On June 16th, Cargo Network Services, the US arm of IATA, held a training session in Chicago to educate forwarders on the benefits of using e-AWB (electronic air waybills) for their shipments. eAWB is being pushed globally by IATA because they believe that it will not only speed air cargo through the supply chain but also reduce costs and increase accuracy and compliance. Coupled with requirements that countries and regions are making for pre-departure information to perform targeting and screening, the investment is a no-brainer.

Melissa and I were both in attendance at the event. I was there in my capacity as the President of the International Air Cargo Association of Chicago and we co-hosted the event along with the Chicago Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association.

Between CNS, IACAC and CCBFA, we registered nearly 150 attendees for this free half-day training and education and had 120 people in attendance.

Think of all the paper air waybills that planes carry with their cargo; reduced emissions are a direct benefit. Think of all the multi-part AWB forms or white paper that is purchased to print AWB’s with laser printers – goodbye forms and paper cost. Some carriers have announced fees for handling paper master air waybills – think of it as the carrot-less stick.

IATA has set an ambitious global goal of 56% penetration for eligible shipments by the end of the year. The statistics they showed have averaged 36 – 38% penetration in the North American market this year.

Airports are “turning on” eAWB and pushing it with their forwarder customers in stages around the United States. CNS came in June because August 1st is their target date for Chicago. This road show is taking place in Miami, Atlanta and Los Angeles over the next several months as well.

At BCS, we stress to our candidates the importance of being current with their knowledge, industry trends, skills and technology. eAWB, and many of the other electronic forms of data sharing and transmission and management, will become more and more important and prevalent in the coming years. When we have the chance to be involved and learn about these changes┬áto help both our clients and our candidates, we’ll always be in the room.