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Blueprint New York.

Go to Gemba,” a quote from the Japanese management and business theory Kaizen, were the words Vito D’Anna wrote in red ink on the whiteboard in his office. Translated it means ‘Go to where the activity is’, in other words observe where you intend to change and improve things. At John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, D’Anna manages the handling of aircraft and in the warehouse for Lufthansa Cargo – and as a Kaizen ­student endeavors to bring about continual improvement. Now 57, he has been influenced by his stint in excess of 20 years at the Japanese company Nippon Cargo Airlines.

No wonder he volunteered to set up Station One: a sample station where technical innovations and new processes are initially put through their paces, and where customers and colleagues alike can experience them. The objective is to continually improve services – on site and then at the other stations worldwide. JFK met the criteria: an external station was needed with freighter, passage and road feeder service operations where Lufthansa Cargo records relevant quantities in terms of tonnage and turnover. The ground handling was to be largely under Lufthansa Cargo’s control. The airport in Queens thus became Station One. 

What are the new developments and innovations in this respect? Dock Enroll, for example. By way of the system, which initially everyone thought was called Dock & Roll, forwarders can check their customs status online and pay in advance. “The conventional payment process takes ten minutes, but Dock Enroll is just a single click,” says employee Faraz Shaik while accepting a bundle of dollar notes from a driver at the import desk. What is more important, thanks to the online check, the figure of 280,000 telephone inquiries received annually in the USA to date in this respect is now falling. 

Copying recommended.

Copying recommended.

The principle of lean leadership is similarly in use in New York. Improvements are not implemented in large change projects but rather during the everyday routine. This calls for daily team dialogue, while coaches train the employees for “structured ­problem-solving in the everyday routine.”
Or the SmartGate automated volume scanner, which records consignments in 3-D and checks whether or not the weight and volume correspond to the booked details. Freight recording and pallet profile checks are also part of the scanner’s repertoire. Apart from JFK, SmartGate is used in Frankfurt and Atlanta, and is set to be introduced at five additional stations in line with the unofficial motto of “Copying recommended.”

Major changes mean a lot of work – above all as JFK is not a test laboratory and all things new need to run like clockwork. However, change is a value that is hugely appreciated in American work culture. “Everyone here adopts a very open-minded approach to the things we change – and above all why we change them,” says Alexander Karst, Sales and Handling Director on the US east coast. Automation and digitalization need to be pushed further. “Any airline can fly from A to B as quickly as we do. We want to shine with safety and quality on the ground.” Primarily as an airline but also as a ground handler for external airlines such as Cathay Pacific, Qantas or the Israeli airline CAL. As a project manager, Jule Parulewski from Lufthansa Cargo’s Global Handling Management Team is the one pulling the strings. “Station One should show employees and customers our best practices at a single location. It is aimed as a blueprint for other stations where the system can be implemented for example including as part of a system partnership with ground handling agents.”


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Jule Parulewski works in Frankfurt. The 30-year-old nevertheless convinces herself regularly in New York of the projects’ progress, discusses new ideas – and adopts a pragmatic approach to lending a hand. An employee asks her whether or not and where protective devices are to be attached to SmartGate. Without a consignment to hand, Jule Parulewski resolutely places a garbage bin on the weighing area, opens the display panel with an extra-large key that looks like a bottle opener and explains the system.

One person holds responsibility for each project in Frankfurt and New York respectively, while two lean experts support the collaboration and constantly seek options by way of which the processes can be rendered even leaner. Representatives from both sides of the Atlantic meet regularly to jointly specify what is to be changed and how and why it should be changed. “We spend a lot of time here with Jule and her team,” says Kaizen expert Vito D’Anna. “But on occasion we have to abandon meetings abruptly to address work issues.” Ultimately, his team handles some 90 flights here each week. Operations between the Station One teams from Frankfurt and JFK Airport are characterized by great team spirit. “We have fun working towards the common goal.”

“Station One shows employees and customers our best practices at a single location”.

“Station One shows employees and customers our best practices at a single location”.

Jule Parulewski, Station One Project Manager

Station one at a glance.

Station one at a glance.


Dock Enroll:
Online system for a customs status check and payment in advance

Automated 3-D scanner for reviewing consignment volumes and weight, recording freight and pallet profile checks

Barcode scanning:
Import and export freight data are entered in the iCAP handling system using a hand scanner and transferred via WLAN to the database

Efficient warehouse:
Flexible use of import and export areas to have sufficient space even on the busiest days 

Supply Chain Management:
Controls loads and capacities in the core processes, facilitates stable throughput times and high capacity utilization

Lean leadership: 
Implementation of everyday improvements instead of using change projects – possible by way of daily team dialogue and coaching


Digitalization of additional documents such as Dangerous Goods Shipper’s Declaration (DGD)

Digital ramp 1:
Loading the entire acceptance and dispatch process on the ramp thanks to digital freight documents. Automated Goods Acceptance Check at the SmartGate on the basis of which consignments can be brought directly to the warehouse/buildup

Digital ramp 2:
Online booking of target slots, prioritizing consignments such as express shipments

Mobile volume optimization:
By way of the Augmented Reality App, pallets are inspected for gaps during the build-up and therefore for additional space

Flow-oriented processes:
Where possible, freight is pre-sorted in the correct sequence ready for loading at the airfield ramp



To find out more about Station One and its innovations, watch the film in the iPad edition, free in the App Store. 



Lufthansa Cargo 

planet 2/2016