Support from the cloud.
Greater flexibility, less effort: DGD.online enables documents for all hazardous goods shipments to be processed online at any time and from anywhere. A new tool from Lufthansa Cargo that is likely to be good news not just for Siemens Healthineers.
Everybody is talking about digitalization, but how is it to be tackled when it comes to hazardous goods? Processes in this segment have not really changed in something like 40 years. Many logisticians still prepare so-called Dangerous Goods Declarations (DGDs) manually, using word-processing software. The result ends up being a considerable stack of paper accompanying each shipment – yet it does not necessarily follow that the required information will be available at every link in the transport chain. “Moreover, DGDs cannot be altered once a shipment is under way, because only the shipper is permitted to do that,” says Arastoo Badri, who works in product development at Lufthansa Cargo. “We have found that in 70 to 75 percent of cases where a shipment is held up, the reason turns out to be a deficiency with a DGD.”
With the advent of DGD.online, it has become possible to process or edit a document wherever and whenever one chooses. Together with Markus Dess, a logistics process planner with Siemens Healthineers, Badri has introduced this new, user-friendly cloud application that is set to reduce the workload in a number of segments of the industry. The impetus for the development came from a discussion about digitalization that was held as part of the Airfreight Innovation Forum. DGD.online also lets dangerous goods shippers create the appropriate transport documents and shipping labels for air, road and sea transport. “And that is every shipper’s dream come true,” says Markus Dess.
As a cooperation partner of Lufthansa Cargo, Siemens Healthineers has now completed the two-year test phase for the tool. The Siemens Healthineers customer service manages the distribution of spare parts for medical equipment. Example: if the electrically powered bed on an MRI scanner in Stockholm needs a new battery, the logisticians ensure that the part arrives the next day.
Health care providers all over the world depend on an efficient logistics network, something which the Erlangen-based company can provide. Says Dess: “In about 98 percent of all cases, we will deliver spare parts that are held in stock within 24 hours, either to our national subsidiaries or directly to the clinics.” Several thousand consignments leave the three warehouses in Frankfurt, Memphis and Singapore every day. Dess offers three examples that are happening right now around the world: a lamp has to go from Frankfurt to the drop-off point in Düsseldorf, a computer from the warehouse in Memphis is destined for the CT department of a hospital in New England, a compressor is to travel from Singapore to Taipei.
Its openness to innovation and the efficient logistics infrastructure it maintains made the company the ideal partner for the test phase. Siemens Healthineers recorded 1,744 hazardous goods shipments during the 2017/2018 financial year. It is the type of freight that is subject to strict safety regulations. For this reason alone the company invests in smooth and efficient transport processes. “We are always open to innovations – especially when we can see that they have potential. Which we did in the case of hazardous goods. And should any problems occur, we can react immediately,” says Markus Dess.
From the airline, for the shipper.
Not only shippers, but also their logistics partners can keep an eye on the workflow using this tool, and only qualified users are permitted to make changes to it – for example, to assign the AWB number. In addition, DGD.online also provides support through various validation functions. At the same time, using the tool is easy and quick. DGD.online turned out to be helpful even during the test phase. “We noted significant gains in productivity,” says Dess. He adds that in the past, the preparation of dangerous goods documentation had always cost logisticians a lot of time and personnel. “It’s a labor-intensive process,” according to Dess. Shippers’ dangerous goods declarations and corresponding shipping labels had to be prepared manually, on the basis of master data and safety data sheets. “The fact that this also allowed the occasional mistake to creep in was almost unavoidable.” The result was that shipments sometimes had to be returned. “Things like that don’t only take up time; they also cost money,” says Dess.
DGD.online allows print-ready, electronically signed declarations to be generated in PDF format and to be sent automatically by e-mail along with other attachments, such as safety data sheets.
This makes Lufthansa Cargo the first airline to market a “software-as-a-service” solution. Arastoo Badri: “Our objective here is to provide support to the shippers. The service is primarily aimed directly at companies in industries that usually have to prepare these declarations.” The product developer is convinced of the merits of this cloud application. Not least because forwarders will also benefit from this tool. “Mistakes can be avoided, and the processes along the entire transport chain will be more transparent and more stable,” says Badri.