Welcome to Air Cargo Netherlands
ACN is the air cargo industry association in the Netherlands.
ACN News in English
ACN's main goal
The main goal of ACN is to maintain and support the prominent role of the Netherlands in the international air cargo industry.It is ACN's ambition to position Amsterdam Airport Schiphol as the 'Smart Air Cargo Gateway’ of Europe.
ACN's 6 sectors mirror the industry well:
Sector Airlines (previously ACAN)
- Sector Forwarders (joint council with FENEX)
- Sector Handling Companies
- Sector Truckers
- Sector Airports
- Sector Business Services
This website provides limited information in English about some key ACN projects, as well as a selection of News in English and international news which is relevant to ACN's members.
For more information about these projects and other activities of ACN, please visit the pages in Dutch or forward your question by e-mail to: ACN Managing Director Ben Radstaak.
Schiphol - the ‘Smart’ Air Cargo Hub
Air freight is of the utmost importance to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Regardless of the competition, Air Cargo Netherlands (ACN) has obvious ambitions. In the next decades, the volumes of cargo handled at Schiphol will roughly double. The airport has the market potential, the required space and the government support to realise this ambition – providing certain challenges are addressed.
Air Cargo: of High Importance to Schiphol
For many years, Schiphol has ranked among the top-three cargo airports in Europe. This high ranking is not a given though: the size of the Dutch domestic market is limited and most competing airports have a more central location within Europe. The main reason for the good performance of Schiphol is the outstanding organisation of this marketplace: all the parties and facilities which are necessary to move freight are present here. There is an extensive network of international connections: cargo can always be efficiently moved to any destination in the world. Abroad, Schiphol is often praised as a flexible and efficient marketplace.
Cargo Outlook: Optimism for the Long Term
Despite a couple of turbulent years, ACN has always remained optimistic about the future. And quite rightly so, given Schiphol’s record cargo volumes in the summer of 2010. So, we have to intensify our efforts to remain Europe’s cargo airport of choice. Achieving this however is mainly up to the air freight industry itself: offering quality, efficiency and a strong customer-orientation is primarily a matter of the companies involved. Representing the entire air freight sector in the Netherlands, ACN works hard on improving the efficiency of the air freight process - a matter of smart cooperation between all the links in the chain and an efficient incorporation of checks and inspections.
Smart Location: The Logistics Centre in Europe
For many years, Dutch entrepreneurs have been travelling to all corners of the globe to attract customers for the Dutch logistics sector. And with success. Leading names such as Apple, Canon, IBM, Intel and Sony have already moved their European distribution centres to the Netherlands. At the heart of this success are the immense cargo flows running through the Dutch ports, the attractive tax rulings and customs procedures and the Dutch knowledge and know-how in the field of logistics. As all these elements remain important to our position as a gateway, we need to continue convincing American and, increasingly, Asian companies that the Netherlands is and will continue to be the most important and especially best logistics centre in Europe.
Smart Operations: Efficiency by Actively Streamlining Processes
Obviously, boosting the efficiency of the air cargo process is an important focal point. ACN plays an active role in improving working procedures and systems to further boost the quality and efficiency of the air cargo industry. We aim to lead the way in this field by promoting the electronic ‘highway’. Supported by Dutch Customs, we are providing transparency in the air cargo chain. This way, goods can be monitored more efficiently with a minimum degree of – risk-based – physical inspections. The challenge for ACN is to turn new legislative requirements into opportunities for making the air freight process more efficient.
Smart Systems: Supporting a Virtual Customs Free Zone
In order to freely move bonded goods faster and with more flexibility, all ground handlers and some 50 air freight forwarders at Schiphol have realised a virtual free zone around the airport, set up in a good cooperation between ACN and Dutch Customs. All shipments are constantly monitored by the Paperless Shipment Tracking System (DGVS in Dutch), which Cargonaut, the cargo community system provider at Schiphol, operates under ACN’s supervision. The DGVS allows handlers and forwarders to exchange goods without interference from Customs. This unique system contributes directly to the bottom line of the participating companies whilst at the same time reducing administrative burdens.
