The aviation industry must simplify processes for transporting dangerous goods (DG) and leverage digitalisation to enhance safety, according to a new survey released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), DG software and support company Labelmaster and magazine publisher Hazardous Cargo Bulletin.
The 2023 Global Dangerous Goods Confidence Outlook — the eighth annual survey — revealed that the majority of aviation professionals do not believe their infrastructure is prepared to handle future challenges.
The report also highlighted the need to reduce process complexity, establish effective staff recruitment and retention programs, and enhance digitalization to facilitate the safe and compliant transport of dangerous goods (DG)/hazardous materials (hazmat).
Robert Finn, vice president, Labelmaster said ongoing supply chain disruptions along with the continued growth of e-commerce and markets that rely on DG from consumer products to electric vehicles have made shipping goods safely and compliantly "increasingly difficult."
"While organizations showed improvement in their DG operations over the last year, the survey underscored the need to reduce process complexity and enhance digitalization to address future supply chain and regulatory challenges," he added.
Nick Careen, IATA's senior vice president of operations, safety, and security, noted that confidence among DG professionals is high, yet challenges remain.
"These include process complexity, the misdeclaration of DG and the recruitment of skilled personnel," he said.
"To meet the future growth in DG shipments, we need well-trained professionals following globally agreed standards and supported by the right technology and infrastructure."
Despite the challenges outlined in the survey responses, the vast majority of DG professionals expressed confidence that their infrastructure matched up with other businesses.
According to the survey, 85% of the professionals believed that their infrastructure was on par or ahead of the wider industry. However, only 56% of the respondents thought that their infrastructure met existing needs, while only 28% believed that it was capable of meeting both current and future needs.
The concern that the current supply chain of Dangerous Goods (DG) may not be sufficient to meet future demands is also evident in the survey results.
About 72% of professionals believe that additional support is required to comply with future DG regulations, and 56% expect that mis-declaration problems will either persist at the same level or worsen.
Staff training and regulatory compliance were identified as areas needing improvement alongside complex processes and improving digitalization.
The survey also found that sustainability remains a focus across the industry.
It said that 73% of DG professionals report that their organizations have sustainability initiatives in place or planned; however, 27% do not have any sustainability initiatives planned, showing room for improvement.
"The survey results point to the challenges that the air cargo value chain continues to face in process simplification, digitalization, and training."