the DFW Cargo Cloud is to enable seamless transactions between stakeholders across the supply chain, including freight forwarders, shippers, ground handling agents, 3PLs, airlines, Customs and Border Protection, and trucking companies. The first collaborative product that was activated on the Cargo Cloud was Slot Management (as a first bundle of functionality of the Truck Visit Management Solution). It enables the ground handlers to make capacity available for slot reservation, which freight forwarders and trucking companies book accordingly. This helps the ground handlers to maximize dock door capacity, flatten peaks, and plan staff according to actual activity, while trucking companies and freight forwarders eliminate wait times and the associated overtime for their drivers. Shorter wait times for truckers also reduces roadway congestion and harmful emissions, and hence support the airport’s sustainability efforts.
BN: At scale, we think it’s going to really speed up the flow of cargo across the airport, as well as have environmental and asset utilization benefits. We have four of our five ground handlers on board, with multiple doors available at each location, and plan to add one additional ground handler in the next few months. In the past, wait times in certain cases were as long as three hours. With the use of the slot booking app, we have seen trucks handled in as quickly as 30 minutes. The DFW metroplex is one of the fastest growing regions in the U.S. and we believe that the DFW Cargo Cloud is critical to managing the expected growth.
“In the past, wait times in certain cases were as long as three hours. With the use of the slot booking app,
we have seen trucks handled in as quickly as 30 minutes. ”
Bill Nesbitt - Senior Manager Cargo Business Development
CFG: How long did it take to set up? Who is involved?
KH: We are taking a phased rollout approach which we expect to continue for the next few years. DFW Airport is one of only a few major airports in the US with a dedicated cargo team. The DFW Cargo Team along with Nallian have onboarded four Ground Handlers representing 12 airlines, 12 forwarding companies, and seven trucking companies. These seven trucking companies provide pick-up and delivery services for 80% of our forwarding community.
CFG: What were the challenges of setting it up remotely?
SVG: Nallian is used to working remotely with its customers. Our set-up and training methodology is designed to facilitate remote work. Also, our solutions have been designed together with cargo stakeholders, so they are adapted to real-life cargo processes, and easy to configure and use, which limits the need for training and support. Having the opportunity to visit DFW’s premises last month, walk through their operations, and interact face-to-face with members of the cargo community, was highly valuable in advancing our initiative to increase engagement across the eco-system. Collectively, we discussed and reconfirmed our commitment to grow the Cargo Cloud’s usage and add more functionality. Our team now has an even closer connection with DFW’s airport community, and a better understanding of their operational challenges. We also had the opportunity to showcase some of our new functionalities and demonstrate how they align with the customer’s needs.
Using Slot Management helps the ground handlers to maximize dock door capacity, flatten peaks, and plan staff according to actual activity, while trucking companies and freight forwarders eliminate wait times and the associated overtime for their drivers.
CFG: How long has it now been running? And any BDPs or new discoveries for Nallian, too, in this project?
SVG: The DFW Cargo Cloud has been live for two full years. The program was paused for six months due to COVID and re-launched as COVID-driven changes to operations became more stable. Through collaboration with the DFW Cargo user community, small tweaks were made to adapt the application for greater alignment to the U.S. market. This included a functionality to manage the connections between trucking and forwarding companies.
CFG: What did the DFW meetings yield re next steps in digitalization?
BN: It was a very fruitful week at DFW, during which we discussed among the cargo team and with current and future users how to effectively ramp up usage of the existing solution. Another key topic of discussion centered on which of Nallian’s functional modules would be activated next on the platform to bring more added value to its users. Together, we’ve defined a nice roadmap to expand the DFW Cargo Cloud and to further drive the digitalization of DFW’s cargo processes.
SVG: As always when implementing a Cargo Cloud, we’re adopting a step-by-step approach as we believe that is the only way to achieve sustainable adoption and growth of the Cargo Cloud. Together with the community, we’ve looked at which business cases would generate the most value for them, and hence which functionality will be activated next.
CFG: What is next for Nallian in 2022?
SVG: After opening our office in Singapore to enlarge our footprint in Asia, we are now looking to open up an office in the U.S. This way, we can be close to our local customers and further develop and sustain our presence in America. It’s part of the expansion of our team, which is growing rapidly. Anyone interested in reinforcing the team, in the US or elsewhere, is always more than welcome to contact us. We’re having conversations with various airport authorities and individual cargo actors who show an interest in our collaborative products, so 2022 is looking promising.