E-freight@TheNetherlands - Big Leap in Chain Automation
Paperless airfreight carriage is the main objective of E-freight@NL, a ground-breaking project jointly undertaken by ACN, Air France-KLM Cargo, Schiphol Group, Cargonaut, the Dutch shippers’ association EVO, Nijenrode University and 25 other parties. The project aims to speed up throughput times, improve reliability and planning and ultimately reduce costs within the air transport chain. Moreover, E-freight will open the door to more efficient government monitoring of both export and import flows. The feasibility of paperless air transport has been demonstrated in a global trial conducted by IATA in recent years. The initiators of E-freight@NL want to make E-freight the industry standard as quickly as possible in order to remain in the vanguard of international developments and strengthen their competitive edge. The participating parties will reconfigure their current processes to ensure large-scale paperless operations throughout the airfreight chain, for imports as well as exports. ACN will create a special E-freight Brigade to help various parties bring about the required changes. This project is partly financed via government grants. Regular progress updates are available at www.acn.nl.
Schiphol SmartGate Cargo
The combination of growing cargo volumes, mounting security requirements and ever more complicated government inspections poses new challenges for the air cargo industry. In particular the increasing social pressure on inspections in areas such as security, food safety, animal health, plant diseases, strategic goods and environmental requirements are making the situation quite complex. To ensure adequate public safety and security while at the same time safeguarding economical interests, ACN and Dutch Customs have signed a covenant in which they agree to make all information on air cargo flows transparent and to base all inspections – both Customs checks and other inspections - on risk analysis. Currently, Cargonaut is working on a central data viewer, referred to as ‘Information Broker’. This system will integrate shipment records and status information from all parties in the chain and make these data electronically available for risk analysis. These data include all elements from the Customs Code, but also from more static sources such as databases on Authorised Economic Operators, Regulated Agents and Known Shippers. The system is jointly managed by ACN and Dutch Customs and will also provide pre-departure and pre-arrival information.
Considering the need for intelligently designed facilities for screening air cargo and the smooth implementation of new procedures, Dutch Customs, Schiphol Airport and ACN have initiated an innovative public-private cooperation between government agencies responsible for enforcing border crossing legislation and the private sector. It is referred to as Schiphol SmartGate Cargo and includes the integrated monitoring and, in the case of perceived risks, the one-stop physical inspection of goods leaving the EU. The inspection technologies used include radiological, biological, chemical and explosives scanners. The intelligence in SmartGate will come from risk analysis in the ‘Information Broker’, which allows both the aviation sector and government bodies to determine whether a shipment will require additional physical inspection before the flight. To support the introduction of new operating procedures, ACN is developing a ‘serious game’ with e-learning modules. This game will assist air cargo companies to optimally prepare for the changes and train their personnel. It will be also used in regular and vocational education.
Improving Quality via Cargo 2000 and Chain Wide KPIs
Measuring performance is crucial for improving services, not only for individual companies but also for market places and hub airports like Schiphol. In order to constantly monitor chain performance, ACN has defined a series of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), based on Cargo 2000 milestones. These include such things as ‘Flown as scheduled’, ‘Departed as scheduled’, ‘Arrived as scheduled’ and ‘Total throughput time’. Measuring the full air cargo chain might stimulate process improvement and innovation globally, which is increasingly important in view of paper-free transport (e-freight) and further globalisation (airline alliances and network forwarders developing uniform processes). Benchmarking among airports would allow all participants to identify best practices, objectively determine strengths and weaknesses in the process at the respective airports and monitor the effects of actions taken to improve overall performance.
Smart People: The Sky is the Limit
The actual and future growth in the Dutch air freight industry requires many talented young people with the right mentality. Hence, ACN is actively involved in labour market and education issues. Which makes sense, as the shortage of good staff and ageing of the population affects the air freight sector as well. The industry association is supporting various schools and courses for workers at various levels. ACN is also one of the co-founders of a special foundation which was launched in order to financially support companies that want to train their staff and offer them further education, using EU grants for vocational training. We have selected courses and help members who want to make use of this option, while at the same time minimising the related administrative burdens. For good people, the opportunities are virtually limitless. Many entrepreneurs in the air freight sector started out in operations and can now look back on a great career. There are outstanding opportunities for young people with creativity, talent, guts, language capabilities and an entrepreneur attitude. The sky is the limit.
Air Cargo: a Lifeline for the Dutch Economy
Air cargo is of vital importance to Schiphol. All parties in the Netherlands agree on this. The revenues generated by air freight contribute to an attractive global passenger network and vice versa. This combination is crucial to both the airport and the airlines. Without air freight, ticket prices would have to be raised by 20%. And that would mean the end in this competitive market. Air freight offers an essential contribution to the perfectly developed network of Schiphol which connects our country to virtually all the major economic centres in the world. A valuable rationale and motivation for keeping the Dutch air cargo industry and Schiphol in the optimal shape it needs to be in to successfully deal with a challenging future.