Florent BerettiTruck network manager - Air France Cargo
Airline trucking service is an important link for an air cargo carrier like Air France Cargo. Eurodecision’s optimization know-how, combined with LP TransportationPlanner software to model transport plans, enabled us to call into question our approach to the problem and already provides our customers with greater frequencies for certain destinations.
With 1,700 flights daily to over 200 destinations worldwide, Air France Cargo is currently the world’s fourth largest international cargo carrier. With the Air France – KLM alliance, the new Air France Cargo and KLM cargo entity will become the world’s leading carrier (outside integrators) with 2.5 billon euros in cumulative revenues.
With G1XL at Roissy – Charles de Gaulle airport, Air France Cargo has the most modern hub in Europe able to process over a million tons of merchandise per year. The European system is supplemented by secondary road transport hubs in London, Milan, Hahn (Germany) and Malmö (for Scandinavian traffic).
Like all air carriers, Air France Cargo uses the services of companies specialising in ‘’airline trucking services’’ for certain destinations.
The trucks transporting the goods are specially equipped with air cargo pallets with roller trailers, which are necessary for cost-efficiency and logistical reasons. [Cost-efficiency because air cargo transport is very expensive on short distances, owing to over-consumption and crew rotation problems, and logistically because long-haul plane pallets are not compatible with the cargo compartments of medium-haul aircraft, meaning that the merchandise has to be repackaged for all-air transport.]
For example, goods that leave from Madrid for Montreal will be dispatched by truck from Madrid to the Roissy CDG hub, and will then leave the Paris airport for Canada. Whilst in reverse, freight from North America arriving in Roissy is then carried by truck to Spain. All these road journeys are carried out under a specific flight number as a replacement for air transport and are shown on the contract of carriage (the Airway Bill).
Every air season, Air France Cargo must draw up a transport plan linking the 60 European stations with the Roissy hub, and then linking with the long haul programme. The transport plan includes information for each originating and destination station, loading days and times and delivery times, and totals 43,000 instances of airline trucking service per year.
In 2002, Air France Cargo entrusted Eurodecision with a study around optimizing its transport plan in terms of cost-efficiency and quality of service and stability, for fluctuatiing demand. At the time, the manually run organisation showed significant discrepancies between the seasonal programme’s offer and the daily operating situation: additional, cancelled or under-loaded trucks.
The new plan had to meet precise criteria such as reducing overall operating costs and increasing pick-up and weekly deliveries, without calling into question the existing manually run organisation, via minimising the orders for additional trucks or cancellations due to operating contingencies.
Historical pallet movements data enabled Eurodecision to firstly configure its LP-TransportationPlanner model. There were many constraints to be complied with to optimize the plan: truck capacity, driving time, agency and customs business hours, the processing capacity of Roissy’s 8 bays. In the model, demand is expressed in pallets, and is characterised by an origin with a date of earliest availability and a destination linked to a latest delivery date that corresponds to the cargo plane’s take-off time.
The study showed that it was possible, in a few hours, to generate efficient transport plans providing savings of about 8%, without calling into question how the manually run organisation did its job.
Setting up multi-stop pick-up also contributed to improving frequencies on certain destinations that did not have daily stops. These line rounds enabled two Roissy – Nice and Roissy – Marseille routes three times a week to be replaced by a daily Roissy – Nice – Marseille route. The automated, rapid generation of transport plans also allows testing the impact of new demand, ranging from the creation of new agencies to sliding business hours, and overall provides a better understanding of the network.