Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Limited (Hactl) — Hong Kong's largest independent cargo handler — is opening 12 new Automated Service Kiosks (ASKs) to speed up the collection of import cargo from its giant SuperTerminal 1 facility.
In a statement, Hactl said it is the first cargo terminal operator in Hong Kong to introduce such a system.
Hactl said under the current manual, paper-based system, freight agents or consignees collecting import cargo from Hactl first visit the airline to obtain a Shipment Release Form (SRF), which authorises Hactl to release the goods to the bearer.
On presentation of the SRF at the imports reception counter, Hactl staff visually verify the SRF bearer's identity against their identification documents, check the SRF's authenticity and trigger the physical release of the cargo via COSAC-Plus, Hactl’s cargo management system.
They hand-write the SRF bearer's name, ID number, and time of SRF presentation on the SRF, which the bearer then presents at one of the terminal's cargo collection points.
Hactl said it processes some 1,000 SRFs every single day.
"Under the new system, the agent or consignee obtains the SRF from the airline but then visits one of the 12 ASKs, which are conveniently located near the cargo pick-up areas. The SRF bearer presents their ID, which the system automatically authenticates using technology already widely employed by government bodies," Hactl said.
It added that the SRF's validity is also checked, the details of the shipment collection are recorded, and the physical release of the cargo is then automatically triggered via COSAC-Plus.
If the cargo is unitised, the system displays a pick list from which the SRF bearer can select the pieces to be collected in order of priority. All personally identifiable information collected by the system is encrypted to protect privacy and is purged after a set period.
"The old import release system is labour-intensive and often causes queues at peak times. Manual checking of IDs, and completion of the SRFs by hand under pressure, also have the potential for errors," said Paul Cheng, executive director-operations at Hatcl.
He added that the ASK is the "first phase" of Hactl's import cargo collection digitalisation journey.
"It speeds up the whole collection process and gives customers greater control over the order in which they collect their shipments. It will eradicate queuing, improve the accuracy of ID and SRF checking, and release valuable Hactl personnel for more productive duties," Cheng said.
"For our airline customers, the ASKs represent a further enhancement to our already strong security, helping to ensure cargo is only ever able to be collected by the legitimate party," he added.
Hactl announced that it plans to further enhance its import shipment release process, with the introduction of more digital and contactless features.
Hactl said it will collaborate with the airlines, their agents and truckers, which will take time; but it noted that the potential payback for all parties is "considerable."
"Our goal is to take SuperTerminal 1 to a new level of efficiency while creating a significantly better customer service experience for the entire Hong Kong air cargo community," Cheng added.
Export service functions and other landside functions are also to be added to the scope of the ASKs in due course, as well as connectivity with Hactl's mobile apps.