When you are an Operations Manager for an international business, air freight will usually be part of the equation for ensuring supplies reach the factories and goods reach your customers. However, there are some important considerations to keep in mind to ensure cost-effective results, customer satisfaction and a supply chain that works like a well-oiled machine.

Some major pitfalls can derail your schemes. These include poor planning, incomplete documentation, inefficient packaging and lack of effective communication with service providers.

Let’s fill you in on the five most disastrous mistakes that can happen with your air freight, and how to avoid them.

1) Planning at the last moment

Air freight is the go-to cargo transport for fast moving or urgent shipments. Because there is already a tight time frame, Operations Managers face very tight planning schedules. But being pushed for time also creates more potential for errors that can defeat the whole point of using air freight in the first place.

That’s when calling in the cavalry in the form of an established freight forwarder can be a lifesaver. They have an extensive knowledge of the different major domestic and international routes, the airlines servicing and the specific requirements of each carrier. This allows them to professionally manage last-minute planning, get you a competitive price and minimise any risk of disruption to your schedule.

2) Incomplete or delayed documentation

Air freight not only moves fast, it also needs to have the appropriate documentation and your cargo provided in an efficient manner. Incomplete or delayed documentation can be a real spanner in the works, and result in costly and time-consuming issues such as demurrage or detention.

It can also result in unsatisfied customers or delays in your projects or production lines.

Australian Operations Managers have discovered that aligning with a professional freight forwarder shifts the burden of hectic paperwork off their shoulders and ensures a smoother process. An experienced freight forwarder not only has your business’s best interests at heart, they also have a thorough knowledge of all the relevant documentation required for different destinations and how to get it right and avoid unnecessary difficulties.

3) Ignorance of airline and government rules and regulations

Airlines are considered one of the world’s most secure transport modes, and in recent years the rules and regulations have tightened considerably.

Because most air freight is carried on passenger planes, there are added complexities. Some commodities cannot easily be transported or maybe outright banned in specific places, such as hazardous goods, flammable goods, products with odd dimensions and battery-operated products. These need special permits or must be carried by cargo planes only.

Trying to send goods via the wrong type of aircraft can result in cargos being detained or even heavy financial penalties.

So knowing the rules and regulations is crucial. For an Operations Manager in a growing and busy company, keeping up with all this red tape at every landing or uploading location that is part of the business supply chain can be a nightmare.

That’s where a freight forwarder is such an ally – their experienced staff make keeping up with the ever-changing regulations part of their business. That knowledge can save you a world of trouble and expense by ensuring everything is done by the book, wherever it may be.

4) Inefficient packaging

Air freight is usually the most expensive option for moving goods either within Australia or when shipping goods for import or export purposes. Every extra cubic metre or kilogramme adds to your freight charges.

If your shipment is inefficiently packed, it might consume added space or weigh more than it needs to, increasing the costs to your business. In some cases, the wrong packaging can even result in cargo exceeding the legal thresholds for dimensions or weight and result in the whole shipment being detained.

A smart Operations Manager will always be looking at how goods can be most efficiently packaged for air freight. Getting advice or assistance from a freight forwarder can also be the ticket, as they will have the expertise to ensure your shipment is packed in the most cost-effective manner, and that it will meet the specific criteria of the particular air carrier it is booked on.

5) Lack of communication with the air freight forwarder

As a core service provider, air freight forwarders have the knowledge, resources and expertise to develop tailored solutions to meet their customer’s requirements. To achieve the right result, however, both parties need to have effective two-way communication.

Either party not giving complete and correct information can result in delays to shipments, with corresponding potential issues for a company’s reputation and bottom line.

To get the most out of partnering with an air freight forwarder, Operations Managers should ensure they have informed the provider of their requirements and expectations in advance. Preferably, set these down in detail in the agreement between both parties.

Some forwarders are more compatible with your company than others – find the freight partner that understands your business and product to establish a long-lasting, trustworthy relationship.

Pro-active thinking is the ticket

Air freight can either save you vast amounts of time in terms of cargo movements, or it can cost you significant sums if things go wrong. Luckily, most of the potential risks can be pro-actively managed or avoided by aligning with a freight forwarding partner that understands your company’s needs. They will ensure that what needs to get airborne does – smoothly, cost-effectively and with minimal time wasting for the Operations Manager.

For more than a century, BCR has continued to help small, medium and large businesses achieve an optimum logistics solution with warehousing and transportation, including air freight and sea freight services to and from the major ports including BrisbaneSydneyMelbourne, Adelaide and Fremantle (Perth).