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Thu 5 Oct 2006 04:00 AM

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SkyCargo enhances IT systems

SkyChain implementation is expected to enhance customer service and management of air cargo throughput.

Emirates SkyCargo, the air freight arm of Emirates Group, has completed a two year project to develop an end to end cargo management IT system.

The system, dubbed SkyChain, is based on the Java software programming architecture. According to Emirates SkyCargo, this allows upgrades and changes to be rolled out to customers more easily and allows for greater compatibility with host systems. SkyChain will be marketed to other airlines by the Emirates Group’s IT division, Mercator.

A team of 150 IT professionals collaborated on the project, which SkyCargo claims is the largest single software development project in the aviation industry in recent years. In total, more than 300 person years were spent on the project.

Ram Menen, divisional senior vice president, cargo at Emirates, described SyChain as the first “non-legacy based” airline cargo system to be built, claiming “a lot of money has been written off in the past by people trying to develop a similar system. It’s a huge, huge initiative.”

Menen said the system was built to provide end-to-end management of the cargo process – from the placing of a booking by a customer to the delivery of the items. “Basically it gives us an automated processing solution from booking level to operations level, the whole works,” he said.

As well as providing the airline with an online processing and overview facility of its cargo transportation processes, the system will also allow customers to place orders and track the status of their cargo online via the new SkyCargo.com website.

“It’s like a huge pipeline which the customer puts information in,” said Menen. ”We take whatever information we want, we process it, put it back and the customer has got complete visibility of what’s happening while it is in our custody. “They can see their schedules, the availability of space and rates and they can completely trade with us,” he continued.

Emirates has built the system so that it is based on open standards and can easily adapt to whichever IT system the customer or airline uses.

“The system is quite unique in the sense that we have gone away from creating standards for ourselves,” said Menen."So we are not saying to customers that we need you to tweak your systems so that we can communicate with you.

"Whatever shape or form our customers can put the data through their computer, we will interact with that. It’s platform independent which means it can run on IBM, it can run on Oracle, it can run on any platform that anybody uses.”

Menen believes that the system will enable considerable efficiency improvements to the airline’s cargo management process. “It brings added efficiency and where we have had several modules for this previously it’s all now in an integrated system, he explained.

“It improves our productivity and by improving our productivity it will also improve our performance. We do expect considerable efficiency gain.”

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