As the world's demand for luxury and high value goods is growing, airlines transporting them manage to 'keep it safe' amidst many risks involved like cargo thefts & natural disasters, among others. Jimmy Speas, managing director, Centralised Sales and Specialty Products, Cargo Sales, American Airlines Cargo shares 'behind the scenes' of the supply chain process of high value products with Twinkle Sahita. He talks about how emerging technologies and other best practices are helping air cargo transport valuable products to its destination.

In valuable cargo supply chain, how do you strike a balance between security, technology implementation and cost? High Value business is an important focus for us, not only for the sales team, but for Operations and Customer Experience alike. Through close coordination between our internal groups and the forwarders and customers we work with, we've been able to place a much larger focus on the enhancement of the program we offer. We strive to be a leader in the business of shipping high-value cargo, and that involves a close relationship with the DOT, FAA, etc, along with feedback from customers, to determine how we will continue evolving as a reputable service provider. Presently, we're focusing on modernising technology and streamlining processes. Current initiatives include our recently launched enhanced tracking on, which greatly improves visibility into the entire shipping process (and makes viewing multiple AWBs at once, much simpler), and the improvement of our warehouses worldwide, to include more advance security measures and secure areas for our High Value shipments.

What is the role of technology in valuable cargo supply chain? In addition to our enhanced website tracking that shows real-time status updates, we offer our High Value business the highest boarding priority. All of our High Value cargo moves as Expedite and high-visibility, meaning it not only gets onboard first, but receives detailed in-person and automated checks(plus notifications)at every touch point in the shipping process. The primary need of our customers is safety and security. That's why we offer secured, closely monitored areas in most of our cities around the world. These specified areas are always closely monitored by specially trained personnel.

What measures are being taken on the security front in order to ensure secured transportation of high value goods? In addition to our fully dedicated specialty staff created to oversee and continuously evolve our High Value service, we require special training and use advanced monitoring technology that allows full transparency into our high-value labeled shipments. We have a detailed booking and acceptance process that helps identify the needs of our shippers and their cargo. All High Value shipments are tracked with a specific commodity code and include a High Value checklist that documents each part of the shipment's journey. High Value shipments are placed in highly secure, holding areas monitored by dedicated employees. Even at the time of pickup, the shipments are monitored closely. We help our High Value customers follow detailed guidelines and have specific drop off and pick up hours on weekends for safety and security reasons.

Apart from the cargo attendants present from departure to arrival and cctv cameras, how is the cargo monitored enroute? Safety and security are our number one priority for these highly valuable shipments and it's our job to keep them secure and ensure our customers are at ease. That's why we have checks and measures in place from drop off to delivery. This includes the completion of our checklist from trained staff every time the cargo goes onto and off of our planes. Not only is it documented, but it's recorded in our system for proactive tracking and monitoring. We also have a GPS product option that customers can purchase, called FlightSafe, for customers who want 24/7 tracking, which monitors temperature, motion, light, vibration and pressure—the tracking even notifies the customer via email alerts.

How do you ensure that the adequate value of the cargo is insured? The process is detailed. We require that all High Value shipments are booked as Expedite on nonstop or through flights. Specific commodities are always labeled as High Value and tracking using the commodity code. Our employees are trained to accept High Value bookings to ensure proper insurance and acceptance, even when the customer might not. For extra assurance, some customers hire security guards to watch their items go into the secure High Value cages or vaults. We also accept sealed pallets that ensure packages aren't compromised at any point in the shipping process. Even when one valuable, yet small, item is secured in one large container, we place the said LD3 in our extra secure High Value space. What are the standards of care involved in packaging? For High Value shipments, we rely on the special care involved in the packaging process—and specific guidelines. This includes strict measures to prevent theft, loss or damage to the packaging for High Value shipments. All shipments must be packaged and sealed properly with the proper external labeling, of sufficient strength to permit stacking other freight around and on top of it, and in individual containers or boxes when the shipment is tendered in a sealed container, among other specific guidelines, depending on commodity type.

Aside from packaging, storage is of the highest importance. Although most of our High Value business comes out of our hubs and in other major international locations with a high demand for High Value, we're looking into developing a dedicated space to offer more connection points around the globe.

What has been the most recent and important valuable cargo transported by your organisation? We ship a variety of highly valuable commodities in this niche market where we work closely with customers, who are high-value specialists, to ensure a secure, transparent and efficient experience from booking to pick up. Most recently, we moved over 30,000 pounds of High Value across the United States for an industry show. For every High Value shipment, our team takes additional measures to ensure the security of these shipment types. Security of high-value freight requires coordination and team work and we're proud to be the airline of choice for many customers that specialise in this type of cargo.

Opening Image: American Airlines Cargo
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