AWB Automation of air freight at Zurich airport

The Automation of business processesincluding the archiving of Air Waybills, is included in the Logistics industry has become increasingly important to improve efficiency and accuracy. In this context, we would like to present a successful example of the implementation of an automated AWB archiving system at a logistics company on the Zurich Airport and explain the background to this special airfreight document in advance.

Air Waybill, AWB or air waybill - what is it?

An Air Waybill (AWB) is an essential contract for the transportation of goods that is signed between the shipper and the freight or air carrier, usually an airline. This important document serves as confirmation of receipt for the shipped goods and as written proof of the contract concluded for their transportation. The regulation and standardization of this document is the responsibility of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Despite the strict standards in this glossary, in practice there are always various deviations and sometimes even scans that are difficult to read.

Contents of an air waybill

The structure of a typical AWB can cover various areas, including:

  1. AWB numberEach air waybill has a unique number that is registered by the airline. This number plays a crucial role in the overall logistics tracking of the shipment.
  2. Contact of the sender: In this area, the name and complete address of the sender are recorded to ensure smooth transportation.
  3. Contact of the recipientThe name and full address of the recipient are also documented for the transportation route.
  4. Airport of departure and arrivalThese sections provide information about the airborne route of the freight, from which airports it takes off and to which airports it lands.
  5. Description of the goodsThis part contains extensive information on the type and quantity of goods being transported. Special requirements for handling the goods may also be noted here.
  6. Weight and volumeThe actual or volumetric weight of the shipment is recorded here, depending on which value is greater.
  7. Freight and other chargesThis section provides detailed information on the costs of transportation, including logistics and freight costs and other charges to be borne by the shipper or consignee.
  8. Instructions for handling the cargoThis section may contain special instructions for the safe handling of the cargo, especially when dangerous goods or perishable goods are involved.
  9. Signature of the sender and the airlineIn order for the air waybill to be legally binding, both the sender and the airline must sign and register it.

An AWB proves to be a crucial document in the field of air freight, as it brings together all the essential information about the shipment and at the same time acts as a legal contract between the shipper and the airline. In view of this, it is of the utmost importance that this document is filled out extremely precisely and conscientiously and stored carefully.

Why are air waybills archived?

Air Waybills (AWB), so-called air waybills and Delivery notes are important documents in logistics, particularly in freight transportation and especially in air transport. They are archived for several reasons:

Air waybills, also known as AWBs, are invaluable in the world of logistics, especially in the field of cargo transportation, specifically in air transport for air carriers and their daily work. There are several compelling reasons for archiving these important documents:

Legal requirements

In many countries, there is a legal obligation for companies to register and retain business documents such as AWBs and delivery bills for a certain period of time. Suppose there is an investigation into a shipment in the transportation industry that may have carried illegal goods. In such cases, the archived AWB document serves as incontrovertible proof that the company has exercised proper due diligence by accurately recording the nature of the goods declared by the shipper.

Verification and tracking

Air waybills and delivery bills are essential documents for tracking shipments during transportation. Imagine a customer claims never to have received his shipment. With the help of the archived AWB, the company can trace the entire route of the shipment to determine whether an error has occurred somewhere. For example, it can check whether the shipment was unloaded in the wrong place or whether there were delays that could have affected on-time delivery.

Financial purposes

AWBs and delivery bills often contain information that is important for financial accounting. For example, if an audit takes place at the end of a financial year, the company can use the archived AWBs and delivery bills to verify the recorded freight costs. A comparison with the financial transactions enables additional audit options.

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.

AWBs and delivery bills can be used to answer customer queries or solve customer problems. A customer can use the AWB to obtain precise information on the arrival time of their shipment. The company is able to provide this information as a receipt using the 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, let's say a company reviews its AWBs and finds that shipments to a particular destination are regularly arriving late. This could indicate that there is a problem with that particular part of the supply chain. As a result, the company could take steps to optimize this process to ensure a smoother road for future shipments.

Background

Before the introduction of the automated system, the AWB-Archiving process manually. Employees were forced to scan each AWB individually and store the digitized files in a local storage system. This process was extremely time-consuming, resource-intensive and prone to errors, especially due to the variety of information contained in an AWB. In addition, the increasing volume of air freight shipments and the growing legal requirements for document retention posed considerable challenges for companies in the industry.

To overcome these problems and increase efficiency, the company decided to implement and register an automated AWB archiving system to optimize the company's career and transport operations.

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.

An automatic ABW OCR process


The diagram shows a process flow for archiving (import) and reading (export) airway bills (AWBs) as part of document processing. The process is divided into several steps:

  1. Scan:
    • Batch processing ("batch scan") is carried out.
    • There are three buttons to determine the type of stacked scans (this is controlled by an API parameter selection).
  2. Splitting the scan:
    • The documents are divided in such a way that each PDF document contains one AWB.
  3. Automatic file naming:
    • The scanned documents are collected as named PDF files for the archive. A ZIP archive function was not used.
    • The API document list can be filtered by date and time, but this functionality is not mandatory.
  4. AWB Export Extraction (Reading the AWB for export):
    • The AWB API, which can be found on the Konfuzio marketplace, is used for this step.
  5. Cargospot target system:
    • A Lobster-job queries the extraction results via an API and imports them into Cargospot.

It should be noted that some aspects are adapted to the individual needs of the logistics provider.

Result

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.

Success story through the use of RPA robots

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 cooperation with various RPA software providers also enables you to create more comprehensive and effective solutions.

Alternative use of an AI model during implementation

The following example shows a sample document of how the AI model for Air Waybills (AWB) on the Konfuzio marketplace automatically extracts the content from the document:

AWB Marketplace
Sample AWB

What other information can be read out with the help of AI?

The following table provides a detailed overview of key information for the transportation sector, from delivery addresses to fees. With AI, you can gain further important insights from this data beyond the mere extraction of text content. These include the optimization of Supply chains or the prediction of trends. Here is a closer look at the crucial data that the marketplace model automatically recognizes:

LABELDESCRIPTIONVALUE
Address"Address" is a field that requires the input of the specific location details where the goods should be delivered or picked up.OBERFELDSTRASSE 14
AmountThe "Amount" of possible other charges.248.5
CarrierThe "Carrier" airline that ships the goods.TURKISH AIR
Charge codeFurther description of an additional charge.MR
Charges Weight/ValThis term typically refers to charges based on either the weight or the value of a shipment.P
Charge WtThe chargeable weight.165,5
CityThe "City" of a party referenced in the AWB (e.g. Shipper, Agent, ...).CLOTES
CountryThe "Country" of a party referenced in the AWB (e.g. Shipper, Agent, ...).UNITED KINGDOM
CurrencyThe "Currency" for any charges.CHF
This table only shows a small section of the extracted fields. Numerous other annotations are possible according to this scheme.

Do you have any questions? Or would you like to find out what benefits you can achieve through automated processing of AWBs?

Contact

Our experts offer you a comprehensive initial consultation. Find out what potential the customized AI solution on the Konfuzio marketplace has for the logistics sector. This initial consultation is completely risk-free for you and does not commit you to anything. We look forward to hearing from you:

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