digital transformation in banks

AWB Automation of air freight at Zurich airport

Nelson Fernandes

The Automation of business processes, including the archiving of air waybills (AWBs), is included in the Logistics industry become increasingly important to improve efficiency and accuracy. In this context, I would like to explain a successful example of the implementation of an automated AWB archiving system at a logistics company at Zurich Airport.

Want to know what you can achieve with AI, automation and digitization in your industry? Then contact us via the contact form.

In advance, we explain backgrounds of the special document of air cargo transportation:

What is an Air Waybill?

An Air Waybill (AWB) or Air Waybill is a transportation contract between the shipper and the carrier (usually an airline). It serves as a receipt for the goods and proof of the contract for their transportation. It is regulated by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and has a standardized structure. Despite this standardization, in practice there are various deviations and scans that are difficult to read.

The structure of a typical AWB may include the following areas:

  1. AWB number: Each AWB has a unique number assigned by the airline. This is used to track the shipment.
  2. Name and address of the sender: The name and full address of the sender is entered here.
  3. Name and address of the recipient: The name and full address of the recipient are also listed here.
  4. Airport of departure and arrival: These sections indicate the airports from which the cargo departs and where it arrives.
  5. Description of the goods: This section contains information about the type and quantity of goods. It may also contain information about special handling requirements.
  6. Weight and volume: The actual or volumetric weight of the shipment, whichever is greater, is entered here.
  7. Freight and other charges: This section contains details of freight charges and other fees payable by the shipper or consignee.
  8. Instructions for handling the cargo: These may contain special instructions for handling the cargo, especially if it is dangerous goods or perishable goods.
  9. Signature of the sender and the airline: The AWB must be signed by the sender and the airline to make it legally binding.

An AWB is a very important document in air cargo, as it contains all the essential information about the shipment and serves as a contract between the shipper and the airline. Therefore, it is crucial that it is filled out correctly and kept carefully.

Why are AWB archived?

Air Waybill (AWB) or air waybills and Delivery notes are important documents in freight transport and especially in air transport. They are archived for several reasons:

Legal requirements

In many countries, it is a legal requirement that companies retain business documents such as AWBs and delivery bills for a certain period of time. For example, let's say there is an investigation into a shipment that is allegedly transporting illegal goods. In this case, the stored AWB document would serve as evidence that the company has performed adequate due diligence by correctly recording the type of goods indicated by the shipper.

Verification and tracking

AWBs and delivery bills are important documents for tracking shipments. Let's say a customer claims never to have received his shipment. With the archived AWB, the company could trace the entire path of the shipment to see if there was an error somewhere: for example, it can check if the shipment was delivered to the wrong place or if there was a delay that affected delivery.

Financial purposes

AWBs and delivery bills often contain information that is important for financial accounting. For example, if at the end of the fiscal year a Audit is performed, the company can use the archived AWBs and delivery bills to verify the recorded freight costs. A reconciliation with the financial transactions provides further audit opportunities.

Customer service

AWBs and delivery bills can be used to clarify customer inquiries or solve customer problems. A customer can obtain the exact arrival time of his shipment through the AWB. The company can prove this information by archived AWB.

Quality control and process improvement

By analyzing AWBs and delivery bills, companies can identify trends and patterns in their supply chains. For example, suppose a company notices when reviewing its AWBs that shipments to a particular destination are always late. This could indicate that there is a problem with that particular part of the supply chain, and the company could then take action to improve that process.


Prior to the implementation of the automated system, the AWB-.Archiving process performed manually. Employees had to scan each AWB individually and store the digitized files in a local storage system. The process was time-consuming, resource-intensive and error-prone due to the diverse scope of information contained in an AWB. In addition, the increasing volume of air freight shipments and growing regulatory requirements for document retention presented challenges for many companies in the industry.

To solve these problems and improve efficiency, the company decided to implement an automated AWB archiving system.

The implementation

The Logistics company acquired Konfuzio to develop a custom software solution. The main features of the new system were automatic digitization and separation of multi-page AWB scans, automatic indexing based on AWB numbers and other relevant information, easy search and retrieval of archived AWBs, and compliance with data protection standards and legal retention periods.

The project managers started the implementation with a detailed needs analysis to determine the company's specific requirements and goals. This was followed by the development phase, in which the technicians adapted and optimized the software according to these requirements.

The subsequent testing phase was crucial to ensure that the software worked correctly and met all requirements. After successful testing, the system was finally implemented throughout the company.


Thanks to the implementation of the automated archiving system the logistics company was able to significantly improve its processes. Automation has further improved process stability compared to manual archiving. Today, AWBs can be found in the archive system almost at the same time as the airfreight is received, and employees or robots can find AWBs in the archive directly on customer request and make them available to the customer.

The new system also facilitates compliance with legal requirements by ensuring that all AWBs are securely stored for the prescribed period. In addition, the ability to retrieve AWBs quickly and easily improved customer service and facilitated internal processes such as financial accounting and audits.

Overall, the implementation of the automated AWB archiving system at Zurich Airport was a great success and an example of how digitalization and automation in the logistics industry can lead to more efficient and effective processes.

Want to know what you can achieve with AI, automation and digitization in your industry?

Then contact us via the contact form.

Use of RPA robots during implementation

In our quest to provide the best solutions for our customers, we are proud to work with our RPA partners.

In cooperation with leading RPA Software Providers for data integration and Business Process Management Solutions Helm & Nagel GmbH has made a name for itself by helping companies optimize their business processes and increase their efficiency.

RPA robots played a crucial role in the automated archiving of air waybills (AWB) at Zurich Airport.

RPA Software offers easy to use data integration tool, see also RPA (Robotic Process Automation) and enables even employees without programming knowledge to create complex Simplify and automate data flowswhich ensures the smooth flow of API integrations.

The RPA team at the Zurich Airport logistics company handled the integration of Konfuzio itself to ensure that all AWBs were correctly captured, digitized and fed into our system. The software also offers a high degree of flexibility. RPA Software and Konfuzio thus met the logistics company's specific requirements and processes.

In addition, the simple and intuitive user interface of the RPA software ensured that the logistics company's employees were able to deal with the new software effectively and use it optimally. And the seamless integration with our RPA robots allowed the automated processes to run efficiently and without interruption.

Our collaborations with various RPA software providers enables us to create more comprehensive and effective solutions for you. Want to know what you can achieve with AI, automation and RPA software in your industry?

Then contact us via the contact form.

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