The International Air Transport Association (IATA) launches a new platform to support the digitisation of the global air cargo supply chain.
The IATA Enhanced Partner Identification and Connectivity (EPIC) aims to simplify the complex process of making digital connections across the air cargo value chain. This includes enabling the efficient exchange of critical information such as messaging capabilities and identities.
IATA notes that as the air cargo industry continues to digitalise, airlines, freight forwarders, ground handlers and customs authorities need to be able to securely work together digitally.
This is a considerable challenge, with IATA noting that more than 40,000 freight forwarders exchange messages with more than 450 airlines, and 23 third party messaging service providers. In the absence of a tool for companies to exchange the information needed to make these business links, IATA says the process of digitisation is “essentially manual, slow and unduly complex”.
“EPIC is a simple idea,” says Nick Careen, IATA senior vice president, Airport, Passenger, Cargo, Security. “It makes the information needed to do business across a digitised air cargo supply chain easily accessible.
“And in doing so, it will accelerate efficiency gains for air cargo. The timing of this initiative is important. COVID-19 has led to exponential growth of e-commerce and shippers are demanding quality services that only a digitised supply chain can provide,” he adds.
In addition to supporting business-to-business processes, the participation of customs organisations in EPIC also supports digital customs clearance processes. In particular this will help the efficient roll out of Advance Cargo Information (ACI) requirements, including Preloading Advance Cargo Information (PLACI) programmes, IATA adds.
“When using EPIC, individual companies retain full control of their data with the flexibility to manage how they connect with respective business partners,” the airline association says.
EPIC is open for use by airlines (IATA members and non-members), freight forwarders and any third party, intermediary or IT provider in the air cargo business.
EPIC has so far attracted the participation of 32 airlines, 900 freight forwarder branches, 10 governments/customs authorities, five international organisations and 13 third party messaging providers.