Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and its cargo partners are combating long truck wait times at the hub through the introduction of a new Smart Cargo Mainport Program initiative called 'Digital Planning.'


In a statement, Europe’s fourth-largest air cargo hub said key players in its air freight chain signed a Best Effort declaration on September 18, committing to the far-reaching digitalization of the landside cargo import and export processes.


Handlers, truckers, and forwarders, along with representatives from Schiphol Airport and Air Cargo Netherlands, gathered to sign the statement to implement the new way of working.


"Congestion has been a long-running challenge for air cargo hubs across the world, especially regarding the trucking of freight in and out of the airport, and costs supply chain stakeholders money, impacts the environment, and demotivates employees," Schiphol said in a statement. 


"To put an end to this, the new system will optimize landside processes by drawing up a clear system of agreements that enable digital planning between handlers and air freight truckers," it said.


The airport noted that the realization of this plan would mean that anybody who comes to deliver or collect air freight at Schiphol must first request a time slot digitally through a central platform — if the time slot is granted, parties can then go directly to a handler's loading door.


Vehicles with unregistered freight will have to wait in a buffer parking lot, which will be developed with a reporting and calling system, from where they will be called as soon as their handler has the capacity.


Schiphol Airport noted that the new framework will be made possible through the introduction of a set of business rules managed by the trade organization Air Cargo Netherlands, along with a new central planning portal, which will be built by Cargonaut and SmartLOXS.


Handling facilities will also be upgraded with decentralized capacity planning systems.


"Within the Smart Cargo Mainport program, the air freight industry has taken the steps necessary in recent years to digitize the supply and removal processes chain-wide. Digital Planning is the golden piece of the puzzle that should make waiting times at Schiphol a thing of the past once and for all," said Dimitri Brink, vice chair of the ACN/FENEX Freight Forwarders Sector Council.


Jeroen Giling, chair of the ACN Sector Council for Handlers, for his part, noted that freight handlers at Schiphol work towards a uniform system of pre-registration to enable door planning at handlers Schiphol-wide.


"Success depends on the involvement of all chain partners. Signing the Best Effort today is therefore an important step," he said.


Joost van Doesburg, head of Cargo Schiphol Airport, said the Schiphol Cargo Community's ambition is to offer a competitive, high-quality and sustainable air freight hub.


"With this combination of digitalization and chain process agreements, we save a lot of unnecessary waiting times and frustration for customers, we optimize the logistics process, and we make the supply and removal process of freight at Schiphol airport more sustainable," van Doesburg added.


Amsterdam Airport Schiphol noted that 'Digital Planning' is being developed in close consultation with future users within the Smart Cargo Mainport Program.


Support and coordination regarding secure data sharing will also be provided by the national Digital Infrastructure Logistics (DIL) program within the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management.